Thursday, 27 November 2008

Property prices tumble apparently

I loved this headline in The Times today Property prices tumble as reality sets in.

I really wish someone would tell estate agents this! They imply to me an offer of around five per cent off would be acceptable and I was actually laughed at about offering any less this week. There was proper wincing and giggling.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008


Is going to be an interesting year in terms of mortgages as Robert Peston discusses here there is yet more bad news being talked about this morning.

I am waiting for the new tracker rates to come out at the moment. I wonder what kind of mortgages there will be for me in 2009.

Standing on your own two feet

It's still true to say that at 27 I have only one close friend who bought their own property without help from their parents/ grandparents or their partners family. That person works in banking.

I fully understand family who can help their children to have a roof over their heads and not be mortgaged to the hilt wanting to do so and don't have an issue with it.

(I do have quite a serious issue with those lucky people who have had help either bragging about how well they have done to get themselves on the property ladder and/ or talking about how stupid people are for renting but that is another issue! and parents who think the children you helped don't do that, think again I promise you they really do)

No my point is that really it's quite scandalous that these people, mostly couples, so two income mortgage applicants, all graduates, all with well paid jobs- all of these people basically could not have bought their one and two bedroom flats without very serious cash injections. These aren't all people who live in South West London or Islington either, they are out in Surrey (not prime Surrey), out in zone 5 or 6, all sorts of areas. Sure I'm sure they could all have saved better if Mummy and Daddy hadn't stumped up 100k but equally to be fair none of them are designer clad money wasters at all. It's just that they couldn't have bought without the help and where does that leave the people without help.

I am realistic and know that some people always got a measure of help to get on the property ladder but really did they have to get the value of a house in Sheffield plus a huge mortgage in the past. Probably not.

Now prices are falling a little it's true but the mortgage companies have gone so far the other way with their lending that ironically it's now even more important to have a very hefty deposit and in a way people who don't have access to a cash lump sum are worse off than they were before.

I have thought quite a lot (quite a lot!) about what I would do if I was given a lump sum I hadn't worked for. For sure I would take it very gladly and happily. Would I feel as much of a sense of worth about looking at places with that extra money? probably not. Would I care that I had lost that sense of worth? Probably not!

But really it's wrong that people are missing out on the feeling of being a grown up and having to ask Mum and Dad for a new flat isn't so different to being 12 and wanting the latest trainers. It's totally out of control if they will say yes or not and you feel powerless.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Safe as houses

I feel a bit like a child who isn't listening to their parents telling them to eat peas today.

I am sitting here with my hands effectively over my ears saying la la la while even more turmoil engulfs the economy looking at houses (yes houses, but ones I can't really afford in areas I don't want to live in because a house is perhaps a better investment). What always amazes me about houses is that they are often not that much more expensive than flats but you are obviously getting so much more. The problem is, of course, that they are still too expensive!

Still I can't help thinking there is a reason the expression safe as houses exists and that they probably are a better investment, even when they are somewhere you don't want to live as much.

Friday, 21 November 2008

The low down on the low end of town

Well firstly last night's estate agent was a nice chap, not too pushy, understanding of first time buyers finding their way and happy to talk fairly honestly about buyers and expectations. I was pleasantly surprised, he was really very good. He was off on holiday today so that might have something to do with his good mood.

The flat I had booked to see in the less nice was an absolutely lovely flat. Very compact but I knew that when I went.

The location isn't good really, it wouldn't bother me too much but I really do think in a tough market being right on a very noisy, grubby road at a major London intersection might not be the best plan; still it was a very happy little place and you have to think, if I am considering it wouldn't other people? The price is certainly agreeable.

The agent, of course, wanted to show me a much bigger flat in a much nicer area that I can't afford.I should have resisted but the temptation to look at nice flats is always strong.

The second flat needed work but is a really good option. It's just 75k too expensive for me... and needs a bit of work, nothing too major though.

I had a really good feeling about both flats though, a positive vibe that has been really lacking in the recent viewings. I really think it was down to the agents good attitude- so I am newly excited... and of course very confused.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Change of address?

This evening I am back on the viewing wagon, but this time I am broadening my horizons and looking at flats in a slightly less salubrious and therefore slightly cheaper area.

What is surprising is that there are actually far more flats I would want to live in in the 'rougher' area. The vendors seem much more house proud and to have done more to their flats than those in the leafier part of town.

I suppose that is probably because to add value they have always had to improve where as in the pick of the South West London area flats were going up up and away in value without anything being done to them.

Still we are always told that location is all so perhaps the shabbier, smaller flat in the better area is still better.

Oh that we could buy a flat as a home rather than having to think about the possibility of having to sell and whether we could all the time.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Location, Location, Location (or Kirsty and Phil) Special

So I, no doubt along with the rest of the property obsessed nation, tuned in dutifully to find out what the King and Queen of UK property TV had to say about the credit crunch (sorry I tried to think of another phrase but really it is what is, even if we're all fed up with the phrase).

I know there has been quite a lot of backlash against these too, which I don't think is entirely fair. I think the only thing they are a little guilty of is believing that there is no way you can lose on property if you stay in it long enough and perhaps in their endless pursuit of that idea they have perhaps perpetuated the idea that you HAVE to own property. Which in turn leads people to stretch themselves.

Basically speaking though I can't argue with their defensive little chat pointing out they have always said you have to buy for the long term, buy a home, look to add value if you want to add value and not over stretch yourself (although they, like all agents and home finders do tend to think the top of the budget rather than the bottom of the budget is the happiest place to look).

All this aside they made good points about saving a very healthy deposit, only buying something you would be happy to stay in for quite along time and that what is available is probably being sold because it has to be rather than because people want to be selling right now.

I thought the London flat was still bought at too high a price compared to the asking price but the buyer seemed happy with this and I suppose that is all that matters to some degree.

Whatever you say about these two they are engaging and I think I would like to see more focus on the process of negotiation in future programmes as I could certainly do with tips! or one of Kirsty and Phil on hand to deal with agents for me!

Sorry blog

Hello poor, neglected blog.

I have been a very bad writer and neglected you at a time when you are most relevant and I can only apologise and try to do better.

In truth I don't want to constantly moan so end up not wanting to write about viewings because I often come away from them with a bad taste in my mouth.

I think there are two kinds of viewing when you are a first time buyer- and these are basically because there are 2 kinds of agents.

The first type of viewing/ agent is very positive about the fact you are a first time buyer, they realise everyone has been there, they are happy to answer questions and although their commission is lower respect you as they would a 2 million plus town house buyer.

The second type of viewing is where you are made to feel that you don't know anything and told you would be very lucky to get a flat for 5% off, your questions aren't answered quickly and if you don't make an offer within a week you get asked if you are serious about buying a flat. (What I would like to say is yes just not the really over priced one you showed me with a £200 a month service charge...)

However the more you view the more you become slightly immune to the estate agents and just learn to zone them out.

The more I view though the more I wonder if really listing a property without an agent is the way forward. There are literally some flats I would kind of prefer not to pursue because of the agent.