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CHD

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  1. I think council tax has risen so much in recent years that it has become untenable. If you are single and in the south then it's a hundred quid a month easily - a grand a year. If you are on 40k then that's another 2.5% income tax. What's especially galling is that the old rates included water charges. Now they're separate. So add another 300 or 400 a year - or yet another 1% on the income tax. Where I live, I even get a separate drainage charge. That's a truckload of fixed taxes before I even go out the door. None of them is related to income. Given that the streets are filthy, you hardly ever see a copper and that I only get a fortnightly bin collection, I don't see what I'm getting for my 1500 quid a year. The mains water pressure's rubbish as well. The SNP has a populist and popular policy there. Politically, they are right to run with it.
  2. I know the Scottish market very well. In SOME parts of Scotland, there are still big or biggish houses available at 'Southern semi' prices - 250 or 300k. I saw a beautiful well-set Victorian villa recently in St Fillans in Perthshire for 225k. St Fillans is NOT the back of beyond - it's about 15 mins drive from Crieff, about half an hour from Perth - but on the other hand it is over an hour from the nearest airport (Edinburgh) and that seems to be significant on this kind of property. In southwest Scotland, I saw a large period house in a small town WITH INDOOR POOL for 100k - but Prestwick Airport or Carlisle Station would be over an hour away. In all the towns of Dumfries and Galloway there's a choice of attractive period houses for 200k or less, and in parts of Ayrshire or Lanarkshire you can still find good country properties with a bit of land, certainly for under 250k. I think these sorts of houses are fair comparisons against the Ohio houses highlighted by the original poster. But as I said, the US houses are bigger, more modern (if that's what you like) and better appointed. Re the Dundee and Arbroath etc examples cited, in Dundee and Angus, house prices rose very slowly and steadily all through the 80s and 90s - no boom or bust. I would say this prevailed till about 5 years ago, when prices started rising rapidly. I would say house prices in Angus have roughly doubled since 2001/2. In what is probably the poshest road in Arbroath there are large Victorian sandstone villas that in the 90s typically sold for about 80-90k. A little while ago I saw one of these go for 190k. Very roughly speaking, the whole Dundee and Angus market seems to have been hauled up similarly - more or less a doubling in price across the board in 5 years. In Glasgow, like in other UK cities, there are big-scale new flat developments with some pretty fancy prices being asked. On the other hand, though, I notice that some of the good quality Victorian tenement flats are still available for maybe 80 or 90k, against maybe 50 or 60k a few years back.
  3. What's the name/URL of the French property agent, Bearfacts? There are some good buys in France, although some of the properties pushed to UK buyers are quite remote... French buyers prefer town properties I think. My experience of US is that wages are more or less the same as in UK (albeit with shorter holidays) but that effective purchasing power is greater, with prices lower than UK on almost everything. The US houses on the links are big for the money, even in less crowded Scotland you would be hard put to find anything as big or with as much land or as well appointed for that kind of money.
  4. I think this is a key, maybe the key, point. It's the too-easily available and cheap credit - and high LTVs - which have propelled this housing boom. Probably moreso than in the 80s boom. That so many money taps have been turned off reduces significantly the effective demand for houses - ie buyers x borrowing limits. One only has to look to France to see the effect on house prices of requiring deposits and lending based on sensible affordability criteria.
  5. Some regions have been showing price falls of 0.25% to 0.5 or 0.6% month-on-month for the past two or three months. That means in some regions we have already seen a fall of a full percentage point or more in the last quarter. It is mainly the London effect that is keeping the national month-on-month figures positive. If prices are sticky on the way down then it may be a few months yet before the current evidence of falling demand (mortgage approvals down, lower EA buyer registrations) feeds through to actual prices paid and to the statistics. I think there is a new realism against which some current asking prices look ridiculous. Near me (in a southern England market town about an hour or so from London), a period townhouse went on the market a couple weeks ago for a cool 600k. It's on a fairly busy road and the front door opens on to the pavement - no garden or forecourt. Architecturally it is not that distinguished. It's semi-detached and if it weren't for a foot-wide gap on one side it would be terraced. Take away the bubble lenses and it is hard to see how it really adds up to 600k's worth. Half that, maybe.
  6. I agree that with so much personal and government debt in the UK, and with such a small manufacturing base, the fundamentals appear unsound. A 'supertanker' analogy has been used. Supertankers are very slow to turn. Talk of -5% month-on-month falls in property prices within a couple of months is wild and way off the mark.
  7. I think it remains to be seen what happens to stock markets this week. It will take some pretty big falls before the news hits front pages and therefore affects consumer sentiment. My feeling on the house price indices is that they lag behind by maybe around 3 months - and that's the FT, Halifax and Nationwide indices - the Land Registry figures take a long time to filter through to the final aggregate LR statistics. Therefore it might be December before the full effects of NR and post-NR show up in the stats. Looking at the figures on recent total mortgage lending and total numbers of mortgage approvals, it would seem that about 10 to 15% of effective demand has been taken out of the housing market. However, it would not surprise me if there are 10 to 15% fewer vendors, as house sellers sit tight and 'wait and see'. Over the next 3 months, there will proably be further reductions in that effective demand, as lending criteria tighten further. More mortgage refusals (these are already rising) and requirements for higher deposits will knock more buyers out of the market. I think there will be more caution on income multiples and this will cause some downward pressure on prices. Overall, I don't think we will see sudden increases in the month-on-month price falls currently showing in the indices. I think it more likely that we will see the 0-0.5% falls we see now in the weaker regions turn to 0.5-1%.
  8. I bought a flat in Glasgow for 24k in 1988. The market was very strong there in 87/88, I remember going to see flats on their first evening viewings, and a closing date for offers (Scottish system) would be set for the next day! The place I bought needed work and after doing it up I sold it in 91 for about 38k. However, at the peak of the market, probably about 1990 in Glasgow, it could have gone for about 44k. So price falls in local markets can be quite sudden. My flat lost about 15% of value in a year. I think over the next 12 months we will see some houses fall by 15 to 20% in price. We won't see such a level of falls in the indices, due to time lags and averaging. The correction will be over a longer period of time, viewed in terms of the national indices.
  9. It is sad, but I agree with the general tenor of this thread. Wasn't it Blur who said that 'modern life is rubbish'? Huw posted an international tax comparison, but I think such stats flatter the UK, and of course they are oft-quoted by British politicians. What about council tax? Easily a grand a year these days for a person living alone. For what? A fortnightly bin collection. And of course national insurance is in addition to the income tax rates quoted. And what about fuel duties, which are in addition to the sales taxes cited? TV licence fee? Vehicle excise duty? Insurance premium tax? Air fare taxes? Stamp duty? Capital gains tax? Inheritance tax? Taxes and duties on tobacco and booze? And then there are the charges and fees and penalties... local authority car parking charges (and associated penalties), congestion charges (and associated penalties), high fees for government documents such as passports, 'drop-off' charges at hospitals (this is a new one - three quid to drop off your sick relative at the hospital front door - helps pay for the PFI deal), blanket speeding fines, higher charges for supposedly tax-funded NHS dental treatment, higher charges for supposedly tax-funded NHS prescriptions, water supply charges (used to be paid for from your rates), drainage charges to take the water away (also used to be paid for from your rates)... Need I go on? Now, given the above, why do we have probably the worst public services in western Europe?
  10. I think what we all have to remember is that the fundamentals are right. We have a strong, stable economy. This example from the Midlands gives the lie to the claim that strong demand for housing is a phenomenon of the so-called overheated south. The new prosperity in the Age of Change is for all of Britain, not just for a few south of the Wash.
  11. Gordon Brown said on the Today programme last week that the 1.3trillion GBP personal debt in the UK is fine and dandy, as it represents hard working British families having bought homes. But lo and behold, according to the BBC, 287million of that (about 20%) is actually remortgaging to fund the purchase of consumer goods such as 4x4s (which Gordon should be discouraging anyway as they are bad for the environment) and plasmas.
  12. Hmm, seems to be a lot of heat in this thread, questioning of credentials etc. The quotation below is from an authoritative source.
  13. Bill Jamieson is a very shrewd analyst who makes a lot of good points in his writing. He does not run with the pack of financial journalists. There have been other threads on election timing. One point that has not been made is that there is the possibility of a backlash from the electorate over a very early election. Gordon has an enormous Parliamentary majority and, rationally, there is no reason for a general election. Voters may well resent being asked to return to the polls a couple of years into a Parliament. There is now just enough negative economic prognosis in the public domain to make people smell a rat if a snap election is called - the 'what have you got to be afraid of?' line. It is also possible to portray a snap election as bad for the country. With the financial markets still fragile, and just weeks after the first British bank run for 150 years, is it right to make things unnecessarily uncertain? One final point. There hasn't been an autumn/winter election since 1974. For over 30 years, general elections have been conducted in the early summer sunshine of May and June. History weighs against a November poll.
  14. Re: Quangos, government waste etc. 21,000 people are involved in quangos (source: Civil Service, their guide to public bodies). Many of them are on high salaries or on substantial daily allowances for part-time positions. The stamp duty announcement is a bit gimmicky, but it has gotten the Tories some coverage today and it puts the spotlight on Labour's tax rises. Perhaps later in the week we shall hear more about the Council Tax increases we have had to suffer over the past ten years.
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