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BessOfHardwick

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About BessOfHardwick

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    Edinburgh
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    People-watching. Snooping. This doesn't look good.
  1. I have no idea whether Brexit will lead to the break up of the UK, anything is possible. But such a disentanglement of territories so historically entangled would be more tortuous as Brexit. There is nothing simple about 'reunification' of Ireland - why would the RoI bid for the social and financial stress of attempting to re-absorb what many now consider to be a different country, so long after partition, with its high percentage of UK govt jobs and its legacy hardliners on both sides of a fight the Republic has largely moved on from? In Scotland the old Nationalists gained the support of millennial rainbow folk (the same surprising tide as lifted old father Corbyn) but that moment is passing and the reality is that if the EU is going to play hard with the UK for leaving, the RUK will do the same with Scotland. If you add together the voters hete in Scotland who voted for Brexit, often old Nats (who don't want EU any more than the auld enemy) and those who were keen on Rainbow SNP but don't like the idea of what we might call hard independence and those who want to stay in the UK anyway, you see why the diminished SNP is a lot quieter. Breaking up the British state will be a very big deal, bigger than leaving the EU. The British state has a lot of responsibilities, which any English state which arose wouldn't have any obligation to fulfil. There would be no simple route out for either Norn or Scotland.
  2. BessOfHardwick

    Edinbugh Latest

    No, fair enough booming isn't quite the right word. But something is pushing activity and prices up. I think pre 2008 I was seeing a more uniform market with everything rising no matter how crappy whereas now it's more discriminating. I wonder if there really is less gung-ho landlordism. Yes they'll all be driving in from the 'Greater Edinburgh'connurbation soon.
  3. BessOfHardwick

    Edinbugh Latest

    I don't have the time to do a sold prices survey but my impression is that Edinburgh is generally booming, with some exceptions in the crappy pre-'08 newbuild flats and grim estates. If you look around you can see the money sloshing about in the capital right now, and there's frantic development within Edinburgh - massive increase in student accommodation and care home complexes included - but it's also spilling over. Into East Lothian, there are about 8 or 9 new housing developments ongoing and a lot more slated, commuter spillover. If you look at a once-sleepy peripheral area like Portobello, it's been truffle-hounded by the middle classes until you can't afford a terraced maisonette (or 'upper / lower villa' as they like to call them) without about 250k in your pocket. I was in Dublin recently and that was hit way harder than Edinburgh by recession, but you can see some of the same signs there now.
  4. BessOfHardwick

    Buying In Edinburgh

    Dear God, and the reason it all went wrong was the council's own corruption. The council that spent a billion on a tram. It was a key reason for me selling, now you can't force other owners, even where they are entirely traceable, to carry out repairs. Supposedly they are responsible if said maintenance is 'on the title deeds' but you could easily have a court case where someone just didn't want to do it, because title deeds are old and limited to certain structures only. If someone just didn't want to do the repair and you wanted to sell, you could be fooked. I am impressed by the erasure from history, the good old Cooncil must have a new department of Winston Smiths. And they will be busy.
  5. BessOfHardwick

    Edinbugh Latest

    I just sold the Edinburgh flat I bought in 2010. As this market has been flat or only rising very slowly the last 5 years, I thought it would be a good point to sell despite the EU vote. I recorded prices travelling up from last September and really going up from this February. According to my solicitor it’s partly about btl-ers hoovering up supply before the tax changes, leaving ftbs with less choice and partly about a ftb buying spree and “supply”, whatever that means. We have been back on the old blind bids system. All my viewers (although not all the bidders, three of whom were ‘commercial buyers’) were ftbs, young professional couples and singles in their late 20s-ish, with biggish deposits (so they said), confident of mortgages, all complaining about how many times they had been outbid on other properties and determined to buy old tenement properties in nice but unfashionable areas because the fashionable ones are saturated. My sold price was 30% up on the 2010 price and eventual ft buyers paid well over HR valuation and I’ve heard the same story from the other Edinburgh buyers / sellers I’ve talked to this year. But there is a strong local effect at work (Central Edinburgh, Victorian tenement properties, specific locations) and it’s anyone’s guess how long the momentum will last. In the very immediate area, all the tenement properties which went on at the same time as mine seem to have sold too and, interestingly, the ones with extra bedrooms created by / for landlords are no longer selling for a higher price, lower in some cases in fact. New-build (2006) doocot flats a few streets away were also not so hot. We are still in the summer / school holiday hiatus so it won’t really be apparent until Sept ESPC listings what has happened re asking prices. My solicitor said they had several EU nationality clients pull abruptly out of sales on Brexit but dollar clients came in to buy. All anecdotal. It will be interesting to see what happens post Brexit, with all its Scottish complications. Although IMPO #Indyref2 is now less attractive, Nats at my workplace still talking the talk but looking miserable.
  6. BessOfHardwick

    Reduce Homelessness Petition

    Yes I remember proper heritage tramps: they had a colourful nickname and a distinctive trademark, like Muttering Alf or Tommy Saucepans. They used to sleep in barns and willingly do odd jobs for tuppence, and when you got to know them it turned out they had a twinkly eye and a sentimental heart. Nowadays these 'Euro-tramps' are just rip-offs: surly slavic types in Hugo Boss tracksuits sitting on blankets outside Debenhams, they're clearly fakes, clock off at 5pm I bet.
  7. BessOfHardwick

    Thousands Of University Job Losses

    Most commentators in the UK have very little idea of what universities can actually do, or might do if asked, or what any individual or any nation might genuinely want from them. Well-rounded and curious citizens, for example, as well as people capable of earning their own living. In my experience, it’s almost impossible to have a discussion which isn’t eventually mired down in the astonishing social and intellectual snobbery which still afflicts out education system premised on the idea that there is a natural hierarchy which provides in convenient proportions children who are destined to be taught how to do functional jobs and children destined to be able to study ideas. I have never met anyone whose buttons can’t be successfully pushed by the implication that their education or ‘intelligence’ is inferior in some way, and that includes people who win academic prizes and run universities. My last institution belongs to the phoney “Russell Group” brand and its main objective is now making money in order to survive in said marketplace: via property management, competitive bidding for gazillion-pound grants from big pharma, big oil etc. (please allow me to bury these unhelpful research results for you sir) and milking overseas students via branded cash-cow MA degrees (top of which is the MBA of course, also watch out for ‘counselling’, ‘creative writing’ and similar Masters which can’t qualify you meaningfully). It’s a marketplace, so the CEOs expect big bucks, the route to bucks is management, ‘entrepreneurship’ and gaming the various funding pots (hence publication clockers). Certainly not teaching. Some of the simple numbers behind the current clogging of lower-down university posts is that all the academic pension schemes have now been pegged to the government’s new retirement ages, so someone of 50 is looking at 67 before they can draw their occupational pension or their state pension. At the same time far fewer full-time, permanent posts in the HEI sector are created, so less movement of people with FT/perm between posts. At the same time, the vast increase in PhD studentships in the last 15 years has funded far more postgraduates than academic posts for them to fill. The reason for the increase in PhDs is that research students equal gold stars in the silly quinquennial game which is compliance with the Research Excellence Framework.
  8. Mortgaged BtL have long taken advantage of the fuzzy status of their 'enterprises' which removed the risk from their businesses by not treating them as businesses and but more like someone renting their back bedroom out. So this budget has done a bit of rebalancing and given genuine lodger-seekers an incentive which I don't think is an inherently bad thing. It absolutely doesn't suit everyone to live in someone else's house and I'd guess that young graduates are often not going to be good candidates because it will feel like they don't have 'freedom' (although they might well do better in a liberal lodging situation than actually moving back in with parents) - you have to know yourself and do a bit of mature assessment. It's doubtless a finite market but living in someone else's house doesn't have to be a bad power relationship, careful compatibility choices need making: I lived in someone's back bedroom for nearly 10 years while I qualified and that worked out very well for both of us. Given the relative (compared with pre-Thatcher) insecurity of 'proper' tenancies, it's not necessarily insecure to be a lodger and the upside is you can walk with little complication if you decide it's not for you. Some of the parasites who have emerged in the lettings markets are bypassed as well: people don't trust agents to find someone to share their own house.
  9. Thank you for this thread, it's been a gem.
  10. The value of more education isn’t necessarily an economic one. ‘Knowledge economy’ rarely refers to the simple acquisition of knowledge anyway but its distribution, protection and exploitation. Restricting knowledge or the distribution of acquired skills has worked historically while there are practical barriers (lack of educational infrastructure) but web-based comms and improving baselines in many economies have produced more workers with more knowledges who operate in a global economy. The kinds of knowledges which used to be restricted – and economically valuable as a consequence - are now distributed far and wide, far more educational infrastructures exist to distribute them. The uneven development of those distributions means that for a while knowledges and skills (k/s) may sell for a premium, there was an era when IT comms k/s did so, then Western IT k/s was devalued by the rise of eastern economies able to educate large numbers in desired k/s, some of those are now already redundant as the saleable k/s shift again. In the UK we are producing far more graduates than in previous generations, the sons and daughters of people who didn’t go to university are now going - the complaint of students who say older generations got grants to go to uni so ‘snot fair is inaccurate, most of the older generations didn’t go to uni at all. Those graduates often have a misunderstanding of the purpose of university, as do the politicians who fund HE. It being general knowledge that people who went to university pre expansion got good jobs (‘graduate jobs’) it was supposed that therefore that going to university inculcated the knowledge and skills to get a good job. This was cargo cult thinking. The vast majority who went to university pre expansion were shaped for it, by homes full of books and schools and parents which made certain demands on them - the reason they were sent to university was to acquire additional knowledges and skills which acted as adjuncts to the knowledge capital they already had and for the social ‘experience’ - ‘Graduate jobs’ described the kinds of jobs those people went into. If I were to say that completing a degree course isn’t really related to a mystical quality of superior intellectual power but that most non-handicapped kids could do it with a home full of books, a solid schooling and (crucially) the desire to do so, then a tsunami of complaint would descend from people who believe that they indeed had a special intellectual power which made them worthy of university. Their daddies, indeed, told them so and those good marks are very, very important to their sense of who they are. That belief has important support from universities themselves who need to operate on a principle of exclusion to survive economically. Universities used to benefit enormously from the restriction of knowledge and exclusion of the many. It wasn’t, for example, necessary to actually teach undergraduates much: they came with so much education already – indeed, that was the criterion for their admission - that they could be pointed at the library and away they went. Now with access to knowledges and education so widespread, universities must rely on branding and distinction. The first thing UK universities did, when, to their horror Higher Ed was expanded beyond their nightmares, was to set themselves up as the ‘Russell Group’ (a name as meaningful as Hogwarts) so that their dreaming spires would be better ‘high-end’ value than grubby ex-polys. This they hope to use to attract more already well-educated students who will prop up their sales figures, sorry league tables, and starrier academics, thus attracting more government and research money. Education is valuable. It opens up new spaces in your brain, it challenges your values and preconceptions, it widens your experience and universities allow young people to mature with some confidence. Not that education should stop with or be confined to ‘universities’ – in fact the best education would come from flexible life-long learning. But it’s not necessarily going to translate into economic capital (and your compatriots who went to the University of Life and Pay Their Taxes probably won’t value you for it). No UK government is interested in facilitating such poncy visions, though, because they think education is about economics. They are as married to the idea that ‘education’ somehow produces jobs and wealth like chickens produce eggs. If jobs aren’t produced, or, inevitably, graduates get jobs which a decade before would have been school-leaver jobs, then they say universities are not teaching the right things and must do better. And so we in the expanded university system are now attempting to deliver something called ‘employability’ to huge groups of undergrads who demand to be actually taught in classrooms, but who don’t want to learn the things we can teach them because they don’t seem to be related to jobs, and who are expecting to get educational capital they can spend on a ‘graduate’ job, for which they have already chosen their outfits.
  11. BessOfHardwick

    Landlord Rent 'review' Letter

    My friends who were having rows with their LL found this a useful site http://www.landlordregistrationscotland.gov.uk/Pages/Process.aspx?Command=ShowHomePage now all landlords have to be registered and prove themselves 'fit and proper' in Scotland, you can often find your LL's address (although sometimes just the agency) and if a LL isn't registered at all, that's a criminal offence.
  12. BessOfHardwick

    Renting In The Uk - Share Your Experiences

    Rented 30 yrs give or take, it used to be fine, even after Tories legislated against security of tenure in the 1980s and introduced the 6-month lease. Most landlords were outright owners of the properties and intended to make a small income source out of it or were large companies wanting to make a large business of it. When I began renting in the 1980s, I moved on when I liked and, crucially, renting was a lot cheaper than buying. I don’t remember being asked for more than a 1-month rent deposit, often less than that, no fees of any kind. Small landlords were often very flexible, the larger ones were pretty efficient, I rented from a big land company for several years and it was fairly similar to renting from the council. By the time I stopped renting in 2010 it was very different: BTL, ‘accidental’ / amateur landlords chucked me out of 3 flats because their finances had got screwed up and they needed to sell, couldn’t get more than a 6 month tenancy, agents charging fees every time, including for ‘renewing’ tenancies, take-it-or-leave-it rent hikes every year. Huge deposits which were never returned in full (favourite excuse: £150 taken off deposit for ‘refreshment, replacement and carriage’). Landlords absent, relying on shyster agencies, ludicrous ‘open days’ for prospective tenants to be shown round some crap-hole in a mob, sluggish response to complaints about properties (‘all Victorian flats have insects’) and rents increasing from less than half the equivalent mortgage payments to more than the mortgage payments. Unless you have a nice property out of the high-demand zones on a long-term agreement with a landlord who’s happy for you to stay there as long as you like for a modest rent, or you have a ‘council’ property, renting is often bad value for money, very insecure and hugely stressful. That’s not an ideological viewpoint, it’s just the reality of it where I live. When I bought, the mortgage on my flat was a fair bit less than the rent I’d been paying on a near-identical property. Overpaying my mortgage, renewing by 2 year fixes on an 8 year term basis (so much less paid in interest), I’ve made huge inroads into it. I thought I would never buy but it was no contest in the end.
  13. BessOfHardwick

    51 Yes 49 No - Rumoured Yougov Poll Tomorrow

    I’ve lived and worked in Scotland for 25 years, I’m not of Scottish descent, I’m British. I work for a university and for ‘private’ entities as a part of that. Universities in Scotland are, of course, sh1tting themselves because we receive a disproportionately large amount of the UK block grant. Without that in a post-independence world, we will need all the tuition fees we can get, except Mr. Salmond has promised the young vote there won’t be any. Oh. Our management were told by their own PRs not to engage in the debate - they were advised they would upset both yes-voting and no-voting but patriotic Scots unnecessarily. That same advice repeated for many large public and private institutions. I would be relaxed about Scottish independence in a Federal solution for the UK if it were the product of genuine inclusive, long-term, serious cross-interests discussion and negotiation. This is not that, however. I have come across the Nationalists in a few contexts in the past and I marvel at their skill in parlaying a 50% turnout general election vote into a sudden-death ‘choice’ to construct a new state in 3 years. The part played in this by Westminster will doubtless fill the long winter evenings to come. The other day we had one of many staged ‘debate’ sessions at my institution (at which absolutely no-one says anything which might upset anyone for fear of the New Alba Political Correctness Police (check out the fast-appearing Gallic ‘translations’ below our direction signs, which no-one, from those who commissioned them to the men painting them, understands). First a ‘panel’ of policy makers and budget-holders who discussed their exciting new roles and new money in an independent Scotland with shiny eyes. The only flaw I could spot in their vision was that it relied entirely on every single other region, institution, policy and buget in ‘RUK’ staying exactly the same in perpetuity as it is now. Then we had some very nice undergraduate students. First they told us that the Yes campaign had got it right (and so that’s why they were voting Yes! Yay!) because the No campaign had run an advert which was actually a bit patronising to women and then some other students had made a YouTube video parody of it and so basically sexism will be abolished in New Scotland. Oh and the ‘Yes’ campaign is like a rainbow coalition of ‘grassroots’ people which is poor people and so on and grandmas and gay people and black people (I don’t know what part of Scotland they live in) and so it’s basically much fairer than the Lecturing White Men of Westminster and so will New Scotland be. They are young and haven’t heard of the SNP Tartan Torys, or met die-hard Nationalists and heard what they have to say when there are no media around, and don’t understand what the Orange marchers in the centre of Edinburgh today are banging on about and frankly haven’t met many actual working-class people. They’re young and optimistic and believe that people are basically good and fair, that change is relatively easy to effect and that most people have a similar understanding of the world. The Nationalists have made sure to harness this enthusiasm. They are helped enormously by the willingness of many other groups to project their own wants, needs and desires onto the blank space that is New Scotland and the small, homely figure of Mr. Salmond: the Guardian-reading bien pensants of Edinburgh who think it will be a marvellous opportunity to institute an egalitarian state, with free education, nursing-home care and café culture for all, the public-sector workers who are fed up of pay freezes and who will be richer on Independence Day, the Occupy folk who think Alex Salmond is going to be ‘telling truth to power’ and bringing down the banking system and replacing it with … something much fairer anyway and the guys who haven’t got jobs in industry any more and the very large number of folk who firmly believe that England is a colonial power and that on Independence Day they will be Free at Last, Free at Last (Mr. Salmond was not too shy to liken the registration to vote in the referendum to the disenfranchised black poor lining up in the townships of South Africa in 1994). Many of these people with good intentions believe Scottish ‘Nationalists’ are different from all other historical nationalists. Hey ho, onward and upward to the promised land. Pessimistic? Moi? Not a bit of it but that dual citizenship is going to be a comfort on cold nights.
  14. BessOfHardwick

    How Are You Doing In Your Hpc Game Plan?

    Well, the Edinburgh market is quite complex so I don't rely on anything as vague as 'widely reported' prices from one side or the other. I've tracked sold prices in the area I've moved into for about 5 - 7 years and there are some parts of the general area I wouldn't have touched because they were more over-priced than others due to newbuild fever and BTL investors buying and pushing up poor quality properties. I've been surprised that prices in my particular niche have held as well as they have, possibly to do with the impossibility of more building on these streets. I made a contingency when I bought that I would expect to lose maybe 30% of the price I paid (would thn be back to 2002 price) and if I did I would still be ok and paid off the roof over my head within the next 5 - 7 years and so have some choices from there. My technique has been simple but not a "game plan" if I'm honest: earn hard, no luxuries, try not to get into too much debt. At my age, I can see how pointless waiting to out-guess life could be. There's an old proverb: if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.
  15. BessOfHardwick

    How Are You Doing In Your Hpc Game Plan?

    Bought Xmas 2010-11 central Edinburgh. I never intended to do anything else but have looked to HPC for advice as to how to minimise the effects of inflated house prices. Partly as a result of staying single and partly because it took me such a long time to get qualified for my profession (and so didn’t get a proper contract position until my 30s) and being unwilling to get into real debt, I rented for nearly 30 years, mainly shared houses and someone’s back bedroom. This means I’ve experienced some of the things much younger people are now experiencing in terms of seeming to be shut out of the kind of ordinary semi-detached housing my parents had. A particular low-point for me was being told, somewhere in the late 1990s, by my 20-something investor landlord that he’d see to the repairs when he came back from snowboarding so chillax. To get a chance of a 20-year mortgage and decent interest rates I bought when I did. Got a flat - about a third to half of the typical price of what my peers at work live in - borrowed a bit less than twice my salary having saved a £35k deposit over 5 years. I got a reasonably good deal because of statutory repairs having been done to the building and I’ve put money into it where I thought necessary. Judging by what’s selling around me I reckon it would probably sell (slowly) right now for around what I paid (125k). I overpay. I think the results of bearish reading have been: - I’ve at least got no debt apart from the mortgage, unlike my peers at work who have much bigger mortgage debts (despite having bought much earlier than me) and lots of other financial commitments, tbf often related to kids. - I’ve got a chance of paying my mortgage off whilst still in work. - It’s not a dream-palace by any means but there’s no reason I couldn’t live here for many years if I had to. It’s certainly a result of reading HPC etc. that I’ve been so conservative, there was a point when I could have been tempted to borrow very much more to buy a place "because I'm worth it". As a FTB at nearly 50, I’m not against anyone buying or staying renting or whatever else they feel they can or should do, the situation is unpredictable, despite the many attempts to predict and people need to live their lives.
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