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Posts posted by Scooter

  1. :blink: Chill wind could hit mortage lending by winter, say analystsGabriel Rozenberg, Economics Reporter

    A slowdown in the housing market by this winter remains on the cards, despite resilient levels of mortgage activity, analysts said yesterday.

    Figures from the British Bankers’ Association (BBA) showed that mortgage lending remains surprisingly robust. There were 67,000 new loans in July, which Capital Economics said was an eight-month high when adjusted for seasonal variations. However, economists said that activity in the property sector was slowing in response to the Bank of England’s five interest-rate rises since August last year.

    Oliver Gilmartin, senior economist at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), said: “Tightening borrowing standards could intensify the current slowdown in lending activity. Equally, those trying to get on the property ladder may need higher deposits to allay the fears of lenders.”

    The value of gross lending in July hit £21.3 billion, 12 per cent higher than last year, the BBA figures showed, driven by an increase in remortgaging as borrowers tried to shut out the threat of higher interest rates.

    Seema Shah, of Capital Economics, said: “The latest data . . . suggests that mortgage demand has remained relatively firm. Even so, with buyer interest on the wane, the moderation in mortgage approvals seen to date is far from finished . . . We continue to expect housing market activity levels to be in a significantly more subdued state by the end of the year.”

    Capital Economics forecasts that outright falls in house prices remain unlikely, but believes that the market will stagnate for the next 12 to 18 months. A report published by the RICS this month found that confidence in the housing market was drying up, with inquiries by new buyers falling at their fastest rate since August 2004.

    The buy-to-let sector has weathered the rise in rates, according to figures published by Paragon Mortgages. The specialist lender said that rents rose by an average of 3 per cent over the three months to July. Paragon said that yields on buy-to-let homes had remained stable at the 6 per cent mark for more than a year. Total returns, including capital gains, rose by 11.6 per cent in the year to July.

    Nigel Terrington, the chief executive of Paragon Group, said: “Landlords are not completely sheltered from the effects of rising rates, but we would expect arrears in the sector to continue to perform better than those in the mainstream market.”

    The BBA’s figures show that the number of loans for remortgaging was 68,814 in July, up 11.6 per cent from a year ago. Levels rose amid expectations that the Bank would raise interest rates again to 6 per cent this year. Since then, turbulence on financial markets has led analysts to conclude that the Bank may not need to raise rates further in the current cycle.

  2. "Selling Houses Abroad" could be a great prime-time show, imo.

    Plenty of Brits trying to sell their appartments all around me in the south of France. Not many willing to reduce their asking prices for the moment, but this will change when they are still sellers after the summer season ends. Notorious November beckons :P

    And what about that little Spanish appartment seller now on morning TV, with his "bargains" at £80K :rolleyes:

    Imagine how we could all sit slumped on the sofa and laughing our heads off as we watch Mr. and Mrs. Holidayhomeowner trying frantically to find the local phrase in their Berlitz Traveller for "How much less? You have got to be havin' a larf !!!" :lol:

    "Menos cuanto? Seguramente usted habla en broma amigo!?" perhaps... :P

  3. Bank of England signals interest rate rise

    By Richard Blackden

    Last Updated: 12:41pm BST 08/08/2007

    The Bank of England has indicated that interest rates will have to reach 6pc if inflation is to be kept under control over the next two years.

    Slide show: How the Bank of England is used to scrutiny on interest rates

    The news will come as a blow to homeowners who will be coming off their two-year fixed mortgages over the next six months and will be facing significantly higher monthly bills.

    advertisementAccording to economists at Morgan Stanley, 70pc of Britons are now on fixed-rate mortgages compared with just 20pc five years ago.

    In its Quarterly Inflation Report, the Bank's charts show that if interest rates remain at 5.75pc then inflation will not come back down to below 2pc within the next two years.

    The Bank's Governor Mervyn King, who has presided over five interest rate increases in the past 12 months, has to decide on rates amid mixed signs from the economy.

    While recent reports on the housing market suggest that the boom is cooling, the manufacturing sector has remained robust in the face of higher rates and a strong pound.

    James Knightley, an economist at ING, said: "The Bank of England's Inflation Report has come in mildly on the hawkish side of expectations, signalling interest rates have further to rise.

    "Consequently, with the growth outlook remaining positive we continue to look for UK rates to be raised to 6pc in September with a further rise to 6.25pc three to four months further on."

    Economists at Morgan Stanley yesterday warned that UK consumers will slow down sharply in the second half of the year as the effects of five interest rate hikes finally begin to be felt.

    The Bank said in its report today: "The scope for further upwards pressure on commodity prices, the limited margin of spare capacity and the continued elevation of some measures of inflation expectations and pricing intentions mean that the balance of risks" to inflation "is judged to be slightly on the upside.''

    However, the Bank of England added that economic growth will now be slower than it had previously forecast.

  4. :lol: Bank risks 'overkill' after house prices stall

    By Richard Blackden, Online City Editor

    Last Updated: 1:27pm BST 26/07/2007

    House price growth stalls in July

    Growth in house prices almost stalled this month, prompting a warning from the mortgage lender Nationwide that the Bank of England risks "overkill" on interest rates.

    Prices edged up just 0.1pc this month, down from 1.1pc in June, as the Bank's five interest rates rise begin to take their toll, according to the latest survey from Nationwide. The slowdown pushed the annual pace of growth down to 9.9pc.

    Having raised interest rates to 5.75pc, many City economists still expect the Monetary Policy Committee to hike borrowing costs to 6pc. The report from Nationwide adds to the evidence that the heated market is at last beginning to cool.

    A report from Rightmove showed that prices climbed just 0.3pc this month, while the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors also reported that house-price growth was at its weakest in more than two years.

    advertisementThe Nationwide's chief economist, Fionnuala Earley, said: "The sharp slowdown in July's house price numbers could show that potential homebuyers are thinking twice about overstretching themselves in a higher interest rate environment."

    Ms Earley added: "When the effects of inflation over this period are added, the squeeze on finances becomes even more acute and further highlights risks of monetary overkill."

  5. Blair's legacy is a nation engulfed by debt

    By Jeff Randall

    Last Updated: 12:01am BST 06/07/2007

    Watching many British consumers en route to a debt crisis has been like observing drivers of cars with faulty brakes, heading confidently towards the edge of a cliff. When alerted to looming disaster, these debtors and motorists kept giving the same reply: "Relax, everything's in control." Then, whooosh!

    Over the past five or six years, cautious voices have warned eager borrowers that they were taking on far too much debt. Just because they could afford their monthly repayments (for now), it did not mean that "maxing out" on credit cards, overdrafts and mortgages was a smart move.

    Unfortunately, too few consumers wanted to listen. Those of us who predicted a crash landing were dismissed as Cassandras. We didn't understand the new paradigm. Debt was cool, a financial fashion item. Saving was for wimps. Only fuddy-duddies and stick-in-the-muds didn't have debt.

    advertisementNow, however, as the price of money rises and the pain of higher interest charges is beyond that which many troubled borrowers can tolerate (100,000 went bust last year), debt is starting to look decidedly démodé, the unattractive bling of bankrupts. The trouble is, we're stuck with £1,300 billion of it - and it's going up by £1 million every four minutes.

    Nearly 250,000 people had county court judgments served on them for non-payment of debts in the first quarter of 2007, a 10-year high. Yesterday's quarter-point increase in interest rates to 5.75 per cent will push many more delinquents over the edge.

    The outlook is darkening. While some economists believe British rates have peaked, London's financial markets are pricing money two years hence at 6.3 per cent. That is the rate expected by the forces of supply and demand, which, I'm afraid to say, have a habit of being right far more often than City pundits.

    Such an outcome would devastate many over-stretched home owners. According to Experian, the research company, were interest rates to hit 6.25 per cent by the end of the year and stay there, house repossessions would top 55,000 in 2009, "well on the way to the bad years of the early 1990s".

    Not only are rates likely to rise further, but the full force of five increases since last August has yet to be felt by those who accepted special low-rate, two-year mortgage offers in 2005. As their agreements unwind this autumn and winter, they will face much heavier bills, "a 25-30 per cent increase in interest payments", according to the investment bank Credit Suisse. Some unfortunate souls are sitting on a mortgage time-bomb.

    While borrowing more, we are saving less. The slice of our income we tuck away in bank accounts, pensions and investments has dropped to just two per cent, the lowest level since records began in 1960. When employers' contributions to pensions are removed, our savings rate falls into the red. Yes, Britons are spending more than they are earning.

    People borrow excessively for all sorts of reasons, but the biggest driver of debt has been an extraordinary upward spiral in property values. Since 1997, average house prices have gone up by 155 per cent to £200,000 - average wages by just 18 per cent to £25,000.

    For many first-time buyers, especially those in London, stepping on to the housing ladder can be crippling. It involves spending up to half their incomes on mortgages. According to the Woolwich, many new borrowers have suffered a 66 per cent increase in monthly payments over the past five years, as house prices and bank rates have soared.

    Dresdner Kleinwort, an investment firm, says that Britain's housing market is "more over-valued than at any time since 1948". After the peaks of 1973 and 1988, house prices fell sharply, by more than 30 per cent. If something similar occurred today, it would cut off an escape route for those who have been funding over-consumption by remortgaging their homes.

    Last year, Britain's five biggest banks had to write off more than £6 billion of bad personal debt, as many customers defaulted. Charities and advisory bodies that help people with debt problems, such as the Consumer Credit Counselling Service, the Samaritans and Citizens Advice, say that there has been an explosion in the number of borrowers contacting them.

    Figures from National Debtline are shocking. In 1996, the year before Labour came to power, it received 60,000 calls for help. By 2004, the number had more than doubled to 130,000. And last year it doubled again to 270,000. Yesterday's move by the Bank of England is expected to push this year's total higher still.

    Mortgage arrears or shortfalls form only a small part - about seven per cent - of overall debt problems tackled by National Debtline. More than 66 per cent of its callers have credit cards and bank loans. Fewer than half are in full-time employment, yet one in three has debts of £25,000 or more; one in ten owes £50,000-£100,000.

    The most common causes of borrowers falling into arrears are sickness, the splitting up of a marriage or partnership and unemployment. It is often a case of bad luck. Others, such as many university students, accumulate huge borrowings (up to £30,000, according to the National Union of Students) to fund their education or pay for training.

    There is, however, a significant minority who plough into debt simply to taste an unaffordable lifestyle. They live the dream: they see it, they want it, they have it. And hope to pay later.

    It is as though, while admiring the Beckhams' head-to-toe designer labels, they decide "I'm going to have some of that", with little thought of the misery to be endured when the credit card bill arrives. And why should they? If it all goes wrong, they can declare themselves insolvent. The Government made it easier for borrowers to go bust, so it must be all right.

    Take an internet stroll through some online shopping malls and you enter a fantasy world, where everyone can join the A-list - as long as they spend enough. Stardriveways.com, for example, encourages its customers to "buy what the celebrities buy" and "look like a celebrity", including the apparel by Jennifer Lopez and Britney Spears. These sites are temples to Mammon.

    More women than men have debt problems: 54 per cent of callers to National Debtline are female. A survey by uSwitch, an online financial adviser, identified 750,000 British women as "shopaholics" who need a weekly fix, irrespective of their finances. The typical female shopaholic has £11,000 of unsecured debt, more than double the average.

    Ann Robinson, uSwitch's director of consumer policy, blames a nationwide obsession with copying the rich and famous. "In today's celebrity-obsessed society, where women emulate the lifestyles and shopping habits of their favourite fashionistas, it is not surprising that women are becoming more interested in 'size zero' than zero percent APR [borrowing rate]."

    This is the Britain that Tony Blair leaves behind: a nation engulfed by debt.

  6. London's midsummer madness

    Last Updated: 12:01am BST 26/06/2007

    Capital gains

    How not to do it...

    What's a sensible buyer to do, asks Caroline McGhie, when the only sales these days are for crazy money?

    Dark, dingy studios going for a quarter of a million pounds, flats selling at 40 per cent more than the asking price, budding families unable to move, price records broken street by street, first-time buyers with "cash dumps" from parents - these are the harsh realities of London's property market.

    'Prices in prime central London are 33·3 per cent higher than a year ago'

    They are the conditions in which crazy things happen. That London is one of the most expensive places to live in the world was unequivocally confirmed last week in Mercer's Worldwide Cost of Living Survey, in which it climbed three places to rank second only to Moscow, ahead of Seoul, Tokyo and Hong Kong in the top five. At the same time, a report from Knight Frank showed that the capital's top properties had risen by over 33·3 per cent in the past year, more than three times as fast as the rest of the country.

    In Lowndes Square, Belgravia, a two-storey flat of 3,720 sq ft was being titivated before a lavish marketing campaign planned by James Forbes of Strutt & Parker when someone walked in off the street and said they had a client who wanted to buy. What was the price? James scratched his head and added 40 per cent to the figure he first thought of. How about £16 million, or £4,301 per sq ft? The deal was done. James is still in shock. "It must be the highest price ever for a ready-to-move-into Knightsbridge flat."

    Equally extraordinary is the sale of a tiny studio in Hans Crescent in Knightsbridge, almost in the back pocket of Harrods, priced at £215,000. It measures just 17ft by 10ft, with a little extra triangle that includes the front door and the kitchen-in-a-cupboard. It has a single window and is on the lower ground floor. In truth, it needs a new bathroom, a lick of paint and a new miniature kitchen. Yet there have been 40 email enquiries and 25 viewings. It has gone to sealed bids and a price, "considerably more", has been agreed. "It has a good long lease of 967 years," says Will Stebbing of Strutt & Parker, who is handling the sale. "And it is a wonderful address." Indeed, houses nearby sell at £4 million to £7 million. In Sloane Square, Douglas & Gordon has just sold a studio of 20ft by 14ft with an asking price of £200,000 at £250,000.

    As there are sometimes flocks of buyers chasing the same property, and as prices move by the day, agents are resorting to sealed bids. In Chelsea, James Pace of Knight Frank says that in the past three months, 79 per cent of properties that have gone under offer have been at or above the guide price, despite the fact that prices have already risen by 50 per cent in 18 months. "One property had 107 viewings in a month and almost 20 offers, four of which were 30 per cent over the guide price," he says. In Wandsworth and Kensington, agents say that 25 per cent of sales go to best bids. "It is impossible to say how much above the sale price these deals are agreed at - it is rather like the lottery," says Tom Tangney at Knight Frank. In certain areas, such as Narrow Street in Docklands, houses sell in a week. Rumour is rife: mews houses that sold at 50 per cent over the asking price, the house in west London that sold in three hours. The list goes on…

    advertisementA problem all over London is that buyers get so frenetic that they make desperate bids, then get cold feet and pull out. There are also "spoilers" who ring up after the close of play for sealed bids, ask what the property sold for, make a higher offer which the agent is duty-bound to pass on, steal the purchase, then knock their own bid down later.

    Families are particularly hard hit. "The family house market is really scrappy," says Jenny Basham, head of marketing at Winkworth. "Even with £650,000 you can only buy a three-bedroom house in Battersea, and there is a desperate shortage of them. These are people with children who want to be near a nursery, they don't have £200,000 bonuses and their salaries aren't going to double overnight, they work hard and find they can't get a house."

    In Ealing, where family houses cost £500,000 to £750,000, there are 216 applicants looking and just 10 houses in Winkworth's window. "Of those, 168 have been looking for more than four months," says Andrew Gilbert, who runs the office. "Those who started six months ago looking with a budget of £500,000 now need £600,000 to buy the same thing."

    Capital gains

    1 Prices in prime central London are 33·3 per cent higher than a year ago

    2 In Knightsbridge and Belgravia, they are 45 per cent higher

    3 Houses have done better than flats because families are desperate

    4 A house worth £100,000 in 1976 would now fetch £4·2 million

    5 The slow-down may start as summer arrives (Source: Knight Frank)

    How not to do it...

    It will surely be the house removal of the year: shifting the Blair chattels from Downing Street to Connaught Square (via Chequers whilst renovations are carried out). For the Blairs themselves, the move will come as a reminder of their poor record in property investment, which started when they sold their home in Richmond Crescent, Islington, in 1997, for £615,000, only to see its value rocket by £1 million by the time a neighbouring property was sold in 2004.

    The Connaught Square house, bought in July 2004 for £3·65 million, at first seemed to be a turkey of an investment. For six months it failed to find a tenant. Then, possibly out of pity, Labour-supporting film director Michael Caton-Jones and his partner Laura Viederman agreed to rent it, but only at £8,000 a month, giving the Blairs a miserly gross rental yield of 3·8 per cent. Moreover, for a year or so it seemed as if prices locally were sliding. No other completed sale in Connaught Square has yet matched the Blairs’ transaction: number 1 sold for £2·85 million in June last year, and a month later number 27 sold for £3·25 million.

    At last, however, there is some good news for the Blairs. Number 25, a similar size to the Blairs’ house, has exchanged for what agent Jeremy Karpel of TK International describes as "in excess of £4·25 million". But the house went on the market last autumn for £4·45 million. "Prices have risen over the past three years, but perhaps not as much as they should have done," says Karpel. "There is still a slight resistance to buying property off the top end of Edgware Road. It is a colourful part of town, which seems to suppress prices. At £1,000 per square foot, the house we have just sold is a lot cheaper than St John’s Wood, where prices begin at £1,200 to £1,300 per square foot."

    Shrewder investors might have headed for Clarendon Road or Lansdowne Road in Notting Hill. The large "low-built" houses in those two streets, according to Peter Mackie of buying agents Primelocation, have recorded price rises over the past three years as great as any in London. The Blairs could easily have afforded, for example, 76 Lansdowne Road, which sold for £2·92 million in November 2004. No house had sold for more than £3 million before last year, since when there have been a couple of sales, at £3·45 million and £4·5 million.

    Other streets where the Blairs could have done better, says Mackie, are Cottesmore Gardens and Victoria Road in Kensington, Hamilton Terrace in St John’s Wood, and Chelsea Square, Chelsea. "It is the shorter, wider houses which have been doing best," he says, "and the taller, thinner more commoditised houses such as those in Connaught Square which have been doing less well."

    Ross Clark

  7. http://uk.biz.yahoo.com/21062007/140/priva...arns-riots.html
    Thursday June 21, 06:52 AM
    Private Equity Founder Warns Of Riots
    One of Britain's richest men has warned that the gap between rich and poor could eventually lead to violence and rioting on the streets. Sir Ronald Cohen, founder of private equity firm Apax, forecast that if people are "left behind" in the race
    to accumulate riches, there could be a repeat of the Paris 2005 riots. His comments to the Daily Mail (LSE: DMGT.L - news) followed the appearance before the Commons Treasury Committee of four of the main players in the controversial private equity industry.

    How does being priced out make you feel? Angry?

    Is there that much absolute (as opposed to relative) poverty in the UK though? I have seen what I would call genuine poverty (no sanitation, little food, no power supply, living in shacks) in Pakistan, India, Nigeria and Angola for example. That is real povertyand might lead to rioting if it happened here, not having a slightly older PC or TV courtesy of the Welfare State.


  8. I'm trying to work this out... Say, as apom suggests, he bought the first property for 150k.

    The "price" rose to 230k so he borrowed a further 80k secured against that house to put down on other house(s). So if he sells the first house he will have to pay back the 80k secured on it. Either by paying cash or by taking out a new loan secured on something else to pay it back.

    But he can't pay back the 80k back in cash from the sale because he owes 32k of it to Gordon.

    So he has to take out a new loan against his existing property stock, if he can. But if he could do this wouldn't he have done it already to aquire more properties?

    So yes, I think apom is right, he is trapped.

    Edit: I suppose he could sell the last one he bought, whose equity isn't tied up in being a deposit for the others. But this one, being his most recent aquisition, will have risen least in value.

    If he has put himself into negative equity through MEW, then yes he would probably be trapped in that case, as the original purchase would effectively have been reset by the MEW. The CGT is applied to the sale price minus purchase price regardless of any debt I think.


  9. so he's trapped, already, and the market hasn't even turned yet. Works in advertising eh? Figures.

    He could wait until the property is worth no more than he paid for it, then he would not have to worry about CGT. :lol:

    In practice he only pays 40% CGT when he sells it, if it has actually gained in value, so it hardly has to come out of income. He is no more trapped than anyone else is by assets with capital gains. I cannot remember offhand if taper relief applies to second houses but if it does he will see the CGT rate drop after a few years anyway.


  10. How to be a buy-to-let survivor

    RISING interest rates, falling yields, more red tape and a crackdown on unpaid tax by Revenue & Customs: 2007 is proving a difficult year for buy-to-let investors. Interest rates have risen four times since last August, increasing the cost of a £150,000 loan by £125 a month. The Government introduced new buy-to-let regulations in April 2006 and 2007, and plans to increase the regulatory burden on landlords next year. Rental yields continued a decline that began in early 2003, with average yields now well below 6 per cent. To make matters worse, the Inland Revenue has reportedly identified 80,000 property investors – one in five of the UK’s 400,000 buy-to-let landlords – who may be liable for extra tax on their properties.


    If you are concerned about your tax liabilities, speak to an accountant as soon as possible. “The cost of several hours of an expert’s time is considerably less than the tax bill you could receive if you choose not to do so,” says Lee Grandin, managing director of Landlord Mortgages. There is a government tax amnesty until June 22, so if you have extra payments to make you should come clean now to avoid penalties.

    But Mr Grandin says that the vast majority of buy-to-let investors have nothing to worry about. “There is little need for the professional landlord to be concerned with this news. The main target for the Revenue will be those who are selling properties and not declaring the sale for capital gains tax.”

    Landlords must pay stamp duty on their investments, income tax on their rental payments, and capital gains tax on their profits when they sell their property. When paying income tax, you are permitted to deduct allowable expenses from your rent. Those include: mortgage interest (but not capital) payments, letting agent fees, legal and accountancy fees, buildings and contents insurance, maintenance and repairs. Home improvements are not tax deductible. Nor can you deduct capital costs, such as the cost of furniture.

    Capital gains tax (CGT) is payable at 40 per cent on any profits over and above the CGT threshold, which is £9,200 this tax year. The longer you hold on to your buy-to-let property, the lower your eventual CGT bill will be: taper relief reduces the amount of CGT that is payable by 5 per cent a year after three years, up to a maximum reduction of 40 per cent.


    Rental yields have been declining gradually since early 2003, because of a combination of rapidly rising house prices and static rents. Figures from Landlord Mortgages show that the average yield in England has fallen from 6.3 per cent at the end of 2004 to 5.7 per cent this year.

    However, it could be that the rental yield picture is about to change. House price growth is likely to slow this year, while healthy rental demand could push rents higher. The National Association of Estate Agents says that the increase in immigration from Eastern Europe, buoyant employment conditions and strong demand from those who cannot afford to buy property is contributing to a thriving rental market. Rents have risen in the first quarter of this year by an average of 1.8 per cent, the association says.


    Your mortgage is likely to be by far your greatest expense as an investor, so keeping repayments as low as possible is critical. “With four rate rises in less than a year, and at least one more expected by the end of the summer, landlords are feeling the squeeze,” says Melanie Bien, a director of the mortgage broker Savills Private Finance. “Mortgage costs are rising far quicker than rents.”

    Anyone coming to the end of a three or five-year fixed-rate deal is likely to be facing a huge increase in monthly mortgage repayments. While you may not be able to achieve the rates possible a few years ago, you can insulate yourself from the end-of-fix shock to some degree – but you must act quickly. “If you are coming to the end of a fixed-rate deal, it is important that you sort out a remortgage before the end of the fixed term, so that you don’t slip onto your lender’s standard variable rate and end up paying more than you need to,” Ms Bien says.

    Where you go from here depends largely on where you think we are in the interest rate cycle. For the majority – those who believe that a further rate hike is on the cards – a fix makes sense. Alliance & Leicester has a two-year deal charging 5.89 per cent, with a £999 fee. If you believe that we have already reached the top of the interest rate cycle, a discounted tracker is a cheaper bet. Birmingham Midshires has a tracker charging 0.36 percentage points below the base rate, giving an initial pay rate of 5.14 per cent. The fee represents 1.5 per cent of the loan amount, but the valuation and legal fees are free.

    “Even with three further quarter-point rate rises – which the market has not factored in – you would be no worse off than with a variable rate product,” Ms Bien says.


    Over the past few years the regulatory burden on landlords has increased considerably. In April 2006 came the mandatory licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation, which means that, if you are the landlord of a property that has three or more storeys with five or more tenants in two or more households, you must obtain a licence from your local council. Licences can cost anything from £150 to well over £1,000, depending on your local authority.

    Under the Tenancy Deposit Protection scheme, introduced on April 6 this year, landlords in England and Wales must hand over deposits given them by tenants to an approved scheme, which will hold on to the funds until the end of the tenancy. In the event that there is a dispute, money will be held by the scheme until a resolution is reached and a decision made on how to allocate the funds.

    Next April will see the national rollout of the local housing allowance scheme, under which housing benefit will be paid to tenants’ bank accounts, rather than directly to private landlords. Some landlords have argued that this could lead to certain at-risk tenants falling into arrears and eventually being evicted.

    From October 2008, landlords will be required to buy energy performance certificates, just like the ones that will be included in home information packs. The certificates will cost about £200 and rate homes on a scale of A to G depending on where they rank on an energy performance scale. The certificates will be valid for ten years and it will not be necessary to buy a new one for each tenancy. Jewels of the North East, page 31

    For the latest online news, information and analysis go to: timesonline.co.uk/investmentproperty


    LAURENT EZEKIEL, 33, left, has protected himself from any future price falls by ensuring that he retains a share in each of his buy-to-let properties. This will allow him to hold on to his portfolio of ten flats in East London, even though he believes that his appetite for investment would dry up if the market stagnated or fell.

    Ezekiel does not believe in worrying about rental returns, which in few cases seem to cover management and agents’ fees: “They are a zero-sum game. The only way to make money from property is by one day selling up at a profit.”

    But it is the prospect of paying high levels of capital gains tax that prevents him contemplating selling any of his £2.8 million portfolio, even if the market turns. Fortunately, he believes property prices will continue to rise in London: “The slowdown hasn’t started. Loads of properties are still going to sealed bids.”

    Ezekiel turned investor in 2003 when he remortgaged the £400,000 West Hampstead flat he shares with his girlfriend; the £290,000 Hoxton flat he bought is now worth £450,000. He has since expanded strongly, purchasing flats in Poplar, Stratford and the Canary Wharf area, all designed to appeal to young professionals. He pays his father, a professional property manager, to oversee the investments, which allows him to carry on with his career in advertising.

  11. Large Yahoo poll reveals negative sentiment for stocks:

    Does the current sell-off represent a good buying opportunity?


    Yes. Time to Buy. 43%
    No. More weakness ahead. 58%
    Votes to date

    To be fair, are you really going to trust a Yahoo poll on buying stocks? Most private buyers are dumb and buy stocks at or near peak (when they have seen share prices rise for a while) and sell in the troughs, exactly the opposite of what they should be doing to profit.


  12. :P

    He's beaten odds of 1/10!! :o

    Go on - your little birdy is Merv himself, isn't it!! No-one else could have predicted this shocking outcome :lol:

    Precisely-PG in "water is wet" shock exclusive! :lol: Only the sad, little internet fantasist himself can believe he is a guru of anything, never mind having a hotline to the MPC. Go on PG, admit it-behind the big, butch avatar is a sad, little man whose only human contact is pretending to his "friends" to be well connected on an internet forum. :(


  13. and that's your last word is it?

    Nope. You went from getting upset because you wrongly thought I was accusing you of being gay (I would not consider it an insult and would not use it as abuse) to going on about gay bikers and hurling gay abuse at me. You really seem to have a fixation with sexuality, you sad little creature. I guess you must be somewhere grim.

    Now come on, amuse me with the story behind your "guru" status. :rolleyes:


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