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Mr Smith

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About Mr Smith

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  1. Mr. Bo, No need to say goodbye. I completed at the exact peak in 2007 (Doh!) in London (Phew..) and I'm still here. It's an addictive sort of place, here. Regards, Mr. Smith
  2. Mr. Russe11, Mr. 187 doesn't state if he is a contractor or a permanent employee, but few companies offer to accept their employee's commuting costs as expenses, though some will contribute to them. Not many, though. When working as a contractor, you can often write off your travel expenses, but that doesn't make it free. It's just subtracted from your taxable income. Regards, Mr. Smith
  3. Mr. 187, I used to commute from London to Reading, and the cost was shocking. But upon trying to commute on my motorcycle instead, I rapidly came to envy the dead. I can only imagine what it was like in a car, being unable to filter between lanes. As expensive as it was, it was relatively quick, I always got a seat, and I could have a pint with my co-worker on the way back into London. Obviously, this was some time ago. Not that that excuses the price differential. It's just that you have no hope of changing it and you might as well look on the bright side. Regards, Mr. Smith
  4. Mr Hirop, I have only applied for two mortgages on 20 year terms or less, and neither lender seemed to care that it wasn't 25 years. My last lender (Coop) did note that the 20 year term would take me into retirement, and asked me to write them a short note describing how I intended to pay off my mortgage once that happy day arrives. I did so, and they ticked the box. How they can predict when I'm going to retire is another question. A specialist broker should not be necessary, unless there are other mitigating factors. A higher interest rate probably won't be forced on you, all things being equal. Your mortgage is far more likely to be approved if your credit rating is pristine. It's amazing how many mortgage applicants don't know what their credit rating is. Be late with one credit card payment, and it shows. My last employer performed a credit check on me as a condition of my employment. Strange times. I suggest having a look at the Experian website. Incidentally, partially-owning your first house in your forties is not as bad as you think. Regards, Mr Smith
  5. Mr Daiking, I like the "Financial Times Guide to Investing". You can find it on Amazon. Make sure you get the most recent edition, older ones are often put on sale by second-hand vendors. It is medium-thick, but readable, and starts ab initio. There are no real shortcuts to knowledge of this kind, though your comment concerning rising tides is apt. The internet is full of financial sites of varying degrees of quality and vested interest. The Motley Fool is not too bad for beginners in my opinion. They will try to sell you newsletters, services and suchlike, but no harm in looking. Regards, Mr Smith
  6. You're most welcome. Mr athom raises the possibility that your landlord is an imbicile, as shown by his lack of maintenence and the timing of his purchase, and will raise the rent according to his mortgage needs. It's certainly possible. Having rented from an absentee landlord, I found they generally have no idea what shape the property is in, or what the prevailing rents are in the area. But I also found that the letting agents will say absolutely anything, so the landlord needing to "cover his mortgage" with the rent, or anything else the agent says should be taken with a grain of salt. He did have the nous to leave the UK, though. Regards, Mr Smith
  7. Mr Downside, I'm sure most of our fellow contributers will agree that the level of your landlord's mortgage has nothing to do with the rental value of the property. More to the point, what is the rent for other similar properties in the neighbourhood? I'm sure you've checked this. If you reckon the rent is fair for the flat, then it seems to me that the landlord has offered a reasonable solution. But get it in writing, or make an addition to your contract to ensure that it is done, and to a reasonable standard. Negotiating the rent is fair play, particularly in the circumstances you describe. But be prepared to: Have your offer refused, and walk away Have the landlord turf you out as soon as he finds a gang of 13 Albanians who will give him a fiver more a month Have the landlord recover the difference from your "damage" deposit when you move out There are other threads on this site that cover this well, but generally: Ensure you have a contract (an AST is most usual, horrible though it may be) and you read it Try to assertain the financial stability of your landlord, and whether or not he will try to sell the property while you are in it Ensure your deposit is placed with a third-party protection scheme. There is some debate over the value of this scheme, but if your landlord doesn't do this they may be brought to book. Some on this site may advocate a somewhat adversarial approach to your landlord. I do not. As a previously long-term renter, I find that as long as everything is written down and signed, and you and the landlord abide by the terms of the agreement everything works as well as can be expected, given the one-sided nature of the AST agreement. Best of luck, Mr Smith
  8. I'm afraid that around London, even the vast suburb that I inhabit in SE London, prices have continued to rise. Here is a sample street from my neighbourhood: http://www.houseprices.co.uk/e.php?q=se6+1aj All the houses are roughly the same, except some divided into flats, so the pricing is largely like for like. Cue the UK postcode game, where for any given postcode a chorus of posters declare the area uninhabitable by any right-thinking person... Regards, Mr Smith
  9. There is absolutely nothing intrisically wrong with timber-framed buildings. Where I was born, almost all residential buildings are made this way on site. When done by competent builders, the upsides are: Very fast construction Slightly cheaper build costs, compared to typical masonary construction. Houses built in a factory and assembled on site (like the site referred to by Mr Build) are cheaper still More ecological use of materials Usually easier to insulate to spec. Warmer and cheaper to heat. Great flexibility in design and layout Downsides (in the UK): Mortgage lenders (and the buying public) generally thing they are inferior in some important, but undefined way Builders are unfamiliar with the techniques required to build timber framed houses on site. Not to take a pop at UK chippies, but frame carpentry hasn't really moved along here in a century. Sheetrock internal walls can transmit sound, if not built with this in mind. Also, as previously mentioned, build costs are usually a small percentage of the total cost when you figure land - sorry, planning permission into the budget. I'd love to self-build. Indeed, in some parts of Canada it's more usual to build your own house than buy one. Regards, Mr Smith
  10. Mr Ripoff, I haven't used them, but a colleague of mine helped them get set up. He indicates that they were quite efficiently organised, but low-budget to start with. Keep in mind they are brand new in banking terms. I'd expect them to lose money for a little while in the current climate. £23M is a relatively small loss for a bank, I would think. Regards, Mr Smith
  11. Actually, that looks like a very nice house, beautifully situated. Insanely expensive, mind, but much better design that the usual crumulent McMansions. So say I. Regards, Mr Smith
  12. I have not been through the process, but I have read (several times) Mark Brinkley's excellent book "The Housebuilder's Bible": http://www.amazon.co.uk/Housebuilders-Bible-ninth-Mark-Brinkley/dp/1905959443 In it is described in detail how staged payments work in self-build projects. It's essential reading, in spite of the copious typos and miniscule font. Regards, Mr Smith
  13. Mr. Stebo, Good idea. If I were you, I would consider having the partially property treated as a self-build. There are several mortgage and finance brokers that do this, including http://www.buildstore.co.uk/finance/selfbuildmortgages.html. Regards, Mr Smith
  14. Welcome. Rent in central London is quite high. Owning a car in the congestion zone isn't too bad, but driving in London every day? Madness. Take public transit, but not buses. I think the previous poster offered good advice. Trains into london are quite good in zones 3 and 4. Faster than the tube, particularly during rush hour, and where I live (SE London) they run every 10 or 15 minutes. West and North London are quite nice, but expensive and Highgate is actually quite a distance from central London. South of the river can be a little boring, but good value and quick into town. Good luck with the letting agents. Practice engaging with them by flushing your money down the toilet and smacking yourself in the head with a ball peen hammer to simulate the aggrevation.
  15. I took out a five-year fixed rate re-mortage a year ago thinking interest rates had to go up, and I was wrong, so far. But I sleep like a stone. The reason people in the UK don't take 25 year mortgages like they do in Canada and the United States is that the few that are available here are complete rip-offs. Like the credit cards, bank accounts, insurance and utilities, we've become used to churning them every year to avoid getting taken. A shame, really. It comes down to how much you would be screwed if interest rates rose beyond what you could pay back. Odds are that there will be more than a few hundred pounds difference either way at the end of the mortgage, but the variable rate one would probably rise from very little to a lot more.
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