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Everything posted by rattusrattus

  1. Where is Central Park, it's been mentioned by a few people here but I've never found it on the internet, much less real life
  2. Newbuild homes may be pokier than many of the older ones but the suburbs of the last two decades are usually much less dense. Houses tend to be set back from the road, estates have convoluted street plans that waste space, and featureless grassy spaces are ten a penny while functional amenities like parks or playing fields are uncommon. Density can be a good thing, if we go after the american dream of super low density we would all be a fifteen minute drive away from getting a pint of milk- though NI planning policy seems to be going in this direction. Remember if density was such a bad thing Kensington, Edinburgh new town and the majority of London's middle class houses would be considered slums.
  3. In the long term the NIHE wants to demolish most, probably all of it's tower blocks. If you were to buy one of these flats and wanted to sell it in four years time, I suspect by then the likely fate of these blocks would be more common knowledge so who would buy the property off you? Bear in mind that 50% of those flats in those two blocks are privately owned so there could potentially be quite a few for sale over the next few years, most high rise flats in other estates are still owned by the Housing Executive but here there's been a lot of privatisation. I'm not sure what the timeline for eventual demolition is as that's not decided but it could be well after four years, so you may be waiting a long while for the housing executive to compulsorily purchase it from you, and who knows what price they will give you. I would guess that these two blocks wouldn't be the last of the 32 to go, reasoning that they would be the ones recently tarted up like the white new lodge towers of Braniel & Ardcarn reclads. One of the key reasons why the tower blocks are set for the wrecking ball is that they have many vacancies so are hard to justify economically. Another thing to consider is that these flats will have an annual service charge for the maintenance of the lifts and the like- in private developments these are around £1200 but being state run I expect these will be cheaper. I suggest you read the NIHE tower block strategy document from 2015 for more info on the long term plan for these areas.
  4. And a single aspect flat at that, something which no one has accepted in a house for the last century.
  5. Funny I noticed the opposite in London. They couldn't be bothered to take flattering photos. Whether the camera was out of focus or not, the house is still definitely going to sell for a fortune.
  6. Ah right. What was the argument of the judicial review anyway?
  7. BelfastVL, as far as I know BMAP was adopted three years ago. Though the document is probably out of date by now, it didn't seem to put the brakes on the several hundred new houses and several square miles of development in Lisburn, for example.
  8. I live five miles from that house and even I got a brochure this week, and I don't think that estate agent has my address so they must be sending it randomly to thousands of people. Very bizzarre.
  9. I suppose there was a fair bit of that as well. I know there was some kind of mini-recession (don't ask me I know nothing about economics) in the '70's that meant first time buyers could pay their mortgages off quicker. I just struggle to see how people in that stage of their life now are so quick to take out mega mortgages when they could buy something more humble. Incidentally I'm looking at buying in the Upper Ormeau. I estimate there are around 1000-2000 dwellings in the area, and there may be only fifty properties for sale right now. This strikes me as quite low, so it got me to thinking is there a typical percentage of Belfast houses that 'should' be on sale in a given month? Obviously there's no right or wrong answer to this, just an observation that I thought the market would be more busy, regardless of whether the sales are at high or low value.
  10. It begs the question though, if things are regularly selling above the asking price, why isn't the asking price higher. This is estate agents we're talking about!
  11. I think what is surprising is not so much the fact that young people are willing to go over the asking price, but that they are bidding on these sort of houses at all. By that I mean, anecdotally I know of a few people in their thirties who are buying big houses over 150k, which to me are far above what you'd expect for first time buyers. Like you said, there are a surprising amount of people who are blase about taking on such a huge debt. They seem to be determined to buy a home that is similar to the one their middle class parents currently live in. But their parents would have had higher wages, probably bought in a 70's downturn, and it might have been their second or third house purchase. It's almost like they want instant gratification- their first house purchase has to have two big gardens (regardless of whether they'll use them much), a spacious driveway, bedrooms that it will take at least five years of childrearing to fill. They don't see the attraction of saving 50k on a mortgage if it involves the hardship of having to live in a terrace house with on street parking- which at some point in time their affluent parents may very well have done, but these thirty-somethings may be too young to remember that.
  12. Hardly, the housing stock at the Cregagh end is just as classy as the Raven end. The difference is cultural. There are plenty of solidly middle class streets on the Cregagh road, but to a certain extent the residents are allergic to Catholics- this is a common feature of affluent East Belfast and it's not far off the mark to say that if you really placed a high value on living in a normal (by mainland UK standards) non-sectarian area... you would probably want to buy in Ormeau or similar areas in South Belfast. And I suspect that fact alone adds at least 20 grand to the asking price.
  13. Slightly offtopic: I haven't been in the Annadale flats myself but I've been in a block in North Belfast with the same design. They were excellent quality flats. Dual aspect, spacious bedrooms, great living room and okay stairwell- ie. much better than the majority of private sector blocks. Though after 60 odd years the flat roofs are letting in rain- long term the Housing Executive will add pitch roofs to them
  14. 1. Think of it like this. There's four bars within 500 yards of each other and not one of them has the hooligan element that you would expect in ANY other residential area of Belfast. You don't have to be a big pub goer to know that that speaks volumes. I wouldn't be surprised if people have been killed in some of the bars in say the Woodstock/ Cregagh, despite it having a similar housing stock to the Ormeau. 2. It's mixed. There are very few meaningfully mixed areas in this city. Would you really want to be a Catholic raising children in East Belfast when virtually no one is middle class enough to shelter their children from sectarianism. Cherryvalley is sandwiched between Tullycarnet and the Braniel after all. And if you're even a little bit bohemian or perhaps an immigrant you would prpbably be more accepted here than in say the Belmont Road or the posh part of Andytown. 3. It is not (yet) a student ghetto. It's not like there are loads of areas of decent terrace housing that aren't either run down, plagued with asbo residents or students. Granted most Northern Irish house hunters hate terraces but if they don't (or aren't from Northern Ireland) the Sunnyside side of the road is good. Also the streets on the East side of the Ormeau south of the park are absolutely massive and are arguably in the top five of Belfast's housing stock (assuming youre not ideologically opposed to properties that don't have driveways) 4. The shops are good by Belfast standards, not much better than Woodstock Cregagh but there's still a fair few of them. Virtually anywhere nominally middle class in Belfast has next to no shops and you're forced to live a car dependent lifestyle. The Lisburn Road is one of the few exceptions. Which leads me neatly onto point five. 5. It's not the Lisburn Road! So it's more affordable. Arguably less traffic too. 6. Lagan College is one of the best secondary schools in the city. 7. Ormeau park and the Lagan are accessible by foot, whereas much of BT9 & BT10 is a bit of a stretch from Shaws Bridge. Plus there is the walking distance to Queens and the like, albeit it is too far to walk all the way to the City Hall.
  15. I think what we need is more involvement from residents in the running of the management company. There's only one active director here, out of 31 residents. Caveat Emptor- True, but that's a sad indictment of the British legal system if shoddy workmanship is not punishable under law. Of course it's possible that someone's having a bubble bath with their 200k quote for a new wall. Streetview suggests the current one is ordinary wooden fencing, although admittedly this may be why it fell down. 3. Some hypothetical factors that might effect resident involvement. Some residents might be long term habituees who intend to live there for the next few decades, other might be short term letters passing through. Some people will own their home, others may be renting from a private landlord, some may even be renting from the Housing Executive. Might be hard to unite the residents under a common purpose if they all have different tenures and perceive themselves as having different interests vis a vis how the block is looked after and how much they are willing to pay for said upkeep.
  16. Well in the case of a council estate it is perfectly common for the housing body to own individual blocks or the whole estate, and charge management fees on top of the rent. In the likes of Larkspur surely there is a freeholder who owns every brick wall & roof in the building, and is charging the leaseholders annual fees for the upkeep of them. This is the person who should be in the position to deal with the repair bill for the wall. It's their liability. But if they're expecting each tenant or leaseholder to pay an upfront fee of 7 grand it suggests to me that a) the freeholders haven't been prudent, or owning the freehold to a block of flats is not the most secure of businesses- what is the state doing to protect the tens if not hundreds of thousands of leasehold flat owners from issues such as this. Also US condominiums are effectively leasehold flats, all the units are owned and not rented from the government.
  17. So you're saying the management company (limited) is the civilian side of things, the tenants association or whatever. Are you saying the 'agent' is not someone with large reserves of cash and in effect is a glorified cleaning company (as that is what most maintenance work is), and that there's no feasible way a small firm like that they can borrow that kind of money? My experience of 'management companies' for want of a better phrase is the type who own large blocks or even entire estates and who would have no problem fixing expensive things like lifts or in this case a grossly overpriced wall, albeit by putting up your annual service charges. The economics of small blocks like this (Larkspur can't have more than a dozen dwellings) leads me question whether this type of leasehold is dysfunctional when it can't protect residents from acts of God when there'll never be enough residents to pay the sky high fees for this sort of repair. I personally tried to buy a flat once and the deal fell through at the last minute (long after me wasting money on mortgage fees and whatnot) because when the deeds finally came through after vendor skulduggery it turned out there was no management company/ agent in place and the freeholder was 'unknown'. That was a block where there was only 6 dwellings in it by the way. Pi$$ed me off above all because a flat is a perfectly sensible type of housing to want and yet to have to factor in that Northern Ireland has hardly any and most of those are for rental only. It's been government policy for four decades to encourage owner occupation, and to a much lesser extent we have seen an increase in the amount of flats built in recent years. But incidents like Larkspur show that owning flats is far more complicated & risky than it should be. The government should step in and fix whatever problems they are. The americans deal with this sort of thing with condominiums, if that concept works well why not copy it.
  18. I'm not quite sure what you mean, especially your reference to 14 years. A management company is a commercial operation, it's their job to maintain the building and make a profit out of charging their customers (the tenants/ leaseholders) more than they are actually spending on maintenance. All blocks of flats like this should have a management company, unless there was one that went bust. The flat buyers probably wouldn't have qualified for a mortgage if a management company wasn't in place. So assuming that the residents have been paying a management company, say, £500 a year, then there will probably be some money left in the pot but clearly not enough for a 200 grand wall. What is stopping the commercial arm of the management company (not the tenants as they are just civilian stakeholders) from borrowing the rest from a bank and putting up the annual service charge over the next 10+ years in order to payback their loan and start making a profit again. As I understand it the only housing organisation that isn't allowed to borrow money is the Housing Executive, as that is the state- this doesn't apply to Larkspur Rise.
  19. Two things 1. If the landscape architects or the builders who designed or built a wall that collapsed decades before it's natural lifespan then morally they are entirely at fault and should foot the bill- I'd like to think they are legally entitled to as well. 2. The story makes no mention of the management company charging annual rates. If like all other management companies they do, then they should have some money set aside for unexpected repair jobs. As it's a new block of flats it's perhaps understandable that they haven't had time to set aside enough money for a costly bill like this. But it should be within their power to borrow the repair bill money through a loan and fix it now. Naturally the residents' management fees will go up for the next few years in order to cover this loan but it's better than this nonsense of charging residents a one off fee that many couldn't afford. The whole point of management companies is to cope with problems individual tenants don't have the skills or finances to deal with. This just shows the disfunctional nature of management companies in blocks of flats. Charge too much and they end up ripping the customer off. Charge too little and they can't afford to look after things and if they lose enough tenants they go bust. Somewhere in-between these two extremes is a workable system, but like transport and the commanding heights of industry (where 'competition' between businesses can't improve the service) maybe the only solution to this is welfare state intervention.
  20. "There’s also the issue of control over these costs. RPI+ increases soon mount up. Even a small apartment, like 117 Lisburn road, 400 sq foot will cost nearly £1000 a year in management fees and ground rent." Just round the corner the 15 storey block of flats facing City Hospital (Bradbury Court) costs £1100 a year in maintenance charges. That includes one free car parking space, window cleaning, maintenance of communal areas and probably your flat insurance as well. The price is set high so as to budget for expensive renovations in the near or distant future, ie. lift replacements, new windows, issues with the roof. I know someone who had a flat in London that after around 40 years the lift needed to be replaced. Rather than spend those decades slowly building up enough money for the inevitable replacement they kept the premiums low so when the time came to buy a new lift every tenant was hit by a massive bill, think it was around £4k. The grand a year for 117 Lisburn Road seems a bit pricey given that it's a new building, you might find that the lift is uneconomic as there are few tenants to use it to make it efficient. But I'm not an expert so I'm just guessing. I've seen photos of the place and the communal hallways look nicely designed with every floor painted a different bright colour. However design choices like this cost next to nothing so you run the risk of paying premium prices for living standards that should be the norm.
  21. Having been to the one they had in November, all I can say is expect loads & loads of people to turn up to the auction. Few if any bargains to be had. If it's got a maximum reserve of 100k then it will probably sell for 160k.
  22. I second South Belfast but it's worth remembering that despite it's leafiness inner city South Belfast consists almost entirely of deprived council estates and run down student housing. With the exception of a handful of streets that would almost certainly exceed your budget (Mount Pleasant, Sans Souci, Lennoxvale- there really aren't that many) any gentlemans' residence has long since been absorbed into the University, whether for classrooms or more usually as student housing. What were once sizeable and well to do terraced houses have now been subdivided into crowded student digs. The student ghetto is renowned for the noisiness of it's neighbours, avoid living there if you're not interested in partying Monday to Thursday every week during term time. In any case only BTL investors actually buy these type of properties, it's almost all shared rental. The student ghetto would be roughly bounded by Botanic train station to the North, Ormeau Road to the East, Fane Street to the West and perhaps Malone Avenue & Loughview Road roundabout to the South. South of Malone Avenue there are loads of streets in between the Lisburn Road & Malone Road, that are very, very posh. This is the picture postcard image of South Belfast (Malone, etc) that is often talked about but rarely seen, more affordable properties are confined to the south side of Balmoral Avenue in Finaghy or the terraces on the west side of the Lisburn Road (though the latter borders with studentville). The Upper Ormeau area on the other side of the river Lagan is an honorary part of South Belfast and an increasingly desirable one at that Your 12 mile radius of Queens is quite long and suggests (perhaps wrongly) that you want to move to a commuter town rather than the city itself. If you have your heart set on a large bungalow with a big garden then I would point you in that direction- Bangor, North Down coast, Lisburn and to a lesser extent Newtownabbey which is a suburb of North Belfast- all have a sizeable number of '70's bungalows. Shops and facilities are often sparse in the residential areas of these towns though and train stations aside it's a lifestyle based around car ownership. Subjectively I would say try to stay in Belfast unless buying in other towns is much cheaper. Bangor is probably too far out to be worthwhile, Holywood is close enough, as are the central parts of Lisburn. All three towns have the benefit of having a direct train to Botanic station (the closest to Queens). Belsize Road in Lisburn town might suit you, the adjacent Moss Road is similar in character but the preponderance of union jacks hanging from lamposts will likely put mainlanders like you off. The Aberdelghy Park area of bungalows by Lambeg train station (close to Belsize road) also might be of interest. The Bangor & Lisburn trains only run once every 30 minutes, and there aren't many halts within the city limits. Few people (in Belfast at least) wait half an hour for a train when two or three buses will pass them by in that time. If you can wean your wife off the taxis it's worth noting that Belfast's Ormeau Road, Malone Road and to a lesser extent Lisburn Road all have direct buses to Queens University every ten minutes, though the Lisburn Road stop has a bit more of a walk to the main Queens campuses. If you're into suburban semis then how about something like this for 160k http://www.propertynews.com/Property/Belfast/UPS11217-3-10064516/30-Glencregagh-Park/273113969/ About 7 minutes walk away from a bus stop, with a bus every ten or less minutes taking you direct to Queens (depending what department she's based in) in 15 minutes at the most. I suggest this house as although it's not as pleasant as the Ormeau Road (which has an urban village feel to it) it will probably be more affordable as it's on the other side of the dual carriageway. The BT9/ BT10 equivalent would be somewhere like here http://www.propertynews.com/Property/Belfast/ECSECS27503/59-Greystown-Avenue/273122730/ where the bus would be closer to your front door. Of course if your wife is content to take the taxi long distances then that increases the options available to you. Your best bet is to tell us some features you're looking for and people here with local knowledge of Northern Ireland can point you in the right direction. So for example 1. what's your budget 2. desired housing type- three bedroom semi, four bedroom detached, smart council estate terrace, old two up two down (delete as appropriate) 3. Do you want an 'isolated' suburb/ town or do you put a premium on cheerful high streets, pubs that aren't dodgy, etc. 4. Would it bother you to live in a homogeneous catholic/ protestant area, as there's an awful lot of them about. As a scot you'd be safe but there will be a limit to how much flags and outward signs of sectarianism you will be willing to put up with.
  23. Correct. I've never seen flats advertised with any mention of the management company/ charges- maybe they do that for under construction new builds but not older properties. Energy performance charts are the most intimate details you'll get really, other than what you see with your own eyes during the visits. Maybe this is unique to northern ireland but estate agents and vendors solicitors are incredibly cagey when it comes to information to do with reposessions. The whole attitude seems to be one of 'well we'll make such a small commission fee it's not worth putting the effort in'. Just baffles me why estate agents and vendors waste their own time marketing a flat that no one who wasnt' in the BTL business would buy. They knew full well that the truth would come out once the deeds were sent to a buyers solicitor.
  24. I don't quite understand question 1. As for question 2, I agree it's not my job to go knocking on doors trying to find the answer to a question that the vendors solicitors have known for maybe half a year- sums up the disfunctional market that is housing to a tee. I'll do it anyway but I'm 99% certain that no good will come of it. The problem is that the property is a repossession. Nothing physically wrong with it but the mere word repo means any estate agent will use it as a catch all excuse to avoid doing any work, and they straight up refuse to let you contact the vendors solicitors. It's only after many weeks of being the accepted bidder (with the house taken off the market) that my solicitor finally recieves the legal documents that show the management company has been dissolved. Other than the huge dissapointment of realising it is highly unlikely that this sale is going to go through, it is important to remember that this estate agent has verbally said to me "yes there is a management company in place", which is by any definition a lie. I don't have a dictaphone recording to prove it but that's the bottom line. What surprises me the most is that estate agents waste their time trying to sell a property that virtually no one is going to get a mortgage for, and somehow think that lying is going to solve the problem. All it does is delay the invevitable- the house still won't get sold
  25. All the flats I've been looking at have tended to be house conversions where there are at most five flats in the block. Unlike in large tower blocks or purpose built blocks there is never any concrete information on who the management companies are, all the estate agents do is quote you a figure along the lines of "we think it's about £XXXX a month"- ie. what the market rate is. I'm in the position now of having got a mortgage finally secured for such a property, and after 2 months of waiting to sign a contract (there were several delays, some of them my own fault some of them the vendors solicitors') I am now in the position of actually completing on the sale. Problem is it turns out that the estate agent lied when they said there is a management company. Now, I'm going to go round the flats and see if I can talk to any of the residents but I may hit a brick wall due to their being few residents (it's only 1/3 occupied and they mightn't be in) and if the intercom doesnt work then there's literally no way I can speak to anyone. I've heard of the concept about residents forming their own management company but I'm sure this is a load of nonsense as the vast majority of properties I'm looking at will have tenants for neighbours rather than leaseholders. This is presumably a common issue yet my google searches on this subject always seem to assume that flat sales are dominated by owner occupiers whereas in Britain it must surely be more common for them to be bought by landlords to let? ] So it begs the question. Is it ilegal for estate agents to a lie and can they be sued/ punished for their actions. Because in my case I DEFINITELY was lied to. I have of course already spent over £500 on solicitors fees and the like and in any other industry the lawbreaker would have to reimburse me for false advertising. This is going to be a huge issue for me if it can't be resolved as the silence practiced by estate agents when it comes to management companies means that EVERY property I will ever look at is suspect, and it's untenable to pay over 500 quid every 2 months for properties that literally can't be bought, just because it is impossible for estate agents to speak the truth. Their immaturity is effectively meaning it is unlikely I'll ever buy a flat. Anyone else had similar issues and was there a realistic solution to the problem?
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