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Muswell Hillbilly

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Everything posted by Muswell Hillbilly

  1. There was a full-page advert for NatWest in a recent edition of Polish Express, which is a Polish-language free weekly paper distributed throughout London and in various other UK cities. I do not have it to hand, but if I remember rightly, it invited Poles living and working in the UK to open current accounts, and said that they have Polish-speaking staff. The only thing about it which surprised me was that these current accounts are not free of charge, but cost two pounds a month to maintain, so Poles are being charged for the privilege of having a bank account. For those of you who get hot under the collar about such things, you might also be interested to know that Wickes DIY have full-page adverts in Polish Express, and I think I’ve seen adverts in Polish from Ryanair, too.
  2. When will we see the heading ‘Londone for’? I’d love to see similar falling prices of new-build flats in the capital. So far I’ve had a quick glance through the results for the hideous ‘flagship development’ St George Wharf (Borough of Lambeth, SW8), but there are so many hundreds of flats there that I must admit I didn’t have the patience to plough through the full set of results looking for resold ones. I’d also be interested to know how New River Village N8 is doing – last week people were evacuated from the ground floors due to flooding from the waterworks on whose site it is built – but I can’t work out its correct postal address to feed into the various websites.
  3. Having sold to rent earlier in the year, I would advise steering clear of private sales. We had the flat advertised for a month with The Little House Company, with a sign outside, and on their web site, linked to propertyfinder and some of the more minor national sites (not rightmove or findaproperty), but during the whole month we didn't get one single request for a viewing. The advert had been viewed many times, and some people had phoned up having seen the board, but still there were no viewings. We then signed up with a local agent (the same one from which I originally bought the flat), they showed people round the following weekend, and on the Monday we had two offers, one of which we accepted, for almost 95% of the asking price. Of course we ended up paying a fat fee, although I did negotiate it down, largely on account of providing my own photos and floorplan. Nevertheless it was better to sell the flat and pay the fee than not to sell it at all, which is what would undoubtedly have happened had we stuck with the private sale. The Little House Company provided their advertised service well, and they were always helpful and efficient, but they cannot coax people into viewing a property. Despite everyone's hatred of estate agents, it seems that people who are seriously looking to buy property invariably turn to them, rather than to private sellers. This was in north London, by the way, in spring 2006. By all means send me a private message if you require further information.
  4. I've been keeping an eye on the posh districts on the south side (Marchmont, Bruntsfield, Morningside) over the last year or so. Of the tenement flats that have appeared for sale 'offers over' and have later fetched up on ourproperty, nethouseprices etc., certainly some have gone for 40% over, but mostly they've been around 20–25% over. Edinburgh flats do indeed seem cheap to the Londoner – and the build quality, spaciousness and layout of purpose-built Scottish tenement flats is far better than that of English conversions – but the prices have still been going up recently, as far as I have observed, and must be way out of kilter with Edinburgh salaries, more so than in London. Interestingly, the BTL sums seem to add up even less in Edinburgh than in London. Flats which sell for 225–240K in Edinburgh seem to have rents of around £750, whereas flats selling for a similar price in London rent for more like £900. I'm not as clued up as some here on the economics of all this, but this would suggest to me that prices have further to fall in Edinburgh than in London.
  5. Did I dream it, or was there a report on BBC1 Breakfast this morning on the subject of whether it's best to rent or buy? This was just after 0720. The short report showed a 33-year-old female FTB saying that, with the current prices, and interest rates going up, she'll continue to rent (although she did refer to it as being 'stuck' renting). Then there was a male FTB who looked older, but I think they said he's only 21, who is buying now because prices are going up and up, etc. They also wheeled on Martin Lewis, and they even referred to today's expected rate rise as being 'the first of many'! It really does seem that sentiment can change quicker than expected.
  6. Surely at some point rents will have to get back into kilter with mortgage payments. At the moment on the ESPC website I'm seeing two-bed tenement flats on the south side for rent in the region of £600 to £800 per month, yet similar flats have been selling, about 20% over the 'offers over' price, for more like 220 to 240 K. Assuming a 90% mortgage at 4.8%, the repayments on a 25-year repayment mortgage would be £1200; even on an interest-only mortgage they'd be around £830. By way of comparison, where I'm now living, in south London flats with a similar sale price rent out for more like £900 per month. Still the maths don't add up in BTL terms, but the difference in monthly cost between renting and buying is much less than in Edinburgh. This suggests that either Edinburgh rents are too low, or that sale prices are way too high.
  7. Don't forget theat VAT is payable on EA fees, so you need to take another £485 off the profit!
  8. £80K? Bargain! They're £180K round my neck of the woods! £180K studio flat from Foxtons
  9. Funny to see all the people from outside London expressing surprise at 300K for a two-bed flat, although they're the sensible ones to realise that 300K for a two-bed flat is total lunacy. Round here, we almost take it for granted. In districts around Highgate, two-bed conversions have been priced at that level ever since the 'highs' of summer 2004. Do a search for 300-350K in N6, N8 or N10, and pretty much all you'll find is two-bed flats. One-bed conversions are still advertised at about 195-225K, meaning that merely to upgrade from a one-bed to a two-bed, you'd need to raise an extra 90K or so -- in mortgage terms, equivalent to having seen your salary rise by 25K during the few years since buying the one-bedder. And this has been the norm in posh districts of North London for at least a year and a half now. Flats are certainly not 'flying off the shelves' round here -- the same old overpriced stuff sits on the market for months -- but still there's no sign of a crash either. I do find it odd, though, that asking prices are still stuck at 2004 levels, or have even risen lately, since there's no sign of anyone paying them. We'll wait and see ...
  10. I'm taking a rare break from lurking here, because it's interesting seeing Poles discussed. I'm English, but I speak Polish, and my wife, now a UK citizen, comes from Poland. It might come as news to a lot of people in Britain that many of the new wave of Poles over here are themselves incredibly racist. Of course they don't express this in English, the language not being one of their strong points, but one only has to read the weekly free paper Polish Express or a forum like londynek.net to see openly racist views expressed in a way which, were the monoglot British authorities able to understand them, could probably lead to prosecution for inciting racial hatred! A few weeks ago, for example, the main story in Polish Express concerned a bloke who had ended up having limbs amuptated in hospital after being apparently chased onto a railway line by a group of 'Murzyni', i.e. Blacks. If this had been in the English-language media, it would probably have been mentioned that police are seeking a group of black males, etc., for identification purposes, but in the Polish paper the main emphasis was on the skin colour of the alleged miscreants. The paper acknowledged the following week that some people found the tone of the article racist, but the editor brushed off such claims. And today, on the londynek.net forum, somebody -- apparently in all seriousness -- asked whether it is true that, until 1994, black people in Britain were forbidden from riding on the top decks of buses! Somebody replied sensibly, pointing out that for black Britons this is home, whereas new Polish immigrants are merely guests, but a few people piped up in response with the usual racist bile. (I'd post an example with a translation, but the lousy londynek server is being hopelessly slow at the moment.) I'm not sure why I'm writing all this, not least because it has nothing to do with HPC, but I get the impression that left-thinking people think the new-generation Polish immigrants are all terribly civilised and educated and hard-working; hard-working they generally are, but they're not all as educated and civilised as is often thought. Also it's worth pointing out that the Polish education system is not as great as people sometimes think as, in the 1980s, at least in the area of Silesia whence my wife hails, children of 'workers' were only permitted to go to technical 'schools' and were deprived of a general education. Just some food for thought, anyhow ...
  11. Actually that's not quite true: people in Muswell Hill and Crouch End happily pay ridiculous sums of money for houses and flats simply because they're such nice areas. In fact the lack of a tube station helps these areas remain relatively stable and 'family-oriented', as it's a disincentive for itinerant Australians etc. to live there. No disrespect to itinerant Australians, but being near a tube station, and being in zones 1-2, is generally of more importance to them. Also it's a sad fact of Muswell Hill life that the majority of the residents are so in love with their cars (mostly 4x4s) that they probably wouldn't know a tube station if it bit them on the shin. The galling thing is that, in about 1997, I knew somebody who had bought an entire house on Hermitage Road for about 108K, probably with three bedrooms upstairs, if I remember rightly. Now that doesn't even get you a studio flat.
  12. On this forum there seems to be a widespread belief that all flats are inherently inferior to houses. It ought to be borne in mind, though, that in much of Europe, including Scotland, people of all ages and social statuses are quite happy to live in flats. It is only really in England and Wales that there is such an obsession with everyone having his/her own little house and garden. Given the ludicrous leasehold system that still prevails in England and Wales, I suppose this isn't so surprising. However, I'm sure there's a great difference between a well-designed, spacious Glasgow tenement flat and a nasty, poky little new-built 'luxury apartment' built for get-rich-quick BTL landlords, so I certainly wouldn't want to contradict right_freds_dead in this particular case!
  13. Prices are definitely falling in N10 too, and overpriced properties (i.e. the vast majority of them) are sitting around on the market for months and months. One particular enormous new-build house was on the market for about a year, initially at 1.375M, then at 1.25M, and it eventually sold for 1.035M. I would guess that your friend merely got lucky. Either that, or the increases between late 2003 and the peak of the bubble have not yet been cancelled out by recent falls. In Muswell Hill (N10) and Crouch End (N8), the lack of a Tube station is not seen as a disadvantage. Rather, it deters more transient renters from living in the area, so people tend to stay for a long time, giving a kind of pseudo-'community' feel, which of course adds to the prices. And, by Haringey standards, the schools are indeed said to be good, although that's not saying much.
  14. Don't forget that this scheme will leave people completely stuffed when they eventually want to sell and move up to the next 'rung' of the proverbial 'ladder'. If you only own 50 or 75 per cent of your flat, how on earth are you going to afford the difference between what you actually own and the cost of a bigger place? The problem at the moment is that the 'rungs' are already too far apart. I was lucky enough to buy a little flat in 1998, but the additional cost in moving to a larger place is currently prohibitive for me. If I had only bought 75 percent of my current flat, then of course the cost of moving up would be even more prohibitive.
  15. There's nothing remotely socialist about Gordon Brown, and I don't know why the more traditional supporters of the Labour Party kid themselves into believing that, if they only got rid of Blair, everything in the garden would be rosy. Gordon Brown is just as big a privatiser as Blair, if not more so, and has been one of the prime movers behind all the government's PFI/PPP privatisation-by-the-back-door schemes. Perhaps his Scottish Presbyterian background is used as a ploy to fool Old Labour supporters that he's on their side. But he's not: he's only on the side of Big Business.
  16. No photos -- the place isn't even finished yet -- but I'm sure many of the flats in this 'landmark building' in North London will remain empty for a long time to come. Looking at the plans, I'm intrigued as to why the flats start with number 33 on the ground floor. Are numbers 1 to 32 considered to be insufficiently prestigious? This development is just down the road from New River Village, where a large number of BTL studios and other little flats remain unlet, and where some minor EastEnders star was recently in the local press, complaining that the overpriced flat that she had bought turned out to be on a noisy building site. Look for rentals on rightmove or findaproperty, type in N8, and you'll see hundreds of the little blighters (flats, that is, not EastEnders stars).
  17. I heard them mention it in their review of the papers around 06.45. They quoted part of the front-page headline, but most definitely did not quote the line 'House prices stalling'! Funny, that ...
  18. Like many bears on this forum, I often despair of the apparent slowness and inconsistency of the current price falls and begin to doubt whether a full-scale crash will really take place. Having just picked up the Evening Standard property paper, that somebody had left on the Tube, my faith is restored somewhat. The number of obscenely overpriced new-build flats coming on to the market, in ever grimmer locations, is quite astonishing. £177K (already reduced from £183K) gets you a one-bedroom flat in a tower block in -- wait for it -- Deptford! For £187K you can pick up a one-bedder in vibrant, er, Hither Green! A mere £195K gets you a one-bedroom flat in the very height of metropolitan sophistication that is Woolwich! Just who is going to buy these flats? And how many more similar new-build developments are going to come 'on stream' during the coming months? What's that about 'supply and demand'? By the way, here are some links: Deptford Hither Green Woolwich
  19. I imagine there are similar tales of overpriced properties at the top end of the market all around London and elsewhere. The following house went on the market at least six months ago, originally for 1.1M, then reduced to 995K, and now I see it has finally gone 'under offer' at 950K: Overpriced house in Muswell Hill An enormous, newly-built, neo-Edwardian house on the same road originally had an asking price of 1.375M, then sat on the market for over six months at 1.25M. Thanks to the wonder of nethouseprices.com, I see that it finally went for 1035K, a reduction of 17.2% on the asking price, or nearly 25% on the original asking price. Amazingly, it's still advertised for sale on findaproperty.co.uk, at the original price: Woodland House at £1.375M And also at the reduced price: Woodland House at £1.25M I like the fact that it's labelled 'must be seen', as I'm sure the new occupants would love people turning up to see it! Why on earth don't they remove these out-of-date adverts?
  20. That was the 'reservation fee' with the Nationwide, to lock in to a fixed-rate deal. All the banks/building societies seem to charge between £350 and £500 now. (The last time I fixed the rate, three years ago, the fee was just £150.) As long as the standard variable rate doesn't go below its current level for at least ten months, the £389 reservation fee will have been worth the gamble.
  21. Surely not everyone who remortgages is MEWing. My three-year fixed rate has just come to an end and, in anticipation of interest rate rises, I have just stumped up the necessary £389 to lock myself into a fixed rate (4.95%) for the next two years with the same provider (Nationwide). I didn't borrow a penny more. Although, as far as I was concerned, this was merely changing the details of my existing mortgage, I imagine it counts as a new mortgage when such statistics are put together. Why was I so sure that interest rates would rise? Because I take my financial advice from HPC, for better or worse! Since taking advantage of the 4.95% offer, I see that it has been withdrawn by Nationwide, and 5.19% is now their lowest fixed rate. Also, thanks to opinions on HPC, I'm taking the view that, if this crash ever really gathers momentum, prices should be that much lower in two years' time, so I might finally be able to afford to move upwards then. Hence the two-year fixed rate as opposed to a longer term.
  22. I happened to find myself in that area last weekend, and I was surprised to see an agent showing two young couples round a house in Ivydale Road SE15. There seemed to be one couple coming out and another going in, with a KFH for-sale sign outside. Evidently there are still some people mad enough to consider buying homes in the current climate. I wanted to shout out 'Don't buy now! There's a crash coming!'
  23. I like to be as bearish as the next person, so I'm puzzled by a circular that came through the door from a local EA, which reads as follows: 'Although still early in the new year we have already been contacted by a number of applicants, in all price ranges, keen to purchase. Due to the lack of properties currently on the market Stonebridge & Co [London N6] are offering a reduced Sole Agency fee of 1.5% plus VAT, until the end of February 2005.' I thought all EAs had too much property on their books that they can't get shot of, so how come this one's advertising for more? What do people reckon?
  24. In response to red's post about the Foxtons Minis that will be up for sale, it will be a great pleasure to see the branch of Foxtons in Muswell Hill close down, on the first-in last-out principle, just as quickly as it opened. The branch only opened a week or so ago, and it doesn't look anything like an estate agents' office. Rather, it looks like some kind of trendy bar, with a big garish mural on one wall, some kind of pigeonhole things on the opposite wall, a huge projector tv screen on the back wall, and a bored-looking security guard sitting there watching telly in the evenings. I can just imagine the bow-tied w**kers in Soho or Hoxton thinking it up, and it must have cost an absolute fortune. Taking advantage of their zero-commission opening offer, all the overpriced properties that have been sitting on the market for months now have bright green Foxtons boards outside. As they remain sitting on the market for months to come, and the prices start to become ever so slightly more realistic, let's hope that this latest fly round the N10 turd will be the first to die off.
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