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Everything posted by hra

  1. Set up as a "property expert" charging exorbitant consultation fees, telling people how they can make a fortune from the property market even if you know perfectly well they won't. Seems like losing money is almost a prerequisite for the role too.
  2. I quite agree with you TB but am still finding the exercise worthwhile - where in the media has it been reported that the scheme's based on a 2000-2001 survey saying simply that 9 out of 10 households want to own a home; that there's virtually no indication as to which FTBs will qualify; that the regulatory impact assessment is a complete joke; that the list of consultees is totally unrepresentative; and that "key data" wasn't available until two-thirds of the way through the consultation period if not beyond, which makes a mockery of the whole process IMHO (I'm still waiting for a URL!). I won't just be sending my comments to the ODPM. The consultation process requires the Government to give feedback regarding the responses received and how the consultation process influenced the policy so I will be interested to see the results.
  3. Thanks YvonneChristina for bringing this up again. The document itself is well worth a read just to see what's behind the media spin. Some interesting and entertaining surprises. But does anyone have a link to the supplementary document which should be out by now, according to Section 8 (Next Steps) of the consultation document? Source: HomeBuy – expanding the opportunity to own (Crown copyright) I can't find this link and I assume it means more than Gordon Brown's press release. I emailed the ODPM (politely) 2 days ago to ask, and haven't had a reply. The original document really doesn't make sense without "key data", to put it extremely mildly.
  4. Bit extravagant for a near-bankrupt?
  5. In the case of Gordon Brown's property scheme, it's perfectly simple. 9 out of 10 people want one. (or allegedly did 4-5 years ago before prices started falling). Source: HomeBuy – expanding the opportunity to own (Crown Copyright) The "polls" they refer to is a British Social Attitudes survey dated 2000-1! Yes, I should think 9 out of 10 people would also like to own a luxury yacht, a top-of-the range Porsche and a holiday home in Florida as well, preferably at someone else's expense.
  6. - whilst curiously ignoring some other very more obvious and far more easy to fix sources of identity theft. To take one example, mail redirection is being widely promoted as a way to "protect" householders against identity theft when they move house. Yet Postwatch estimate that 10% of mail redirections fail badly enough to lead to a complaint: e.g. renewals taking 3 weeks instead of 4 days due to their backlog, and glaring software limitations on their online renewal forms. I wonder how many criminals have exploited the volume of misdirected and lost letters, whether opportunistically or systematically. Obviously it is less attractive for the Powers that Be to address incompetence than to use it as a pretext. What strikes me about the ID debate is that it is suddenly being discussed in the media as if the scheme had already been ratified and the issue now boiled down to "details" like cost and reliability. I don't hold out much hope for the democratic process on this one but at the same time I do object to the media debate over detail which seems to reinforce popular belief that the scheme is inevitable, however much one may disagree with it. After all, just after the election barely weeks ago, ID cards were being cited as one of the controversial measures where the new, weakened, Government would fail to get its own way. What's changed since then?
  7. Are we, as members of the public, entitled to respond to the consultation? As the document's list of consultees does not seem to include any body representing taxpayers' interests, I feel rather inclined to do so.
  8. Will FTBs in the scheme be treated the same as FTBs outside the scheme in terms of preferential mortgage rates and special offers, or will they pay more for a given loan (including in hidden charges such as indemnity insurance)? Are there any safeguards to limit increases to the 3% rent once FTBs have committed themselves to the purchase? Who will be responsible for valuing the Government-owned portion if at some stage in the future the FTB wants to up their stake in the property, or sell it? Who will pay for such valuations? Are there any safeguards that it (and other administrative costs) will not be prohibitively expensive? How strictly will the definition of 'FTB' be applied: someone who has never owned a property, or someone who does not currently own one?
  9. I am not aware of anything to stop you withdrawing your cash at the end of the 6 months or earlier on this type of account (after all, they could easily reduce the underlying interest rate at any time) but for very large balances it is well worth making sure they can do same-day CHAPS transfers in and out, preferably without the hassle of a feeder account. NB Abbey's 5.40% only applies to balances of over £200K.
  10. I can well understand STR funds flooding into the savings market, but not those of property-owning households who are feeling the pinch, so many of whom are these days characterised as struggling to pay off their debts rather than having funds to save with. With aggressively-priced bonds like the Birminghim Midshires' June 2004 issue due to expire shortly, investors will go elsewhere. I can't comment on whether the Birmingham Midshires netted enough money for their purposes, but they certainly don't seem to be going out of their way to hang on to it. Last year's blurb wasn't quite identical: at least it referred to "attractive" rates Anyway, if you're right, I'll stick with variable rates instead!
  11. Savings providers seem to be betting on interest rates not going up to say the least: Taking 1-year savers' bonds, Birmingham Midshires were offering 5.61% just under a year ago; they peaked at just over 5.7% but are now offering 5.00%. I think this is an extreme case and there may be other reasons for the fact that they are now only merely matching the competition, not offering aggressive deals (BTL exposure)? However, even their blurb says "Your money will grow at a fixed rate for the entirety of that term, no matter what happens to the Bank of England's Base Rate". I.e. lock in your 5% and think yourselves lucky?? Elsewhere 1-year bonds are not exceeding variable rate instant access accounts by much if anything, and the number of special offers seems to have dropped off.
  12. Thanks: didn't see that - Up to 8 working days plus time taken to get hold of and post in the form even if your payment is received electronically. So it still means you are already in effect giving what could be 2 weeks' notice from your point of view, even before waiting for funds to clear so that you can re-invest. In that context I would have even less objection to a scheme where there was a fixed monthly schedule for repaying bonds, if it meant that investors benefited from the same number of draws as full months they had committed their money, including the initial one. At the end of the day, I can't see HM Government lending me £30,000 interest free for at least a month to invest as I please without raising some kind of objection!
  13. Yes, I realise it's only for the first month (and it isn't my main gripe). I would not have objected to a system whereby if you cash in, you get your money back on a fixed monthly schedule in line with the entry cut-off date and draw, or even on the monthly anniversary of when you put it in. You would not typically have to give a full month's notice and should still benefit from as many draws as full months you had invested. I am not at all clear what the *existing* commitment is to returning you your funds in any case - the online instructions describe a process of sending off a form, but is there any promise as to how long this should take especially if they literally have to get Postman Pat to send you a cheque and you have to wait for it to clear quite apart from typical administrative overheads? The latency could amount to a notice period in itself. Having a reasonable minimum term for holding the bonds would also be an idea though on the other hand there's a case for people who genuinely want to hold bonds for a relatively short time (as I did once in between other investments) in which case the month's hiatus is in fact even more of an issue.
  14. I can quite understand they'd want to prevent "churning" of bonds in this way but the problem is they are financially penalising people who do not intend to abuse the system.
  15. Rates for Birmingham Midshires' 1-year savings bond have dropped from 5.61% to 5.00% since June 2004. (At one stage, briefly, they even offered 5.7% or so). Granted, fewer institutions are betting on substantial interest rate rises than was the case last summer (to say the least), the general trend in savings bonds yields has been down, and in fact it is now not easy to get more than 5.3% or 5.4% anywhere else but is the Birmingham Midshires an extreme case? They do offer a 7.5% 1-year bond but it is a sweetner to tie up an equal sum in a 5-year FTSE tracker yielding 90% of any rise over the period. I did hear somewhere that they were exposed to BTL lending and am wondering what effect this has had. They used to be one of the more aggressive savings institutions but are now merely competing.
  16. I'm surprised you managed to understand enough of the Annoyance & Fester's customary kind of semi-literate gobbledygook to realise that their rates were going down at all. Usually, after a long spiel about their wonderful customer service and need to maintain their competitive edge for the benefit of all ... directors presumably, they merely describe such minor details as a "change to their terms and conditions" with the actual figures concealed tersely at the bottom of the letter in a form.
  17. I looked seriously at Premium Bonds whilst a higher-rate taxpayer and have rapidly gone off the idea, mainly on grounds of principle. All the Government has done is, in effect, set the average AER at a level of 3.2% which may even fall short of what you'd get after higher-rate tax on a decent savings account or bond anyway. And that doesn't take into account the one month plus that you have to wait before entering a draw (why exactly)? At what rate is all the accumulated punters' cash invested? How tax-free is this really?
  18. Yes, it probably wouldn't have worked in our area because anyone walking past can see straight into the booths and the officials were keeping a careful eye on them. Try setting up as an exit pollster outside the polling station, innocently ask people whether house prices influenced their voting decision, and how much they expect prices to fall in the area, and then enquire whether they are a potential FTB and offer them a copy of the leaflet.
  19. Posted this last week but it disappeared: here is the gist. Quite apart from all the other posters' misgivings, the sheer layout of the property doesn't exactly give it "wow factor" either IMHO. If the property has been priced on the basis of a potential conversion to a 2-bed flat, then even if you managed to re-arrange the plumbing and sanitation (costly and messy esp. in a lower-ground-floor flat), dealt with all the new building regulations, found some way of ventilating the now windowless bathroom, and didn't get ripped off by rogue tradesmen - you'd still be left with a somewhat compact 2nd bedroom of merely 7' wide, 10'3 long at the end of the day. Also you're still left with a 6'3 wide kitchen too - so presumably not much scope to use it as a kitchen/diner or breakfast area and take pressure off the main reception room. I hope you're not claustrophobic.
  20. Can you post a link to the property, or more details about it, especially the kind of location and building? And what is the vendor's status re. chain? Even if they currently have a tenant of sorts, it is hard to judge how desperate they (as opposed to the EA) are to sell and what other things might complicate the transaction. Have you checked nethouseprices for details of actual sales in the area? By now you may be able to see figures for Jan and Feb, around the time you originally had your offer turned down.
  21. Well if it isn't bijou enough or hasn't enough novelty value, here's one which someone with an even more acutely-developed social conscience has come up with, for the benefit of all frustrated FTBs and wannabe investors. Only £50K! http://www.romans.co.uk/buying_details.asp?id=28154# Compact yet affordable artisan's studio cottage with potential in a tucked-away location with stunning views over landscaped gardens. The ultimate in convenience living for today's busy urban professional, the property boasts a 7' x7' open-plan bedroom cum lobby cum reception cum kitchen-diner cum utility room cum conservatory cum toilet. Must be viewed. Maybe the name of the road is a bit of a giveaway though.
  22. Who gets to assess the worth of the property? And (important in a falling market) at what point - when the property goes on the market, or part-way through the sale, or at exchange? Without seeing the small print, there could easily be scope for Charcol to claim that the vendor had sold off the property for less than Charcol's own valuation or even that of an independent surveyor. Even for vendors fortunate enough to have a "life-changing circumstance" they can claim on, it sounds a bit like one of those too-good-to-be-true part-exchange deals.
  23. Just a couple of comments: there must be an awful lot of diehard sellers who fall outside the category of those moving up the property ladder and I think the scope and advice should be a little more general. Something along the lines of "Lock in your capital gains" might be good. A mention of getting off the property ladder altogether, i.e. STR (even if it is just to break the chain) would also be helpful if you have room. Apart from anything else, it supports the view that the market is falling. Also the phrase "If you need to guarantee the sale of your property": perhaps "expedite" or "minimise delay" might be more accurate. Otherwise all the best of luck with it. Is there an HPC recommended downloads page where it can go?
  24. Yes, I recognise that letter It's even better than the original (more succinct). Plus you have plenty of ammunition in reserve if the EAs write in and contradict it. Glad they printed it, and it must be satisfying to have had some positive feedback.
  25. What Ofcom does and doesn't do in the context of the BBC is described here: Ofcom's regulatory relationship with the BBC It is true that matters of "due impartiality" are excluded. BUT As I understand the blurb, Ofcom *does* regulate: "Application of generally accepted standards to provide adequate protection from offensive and harmful material" and "Subliminal messages" Now judging by the general tone of the complaints I have read on here, if "Real Story" didn't cause "offence", then I'm Kirstie Allsopp. And if it didn't cause "harm", and that includes financial harm, as well as maybe property damage caused by irate viewers hurling objects at the TV, then I'm Phil Spencer. As for "Subliminal messages", if the net effect of the supposedly helpful message to beleagured first-time buyers isn't to induce some people to over-extend themselves and ramp the market, then I'm Sarah Beeny. It surely can't be the case that Ofcom can reject a complaint about an offensive, harmful and subliminal programme simply because it is also the product of vested interests. Has anyone else had all or part of their complaint blocked? What other responses have there been?
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