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Everything posted by hra

  1. Perhaps it really was a spoof! If so, it was a very good one. Wouldn't you need planning permission for any of the changes of use mentioned? I can just imagine some tiny two-up-two-down on Rightmove priced at £1.5m boasting: Bar Entertainment den Meditation room Miniature spa Office Home theatre Gallery - when you get there you find the entire garden is full of sheds and the owner keeps their lawnmower and DIY kit in their bedroom.
  2. I am not completely sure whether or not it would meet the criterion of easy access. A related product I had in mind is a PIP. It advertises: "You can take out money whenever you want". This includes partial and complete cash withdrawals. For one-offs, you get a cheque within 4 days. But then in the online summary PDF document it also says "Some of our funds invest in property and there may be a delay of up to six months in selling the shares of these funds when you cash in all or part of the plan.". I have queried this as I don't know exactly how this would affect an instant cash withdrawal from the plan. That, rather than the risk, is what made me hesitate to invest, but it will be interesting to see their reply. I have also put in a query about their level of management charges as this is also unclear: "Your fund may also have to bear the cost if any of buying, managing, and selling investments, as well as certain other charges, including any fees levied by the financial services industry" - on top of a fixed rate charge! That could mean anything. The fund is not subject to basic rate tax (only higher rate) but presumably you have to make a profit first.
  3. Isn't it true that the Home Office is commissioning research on PC monitors which automatically iris-scan people and download the information to a central database? I could swear I've also heard something about a new biotech company producing keyboards which can collect DNA evidence via fingerprints too.
  4. Yes, in my case the reminders did stop and they didn't send anyone round to check despite their dire warnings (unless they've recruited my landlord!)
  5. Likewise - gave up my licence and TV 10 months ago when a house move acted as a catalyst to my realisation that I was spending more time online satirising TV than watching it! BTW I was not impressed by the BBC correspondence which ensued. Despite filling in the form saying I didn't need a licence and why (polite version), I still got a fairly heavy-handed red-letter reminder at least once. If they introduce a PC tax on individuals, I'll head straight down to the local library, where they have free Internet access and no ID requirement whatsover. Think there'll be a queue, though!
  6. A dead cat might be even more appropriate.
  7. Funny that, I've just come back from South Africa as it happens Kirstie had a bit to say about Sell-To-Backpack-ers, didn't she? Re. premium bonds, I'm changing my mind slightly after looking at the latest figures for the average return: 3.2% which when grossed-up for a 40% taxpayer is still only 5.33, marginally less than the best fixed-rate bonds I mentioned (5.4%). Then there is the snag where you have to wait until the second calendar month after you apply, to be eligible for the draw. National Savings Certificates are worse: grossed-up from 3% they are only equivalent to 5% - a typical Internet account rate. I wasn't joking about commercial property funds. The one in my HBOS pension plan has gone up 15% over the year and is still rising. Another good thing is that is is less volatile than most of their other funds and hopefully (that is the theory) it will be easier to spot when and if it falls.
  8. This is the same property entrepreneur who was held up as such a shining example on Inside Out last month, glowingly endorsed by a choice selection of readers' comments at the end. 'Property Success' (not)
  9. They did - just not for the flood-proofing. The property was being converted into an Amsterdam-style coffee shop.
  10. Maybe that new BBC "Staying Put" property show will start off by showing how to convert your home into a houseboat?
  11. I STRed my 2 properties in May and July 2004 (completion dates). Previously I also STRed in the autumn of 1988 but got back in (albeit at a discount by then) in Aug 1989 simply because I had found what seemed a dream home and was in it for the long term (15 years as it turned out). The two 2004 disposals had a lot to do with luck but also because of reasons I think underlie the fragility of the property market, especially now. The reasons for selling my main home may seem everyday and often ignored in relation to fancy economic theorising but they were mainly: Antisocial behaviour and crime; increasing difficulty and expense of getting maintenance done; failing employment prospects in the area; and planning blight from other new developments and sell-offs spoiling the locality's character. And gut feeling. All the same, luck came into it when I found it such a wrench to sell that I nearly pulled out at the last minute, and had to be persuaded by my family to go through with it. The reasons for selling the other property (a flat originally bought in 1994 as a London pied-a-terre because of the worsening commuting nightmare and later rented out) was that my tenant unexpectedly gave notice; rents had been falling anyway whilst there was a considerable capital gain, renovation would be necessary to find a new tenant without any guarantee of success and there were plenty of other issues hanging over the block e.g. a messy leasehold extension. Then I did the sums, and sold - luckily. With both properties, I found myself spending more and more of my time on the phone to call centres of one kind of another, trying to sort out the most trivial of problems which turned into bureaucratic nightmares. I am quite prepared to believe my buyers have also made the right decision though in their individual circumstances, as they might have better or different resources and priorities. (No gloating). Predictions? An extremely confused picture for some considerable time to come, with some areas and sectors of genuine value showing very little falls if not the reverse and others with less intrinsic value being relatively hard hit.
  12. Yes, unfortunately I just found out the same thing. It ended on 2nd March. They also offered some kind of guarantee whereby they would raise their rates within 14 days of BOE rates - something I hope a few other financial institutions catch on to - rate lag last year was fairly significant over the period and one reason I looked at fixed rate savings. Premium bonds still have a £30K limit, don't they, but at least it's a start! Other than that, the tax position of being an STR is a fairly good incentive not to have a job, particularly a low-paid one!
  13. Interesting that fixed rate savings have been creeping up again slightly, or at least some new players have appeared at the top of the Moneyfacts pile: JULIAN HODGE BANK Capital Millennium Bond 1 Year Bond £1,000 5.40% Never heard of them, has anyone else? Any better ideas? Not BTL portfolios, I take it. Commercial property funds? Obviously an STR has to be looking at something fairly tax-efficient particularly if they have other sources of income, so perhaps that has been the appeal of Premium Bonds despite the low returns.
  14. LMAO as well! I've been wondering whether anyone could come up with any ideas to publish a "correction" to the article. Mind you, another article on the same page was about a brewery conversion. Maybe the author had been covering that one too.
  15. Exactly - see the Independent's latest today. (I assume this is another take on the Moneyextra report of CML figures in the HPC news blog). Home loans at 7-year low
  16. I know it isn't April 1st yet, but I saw this in 'Oxfordshire's premier property newspaper' (a freebie, 'Property Weekly') today: High rate of buyer interest! There are signs of a strong recovery in the residential housing market, according to the well-known firm of chartered surveyors and estate agents, Perry Bishop and Chambers. Ian Perry of Faringdon-based Perry Bishop and Chambers said the firm had examined figures covering the first two months of the year. He said: "We have had more prospective buyers register in our offices than for five years and our level of viewings has hit record numbers. "Not only this, there is a high proportion of buyers registering who are in a proceedable position and we are now averaging more than one viewing per property per week. "Our sales for February 2005 exceeded those of the previous year and we are increasingly confident that we are headed for a strong recovery in the housing market locally. "As ever, any property priced correctly is generating good interest and we are beginning to see multiple offers being received on the same property. "There has been no feed-through to an increase in prices at the present stage but we are expecting a slow but steady increase in prices throughout 2005".
  17. Put some in the leaflet racks or on tables and chairs in the waiting area of your local building society and bank. If you prefer, you could send them in an envelope with a note saying that under the new FSA disclosure rules, they are obliged to keep a stock of the leaflets for public information, and to photocopy more as required.
  18. Probably as good as you'll get in the current market IMHO, particularly if you stay in it for the long term as the yield still isn't vastly higher than fixed-term deposits. I take it the 1K service charges are per year - remarkably low if so. The fact that it has been renovated too. Just across the river, albeit in somewhat dated blocks, a 1-bed flat recently fetched nearly the same figure, with a potentially expensive leasehold extension unpaid for (and unquantified at the time of sale) and not very recently renovated: with service charges around £340 per quarter and rising fast, and last rental under £900 pcm.
  19. Sounds very good value for a 2-bed flat in the area. How much are they paying in rent and what are the service charges like from your point of view?
  20. He isn't in the market for a fast-track visa, by any chance?
  21. Seems like Tony could do with a nice little forged letter from one of the country's leading TV property "experts", on media-headed notepaper of course, rather along the lines of the advice to Cherie (above). The seemingly well-intentioned and sympathetic property guru would no doubt have a few colourful and suitably expensive suggestions as to how Tony could, with the investment of a trifling few hundred K, renovate himself out of this mess. As long as he doesn't get the letter on April 1st, he'll probably be suckered in, by the sound of it.
  22. That would depend on what went on in the architect-designed jacuzzi and whatever else she spends her £100,000 makeover budget on.
  23. Sounds to me as if the best thing for her to do would be to get rid of her tenants, even if they're paying vastly more than £950pcm for the privilege. Then she should budget £100,000 to gut and renovate each flat, making sure she includes all the features which really add value such as turning the 2nd bedroom into an architect-designed jacuzzi and hiring an urban graffiti crew to do a makeover of the living space (who wants neutral decor these days?) She could even put in a planning application to build on the allocated parking space.
  24. When did I predict a crash/slowdown: Towards the end of 2003, when a house I'd had for sale since May hadn't shifted and buyers seemed to have been becoming picky in the same way that they started to for certain market sectors in 1987 and 1988. The older and more individual properties were staying on the market longer and offers were being taken, despite newbuilds booming. Also that particular area, Reading, employment prospects were not quite what they were , particularly with Wildcom (Worldcom)'s misfortunes and also outsourcing gathering pace e.g. the Pru. Previously in 2001 or so, some estate agents were citing Worldcom's success and move to Reading a speficic reason for fuelling the boom in its last stages. My prediction of a correction, at the very least, firmed up in Feb 2004 when on another property my tenant unexpectedly gave notice and I couldn't find another without doing a large amount of renovation and no guarantees of success anyway. I had the property valued for sale as it was and found it had zoomed to about £70K more than I had thought. I did the sums (investment of the capital vs. rental); it was a no-brainer: I cashed in, drew my own conclusions and joined HPC. By the time the 2 properties sold (May & July 2004) I was more or less convinced.
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