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  1. I was in London last week when I saw - though it was actually moving quite quickly for the rush hour - a fast response estate agent car ... anyone else seen it??? I saw it by the high courts. I can't even tell you which company it was, but I am sure it said fast response car - for enquiries and valuations. What's the rush? There will be no pick up for years...
  2. From the website... Should I Worry About... Spending? As a nation, we're £1 trillion in debt - that's £17,000 of debt for every man, woman and child. Where's it all going? It seems that we could literally be pouring money down the drain: a recent survey found that the average person wastes £1,725 in unused products each year. Here are some tips to help you spend less without compromising your lifestyle: In the supermarket Make a list. Avoid end-of-aisle supermarket danger zones - promotions may not be the bargains you think they are. Look around and compare prices within a product range - premium goods are often at eye level. Mix and match your brands. Think about where it counts for you and don't necessarily go for the leading brand. Think about what you actually need - promotions are used to sell products supermarkets want to make you buy. Shopping centres Shopping centres are pleasure palaces designed to stop us thinking and keep us spending. Know what you can afford, always look at the price tag and shop around - it might be cheaper elsewhere. Try using cash instead of plastic. This will help give you a handle on exactly how much you're spending. Stay focused on what you actually want to buy. Avoid impulse buys and extra purchases. If you really can't afford it, steer clear of the shops. Credit cards Don't choose a financial product based on gimmicks - it's the finance that counts, not the freebies or the image. Read the small print. If necessary, ask questions and don't buy a product until you're satisfied you understand it. Compare your card with other products on the market. Choose the card that best suits you and the way you use it. Retail therapy Think about what you'll gain from not spending - i.e. less worry and a healthier bank balance! If you like to treat yourself on payday, why not do this at the end of the month instead of the beginning. That way you'll have a better idea of how much you've really got to spend. There are certain occasions that come around every year so we can all budget for them - holidays, Christmas, birthdays. Put aside a little each month and you'll avoid paying for it all at once. If you never seem to have enough money to take advantage of seasonal sales, why not put money aside for it? As long as you spend the money on things you need, you could save yourself hundreds in the long run. Cardinal rules Shop around. Can you get it cheaper elsewhere? Think before you buy: Is it worth it? Do you need it? Will you use it? How many people actually follow these rules to save money? One rule that I use is if I like something, I make it my challenge to wait a couple of weeks/months until it appears in the sales at half price - therefore saving my hard earned cash...and still get what I want.
  3. I'm A Property TV Addict... Get Me Out Of Here! By Maynard Paton (TMFMayn) October 28, 2004 I am a property television addict -- for two reasons. First, I sold my house earlier this year and am now renting. Therefore, I have a rather obsessive (and many would say biased) interest in all things house prices. Second, there seems to be nothing else on the box. A quick check in this week's listings threw up the following property-related shows on the five terrestrial channels: A Place In The Sun Builders, Sweat And Tears Changing Rooms Escape To The Country Grand Designs Abroad House Doctor How I Made My Property Fortune How To Be A Property Developer Location, Location, Location Moving Day Property Ladder. Trouble is, they all follow the same old routine. Often, the programmes are about a prospective house-hunter who gets taken round various homes, but is shown later to have bought a completely different type of property at well over the original budget. Or they feature a novice developer who overpays for a ramshackle gaff, underestimates the cost involved, spends recklessly on refurbishments, and yet still sells up for a fat profit - thanks to rising prices. Or they show a smug townie couple who swap their city pad for a country retreat (complete with 'wow factor' and outbuildings), so they can give up the rat race, spend more time with the children and make pottery for tourists. Sadly, there's no sign of this televisual phenomenon abating, with a call on our discussion boards this week declaring: "An exciting new BBC show is helping first-time buyers take that all-important first step. We will help you increase your buying power by introducing you to other first-time buyers in the same position... We'll help you find your dream home...!" Yep. As well as making the biggest financial decision of your life... you pool your money with complete strangers. Crazy? Very. The deluge of property stuff on the telly tells me the housing market is full to bursting. Indeed, if first-time buyers are now having to team up to buy a bottom-rung shoebox, you just know property prices are too expensive and are heading for a fall. And all this on top of it all, house-price statistics and mad property deals tell a similar, worrying, story. At this stage of the housing cycle, the public deserves property programmes that offer greater financial education. For example, I suggest a series entitled How I Saved My Housing Fortune, which would follow fed-up house-hunters looking for attractive places to rent at a cost far less than the potential mortgage. Or Repossession, Repossession, Repossession, which would recount tales from late Eighties homebuyers about the dangers of negative equity and excessive borrowing. Or Property Snake, which would uncover the goings-on behind dubious estate agents, 'millionaire' property seminars and various buy-to-let schemes. Until these sorts of programmes become commonplace, I am left to suffer star-struck homebuyers making what I consider to be costly mistakes. I am a property television addict... get me out of here!
  4. Could be a conspiracy to stop the good news about dropping prices coming out ...
  5. Browsing for housing Cutting out estate agents sounds appealing. Robert Nurden investigates buying on the net 27 October 2004 Guy Brown opted for the internet when looking for a three-bedroom house for his young family. Logging on to a centralised property portal from his office, he took virtual tours of 50 potential homes before coming up with a shortlist of five, and then plumping for one and arranging a visit. The sale went ahead without a hitch and within weeks his family had moved in. That was in Santa Barbara, in the United States, where online buying has reached such a level of sophistication that the market has been transformed. "Coming from England, I was amazed by the efficiency," said Brown. "It shows that with the right amount of technical input, electronic house-hunting can work." By all accounts, the picture is the same in Australia. But the UK lags pitifully behind, with countless stories of dissatisfied buyers throwing wobblies when agents fail to send e-mail updates of properties. The reason, invariably, is that staff cannot work the technology. The other main bone of contention is that properties for sale on websites have already been sold. Megan Lane was attempting to find a house online with her boyfriend, but they soon ran into problems. "Once, two weeks after we had seen new owners moving into a place we had spotted online, it was still on several websites. An automated e-mail alert, our first after registering with a site, simply listed every property on the agent's database, regardless of the price range we'd specified." The problem is that many estate agents in Britain regard online selling as just another shop window, its purpose being merely to entice customers, rather than being a reliable source of information about real properties for sale. Yet about 60 per cent of buyers now start their search for a suitable property online. Clearly, there is a yawning gap between customers' expectations and agents' delivery. Part of it is down to the buoyancy of the market. When sales are booming, agents can be too busy clinching real deals to bother getting their heads around awkward software. But when the market slows, it makes sense for them to give online selling more attention. Adam Rollins, of the National Association of Estate Agents, says a property website is only as good as the person operating it. "Poor performance is sometimes down to laziness, sometimes due to lack of expertise. An agent always has to prioritise what they are doing. It's important to distinguish between large chains and small, independent agents. The big boys can usually afford to invest in more sophisticated technology, which is able to send photos and e-mail details to potential buyers. Not so the local firms, which are invariably loath to fork out thousands on sophisticated electronics that carry no guarantee of increased sales." David Boulding, a designer of software for the property sector, says: "Often estate agents do not train their staff to use the software properly. Perhaps that's not surprising when much of it is unnecessarily complicated, not only in its operation, but in its content. It asks subscribers too many pointless questions, rather than concentrating on the essentials. Simplicity and ease of operation are what is needed." Martin Pridham, a Tunbridge Wells estate agent, says his online sales have leapt appreciably since he stopped buying space on large, complex portals that list thousands of homes, and started using a tailor-made product instead. But there are some good British websites that purr with efficiency and reliability. www.houseweb.co.uk is one and www.primelocation.co.uk is another. Many offer a comprehensive service, incorporating mortgage deals and conveyancing, as well as information on home improvements and environmental conditions. Online property really comes into its own, however, when the buying and selling are done through a stand-alone site, rather than that site being just an add-on to a firm of estate agents. This form of selling privately is rapidly growing in popularity, reflecting the existing trend towards bypassing the agent altogether. The best example of this is www.4salebyowner.co.uk, which charges sellers £59.95 to advertise their house details. For that, they get a full-page listing with up to 10 photographs, the ability to edit it when they want, and to carry on posting the details until the property is sold. Buyers can browse before registering, and they can post "house wanted" ads and join a chat room to swap information. At www.propertybroker.co.uk, vendors are charged £137 for posting details and pictures, while maintaining total control of the content. Estate agents probably hate these sites because they cut them - and their commission - out of the process. The majority of sites are of the shop-window variety, in badly need of a good dust. In my own small trial, Felicity Lord's site insisted: "Please enter a numeric value for the maximum price", which is what I had just done. And Winkworth screamed at me: "Please select an area", when that, too, was what I had just done. Online buying works best when it is used to get a general idea of prices in an area, to find the names of agents in a particular town, or to land a good mortgage deal. For the core purpose of buying, it is still too cumbersome to pose a real threat to the trad- itional method.
  6. Should I Worry About...? Thu 28 Oct, 19:00 - 19:30 30 mins Spending With our collective debt at over a trillion pounds, should we be worrying about our spending habits? Richard Hammond embarks on a series of experiments to establish what is going on when we shop, what tricks the retailers are pulling to keep us spending, and what we need to know to curb our addiction to our credit cards.
  7. In the areas I live in, Romsey, nothing in my estate seems to be moving - for at least 6 months. In Andover, I walked passed all the estate agents in one road. There must be at least 10 in that road - I did not see one person browsing the windows or inside and most of the estate agents were yawning their heads off. What a change from 6 months ago....
  8. I have to say that I thought about selling my house and then buying back in at a later date because I am sure there is only one way the market can go - down. There are two things that are stopping me from doing this. I do not want to deal with smarmy estate agents, who when we were selling my wife's flat could not appear to do anything right. Selling/buying houses has got to be the most stressful thing that I have had to deal with in my life - whatever you seem to do makes no difference and you are being controlled completely by the market and other people. The second thing is that I don't want to help the market stay buoyant by occupying another rented property. The more rented properties on the market, the more the amerterish BTR will panic and will follow the herd instinct and put their flat on the market. This should then bring prices down to the right level and help everyone out - apart from the people who followed the herd and bought in the last year...
  9. I am one of these guests who have been reading this for several weeks, but never wanted to sign up due to work rules. Now I have resigned, I can say what I want... I have been amazed by how prices have shot up in the last eight years. I started renting back then because I wanted flexability for my job. Getting a place to rent back then was hard. I remember getting a sheet of paper with about eight houses on it to choose from in Winchester and having to move quickly to get the house. It only cost the two of us £460 between us for a 3 bed house with garage and garden. 2 Years ago we were only paying £520, but because the house prices had gone up so much, we got booted out so that they could put the price up... to £850!!! They couldn't rent it so they sold it after 6 months of trying. Nowadays there seems to be pages of rental properties in my area. They alll seem to be flats as well. Who wants to live in a flat in the countryside... Meanwhile I saved up a load of money to put a deposit down for a house and managed to buy a house which needed doing up. What amazed me 2 years ago is that I thought I was buying at the top of the market then. I had no choice but to buy back then - wanted to settle down. The house has now added 100,000 onto the price I paid. My question is how and why £100,000 has been added to the house for bascially doing nothing to it? There is no way I could afford the house now and I would not even consider paying that money now. I can't see who would - except a foolish BTR... I feel very flush and clever in theory that I bought two years ago but I know that I could never get the asking price that the estate agents seem to suggest I could get today. There are three houses nearly identically to mine that have been up for sale for 6 months and I have not seen any movement except a reduction in the asking prices. For my friends sakes (FTB's), I really hope that prices come down to a relistic level - back to the level I could just about afford two years ago. It makes no difference to me as if I want to trade up, the price difference between what my house is worth and the house I might want will be reduced and I might have a chance of upgrading in the future. For my friends, it would mean the difference between not affording a property at all or having a realistic chance of affording a house.
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