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Peter Knivett

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  1. We chose the Limoges area option a few years ago. Lucky enough to own a decent sized 50's house in small town with garden, double garage etc outright. Still working hard but key difference now is that we have money in bank for holidays, toys, emergencies and investments. Thoroughly recommend it - make the change and you'll never want to come back. Once you're out of the UK you can see it for the mad house it really is. A week's visit to England is the maximum tolerable now before I start getting stressed again like I used to...
  2. Hypocrisy Of The French An Econo Rant Greece amongst others is having to shape up and shake up no end of labour practices in order to repay the reckless French banks. Well, may they crash and burn. (They won't - Sarkosy will be forced to bail them out in the run up to the 2012 presidential election.) Driving around France last week, I wondered if the French might consider taking some of this medicine themselves. Really? The kind of anglo-saxon anarcho capitalist medicine that dropped the UK and the USA into the economic pooh in the first place? Two hour lunch hours are common as you get south of Orleans. On the way to Limoges, I planned to stop for a picnic lunch. Even supermarkets close FFS. I had to wait until three o'clock to get so much as a box of eggs. Your seem to misunderstand how France works. The French value quality of life before standard of living. If you tell them that the average Brit spends just 16 minutes at lunch during the working week they will look at you as if you're insane, as would most Germans, Swedes, Spaniards. It's only the Brits who think lunch is for 'wimps,' meanwhile the French enjoy a higher GDP per capita than the UK (meaning they're actually more productive - FACT.) Also the shops, banks etc stay open later, 7pm for shops and 6pm for banks. Doctors appointments at 8pm are quite common, where you'll have at 45 minutes per appointment to chat about your health etc. The long lunch breaks also help spread money throughout the French economy into the Cafe and restuarant sector, what's wrong with that? Don't forget it's enshrined in employment law that any worker who works more than 10 Km from where they live must be provided with lunch. Cheque Dejuener's are still commonplace and good luck to them! Having worked in the UK and France I know which arrangement works better and provides a healthier lifestyle. I was on quiet enough roads to pass through all those villages that comprise three houses, a Post Office and a Mairie. Talk about a bloated public sector. Yes, but if the state didn't provide those jobs then there would be serious unemployment in rural areas, agriculture and tourism are not enough to provide jobs. Also the Marie even in a small village has a much more active role than most Brits understand, so what's wrong with that? Greece is having to liberalise its professions too. Well in France, you can only buy a pack of cigarettes from a Tabac. Machines are outlawed. The Tabac is either closed for lunch or closed because it's Sunday or some other reason. Even in a major suburb of Toulouse I found everything closed after 8 . . . Well, adjust your daily routine FFS! You're on holiday - are you going to buy the Daily Mail every day to help you really forget the UK? By the way, haven't been to France for years, so it's news to me that all the bureau de change have disappeared. You can't change money anywhere, not banks, not hotels . . . and certainly not in any of those redundant Post Offices you see every ten yards. Most grown ups these days have cash cards which can be used in a machine called an ATM to withdraw Euros. With Nationwide Flex you get spot rate, why do you need a Bureau de Change? Greece has been told to sell off some Ports. France however got a huge EU grant to redevelop Calais. Ferries run all night, yet the terminal building, restaurant and everything else is closed after 8. You have to get a ticket from a guy in a portakabin in a car park. The EU funding sits there with the lights out. Does that not say to you that the UK should be tapping up the EU for money to redevelop its ports rather than selling them to a middle eastern based sovereign wealth fund? I could go on, but suffice to say there's not a lot about France I would rate triple A. Clearly, because you can't buy fags from a machine at 8pm you've condemned the world's 5th largest economy to ruination - nice analysis. But let's look at the facts...France has one of the world's best healthcare system (WHO stats,) the best roads in the world, a large high speed rail network, 80% of it's electricity from nuclear power bought and paid for, profitable indigenous car manufacturers, higher cancer survival rates, the world's number one tourist destination etc. France is no panacea and has it's problems but trust me, after five years of being here compared to the UK I know what side of the channel I'd rather be on, ta.
  3. 38. Bought first house in 1999 for £86K, sold Nov 2003 £172K. Bought £225K, sold £255K in November 2006, bought place in France with UK house equity when euro was 1.51 to GBP. No mortgage, no kids, married since 2000, offer PR consulancy, copywriting, digital editing to specialist automotive sector on self employed basis. Expect to earn about £40K this year, but costs are very low here in rural south west France. Wife works in electronic sector on £25K self employed copywriting / press releases etc. Looking buy investment property at some stage, probably this side of the Channel. £60K in bank, small pension provision for us both. We consider ourselves to be very, very lucky.
  4. Hmmm, let's put some balance here. From our experience, despite the exchange rate my wife and I can live here far cheaper than we did in the UK and earn roughly the same money as wid back in Blighty. We live in a beautiful medieval town, have access to great healthcare (typical wait for a procedure 48 hours...) and schooling and live mortgage free. Groceries cost roughly the same as in the UK, fresh food is very reasonable, wine is a lot cheaper, we hardly use any petrol so that's not an issue (and is roughly the same price as the UK...) Those who elect to move back who are currently living mortgage free are going to have to fork out for a UK rental or mortgage when they return, so how exactly are they going to be better off? Plus with inflation taking off in the UK thanks to its enormous balance of payments defecit you'll soon be feeling that fuzzy glow of a depreciating £ sterling in your home country. Finally, just look around the UK. Even after 12 years of Labour blank cheque spending the place is crumbling. Roads are knackered, hospitals are deathtraps, power supply industry nearly obselete. And all this before the 20% expenditure cuts that are going to be required to prevent a full blown fiscal crisis. Over here the TGV network is all built, the toll roads are amazing, the health system is world leading and we already receive 91% of our electricity from zero carbon sources (84% nuclear / 7% renewables.) So even if France had to cut its infrastructure spending by 20% chances are it would carry on just fine (flood defences excepted...) Add in the overcrowding in the UK (particularly the South East) which means that every journey is a log jam and I'd sooner take my chances this side of the Channel thank you. And judging by the increasing amount of UK registered or RHD french plate cars I see around here people are marching with their feet. Remember, only dead fish go with the flow.
  5. House prices fall 1.0 percent in Feb - Nationwide LONDON (Reuters) - House prices showed a surprise 1.0 percent fall in February, ending a run of nine consecutive monthly increases, figures from the Nationwide Building Society showed on Friday. Analysts had forecast an increase of 0.4 percent for the month and Nationwide said it was too early to say if the figures were the start of a new trend or a temporary blip. The end of a stamp duty holiday on property sales and snowy weather were cited as possible factors behind the price decline. "In light of low growth in household incomes and elevated levels of unemployment, house prices were beginning to move ahead of the recovery in general economic conditions," said Martin Gahbauer, Nationwide's Chief Economist. "With the longer term stability of the market in mind, it would be a positive development for house prices not to become decoupled from the economic fundamentals," he added. "A pause in the upward trend will also be a relief to potential first-time buyers who are no longer benefiting from the stamp duty holiday and for whom affordability had begun to deteriorate again over the course of 2009." The annual rate of inflation increased to 9.2 percent from 8.6 percent because the price decline in February was smaller than the 1.5 percent fall 12 months ago. The British economy crawled out of recession in the last quarter of 2009, according to provisional data. A second estimate of the quarterly GDP figures is due at 9:30 a.m. on Friday. The country's housing market had recovered quite swiftly from sharp falls seen in 2008 and early 2009, helped by record low official interest rates and a shortage of properties coming on to the market. The government had also removed stamp duty tax on properties sold for up to 175,000 pounds. From the start of the year, the threshold for the sales tax has been restored to 125,000 pounds. Nationwide said the average price of a property sold in February was 161,320 pounds. Link:- http://uk.biz.yahoo.com/26022010/325/house-prices-fall-1-0-percent-feb-nationwide.html
  6. Vienne - department 86

    Look at Logis Service or Maison Rurales

    Good luck!

  7. We left the UK in December 2006 having sold up. Wife was tired out having commuted around the M25 for six years and as thirty somethings we didn't fancy another twenty five years of 'existing' to pay the mortgage. Bought in France, small town, walking distance to bars, restos and friends. Best move we have ever made, it has transformed our lives for the better, less stress, much better work life balance. Bigger house, no mortgage, zero emphasis on consumption and quality of life over standard of living. Vegatables grown in back garden or bought from weekly market 5 minutes walk from our house. Health service second to none (test results always with 24 hours, free parking at hospitals etc) dentistry is dream compared to UK and we have some great French friends who are very sociable and everyone has more time for each other. Roads are amazing, TGV fast, efficient and cheap, teenagers polite, the list goes on. Still working very hard (because we actually enjoy what we do...) but recent tax changes in France mean that it now pays to start a small business here, as indeed we have done, plus we are paid in Euros. Wife also speaks fluent French, but to be fair, we know people who have made a life here who didn't speak the language at all when they first arrived and are now pretty fluent. We are both fortunate in that we can work remotely and only have to return about once every six weeks to the UK. England is now a fading memory and it seems very odd when we do visit the UK, because it's not the country it once was. Fortunately with a degree in economic history I saw the signs coming and we took what seems to have been the right action at the right time. Irrespective of whoever wins the next election, I doubt any of the main parties has the necessary political will to make the right medium (let alone) long term socio-economic policy decisions, because all parties seem to give people what they want rather than what they need. So apart from an abundance of dog pooh on the streets, I can honestly say that there's nothing I miss about the UK. We don't even miss British TV, which seems to have declined into offering 'bite sized' chunks of infotainment in between endless property ramping opportunities. As for the future of the UK, well, all I can say is that if you can leave, there has never been a better time, depleting North Sea Oil, massive national debt and increasing population density aren't a pretty combination. You only get one stint on this planet and having never lived abroad before, I would recommend that everyone gives it a whirl at least once. Feel the fear and do it anyway!
  8. Yes, used cars are still shifting but there are plenty of them to shift. For example, in my professional capacity I visit the Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground near Leicester. I've been there every few months since 1996. There are always 4-5000 used cars stored there by various manufacturers, waiting to be valeted and check over, then trickle fed through to the dealer networks as 'approved used.' Since July 2008 the amount of cars stored there has shot through the roof and was a real canary in the cave to me that the carsh was accelerating (I knew this was coming and had STR'd in Nov 2006.) Last time I was there in October there were 17,000 cars stored on site, with another 17,000 arriving imminently. That's 34,000 cars on this one site, so many in fact they were talking about restricting track use because there were so many cars on site. There were thousands of Grande Puntos, Zafiras, BMW's of all shapes and sizes, Mazda's etc. And this is just one site of many across the UK. This is how car manufacturers / importers manage and manipulate the UK used car market to ensure that dealer forecourts aren't cluttered up, meaning residuals are maintained as they trickle feed these stocks through to varous dealers as and when required. Haven't you wondered why so many manufacturers now offer 'Approved Used schemes' like Vauxhall's Network Q? This sort of price manipulation is endemic in the UK car market and we're mug enough to put up with it. That's why the UK is known as 'Treasure Island.' So next time your in the hunt for a used car and your dealer says 'Lots of demand for them, can't get hold of those at the moment,' remember that it's ******** and it always was, it's just you never see where the stocks are hidden. Another classic example of good ol' rip off Britain.
  9. B&B now trading at 49p, down 19% on the day. Amazing how the wider media hasn't picked up on it yet, maybe they are servicing another agenda. Whatever happens next week I've got a horrible feeling that the UK taxpayer is going to pay the price for the B&B board's gross negligence and greed in attempting to hoover up as much market share as possible during the great BTL gold rush. Thus ends another chapter in Gordon Brown's 'Great Leap Forward,' no wonder the FTSE has disappeared through the floor.
  10. It sounds like a great plan but I'd rent first. Also think about your income tax liability. My wife and I bought a holiday home near Poitiers having STR'd in the UK last year, so we thought we try living in France for a few months. We're both journos so internet working is a doddle. It's a nice place, about 5 minutes walk from the centre of a small town with great neighbours, but it's very quiet so we're going back to the UK as I have a new position starting in December. We've still got some equity from our UK sale, so we're going to sit it out in rented and see if we can snap up a bargain over the next 12 months in the UK (looking bearish on that front!) What have we learnt from the experience? The French are friendly but quite reserved socially. Getting stuff done (paperwork, tradesmen etc) takes forever, typically 3-4 weeks to get a written quote for work. But it's a much less stressed way of life and if we were older we'd certainly stick it out, but at our age we feel need more excitement beyond growing our own veg and walking to the local market. That said Lille is bigger, so they'll be more going for it. Property wise, a crucial point to make is that the French multiple agents agreement is very different from the UK's. Here it's usual for the same property to be marketed with three different agents at three different prices. Also, prior to viewing with an agent you have to sign a slip of paper stating that you found the property through them, just in case you try and shop around, post viewing. Finally, French agent's ideas of 'habitable' are rather different from ours. We were lucky with our place, but we saw some real horrors. Do your homework and good luck!
  11. Interesting thread. As a motoring hack I use a large test track (I'm not naming it...) that's also used as a car park by various manufactuers to trickle feed nearly new cars into their dealer networks to keep the residuals high. Last week there must have been several hundred 50 and 55 plate BMW's of all descriptions being stored gathering dust to then be valeted and transported to dealers as 'approved' used cars. This is nothing new, it's been going on for years, as there's been a historic over supply of news car into the global market for some time, but recently this 'car park' has been growing. If the great British public realised how the supply and demand equation is unbalanced by facilities like this then I'm sure used car values - particularly of prestigious marques - would be far, far lower than today. My prediction? It's going to be a buyers market for nearly new cars over the next couple of years, so if you've got the cash you will pick up some bargains. Happy hunting.
  12. I've been following a couple of decent three bed semis on Halifax's website in Uckfield. Both recently on the market, one down from £225,000 to £219,950, the other down from £230,000 to £224,950. Not exactly a crash, but odd timing for a reduction considering prospective punters are supposed to be more active once the holidays are over. That said, it all adds to the growing feeling that a change in sentiment's in the air...
  13. Start with Autosport magazine (if you haven't already.) The last copy I had dated May 10th that I fished out of the bin to illustrate this point had vacancies from RML, Honda, Williams, Spyker and BMW Sauber. Buy it every week, it's the place to search for motorsport jobs. Failing that, try getting a support role with any motorsport team on a pro level, even if it's just as a truckie cum gofer position to start with. There are always openings, I have been involved with BTCC and GT teams over the last decade and they are always on the lookout for people, but it can be a precarious existence. Go a touring car meeting on Friday practice when you can get into the pits and just ask around. Attend the local round of the British Rally Championship. Do anything - move the mohammed (sic) to the mountain. It's a dog eat dog business and it pays to short cut the system. But your point about relocating overseas for work is a valid one. France, Italy and Germany all have thriving motorsport sectors and even Dubai has plenty of opportunities, but mainly on the race school type side of things. As for the carping comments on the rest of this page, just ignore them. Motorsport's a fine profession to be in, after all I'm writing this from France, in a house that I own outright and I'm still working in the industry, albeit in a media capacity, whereas most of the others on this forum seem preoccupied with paranoid navel gazing about the diminishing returns from their investments.
  14. We've just signed likewise. Asking price 180,000 euros.... ...we've got it for 126,000 including agents and notaire's fees. There are stupid prices being asked out here for wrecks in the middle of nowhere, usually bought by Brits who've got divorced with the stress of it all, but somehow think that their property will have doubled in value even though it lacks electricity, phone lines and even mains drainage! There are bargains to be had, but ignore the websites, find a town or village that you like and haggle like mad with the agents. We've been told that three years ago 7 out of 10 buyers were British, now it's 2 out of 10 and increasingly they're younger couples with families working remotely for UK clients. That said, the coastal areas are still popular, particularly with the Parisians. We're down near Royan at the moment and the prices have gone ballisitic in the last five years - doubling at least.
  15. 1) Circumstances 34 year old married male. Sold house in East Sussex at end of November 2006 as we discovered our dream village property was about to be blighted by a Waste Site and 300 new houses with no net planning gain for the local residents. Made enough equity to buy a four bedroom detached property outright in small town near Poitiers, France with excellent rail links into the TGV system. Wife and I are both self employed journalists with plenty of work thanks to the wonders of broadband and Skype. 2) What will happen to the market Persistant ramping up by VI's will keep the market chugging away at a steadily diminishing level of activity throughout 2007, with 5-6% annualised gain by the end of the year. Unless there's a major unplanned event that forces interest rates higher - war with Iran, or a Saudi oil field going down - I don't see any real house price declines beginning until 2008, there's just too much momentum in the market. 3) Biggest fear On a macro level? Oil depletion pushing most western economies into stagflation. The UK in particular is vulnerable to this thanks to the brilliant decision to waste North Sea oil and gas revenues on income tax cuts instead of spending it on researching and implementing alternative sources to make the UK more energy self sufficient. From this side of the channel - particularly with abundant nuclear power and a fantastic high speed rail network in France - the UK looks mighty vulnerable and Ireland's pretty perilous longer term. On a micro level - French paperwork... 4) Crash confidence level 7 out of 10 that we'll real world price falls in 2008, but not beyond 10-15% of value, unless interest rates have to remain high longer term to combat oil price induced inflation. 5) Interest rate by Christmas 6%. I don't seeing topping that level, but a lot depends on the price of oil and gas. Who knows, I might just be optimistic...
  16. Title says it all really - $70 a barrel and that's without any hostilities. With the US driving season kicking off in May - which usually provides an upytick in oil demand - who's to be against this feeding into inflationary pressures over the next quarter? Should torpedo any doubt in the mind of the MPC regarding the direction of interest rates, even if they don't actually do the deed in April. Interesting times.
  17. My wife and I took option 2, which is why I'm typing this from France. I have to return the UK once a month for work reasons and it always strikes me how expensive, overcrowded and stressful the England, particularly the South-East is. And before anyone mentions it - you can earn good money from Continental Europe via email if you keep your clients in the UK - that's the trick. We now live mortgage free, are just buying a detached house outright in a small town with the proceeds from our house sale in England. Without a doubt the best decision we've made - we're happier and better off. Do it if you can.
  18. I think at the moment there is still a strong demand for property, particularly in the South-East, as this market has ten years plus of momentum behind it. Let's not forget that this unprecedented property bubble has been built on four once in a lifetime economic occurances. Firstly, cheap labour from the new EU acsession countries - which held wage rates low in the UK. Second, low oil prices (falling to $15 per barrel in 2000) which helped keep inflationary pressures down until 2003. Thirdly, the emergence of BTL as an alternative to wasting your money on a risky private pension. Finally, an unprecedented explosion in the rate of money supply growth - in other words plenty of easy credit sloshing around the economy. Examining those in turn, wage rates are on the rise due to rising mortgage costs, increases in council taxes and hikes in energy bills. Also, the flood of EU immigrants is starting to slow and those that remain are getting a taste for the UK way of life and maybe want a decent wage too, so why not ask for 5%? Next up, oil prices. Currently crude is trading at $58-$59 dollars per barrel and this looks set to increase, due to a now severe US winter and cold conditions across Europe. Add in longer term tensions with Iran, instability in Iraq, a decline in North Sea oil output (often overlooked by the media) and you've got a scenario where chances are, oil's trajectory is upwards. More than anything, this adds to inflationary pressures as it did in the previous oil shocks of 1973 and 1980. Finally, Rosie Millard's favourite - BTL. Well, this one has had its day. Seven or eight years ago it was a great bet, but now the returns are so low you'd be better off sticking your money in government bonds, or tax free savings, like NSI. So what does this all mean? Well rising wage pressures and costly oil is feeding through to inflation and this has finally awoken the BOE's MPC, which will need to factor in another rate rise, probably in March. Plus the sentiment in the media is generally turning more bearish against BTL, while key indicators such as bad debt provision, repossessions (though still low compared to 1991) and credit card lending figures would indicate that the market is on the turn. Think of the property market as a giant oil tanker - loads of momentum behind it, the crew want it to change course and the ship is only just starting to respond. Trust me, the smart short-term money left the UK a few years back. Those left behind are either too wealthy to care, in it for the long term, or stuck with no alternatives and it's the latter who I really feel for, because what we've seen with inflation and interest rates so far is just the start.
  19. Would certainly not come back to the UK, even if houseprices were lower. Sold up in East Sussex at the end of November and now very happy in France. Return to the UK once a month for a few days with work, but apart from that I'm working in France. Pace of life, food, low prices, space, generally civilised and pleasant attitudes from people without the crime and aggression encountered daily in UK plc. Looking at buying three bedroom house in nice town near Poitiers for 65-70K GBP. Delighted to say that the property ladder is merely a memory now and don't miss the stress, hassle and weekends spent doing DIY one bit. At 34 years of age, degree qualified, always worked, never claimed a benefit in my life, I'd never thought I'd be so happy to be out of the UK for good, but it's one of the best decisions of my life. If you can emigrate and earn a living overseas you have to try it.
  20. There spaces and paragraphs are all present and correct. Perhaps you'd like me to remove the long words to assist you still further?
  21. We're off to the Vienne region, south of Poitiers. Still get a good sized good condition place for £70K, so that's the plan, to live mortgage free and sit tight for a few years before possibly getting a BTL back in the UK. My wife speaks fluent French, whereas I'm learning and luckily we're both freelance journalists who can work via email. Whatever happens, it'll be an adventure, oh and the local farmer's co-op wine is 22 euros for 20 litres, and it's very nice!
  22. Well, we've finally exchanged (thank God.) Offloaded our semi in East Sussex to a nice couple for a deal more than we thought, mainly due to the huge variation in EA valuations (up to 35K!) Glad to be getting out unscathed, because I feel that the UK is heading for a slowdown, not a crash, soon. Look at the FACTS. UK population owes two-thirds of total debt in Europe, average wage increases up 4.2% last year, money supply up 13%. That means that extra 9% has to come from credit sloshing around in the economy, which, judging by the overt consumption of many fellow Brits, who seem to drive very flash cars, dress like they're best mates of Trinny and Susannah and have all the latest designer metrosexual goods (iPods, tiny mobiles etc) has been spent on an orgy of retail therapy. As someone who studied economic history at university, I can assure everyone on this site that a period of 'loose money' is always followed by a period of tight money, as sure as night follows day. It HAS to happen, it's part of the economic cycle and, for those in the know it's also where the serious money is made, as overvalued assets are sold off and sometime later, undervalued assets are bought with a long term view. Overall, I'd say that the last nine years of New Labour has been a classic case of loose money, cheap credit, rising indebtedness and until recently, low inflation. The latter is the critical factor because it is the target of the BOE's monetary policy. Brown's good luck was to be in no:11 for the first few years of a combination of unique, unrepeatable factors, namely cheap oil (until 2003,) low cost Chinese manufactured goods (until recently...) and thanks to mass immigration from accession countries in Eastern Europe, a supply of cheap labour delighted to undercut increasingly expensive British workers. Those three factors are now starting to unravel, as oil is over $60 a barrel and rising due to dwindling supply of Saudi 'light, sweet crude,' the Chinese are putting the brakes on their overheating economy as inflation bites due to oil prices (factory gate prices up) and accession countries are clearly no longer welcome to flood the Uk with cheap workers. The latter whom, incedently, aren't in a position to get onto the housing ladder madness, rather they rent and send as much money home as possible where it's considerably more valuable. All of which adds up to a scenario that you've got raw material prices rising, import prices rising and upward pressure on average wages to keep up. And that means inflationary pressure, which the BOE is acknowledging with an ever tightening monetary policy, hence the recent upward creep in base rates. How high they'll climb I don't know, but I reckon that 6% isn't out of the question, as higher fuel costs make themselves felt and the mad rush to secure a mortgage before it gets too expensive gathers momentum. Whatever happens, the next 6-12 months are going to be very interesting, because while the long term UK house price trend has to be up - due to increasing population - the short term could prove to be a shock. Good luck and keep your exposure to a minimum...
  23. All in all a very interesting thread. My wife and I have (hopefully) sold our place near Uckfield in East Sussex, taking our equity and heading off to France to buy somewhere outright. We've love England but we're fed up with having to work flat out to earn less and less money as we're on fairly fixed incomes, but both have demanding jobs. Allied to a general decline in standards of behaviour, plus the increasingly unsympathetic development of East Sussex and we're cashing in our chips and heading off. I graduated in Economic History and look around me now to see all the classic signs of 1929, 1988 and the dot.com boom all over again. What I find truly incredible is that people who should know better - usually older people who got burnt in both the last housing bubble and the tech stocks insanity, don't seem to grasp that property (our homes, as I believe they used to be called) acts no differently from any other good. To that end, it's subject to the same laws of supply and demand, albeit the latter in this case stoked by a media with a vested interest in keeping interested parties happy. Clearly, there's a relatively limited supply of houses in the real demand spots - the south east and the midlands -but if Prescott's plan comes to fruition, new build supply increases, which should help meet demand and may stabilize prices accorindingly. That said if anyone would want to live in an overpriced shoe box near Dartford, having to tackle an already gridlocked M25 and a joke of a public transport system is anyone's guess. That's the optimist in me talking, but the realist is more bearish. Energy prices are rising due to the peaking of global oil supplies and the depletion of North Sea gas reserves, which will hit this country particularly hard over the next decade. It also hits the Treasury, which has gobbled up billions in North Sea tax revenues over the last 25 years. Now that's dropping off as the oil and gas runs out, the defecit has to be made up elsewhere in the tax system, which means taxing you and me. VAT at 20% within five years? Could be... Increasing energy prices are inflationary, which hits workers unless their earnings keep pace, add in tax rises and the rising threat of conflict with Iran (who's coastline is the Straits of Hormuz, where 13 million barrels of oil a day are shipped through) and I feel that 'stagflation' could return, with low economic growth allied to energy price fuelled inflation. Because inflation is kept in check via rises in interest rates, I'd be amazed if we don't see more rate rises over the coming months - the recent strong mortgage lending figures could be a sign that buyers are desperately attempting to beat the rises and lock into the current relatively low rates. All in all I think that the UK is in for a rougher ride over the next few years, as a few economic home truths come home to roost, so my parting advice to anyone, is 'buyer beware.' If you can sell up and move into rented or abroad, I don't think you'll regret it.
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