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Annoyingly, yesterday O'Riordan Bond in Grange Park removed all their properties from Rightmove and then re-added them as new entries, which has screwed up Property Bee. Does anyone know how to merge the old Property Bee record with the new one, assuming its possible?

It's possible, but to be honest a huge amount of manual effort would be needed.

But it's probably best to wait for a short while in case something happens which may help ;)

The linking of relisted adverts is something I've been prototyping in the last few days to see if my idea works (it does sort of work but needs some more thought in how to present the information and a snazzy simple interface to work it).

Hopefully when finished, property-bee will suggest listings which are for the same/similar properties and allow the user to "link" these histories together if they want.

As I said, its earlier prototyping days, but think the principle works.. just depends on my workload over the coming month or so...

Hi Pablopatito,

I don't think there's away to merge data, but I could be wrong. I hear tell that in one of the next versions it might be possible to add your own annotation to your own data?

Annotations... not the next major release.. but the next one, or maybe before if I get time ;)

If you have any suggestions on how this should work... post them over on the property-bee forum, I have a few ideas but would be nice to get a few users opinions too.

I've sent BeerHunter a message - I'm sure he will be a long to have a look shortly.

I don't think O'RB have made this move to foil PropertyBee, I suspect its more of a clean up now they've moved to their new Head Office. Although, they looked a little cramped in Wednesday nights Chron photo?

If it was an attempt to disarm PropertyBee in some way, continually removing and adding new pages would soon effect their sales, as most people bookmark pages there interested in and come back later.

Exactly, its more likely to something like a new site license for the rightmove software and hence a bulk update rather than anything else.

Cheers

BH

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http://www.northamptonchron.co.uk/your-let...is-a.4160599.jp [07 June 08]

House is a home not an investment - Readers Letters

Even as a potential first time buyer, I'm aware that house-buying is bit of a game and that clearly vendors, and in turn estate agents, want to get the best price for a property they can.

However, in this climate of economic downturn and lowering house prices, it is very frustrating that asking prices for houses remain ridiculously high.

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have suggested that our housing market is over-inflated by around 20 per cent and frankly the golden goose has stopped laying.

So I'd say it was about time that both vendors and estate agents dropped asking prices, if only to ensure that the local market doesn't grind to a complete halt.

Location is a key factor in choosing a house but price is also a criteria and if the asking prices remain artificially high then potential buyers will remain uninterested.

So if you want to sell your house, start being a little more realistic because I don't see any queues outside estate agents in Northampton.

The same would apply to landlords and letting agents as many landlords are selling up due to over-supply in the rental market.

The competition is high.

Maybe now is finally the time that people need to realise that a house should be a home, not an investment.

Name and address supplied but withheld by request.

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I really thought by now we'd be seeing new properties coming onto the market at significantly lower asking prices than those that have been stuck on the market since January. However, it seems it may be the opposite - houses are still coming on at peak prices, or even higher than peak prices. Here are two near me that have just come on, and I found their prices eye-watering:

http://www.rightmove.co.uk/viewdetails-180...=1&tr_t=buy

http://www.rightmove.co.uk/viewdetails-180...=1&tr_t=buy

Bear in mind that these are in Far Cotton, one of the poorest areas of Northampton. It almost worries me because our house is currently under offer, and based on these asking prices our offer looks an absolute bargain and we're mad to have accepted it. Of course, I'm confident that the only reason our house is under offer, whilst all the other houses around us remain unsold, is because we're one of the few vendors that have been realistic, and none of these houses have a chance in hell of selling. But there's still that nagging doubt in the back of mind saying "but what if I'm wrong....?"

Incidently, the detached house is also available to rent for £750pm!

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I really thought by now we'd be seeing new properties coming onto the market at significantly lower asking prices than those that have been stuck on the market since January. However, it seems it may be the opposite - houses are still coming on at peak prices, or even higher than peak prices. Here are two near me that have just come on, and I found their prices eye-watering:

http://www.rightmove.co.uk/viewdetails-180...=1&tr_t=buy

http://www.rightmove.co.uk/viewdetails-180...=1&tr_t=buy

Bear in mind that these are in Far Cotton, one of the poorest areas of Northampton. It almost worries me because our house is currently under offer, and based on these asking prices our offer looks an absolute bargain and we're mad to have accepted it. Of course, I'm confident that the only reason our house is under offer, whilst all the other houses around us remain unsold, is because we're one of the few vendors that have been realistic, and none of these houses have a chance in hell of selling. But there's still that nagging doubt in the back of mind saying "but what if I'm wrong....?"

Incidently, the detached house is also available to rent for £750pm!

Hi Pablopatito,

I think its quite normal to have some doubts, when making such a big decision about such a large amount of money. However, IMHO when your house sale goes through your going to be one of the lucky ones.

Have you read this forecast? http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2008/ju...p;feed=politics

I don't know Far Cotton at all, however, I suspect that if these two properties don't sell with in a week or so, then we will see both drop their price as the reality of the situation becomes apparent to the sellers.

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http://www.northamptonchron.co.uk/news-fea...ters.4165172.jp [09 JUne 08]

Let it be ... Renters stay put as to let sector booms amid credit crunch

The house buying market may be going through a tough patch, but landlords are rubbing their hands in glee as more people turn to rented property.

In the first quarter of 2008, there has been a rise in the number of new landlord instructions by 29 per cent, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

The organisation surmises that a significant drop in demand in the "to buy" market has pushed people into the rental sector.

And many homeowners are taking advantage of rising numbers of people looking for rented properties while they wait for the effect of the credit crunch to abate.

Significantly, demand for family homes and flats increased over this period, as many would-be buyers found themselves unable to step on to the property ladder.

RICS spokesman Barry Hall said: "While banks remain cautious about offering loans, demand for rental property will continue to increase, with many would-be-buyers unable to make the jump to home ownership.

"Established investors continue to reap the benefits of the current uncertainty in the housing market and have been enjoying the fruits of rising rents."

And this is reflected in Northampton, across the market.

Jane Hayward, of the lettings department at Carter Jonas at The Lakes, said: "Over the last four to five months, the lettings market has been fairly buoyant.

If people have sold, they are tending to go into rented accommodation to see what the market is doing. They see if they can get a bargain by waiting.

"That was never done five years ago.

People would sell their house and move into another house straight away.

People have got more savvy and will sit on collateral and wait."

Andrea Fletcher, the manager of the Ashby Lowery lettings agency in the centre of Northampton, said staff were noticing different patterns in the market and demand was steady.

She said: "We have 1,200 properties, so we are always really busy.

But we are finding the supply is increasing a bit.

People who are trying to sell, who would have sold before, are now putting their houses on the market to rent.

That hasn't happened before and is increasing our supply.

"Tenants are also renewing contracts and do seem to be staying for longer. People are not moving out of rental like they were."

The Haus lettings agency in The Mounts has seen a sharper change over the last year and has taken on almost twice as many properties.

Owner Kawser Ahmed said there were definitely more people looking for rented accommodation and demand was pushing up prices, but there was also a lot more houses becoming available to rent.

He said it was, however, still far cheaper to rent than to pay a mortgage, if people could even secure one.

Mr Ahmed added: "A mortgage on a three-bed house could be £700 to £800 a month and the rent would be £650. It is a massive difference.

"People are moving back into rental and I think it will continue for the next 18 months. People are scared more than anything."

According to Mr Ahmed, in some cases property owners are finding that, when they come to the end of a fixed-rate mortgage, they no longer have enough equity to remortgage their property and are having to sell up and move into a rented home.

But what about the buy-to-let market, which some experts say is suffering due to uncertainties surrounding mortgages and a saturation of flats on the market.

Mr Ahmed said he believed those with equity would still be in a good position, but it was a difficult market for new landlords.

"People with a lot of equity will find it easier to buy property, as they will already have a portfolio of houses," he said.

Mr Hall agreed: "New investors are struggling to get the necessary finance to enjoy this buoyant sector."

And for 23-year-old Northampton newcomer Callum Jones, renting is the only way to go at the moment.

Despite completing a post graduate course three years ago and working ever since, he believes he is still at least four years away from getting on to the property ladder.

But a booming lettings market means that the price of rent is going up and he is only able to afford a shared property, rather than renting alone.

Callum recently moved into a property close to Northampton town centre, to share with two strangers, after briefly renting a room in a friend's house.

"I can't even afford to rent my own flat.

It is £375 for an unfurnished flat, which is basically just a room.

You have to pay bills after that and buy furniture, so you are looking at £600 a month.

"I found a furnished, shared house for £400 a month, including bills, and it is really nice. But it is still expensive to rent, so it is difficult to save up money for a deposit to buy a house.

"No-one can do it without help from parents, or by moving in with a friend."

Mike Scullion

Hope for first-time buyers

"I would need a significant pay rise to afford a property in the present climate."

That is the conclusion of 27-year-old Mike Scullion, a finance recruitment consultant who rents a room in Abington in a house owned by a friend.

The pair previously rented a flat together.

His friend was able to buy the house due to financial help from his parents, but Mike said he was not in a position to do the same thing.

He said: "I've been renting for around the past 18 months.

I'm still renting, as I wouldn't be able to afford the massive deposit to buy a house at this time.

"Also, I think it's a bit of a risk to buy at the moment, with the housing market looking a bit uncertain.

"I think it's becoming increasingly difficult for first-time buyers to get on to the housing ladder.

"In the present climate, I wouldn't be able to afford to buy a house and would need a significant pay rise in order for this to change in the near future."

Getting on the housing ladder could take time, meaning Mike could stay in rented accommodation for a few more years.

He added: "I think I will buy my own home eventually, but this could take some time with the market the way it is now.

"I am going to start to save for a deposit in the near future and see how the market goes in the next two to three years.

"It could become much more affordable for first time buyers if prices keep falling at the rate they are at the moment."

---------------------------------

I wonder if rents are really rising .. I have a feeling their not. :unsure:

Edited by HouseDog
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http://www.northantset.co.uk/news/Homeowne...isis.4165009.jp [09 June 08]

Homeowners facing crisis

A rising tide of people struggling to pay their mortgage are swamping advisors with queries as the credit crunch continues to bite.

The county's Citizens' Advice Bureau has seen a dramatic increase in the number of cases of people with mortgage arrears, from about 450 a month this time last year to more than 700 a month now.

The bureau is also dealing with at least one tenant a day who has been turfed out of his or her home because the landlord has defaulted on a buy-to-let mortgage.

Staff are struggling to keep up with demands for advice, which have included people calling for help in the middle of night.

The number of court repossession orders issued in the county has soared to more than 650 in the first three months of the year. This includes 199 through Kettering County Court, up 30 per cent compared with the same period last year.

Kettering Council has also revealed it is dealing with more people at risk of losing their homes after falling behind with their mortgage payments. Other local authorities are expecting to see a similar rise soon.

The overall number of people approaching the CAB for help over debt has also risen from about 14,000 a month in 2007 to 17,000 a month this year.

Northamptonshire CAB spokesman Martin Lord said: "More people are realising their mortgage costs are unsustainable."

He added the CAB is so concerned about the number of tenants being kicked out of their homes it has started to train staff specifically to deal with tenants suddenly left with nowhere to live.

He said: "Many amateur buy-to-let mortgage holders face problems paying their bills and are more likely to put their hands up quickly and default on the mortgage."

Local councils are preparing for the worst as food bills, utility costs and fuel prices soar. Even though they have not seen an instant increase in the number of people being made homeless, they are expecting a rise.

A Kettering Council spokesman said: "There has been an increase in numbers."

An East Northamptonshire Council spokesman added: "There has been minimal impact so far as people are only just starting to fall into arrears. We expect an increase in problems related to housing over the coming months."

Local people are concerned about the growing pressures.

Kettering resident Alan Cooke, from Chestnut Avenue, said: "The problem seems to have got worse.

"I am quite comfortable but if I was young and with a family, it could be a different story."

Anyone with financial concerns can contact the Citizens Advice Bureau on 0844 855 2122.

---------------

I don't think I'd want to be a tenant living in a buy-to let at the moment! :blink:

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http://www.northamptonchron.co.uk/news-fea...ters.4165172.jp [09 JUne 08]

The house buying market may be going through a tough patch, but landlords are rubbing their hands in glee as more people turn to rented property.

This is yet another article that doesn't seem to be based on fact, or logic, or basic economics. As any GSCE Economics student knows, rents will only increase if demand is greater than supply. The article says that supply has increased. Are rents rising? Maybe, but I wouldn't say they are by any significant amount. And when I say rising, I'm only talking about after inflation - lets not get excited about a 3% pa rise in rents. I've looked around a few rental places recently with different agents and they're all telling me rents are static. So when these same agents are saying its boom time for landlords I can't help but feel a tad cynical. Hey, it wouldn't be a complete shock to discover letting agents like to talk up their market, would it?

It really annoys me that the Chronicle bases an article around a few quotes from letting agents - they should ask a few GSCE Economics students instead!

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This is yet another article that doesn't seem to be based on fact, or logic, or basic economics. As any GSCE Economics student knows, rents will only increase if demand is greater than supply. The article says that supply has increased. Are rents rising? Maybe, but I wouldn't say they are by any significant amount. And when I say rising, I'm only talking about after inflation - lets not get excited about a 3% pa rise in rents. I've looked around a few rental places recently with different agents and they're all telling me rents are static. So when these same agents are saying its boom time for landlords I can't help but feel a tad cynical. Hey, it wouldn't be a complete shock to discover letting agents like to talk up their market, would it?

It really annoys me that the Chronicle bases an article around a few quotes from letting agents - they should ask a few GSCE Economics students instead!

I don't really follow the rental market - but it looks like Northampton's rents are basically static, about 10 - 15% showing a slight fall, about 0.25% showing a rise.

Your right it wouldn't be a complete shock to see a letting agency talking up rents! I wish the Chron could investigate something rather than add a few quotes to someone else's press release.

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http://www.northamptonchron.co.uk/news/Las...-450.4164196.jp [09.June 08]

Last-ditch battle to halt 450 new homes

A last-ditch fight to stop 450 homes being built on the edge of Northamptonshire is being mounted in case the government approves the scheme.

Plans for the houses in Grange Park have been referred to the secretary of state after West Northamptonshire Development Corporation (WNDC) approved them last month despite objections from South Northamptonshire Council (SNC), Grange Park parish council and residents.

However, councillor Tharik Jainu-Deen, who represents Grange Park on SNC, reported at a parish council meeting that officers were planning to apply for a judicial review of the decision if the plans are approved by the government.

Councillor Jainu-Deen (Con, Grange Park) said: "Everyone knows it has been approved by WNDC and has been submitted to the government for approval.

"SNC doesn't really expect a response for another four weeks at the very least. They are in uproar as to what has happened and it has other issues from SNC's point of view. If this gets railroaded through, it bodes ill for other developments.

"It looks like it will go to judicial review but they can't actually start the process until it's been determined.

"They are going to instruct officers to start the preparatory work. It's very important and it rides over local democracy."

A spokesman for the council would not confirm that work had started on a judicial review application.

Brian Binley, Conservative MP for Northampton South, has already written to Hazel Blears, secretary for communities and local government, to ask for a meeting.

A spokesman for WNDC said: "There are qualifications that still need to be handled by the committee in terms of the Highways Agency and the Environment Agency.

"The decision will be made on the basis of that and we are still going through due processes."

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http://www.24dash.com/news/Communities/200...xed-rate-switch [10June 08]

Mortgage lenders 'Hopeful' on fixed rate switch

The Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) are "hopeful" people on fixed rate mortgages would be able to transfer to new loans despite difficulties in the market, Chancellor Alistair Darling told MPs today.

The Chancellor said he would be meeting the CML next week to discuss how rates could be kept as "low as possible" for people whose deals were coming to an end.

He said the Government was looking at a "range of measures" to help people keep up their mortgage repayments.

At Commons question time, Labour's Karen Buck (Regent's Park and Kensington N) said homeowners were experiencing "real pain and anxiety"

- particularly as fixed-term deals, offered before the current lending crisis, ended.

Mr Darling said: "We have had discussions with the CML, and I expect to meet them again next week, to discuss how we can ensure that when people come off fixed-term mortgages and then look at the options in front of them, they can have proper advice and hopefully get on to further rates that are as low as possible.

"The CML tell me that they hope they can make considerable progress in ensuring there is that smooth transition, because we want to ensure that people get on to the lowest possible mortgage, especially at this time."

Labour's Sally Keeble (Northampton N), a member of the Treasury Select Committee, urged the Chancellor to do more to help homeowners whose incomes had fallen as a result of difficulties in the economy.

Mr Darling, who appeared before the committee yesterday to defend his handling of the 10p tax rate abolition, said: "That is something we clearly need to look at as part of a range of measures to help people."

He added that the increase in the personal allowance - part of the £2.7 billion compensation package announced following the 10p row - would help.

Michael Fallon (Sevenoaks), the senior Tory on the select committee, said the mortgage market would be working better if the Chancellor had not "dithered and delayed" over banking reforms promised following the collapse of Northern Rock.

Mr Darling said the two things were not connected, and added that the cash injection into the market from the Bank of England would help, although "it will take time to work its way through".

Consultation over the banking reforms had finished, he said, and legislation would be introduced during this session of Parliament.

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http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=...%3A10328#g902.4

Will my right hon. Friend look at the plight of home owners on low incomes who face particular pressures because of reductions in their working hours? He is giving very generous support to families in rented accommodation, but will he also look at providing some support to families on low incomes who are in their own homes?

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Too little too late .. Sally Keeble <_<

Edited by HouseDog
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http://www.northamptonchron.co.uk/news/39L...ddle.4138476.jp [sorry I think this article is from 31/05/2008]

'Labour needs to win middle Britain':

The Government has been told it needs to consider introducing tax cuts on fuel and more help for homeowners by a Northampton MP.

In an online article for the independent Labour group, Progress, Labour's MP for Northampton North, Sally Keeble, said the party needed to change to win back 'middle Britain'.

Among her recommendations were proposals to overhaul the tax credit system to make it more understandable, cut taxes on goods including fuel and support for people who get into difficulties with their mortgage repayments.

She said: "Middle income, middle England has moved on since 1997, and it needs to know that we have moved too.

"The tax system provides the most powerful means of convincing this new electorate that we're on their side."

Her comments are included in an article written by 10 Labour backbench MPs, who Progress describe as being on the 'electoral faultline'.

Outlining a 'three-point plan' to improve the party's chances of retaining power at the next General Election, Mrs Keeble said the Government may have to consider borrowing cash to finance tax cuts.

She said: "Much of society has been prosperous on the back of ready access to cheap credit and a buoyant jobs market.

"Changing circumstances are going to limit spending power, and this time the Government may have to consider borrowing to deal with the pinch points."

She also said homeowners who get into trouble with their mortgage repayments should be offered help, adding: "This would be risky, and carry a moral hazard.

"However, it has to be wrong that a tenant who loses their job can get housing benefit, but a homeowner has to wait for nine months to get support unless they have taken out insurance."

Calling for a simplification of the tax credit system, she added: "It cannot be acceptable for people to have to report every change in their family circumstances to the state. There is also a need for people to be able to talk to someone face to face about the service."

The MP's article is part of a debate calling for a revitalisation of New Labour, dubbed Newer Labour. In it she also describes the 10 pence tax abolition as "hitting all the wrong buttons".

The article can be seen at www.progressonline.org.uk (Although I can't find it?)

------------------------------------

It all sounds a bit desperate to me .. :unsure:

I'm always reminded of this: - http://politics.guardian.co.uk/person/0,,-2829,00.html

' Sally Keeble said after the 2005 election: From her maiden speech: "People who have survived the 18 years of Tory boom and bust are looking to the Government for a more certain and stable future that will enable them to plan their finances and to feel that their homes really are as safe as houses. ' ;)

Edited by HouseDog
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This is a bit off-topic, but I have a passing interest in architecture and I cannot understand how someone could study it for seven years and then design a house that looks like this:

http://www.rightmove.co.uk/viewdetails-181...=2&tr_t=buy :blink:

Everytime I drive past those houses I'm incredulous. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I guess. But gimme a flat over that thing any day of the week. How dark must it be inside with windows that small?

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This is a bit off-topic, but I have a passing interest in architecture and I cannot understand how someone could study it for seven years and then design a house that looks like this:

http://www.rightmove.co.uk/viewdetails-181...=2&tr_t=buy :blink:

Everytime I drive past those houses I'm incredulous. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I guess. But gimme a flat over that thing any day of the week. How dark must it be inside with windows that small?

I think these houses are back to front. The "utilities" kitchen and bathroom are at the front, so one would hope the "living quarters" at the rear have larger windows.

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This is a bit off-topic, but I have a passing interest in architecture and I cannot understand how someone could study it for seven years and then design a house that looks like this:

http://www.rightmove.co.uk/viewdetails-181...=2&tr_t=buy :blink:

Everytime I drive past those houses I'm incredulous. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I guess. But gimme a flat over that thing any day of the week. How dark must it be inside with windows that small?

If it was a prison block or if houses animals it would be illegal! Quite unbelievable ... even children draw better looking houses.

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Another "chasing the market down" property here:

http://www.rightmove.co.uk/viewdetails-180...=3&tr_t=buy

On in February at £225k. I've then monitored price drops to £205k, £199k, £189k and now £179k. That's a nice round 20% reduction. Where they came up with the original £225k valuation I don't know though, since the Land Registry shows the most expensive terrace on the High Street went for £171k last year, and another terrace went for £134k in October 2005.

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http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/busi...icle4078779.ece [June 508]

Reality bites: estate agents on the market

Extract:

Northampton, Quentin Jackson-Stops, Jackson-Stops & Staff

"If vendors are realistic then it's easy enough to find a purchaser"

There is no doubt that values in general have fallen - we're looking at 7.5 to 10 per cent in Northamptonshire. It really depends on the quality of the property and of course on location. Poorly located homes have taken the biggest hit. Further up the market is solid. Country houses over £1.5 million are pretty safe - but there is no additional 'froth' on the price these days and we have seen less competitive bidding. We have achieved some decent prices though. Individual modern houses are not doing too badly, but anything that is part of a development is harder to shift. Well-presented cottages and village houses are doing fine but those with some flaws are taking longer to sell. Vendors must be realistic as we are now setting values at a similar level to 2005 and 2006. If vendors are realistic then it's easy enough to find a purchaser. 29 per cent of the properties listed with us at present are under offer, which is a reasonable proportion and a similar amount to this time last year.

Oh .. but I seem to remember this is what he said in RICs April 2008 report: www.rics.org/NR/rdonlyres/E770D17C-C687-43B4-8B9C-B6C1EFFB7B2D/0/hms_april_2008_.pdf

Quentin Jackson – Stops FRICS

Jackson Stops & Staff

Compared to the first four months of 2007, sales numbers for the same period in 2008 are only down by 14%. While this is very much better than the national average, the decline in sales may become more marked as spring goes into summer. It is very noticeable that there is little new property coming to the market in this area as life style movers have decided to stay out the market for the time being. Sales for the rest of the year will mainly be as a result of the three Ds: death, debt and divorce.

Sale prices achieved now are generally 5% - 7% lower than 6 months ago.

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So in April it was; Sale prices achieved now are generally 5% - 7% lower than 6 months ago.

and by June its: There is no doubt that values in general have fallen - we're looking at 7.5 to 10 per cent in Northamptonshire.

Summary - House prices are falling ;)

Edited by HouseDog
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http://www.northamptonchron.co.uk/news/Hou...rade.4182189.jp [13 June 08]

Housing stopped as trade suffers

Building work on a Northamptonshire estate has been put off after Persimmon Homes reviewed its current projects in light of the financial difficulties hitting the house-building industry.

Northampton-based Persimmon was due to construct 86 new homes on The Sails plot in Daventry, but have shelved plans after their share price tumbled by over a fifth, meaning that the company's value has fallen by nearly £3 billion in the last year.

Susan Blackman, managing director of Persimmon Homes Midlands, based at Waterside Way, said: "We are currently re-evaluating work in progress and concentrating on progressing sold and contracted plots until the mortgage market and availability of credit for house buyers improves."

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

:blink:

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http://www.northamptonchron.co.uk/news/Inq...ment.4182190.jp [ 13 June 08]

Inquiry into school field development plan

A public inquiry will be held to decide whether a former school playing field in Northampton should be given legal protection against development.

Campaigners have applied for land surrounding the old Parklands Middle School to be granted official village green status, meaning it would be permanently designated for community use.

Northamptonshire County Council would normally rule on the application but an independent inquiry has been called because the same authority is hoping to sell the land off for housing.

Parklands Residents' Association vice-chairman, Simon Hegarty, said: "The county council is the registration authority for village green applications but it is also trying to sell the field, so there is a clear conflict of interests.

"We have asked for a public inquiry to be set up to look at the case independently, and we believe we have a strong case to make."

In April, the Government blocked the county council's plans to sell the land, off Devon Way, to developer Barratt Homes to fund its multi-million pound PFI school-building scheme.

Schools secretary Ed Balls said the field was needed by nearby Northampton School for Girls, but the council said the school planned to leave the site this autumn and has submitted a second application to dispose of the site.

Campaigners hope a public inquiry will grant village green status before the new plans are considered, but must first prove the land has been used by a "significant number" of people for sports or recreation for at least 20 years.

A date is yet to be set for the inquiry, with the county council pressing for mid-July, but campaigners have asked for more time to prepare their case.

A county council spokesman said: "The application for village green status on land at the site of the former Parklands Middle School will now be subject to a non-statutory inquiry.

"This is scheduled to take place between July 15 and July 18, but the applicants have expressed they are unhappy with the date which has been set.

"The independent inspector who will oversee the inquiry has been asked by the county council to assess whether the date ought to be deferred."

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http://www.telegraph.co.uk/property/main.j...ateagent114.xml [14 June 08]

Estate agents: Listen to the client...

With sales plummeting and 15,000 jobs at risk, estate agents are undergoing tougher training.

There is a silver lining to every cloud. With the gloomy housing downturn comes the pleasing knowledge that estate agents are having to work hard again to earn their keep - so much so that we can almost feel sorry for them.

Until a few months ago, they were quite happy to admit that unlocking the front door was all they had to do to shift a property. Now, however, demand has suddenly collapsed, with the average number of homes sold through agencies down by about a third on a year ago; the fall in sales is the worst for 30 years, according to a report this week from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). Consequently, agents are grafting hard, hitting the phones every day trying to keep the dwindling numbers of prospective buyers on board.

Yet it may come as a surprise to know that the quality of an estate agent's training can make or break a deal and can even sound the death-knell for the whole company. Some 15,000 jobs are said to be at risk, and a recent survey by Movewithus, a network of independent estate agencies, revealed that 4,000 agencies may be forced to shut by this time next year. Most will be those that don't have the skills to cope in difficult trading conditions.

"Training is vital to the business now. Over the past few years it has been relatively easy. Estate agents were just taking orders - if one person didn't buy a property, then another would come along fairly shortly to buy it. But now that has all changed," says Nick Salmon, commercial director of Harrison Murray estate agency, based in the East Midlands - an area where housing prices are falling fastest, according to the RICS.

It is not the fall in house prices that concerns Mr Salmon, however, but the decrease in transactions taking place because potential buyers are finding it harder to access finance. "We're having to take a bigger piece of an ever smaller cake," he says, revealing that the introduction of a comprehensive training programme is part of the company's strategy to attract buyers. "We decided to put in place a more structured training programme. This might sound like sales talk, but we wanted to make sure that the experience that the customer had of our company is sufficiently different from others that they will do business with us," he says.

Mr Salmon is cagey about what benefits the training has brought his company, not wanting to pass on the good ideas to his competitors, but most of it has to do with sales staff building rapport with the customer in order to understand their needs better.

"We match buyers with what they need rather than what they want," he says, suggesting that if a couple wanted a four-bedroom house, the negotiator would find out how many people would be living in it. "If they say only the two of them, but they have grandchildren coming to visit, we would suggest that they look at a two- or three-bedroom property with a studio in the garden. It enables us to show them more of the property on our books," he says.

John Latimer, the 22-year-old manager of the company's Northampton town-centre branch, believes that the extra training has made a difference to the way he interacts with sellers and buyers. "The course reiterated the need to get the applications of buyers right so that we aren't sending the wrong people around to view houses and wasting the vendor's time," he says.

Only last week, a potential buyer called in wanting to view a number of properties, but Mr Latimer double-checked his financial viability before proceeding: "He wasn't financially able to buy the properties he wanted to see. He would have made an offer and it would have collapsed because he wouldn't have been able to gain the finance. He didn't have the right deposit. We would have wasted our time taking him around five properties."

Mr Latimer believes that building rapport with buyers is essential, but requires time and patience. Two weeks ago, a couple from London wanted to view two properties they had seen on the firm's website. "They weren't interested in either of them, so I took them back to the office and sat down with them for half an hour. It became clear that they wanted to be within walking distance of a school, required access to a specific motorway junction, and they wanted a quiet village-style location," he says.

Yet the couple had been looking at the wrong side of town for the property they wanted. "If no one had helped them, they would have spent a long time finding their ideal property, and they would have just muddled through," he says.

With his local knowledge, they were able to put an offer on a four-bedroom house within a couple of weeks. "The house was close to local amenities, junction 15 on the motorway, and it is an old village. They offered £250,000 at a discount of 3 per cent on the asking price. It was a very good offer in this market."

Even in London where the market is supposed to be maintaining its buoyancy, estate agents are finding it hard to sell. Suzie Kendall, training manager for London estate agency Douglas and Gordon, reveals that she has set up monthly drop-in sessions at all their offices in order to deal with some of the emerging problems.

A lex Burgoyne, 26, who works at Douglas and Gordon's Notting Hill office, has been an agent for nearly three years, but admits that the downturn in the market is causing some problems. "We use a personality test to help us judge what type of people buyers are," he says. He reveals there are four types: D, the dominater, I, the influencer, S, the steady, who needs lots of reassurance, and C, the conveyancer, who needs lots of information. "I am very good at communicating with the first two, but the last two I have a problem with, because I am an influencer. I can chat, I'm a typical salesperson. But the other two want to go slowly and get information. They don't just want to be picked up by someone in a flash car and a suit. They don't want to be spun a story. They want detail."

Ms Kendall explains that understanding the personality and needs of the buyers enables Alex to change his approach. "Alex can start adopting some of their traits, giving them what they want so they can buy into him and get him," she says. "As Alex is a high I or influencer, when he talks to an S or a C, he needs to change the structure of the conversation, giving them the information they need in order to help them move forward in making a decision. By engaging in a way that comforts them, Alex is much more likely to get a better response."

Alex takes this on board. "No matter how good you are, you have to keep learning new techniques so you don't get set in your ways. An approach may have worked in the past, so some negotiators will stick at that, but new conditions need new approaches," he says. He also admits that he spends more time on the phone, talking to vendors and buyers, creating, what he describes as his own buzz: "Every phone-call is an opportunity. I go back through all the people whom we have been in touch with over the past few months. Calling people back has an amazing effect."

It may sound ruthlessly pushy, but Ms Kendall insists that they are just putting their clients' needs first: "We are never going to make someone buy something they don't like," she says.

This is especially the case in the current market. "There are still plenty of people out there wanting to sell or buy, but -unlike last summer - they won't settle for any old thing. They are in the market, but they won't compromise. We have to work out what emotional buttons to press. We need to look after these people. If we don't help them to buy the property they want, we aren't doing our job properly."

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Edited by HouseDog
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http://www.northamptonchron.co.uk/news/Rem...d-to.4118207.jp [ from 26 May 2008 - I must have missed it!]

Removal firms being forced to shut up shop as credit crunch hits

Removal firms in Northamptonshire are struggling to cope with "the worst time ever" for business due to a downturn in the housing market as well as an increase in fuel costs.

Many firms have noticed a decrease in business of up to 50 per cent and some of the smaller removal companies in the county have been forced to close.

Dave Tiwary, who owns The Removal Man, based in Kingsthorpe, Northampton, said: "Business has definitely dropped by half.

The last few months have been a nightmare. Since April the amount of calls has just died.

"It is as bad as I can remember. But I think it will pick up. If people start getting repossessed, they will need to move more."

Hayley Rilings, owner of Handy Moves, based in Falconers Rise, Northampton, said: "It has been dreadful.

I have noticed an awful lot of 'for sale' boards but it does not seem to be having an effect at the moment.

""This is the worst year ever and I have been trading for eight years.

In the industry I have heard 'such and such' has packed up and I know of certain people who have had to pack up and sell their business."

Frank Johnston, who runs A Good Move, based in Weston Favell, Northampton, said: "Houses do not seem to be selling and people are not moving, therefore the removal companies are suffering as we are doing fewer jobs."

Even the removal businesses that have managed to maintain a steady stream of jobs are still feeling the pinch from rapidly increasing prices of petrol and diesel.

Jeff Haynes, who owns C Haynes Transport, based in Daventry, said: "To be honest, our inquiry level has been similar to last year.

The only difference has been that diesel costs are horrendous. For me it is a big worry.

You used to be able to work out a fixed cost for your fuel over 12 months but you can't do that now as prices are going up all the time."

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"I think it will pick up. If people start getting repossessed, they will need to move more." .... well at least he's optimistic about it .. :blink:

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http://www.northamptonchron.co.uk/news/Hug...ring.4187587.jp [16th June 08]

Huge fall in homebuyers entering market

The number of homebuyers entering the region's housing market experienced its steepest decline in 30 years last month, an independent survey has revealed.

According to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), inquiries from new buyers dropped for the 23rd consecutive month in May, a faster decrease than at any time since 1978.

House prices in the East Midlands also dropped for the 17th month in succession, the survey showed, while the number of houses which changed hands nationally reached a 30-year low.

Andy Hey, East Midlands spokesman for the RICS, admitted the latest figures made for grim reading, particularly for estate agents and building firms.

But he denied reports the housing market was heading for a crisis.

He said: "All the reports have been suggesting the market is plummeting and is on the edge of a precipice, but I honestly don't think things are that bad.

"House prices may continue to drop by five or even 10 per cent, but I can't see any conditions at present which are going to lead to it being more than that."

Estate agent Rob Turton, owner of Northampton-based independent firm The Agents, said conditions were becoming increasingly tough for the industry.

He said: "We have increased our working hours during the week and we are having to work a lot harder and smarter to earn our money. Housing stock levels are very high but demand is very low and you have just got to do whatever you can."

The difficult market conditions are also filtering down to the removals business, according to Ron Berry, owner of Sywell firm Total Care Removals.

He said: "Hardly anybody is moving domestically or abroad and the whole trade is really suffering. We are luckier than some others, but I have only got seven or eight jobs coming up over the next month, when I would expect to be doing 15 or 20.

"If it carries on for much longer, there will come a point where I will have to think about backing out of removals and diversifying my business."

Meanwhile, a separate study into the state of the region's homes market suggests property investors are still confident house prices will remain buoyant.

According to the first Anglian Property Report, 44 per cent of house purchases made in the county during February and March were for the buy-to-let market or by speculators.

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:unsure:

Edited by HouseDog
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  • 440 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%



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