Free Cups

Washington DC based is a company that does what it says on the tin. It provides free disposable paper cups to companies for use in offices. The catch? Well the cups carry advertising. It’s a win-win for all concerned. The companies save money on disposable cups and the advertisers get to reach a potentially lucrative market.

Perhaps this is something that could be copied in the UK or other European markets. Alternatively, it’s worth giving some thought to what else you might give away free to companies on the same basis. Free toilet rolls anyone?

Streetwise Property Alert 3rd October 2013

Quite some interest in the monthly get-togethers on Saturdays! Only problem is, you seem to want them everywhere but London (Manchester, Leeds etc). If we can get groups of, say, 12 to 15 per location, we can run more than one a month. Let us know?

Prime Central London? Look To The South-West

About half of our London buyers are based overseas which is why we offer some coverage, at least of Prime Central, here at IPA. For years, Prime Central has been the place to be for capital appreciation and buyers have focused on Chelsea, Kensington, Knightsbridge etc.

But, according to the latest research from Savills, South-West London property prices are now rising at a faster rate than those in Prime Central London. Fulham and Wimbledon are named as examples of locations where prices rose by 11.8 per cent over the past year. That’s more than twice the rate of growth in Prime Central London.

‘This is a cash-driven phenomenon and completely unrelated to Help to Buy’. It provides no evidence of a credit-fuelled boom in the wider market.’ It may well be the ripple effect at work where overseas buyers are simply looking to get more for their money – yields and growth – in zones 2 and 3 rather than zone 1.

Dubai News

Knight Frank’s Dubai Residential Review reveals that prime property prices in Dubai are up by more than 11 per cent sp far in 2013. Year-on-year, prices for prime villas and apartments are up 21.4 per cent. Why? ‘The primary reason for the strong growth in prime residential property has been the desire for investors to place their wealth in what they perceive to be a safe haven market.’

‘Prime residential property in Dubai has been a positive story over the past 18 months and we expect this narrative to continue given the low number of completions forecast up until the end of 2014 set against the strong demand for high quality luxury properties.’

‘Ongoing improvements to Dubai’s already impressive infrastructure are underway and investor confidence is strengthening. We are also seeing an increasing number of professional expatriates arriving. These developments combined with the Emirates Airlines’ expanding network and the resurgence of new development releases suggest a positive outlook for Dubai’s prime residential market.’ More to come. We have buyers out there at present.

US Buyers – A Reminder

Axis Property Investment offers advice when it comes to Brits buying in the US. ‘When buying real estate in the US you are dealing in with property thousands of miles away. The legal system, language and feel may be similar to the UK or indeed elsewhere, but there are a many
differences, both subtle and significant. Location is absolutely critical, for example, as one side of a street may be a great investment while the other side is a disaster.’

‘Firstly, you need to know if you are paying the wholesale or the retail price for a property. It could be the case an area has a heavy concentration of wholesale units for sale at a certain time and this could well affect the perceived market price. Detailed research of local, regional and national markets and trends is necessary in order to get a holistic picture and this could well prevent you from making an expensive mistake.’

‘A pre-tenanted property means there will be no initial void period and your income stream will start to flow into your account. Furthermore, there is also associated hassle and stress with an empty property such as the chance of vandalism, or the higher insurance premiums you may have to pay for an empty unit.’

‘Carry out independent research to ensure the deal really stacks up. Check out what is said about the neighbourhood, conduct comparable price checks. Consider independent legal advice and make sure you understand the relationship between you, the vendor and the legal professional assigned to look after the sale. Some title agents do precisely what their name suggests, they merely check the title on the property is clear and will not feel it is their place to advise you on other aspects of the deal. You may want to consult an independent legal representative in order to make sure the contract is fair and reasonable.’

Do let us know if you’d like the Brazil social housing and/or US BTL materials with a view to coming to November seminars. We are now taking bookings.

Dicky Ticker Update

Following Tuesdays article, we received the following email from the people at Dicky Ticker.


Thanks for giving our Dicky Ticker online guarantee a mention on your site. However I notice that you didn’t link to our website. Something which you seem to do in other articles. It may be helpful for your readers to be able to click through to what you are referring to?

Regardless – thanks again.


Bolt-On Dating

We’ve covered numerous dating concepts here over the past couple of years and it seems like someone, somewhere, is always trying something new in this field. The latest idea we’ve seen is Matchmakers Café, a pop up business based on Wall Street, New York.

The business looks like any other ‘coffee cart’ in the area, offering coffee ad somewhere to sit. However, while you’re ordering your coffee, you can also consult with Nancy Slotnick, the lady behind the concept. She creates a profile of each customer, detailing who they are and what kind of relationship they’re looking for, and then while they’re drinking their coffee, they can browse the profiles of other users on an iPad. If there’s interest, the café then arrange a coffee date between the two. Slotnick also gives out dating advice along with the Americano.

The idea is that the relaxed atmosphere of the coffee shop makes for a much less stilted and intimidating environment than some other dating concepts.

I believe it’s early days for this business, but if it works in one city, it would surely work in others. Perhaps something to investigate further if you live in an urban area.

Streetwise Property Alert 2nd October 2013

Okay, I have to say that 58 of the South-West student accommodation units are now gone. Do move swiftly if you are planning to progress this. On to the news and views…

Rents – What’s Happening

According to a new index, The Index of Private Housing Rental Prices (IPHRP), from the Office of National Statistics, ONS, rents in the UK were up 1.2 per cent in the year to end August 2013. England, excluding London, saw a 0.8 per cent rise. Rents were up by 1.3 per cent in Scotland and Wales. Rents rose 1.9 per cent in London.

The IPHRP is ‘a new experimental index that measures the change in price of renting residential property from private landlords and calculates changes in the prices paid by tenants for renting private housing instead of calculating changes in the latest agreed rental prices.’

‘This is a new official statistic undergoing evaluation and therefore it is recommended that caution is exercised when drawing conclusions from the published data as the index is likely to be further developed.’ Cynical members will say it is another set of (conflicting) figures. More to come.

Planning Changes – A Viewpoint

Most members will know that planning restrictions are being eased. Stacks Property Search say that most people don’t actually realise what the changes may mean in practice. ‘The most significant changes are to the size limit for the depth of single storey domestic extensions in non-protected areas. This has increased from four metres to eight metres for detached houses and from three metres to six metres for all other houses.’

‘Where this relaxation becomes really interesting is in terms of buying a property that requires improvement and has potential for extending. Historically, properties that have potential were in strong demand but the recession changed all that and buyers became cautious about taking on projects that could turn into terrifying money pits. These days there is much less competition for what the estate agents like to call exciting projects and the auction houses are no longer full of eager, and sometimes naïve, bidders for rural wrecks.’

‘There are of course enormous advantages to buying a property that requires anything from a facelift to a complete overhaul. Buyers can customise the property to suit their own requirements without having to rip out work that they have effectively paid for within the purchase price. And the improvement element of the property doesn’t carry stamp duty, so substantial savings can be made in that respect.’

‘But the greatest hurdle for buyers, and the reason that the auction rooms are rather less crowded post 2007, is that finance is extremely difficult to come by for property that requires work. Lenders like to be able to see an exit strategy if a borrower defaults and a half finished project is a headache that can be easily avoided by rejecting .
finance requests on property that is at the uninhabitable end of the spectrum.’ Stacks suggest cash-rich investors can benefit most here; more to follow.

Student Rents – Latest Figures

New research from Accommodation for Students suggests average weekly student rents are up from £77.04 last year to £79.42 for this year. The research also shows that the average rental value in private halls of residence has risen 1.5 per cent and that rents are, on average, 63 per
cent higher than student houses; £129.45 compared with £79.42.

As you’d expect, there are many variations. There is a clear North/South divide. London leads the way with an average rental value of £129 per week. It is followed in second place by Egham at £115 and Newport at £113. The year’s ‘best value’ locations for student rents – that’s a nice phrase – are Walsall, Stockton and Wolverhampton at £48, £49 and £52 respectively.

‘The student accommodation market remains robust and is still one of the most attractive yield classes for property investment. We are still seeing large scale development in student accommodation up and down the country.

Demand for places at well-renowned academic institutions is clearly having an impact on student rents but with reports that some universities are offering incentives as a way to fill spaces and entice the brightest students from generous scholarships and bursaries to laptops and gym memberships, it will be interesting to see what impact
this has on future accommodation demand and subsequently rents, in such locations.’ More to come.

Dicky Ticker Guarantee

When you’re operating in a crowded market, it’s often hard to stand out. That was the problem faced by T Shirt company, Dicky Ticker. There are hundreds of T shirt companies, all turning out similar products. Dicky Ticker solved the problem, not via the quality of their products or innovative design, but rather by  employing an unusual guarantee.

When you buy a Dicky Ticker T shirt online, the guarantee is very different to practically every other clothing retailer. If you’re not happy with the shirt for any reason, you can have your money back and you don’t have to return the shirt. One of the main negative aspects of buying clothing online is the thought that you’ll have to pack it up and send it back if it’s not right. Dicky Ticker have removed that obstacle to the sale and strongly differentiated themselves from the competition.

Guarantees are a huge subject, and what is appropriate in one business could spell financial disaster in another, but it could be worth thinking about how an unusual guarantee like this might affect sales, refunds and profits in your business.

Streetwise Property Alert 1st October 2013

I’m on the road today so a brief email…

Spain – A Warning

Legal expert Susana Lajusticia makes some interesting points in the Telegraph today. Let’s quote. ‘Fewer and cheaper sales have caused concern on the part of Spain’s tax authorities which have seen their take decrease due to the slowdown in the property market. Tax officials are reviewing sale prices and the transfer taxes paid when properties are bought.’

‘This price review is a valid long-standing tax measure under Spanish property law. However, it is not necessarily apparent or brought to the attention of those eager to start life overseas. The law entitles tax offices to calculate the sum they’re entitled to not on the agreed sale value, but what they believe to be the ‘real’ value should this exceed the transaction price.’

‘Given the various circumstances in which owners might be prepared to accept offers well below a property’s recognised market value – such as disposing of a home they inherited but can’t afford to keep, divorce, the loss of a job or disenchantment with life on the Costas – there is the potential for any number of sales to come under review.’ Susana Lajusticia is a dual-qualified UK solicitor and Spanish abogado at Pannone solicitors, More at Spain Property Alerts. Email back, SPA, to sign up.

London Deals

HMO – North London – 10 bedroom – great HMO location – current income £110,000 p.a. – Freehold – £1.7million.

Off plan investments – Prime London locations – Major developer not one of the fly-by-night scammers – No acquisition fee to IPA readers – Potential to flip for profit before completion.

North West London – Modern block of 4 apartments all let on AST’s at £61, 960 – Very strong rental location – Freehold offers c £1.1 million.


Paris – An Update

We wrote last year that the Grand Paris Express transport project would have an impact on property prices. It hasn’t yet, according to the Société du Grand Paris and Paris notaries who are monitoring values around the 72-station blueprint. The study covers property within 800 metres of each station. The planned network in total is a 175km driverless metro system linking key suburbs and airports, requiring 57 new stations and new connections at 15 existing stations.

Prices around the planned stations rose 30 per cent between 2006 and 2011; in line with the Inner Ring of the Paris suburbs and the Ile-de-France region. ‘While the stations on the network were known and the public debate was already under way, no significant impact on transaction prices can be seen. The absence of any impact may reflect the slowdown in the property market in 2011. Households still regard the network as a distant prospect.’ More to come at France Property Alerts. Email back, FPA, to sign up.

All for now, see you soon.