Streetwise Property Alert 29th November 2013

If you missed the weekly currencies review, the fuller monthly review and/or the November newsletters, UKPA and/or IPA, please email back and we will send them to you.

Buying Agents – New Code

If you use a buying agent to source your property, make sure they adhere to the Buying Agent Code of Practice which takes effect on 1 January 2014. It is overseen by The Property Ombudsman (TPO) who says, ‘The Buying Agent Code of Practice is a milestone for the industry. More than 95 per cent of residential sales agents have signed up to TPO’s Sales Code of Practice and we recognised that buying agents are a growing market sector in their own right.’

‘Unlike sales agents, who are instructed by home owners during a property sale, buying agents act in the interest of buyers to search for and secure the best price on a property. However, both sales agents and buying agents are subject to the same property and consumer protection laws, which is something many consumers and agents are unaware of. Consumers on both sides of a property transaction deserve the same levels of protection outlined in The Estate Agents Act 1979 and should be able to use a redress service to resolve disputes if they feel they have been treated unfairly.’ More to come.

BTL Mortgage News

Santander has made some changes regarding its BTL products and services. It will now consider applications from landlords who have:

A maximum of seven buy-to-let properties on completion of the new mortgage;

A maximum of five buy-to-let properties mortgaged with Santander on completion of the new mortgage;

A minimum of one and a maximum of ten secured credit commitments at the time of application.

‘At least one applicant must be employed earning a minimum basic gross salary of £50,000 per annum where an applicant will have five or more buy-to-let properties on completion or five or more secured credit commitments at application.’

‘Where an applicant has four or less buy-to-let properties on completion or four or less secured credit commitments at application, the criteria remains the same with at least one applicant in employment earning a minimum basic gross salary of £25,000 per annum.’ As ever, talk to your broker.

Martin House Children’s Hospice

We’ve reached £1200+ and we’re not stopping. Here’s why…

A father who lost his son to a degenerative illness is urging people to support the hospice that is helping his family.

Roger Fielding and his wife Diane had to cope with the death of 13-year-old Oliver.

The family were able to enjoy time together at the hospice and, after Oliver’s death 18 months ago, they were also helped with bereavement counselling.

‘It was really nice to be able to spend time with the children when their care needs were being looked after’ Roger said.

‘It would be unimaginable to try to cope with the challenge of a life-limiting condition and bereavement without the support of Martin House.’

Copyright: Wharfedale Observer

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Hotels – Check Social Media

The first thing we do when we look at a hotel with a view to investing is to check what the social media sites are saying about it; now I have to say that, as anyone who spends much time online knows, the internet is full of trolls and what have you. However, looking at a range of comments, and trying to ignore the obvious PR comments on the one hand and the serial killers’ ravings on the other, should create a broader picture than the glossy brochure will do.

On that subject, we note that a new Which? report gives a thumbs down to Britannia Hotels. ‘Which? asked its members to vote on UK hotel stays they had undertaken in the last year and rated 36 hotel chains on cleanliness, customer service, quality of breakfast, bed comfort and value for money. Britannia came bottom of the survey, receiving an overall customer score of 36 per cent.’ By the by, Q Hotels got the highest rating of 78 per cent followed by Radisson Blu Edwardian at 77 per cent and Premier Inn at 76 per cent.

That’s all for now, see you again soon. We are at work on the UKPA newsletter for December so please do send us any ideas you have for articles you’d like to read, thank you.

The Urban Compass

Moving to a new area can be both stressful and uncertain. You only have to think about the area you currently live in to realise that the difference between a great decision and a disaster can be just a few streets apart. That’s the problem which Urban Compass seeks to solve.

Urban Compass is a service that helps New York house hunters become better informed about an area before they commit to a move. The service offers tip sheets for each area together with guided tours by local experts.

I can definitely see this working in London, and maybe other major UK cities with a transient population too. Take a look at what Urban Compass do and see whether you could replicate it.

Streetwise Property Alert 28th November 2013

Welcome to today’s email of news and views…

Property Selling Times – An Update

I’ve yet to meet a property owner who isn’t interested in how long it takes to sell a property lthough it is something of a ‘how long is a piece of string?’ topic. However, we note that new research from Post Office Mortgages reveals that the average selling time is now 58 days, down from 69 days this time last year.

‘Properties in Liverpool and Southend-on-Sea spend the least amount of time on the market, beating London, with Hull and Leicester being the slowest performers, according to the research by Post office Mortgages.’ So there you have it – food for thought anyway, if your property has been on the market for more than 58 days and, of course, if you are looking at a property that has been available for that length of time.

Savills – The Outlook

A new forecast from Savills makes interesting reading this week. The key points?

Property prices in the south-east are expected to lead the way over the next five years; up 32 per cent by 2018.

Expect London prices to rise by 24.4 per cent over the next five years.

The UK’s private rented sector is tipped to grow by a further one million households by 2018.

Expect rents to rise by 21 per cent over the next five years.

Bournemouth, Brighton and Windsor are tipped to see the biggest price rises, 32 per cent, by 2018.

Watch for the rollout! Savills state, ‘The capital has already been the strongest performing region of the UK since mid 2005, during which period prices have risen by 37 per cent, compared to just eight per cent across the country as a whole. As a consequence, the gap between London prices and the rest of the UK, including the south-east, is as wide as it has ever been. As confidence improves, buyers are likely to look to markets beyond London that offer better relative value, though it will be later in the cycle before the north feels this benefit.’

Rents – The Latest

According to the latest index from the Sequence Group, rents were up 1 per cent month-on-month, September to October, and 11 per cent annually to the end of October 2013. If you like averages, the average rent is now £785 per month and that represents 41 per cent of the average monthly wage of £1,937.

‘We have seen an unprecedented rise in rents over the last month, with tenants now giving up 41 per cent of their monthly pay packet in rent. The shortage of rental property is particularly acute in London with a record 11 per cent monthly decrease in supply coupled with a 2 per cent increase in rental applications. As a result, rents now represent 44 per cent of the average Londoners monthly salary, putting further pressure on the budgets of those in the capital.’

‘Across the board whether it is in the sales or rental market there is a universal need for more properties. Competition for houses will continue to impact on affordability and squeeze household budgets across the country for the foreseeable future.’

All for today, see you tomorrow.

Weight Loss In A Bottle?

Myriad fortunes have been made on the back of the seemingly impossible quest to lose weight.  Amidst the fad diets, motivational books and exercise gadgets, we just saw something new – slimming perfume!

Prends-moi is the worlds first slimming fragrance, developed by French perfume house Robertet. The makers claim the fragrance is designed to ‘slim with pleasure’ and is based on ‘aromatherapeutic’ and ‘neurocosmetic’ research.  It contains ingredients which release B-endorphins present in the skin and a ‘pleasure message’ is transmitted through the brain triggering a sensation of well being and an increase in contentment reducing the need to over-eat.

Sounds suspiciously like a pile of completely different smelly stuff to me, but what do I know?  It might work, and if there’s room for one slimming fragrance in the market, why not look into developing another one?

Streetwise Property Alert 27th November 2013

If you are buying or selling overseas property soon, you’ll want to keep a keen eye on exchange rates. Mindful of that, here’s the latest monthly currencies review from Peter Lavelle at Pure FX.

Sterling surged to a 10-month high against the euro as the European Central Bank made an emergency cut to interest rates to stop the threat of deflation.

The pound shed 2 cents against the US dollar as America created almost 80,000 more jobs than forecast, upping the odds of a Fed taper.

Sterling had it tough against the Aussie but may rebound as Reserve Bank of Australia chief Glenn Stevens predicts the currency will soon be “materially lower”.

The pound dived against the kiwi dollar too, but soon picked up, as NZ central bank head Graeme Wheeler said New Zealand may soon raise interest rates, but then backtracked.

UK Pound

Sterling took its cues from James Bond in October, because it seems The World(‘s strongest growth) Is Not Enough! This is to say, the pound fell against currencies ranging from the US dollar to the New Zealand dollar, in spite of the fact that the UK expanded +0.8 per cent between July and September.

So, if the UK is going gangbusters, why didn’t the pound rise? Well, for one, it’s because many economists remain sceptical that the recovery has got legs. The story goes that consumption is being fuelled by people running down their savings, so, when the pot of gold goes dry, the UK will again slow down. Second, there’s the fact that the Bank of England remains dearly attached to its forward guidance and insists it won’t raise interest rates until late 2016. With this in mind, 2013 may be the year the UK economy was a world-beater, but sad to say, the pound isn’t following in its footsteps!


How does the pound say hello to the euro? “Hiya!” Sterling reached its highest against the euro since 17 January recently, at more than 1.20. However, this has little to do with the fact that the UK economy has stepped up a gear. Instead, it’s because the European Central Bank took the drastic step of cutting interest rates to 0.25 per cent to stop the threat of deflation in the Eurozone. That came down on the euro like a ton of bricks, leading the pound to triumph!

US Dollar

The taper is back on the menu! Sterling fell 2 cents against the US dollar last month, chiefly because the US economy performed far better than forecast, raising the odds that the Federal Reserve will cut (or ‘taper’) its economic stimulus. For instance, America created 204,000 jobs in October, 79,000 more than forecast. Moreover, US factories expanded at their fastest rate since April 2011. Owing to this, the US dollar came out ahead, to sterling’s loss!

Australian Dollar

On top of the world, but not for long? The Aussie dollar hit 0.60 against sterling at its peak in October, yet odds are high the Aussie will weaken from hereon. How come? Well, because Reserve Bank of Australia chief Glenn Stevens has seemingly decided that enough is enough with this overpriced Aussie and has stepped up his rhetoric to bring the antipode currency down. Last month, he forecast that the Aussie would be “materially lower” in the near future. Given this, look for the Aussie to go even further “down under” versus the pound than it already is!

New Zealand Dollar

Like a under-fuelled Ryanair flight, the New Zealand dollar soared the skies in October, gaining 3 cents against the pound, but was then forced to make an emergency landing and shed all its gains. Why? Well, we can pin the blame on Reserve Bank of New Zealand boss Graeme Wheeler. Early in October, Mr Wheeler announced that New Zealand would be the first developed nation to raise interest rates since the financial crash. However, when the kiwi rocketed as a result, potentially crippling New Zealand’s export industries, the RBNZ chief was quick to backtrack. Hence, the up-down kiwi!

Canadian Dollar

Up, up and away! Sterling touched its highest since February 2010 versus the loonie dollar last month, at 1.6950. How come? Well, on the one hand, it’s because Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz finally conceded what’s been written in the tea leaves for some time; that Canada’s economy is now too weak to raise interest rates. And, on the other hand, the UK economy went hell-for-leather between July and September, growing +0.8 per cent, the fastest expansion in 3 years, giving the pound a decided upward lift!

Brazilian Real

BThe real rises! Brazil’s real climbed to 0.2850 against the pound in October, its highest since early August. This is chiefly because there’s a long list of positives coming out of Brazil at the moment. For one, Brazil’s unemployment rate is just 5.4 per cent, a rate that would make most industrialised nations today green with envy. Second, Brazil’s economy is in a “self-sustaining expansion,” ccording to PNC’s Bill Adams, as higher wages fuel faster growth. What’s more, the Bank of Brazil lifted interest rates +0.5 per cent to 9.5 per cent last month which also boosted the real!

Turkish Lira

Look for the lira to tank! Turkey’s lira held steady against sterling in October, yet looks set to make like a lead balloon in the months to come. Why? Because so many stars are aligning against Turkey. First, there’s the continuing conflict in neighbouring Syria. Second, inflation in Turkey is running rampant, which the central bank widely seen as ill-equipped to deal with it. Third, the lira will likely plummet, just as soon as the Federal Reserve cuts back its stimulus. So, look for a lira very much on the back foot!

That’s all for now – as ever, to chat to Peter, by phone or by email, please email back and we will put you in touch with each other for a no-obligation discussion.



More Tip Tips

Following yesterdays article about tipping behaviour, I received an email from our old friend Mike Chantry, directing me to some research on the subject. Here’s the article:

It’s well worth a read.  This whole area of reciprocity is fascinating, and has applications way beyond tipping in restaurants.  It’s worth giving some thought to how you might use it.

Hire A Mountain

If you’ve ever felt the need for a bit more space to fully express yourself on the ski slopes, than you’ll like part of the service offered by ski ticket discount company Liftopia. Because along with regular tickets, they’re now giving people the opportunity to hire the entire mountain. Depending on the resort, prices start at $3,000.

It’s further proof, that no matter what the product or service, there’s always scope for someone to offer a high priced premium version. Perhaps  Liftopia won’t sell too many full mountain packages, but if they do, I dare say they’ll be very profitable. And if they don’t…well it’s not bad free publicity for the core business, is it?

So…is anyone offering a ‘full mountain package’ in your market?

Streetwise Property Alert 26th November 2013

Free! London Event 10 December – JV Development Opportunity with Mick Rawlinson

I will be hosting a free event on Tuesday 10th December with Mick Rawlinson from Bastien Jack Ltd (BJL), aimed at all those investors who want to take a serious look behind the scenes of the 50/50 JV development opportunity that is offering some impressive and substantiated double digit returns.

The event will be held at the Islington office (a short walk from Kings Cross station) with refreshments being served from 10.30am for an 11.00am start.

We appreciate that some of you won’t be able to make a weekday event but the reason for holding it on a weekday at the Islington location is so you can also see how the sales arm of the group operate (very important). This element is a major advantage within the BJL proposition in terms of creating and controlling a fast exit on each development to maximise the return on investment for investors.

It will be an informal gathering of a small group around the table whilst Mick takes us through;

An overview of the current UK market and why developments conditions are ideal.

How Bastien Jack Ltd (i.e. Mick, site manager, architect) identifies the right type of sites and narrows this down through a due diligence process to select the best propositions for maximum return, which are then offered to investors for consideration.

A walk through of the full financial analysis for each selected site, this is six pages of spreadsheet analysis covering every single aspect and variable of the project.

How the investment structure works using a special purpose vehicle controlled by a legal firm in conjunction with additional safety mechanisms to safeguard investors at all times.

These are very impressive and highly analysed propositions put together by experienced professionals with complete transparency and offer some pretty decent returns but I want you to judge for yourself. You’ll also have plenty of opportunity to ask Mick any questions you like so you come away with a very thorough understanding of what is on offer.

Action; If you would like to attend at 11.00am on Tuesday 10 December, just email back to reserve your place(s) and I’ll send you the location details.

If you can’t make it but would still like to have a private discussion with Mick via Skype or face to face, let me know and I’ll make the arrangements.

How To Increase Tips

Have you ever seen a ‘tip collection box’ on the counter of a café or restaurant? There’s little motivation to put anything in there, but an idea I saw recently from the US, could change all that.

On the counter of the restaurant are two tip boxes, and above the boxes is an opportunity to ‘vote’. Which do you prefer….Android or Apple…Harry Potter or Twilight…X Factor or Strictly? The question changes every day. If you prefer Apple, you vote by putting your tip in the Apple box. If you prefer Android….well you get the idea.

Why does this work? Well it’s what direct marketers  call an involvement device. It engages customers in a fun process by voting…with their cash! Not only that, it makes an assumption of ‘giving’. The decision becomes  which box to put the tip in rather than whether to give a tip at all. I think sales people call this an alternative close…Do you want a red one or a green one…shall we deliver today or tomorrow?

Not everyone will ‘fall for this’ of course, but it increases the level of tips dramatically. Is there some way you could use this idea in your business? I know that I’ll be thinking about it.

Eat A Bug

I’m A Celebrity is on our screens again, and the show wouldn’t be complete without a celebrity (and I use the term loosely) munching their way through some bugs and insects. It was a novelty when the show first hit the screens, but maybe not for much longer.

World Entomophagy is one of a growing number of insect suppliers that promote bugs as food.  It’s a U.S company and interest is growing there. “In the past three years, interest in eating bugs has surged,” says David George Gordon, a chef and author of The Eat-a-Bug Cookbook. The number of U.S. chefs cooking insects has “probably tripled in the past five years,” he says, and new suppliers selling bugs primarily for human consumption, rather than as food for pet fish and reptiles, have popped up in the last two years.

Bugs are a valuable source of nutrition, and I would expect this trend to grow over the next few years as more people wake up to the possibilities. Could you be at the forefront of a bug farming revolution in the UK?