Streetwise Property Alert 9th December 2013

Thank you for your replies for the UK student accommodation and the Caribbean properties – you should receive full details by close of play today. If you do not, please do get back to me.

admin@streetwisenews.com

Supply-Demand-Price

Hometrack’s latest research – in essence, supply down, demand up, prices up – is all over the media. As ever, the media is playing around with the findings to tell the story they want to tell. Basically, demand is up 10 per cent or so over the past six months whilst supply is down some 0.5 per cent or so; result, prices rise. London and the South-East – two separate markets – lead the way. Strip them out and the figures are not so gung-ho.

Richard Donnell at Hometrack summarises it well, ‘A widening gap between supply and demand continues to put upward pressure on house prices. Average prices increased by 0.5 per cent in November on the back of a 3 per cent increase in demand and a 3.5 per cent contraction in supply. Faster sales rates are eroding the stock of homes for sale adding to the scarcity of housing.’

‘The survey results from the last six months show that demand for housing has grown by 10.2 per cent while supply has, on average, fallen by 0.6 per cent. There are wide regional variations in the relative balance between supply and demand and this impacts the extent and scale of house price growth. London and the South East have the greatest supply/demand mismatch and have seen house prices grow by 4.8 and 3.2 per cent respectively. In contrast, northern regions have negligible imbalance and price rises have been less than 0.5 per cent over the last six months. While the scale of house price growth varies, the overall trend is that a growing number of markets are seeing a general trend of rising prices. In November, 46 per cent of postcodes saw prices rise, the highest level for over nine years (July 2004).’ 100 – 46 = ? Food for thought.

Accidental Landlord? Read On!

According to AXA Business Insurance, ‘many accidental landlords are not fulfilling their legal duties to maintain their rental properties.’ Their research suggests; 23 per cent of respondents check boilers and other appliances only every three years; 32 per cent get electrics checked only every three years; 65 per cent only get a chimney swept every three years.

‘Accidental landlords are, as the name suggests, people who never really intended to take on a rental property. And it seems that many are not really aware of the responsibilities that come with the role, leaving themselves and their tenants extremely vulnerable. Things like gas and electrics are potential killers and need to be taken seriously.’ Are you an accidental landlord? Drop us a line and we’ll look to sort you some how-to material.

BTL- The Outlook

According to the latest forecast by Mortgages for Business, buy-to-let lending is to increase further in 2014. At an estimated £20 billion, lending to buy-to-let investors is up 135 per cent this year compared to the 2009 trough of £8.5 billion but it is still a long way short of the peak of £45 billion in 2007.

David Whittaker at Mortgages for Business offers a commentary, ‘Despite easing conditions for owner-occupiers and first-time buyers, the prevailing conditions mean the private rental sector remains a vital element of the housing mix. The growth in lending to property investors is proof of this and the intention of landlords to expand further demonstrates that demand for rental property shows little sign of waning.’

‘Investment in vanilla residential buy-to-let property is the most popular property type among investors looking to expand in over the next six months with 84 per cent of landlords intending to target these properties. The appetite for expansion is large among property investors. Yields are strong, property prices are rising and demand from tenants shows little sign of slowing.’ Isn’t it time you expanded?

Finally, if you have found this service useful and informative over the past year or longer, could I ask you please to consider making a donation to our Christmas appeal for the children’s hospice, Martin House.

See: www.justgiving.com/iain-c-maitland Thank you.

Don’t Sell…Match!

Sometimes you need to do things differently to stand out in a crowded market. Cosmetics company Getz has a business model that may have applications in other markets.

Here’s how it works. A woman fills out a survey about her preferences and, based on the responses, is put into a style category such as “Rock Rebel” or “Top Trend Setter.” She is then offered a bespoke box containing seven full-size cosmetic products for $40. The boxes are then  offered four times a year and have a retail value of up to $130. So rather than sell their products, the company  get potential customers to fill out a survey which self-selects the products they need/want based on their answers – matching rather than selling.

It’s an interesting approach, and one that would lend itself to many different markets. Is yours one of them?

Streetwise Property Alert 6th December 2013

Lots of interest in the US amongst members. We have a separate service…

Florida Focus

According to the latest housing data from Florida Realtors, Florida was ‘onwards and upwards’ in Q3 2013 with more closed sales, higher median prices and more pending sales. Data from the third quarter of 2013 shows that Florida’s housing market continues to grow and gain strength. The housing sector is vital to the state’s economy, and realtors across the state are reporting increased activity in their markets. At 7.0 per cent, Florida currently has a lower unemployment rate than the nation, according to the August unemployment figures (the latest state data available.) More jobs will provide more stability for future growth in the state’s housing market and overall economy.’

‘What’s remarkable for the third quarter data is that all metro areas in Florida show year-over-year increases in both prices and sales for single-family homes and year-over-year increases in sales for condo-townhome properties. Inventories have begun to pick up a little bit, which may be consistent with cash sales declining as a percentage of overall sales. We’re alert to the fact that it may signal a trend, which could be good for the long-term stabilisation and health of Florida’s housing market. More to come.

On The Up – But Not So Fast?

We are planning a series of reports, visits and reports of visits (if you see what I mean) on the US property market from 2014. These will focus mostly on Florida although I am also planning a visit to New York. Details to come in the New Year. Meantime, the latest S&P/Case Shiller report reveals that in the year to end Q3 2013, property prices
across the US are up 13.3 per cent.

Expect to see that figure slipping in Q4. We note that The National Association of Realtors has stated that its Pending Home Sales Index, based on contracts signed last month in October, slipped 0.6 per cent to 102.1, the lowest level since December 2012. ‘The data suggest sluggish home sales going into the end of the year and that the tightening of financial conditions this summer did have a negative impact.’ Even so it has been a turnaround year.

Introductions – Recent Examples

We are always being asked to introduce deals to members. These have gone but are good examples of what we can introduce.

Purchase price $35,000 (£22k)

3 Bedroom detached house

NET Rental income – $7,690 (£4,806) per annum

Fully refurbished and TENANTED

NET Yield – 22 per cent

Purchase price $34,995 (£22k)

3 Bedroom, 2 bath detached house

NET Rental income $7,104 (£4,440) per annum

Fully refurbished and TENANTED

NET Yield – 20 per cent

Email if you are looking for deals like these – with guaranteed rents.  admin@streetwisenews.com

The Bahamas

One of our longest-serving contacts has two offers…

Brand New Apartments

$308,695

This brand new complex is situated next to a small picturesque lake and a short five minute walk to a private sandy beach. It will include just 10 apartments keeping the development private and discreet. Perfect as a second home investment!

Modern in design but with rustic touches all of the apartments are two-beds two-baths with fitted kitchen, spacious lounge and balcony. Each apartment has views of the tropical landscaped gardens, pool and lake. The relaxed ambience will be evident throughout the gated complex with water features, fire pits, private seating areas and a deck area overlooking the lake.

A large artisan designed swimming pool will be the centerpiece of the gardens with sunbathing areas. Each owner will benefit also from secure garage parking and storage areas within the building ensuring peace of mind during periods of absence.

Beachside Lots

From just $30,000 with payment plan!

The island is completely unspoilt, rugged in terrain and with beautiful beaches. All within your reach now as we release phase one of our residential lots, all within a stone’s throw of our own private beaches.

Each lot will allow one single family home, one storey or two and can be a tiny cottage or a large mansion! We have plenty of options available for you to choose from.

Each lot will vary in size but are all 1/2 acre or more in size. Some lots will allow sea views, some will not, if a sea view is important to you please ask for our advice.

Sold freehold with the right to build, just bring your plan or choose one of ours.

Selling from $30,000 with payments plans spread conveniently over a year makes these plots very affordable.

A 10 per cent discount is given for all cash buyers.

We have full details ready to send to you and will even help you pick your plot. These are selling fast. Do not hesitate to contact us to secure your plot at vastly under market value prices.

‘Hidden Away’ Hotspots

The latest Emerging Trends report from PwC draws attention to possible US property hotspots for 2014. ‘Real optimism has emerged as a key theme in the real estate market for 2014 as trends are progressing significantly through the economic and real estate recovery cycles. The steady economic recovery and job creation has created ‘tailwinds’ that have propelled the real estate market forward, and momentum of this recovery seems powerful enough to weather spikes in interest rates that may be inevitable.’

‘The anticipated interest in secondary markets is indicative of how the US real estate recovery is expanding beyond the traditional investment hub. Access to greater amounts of both debt and equity financing, combined with a sustained improvement in the underlying economic fundamentals, means that the opportunities and returns offered in smaller markets are potentially very appealing.’

Best locations? San Francisco is the top-ranked market for the second year in a row…a solid buy for all property types. Houston improves from its number-five position in last year’s survey, due to its investment and homebuilding prospects. San Jose is the third-ranked market for the second year in a row. Respondents believe that the job and income growth generated by the sector will support rising real estate demand. New York slips two places to number four in this year’s survey. There is a growing concern that pricing is once again becoming too high. Rental apartments and hotels are the property sectors that respondents feel offer the best opportunities in 2014. Dallas/Fort Worth moved up four spots to number five in the 2014 survey. It was its strong homebuilding prospects that moved the market up in this year’s survey.’ More to come.

Where Next?

The Zillow Home Price Expectations Survey, which consults 100+ property experts reveals that ‘they’, the consensus, expects US prices to eise by 6.7 per cent in 2013 and that price growth will continue but slow over the next five years. ‘The housing market has seen a period of unsustainable, breakneck appreciation and some cooling off is both welcome and expected. Rising mortgage rates, diminished investor demand and slowly rising inventory will all contribute to the slowdown of appreciation.’ More forecasts to come between now and the end of the year.

We are at work on your December newsletters and welcome suggestions for articles you’d like to read. Finally, we are still collecting for the Martin House children’s hospice this Christmas.

Please donate: www.justgiving.com/iain-c-maitland

Parking Auction

There seems  little doubt that parking in major cities is only going to get worse. That’s the issue behind  Parking Auction, a new iPhone app which attempts to match users with spaces.

The app was launched recently on Manhattans Upper West Side. Users can log on and for a fee, and be connected to another user who is vacating a space – for a fee. Strictly speaking, it isn’t legal to ‘sell’ a parking space and so what the service is  providing, is ‘information’. I’m not sure what the difference is in practical terms though.

Having spent more time than I care to think about, driving around towns and cities  looking for that elusive parking spot, I can fully appreciate the need. Who wouldn’t pay a couple of quid for a parking space when they’ve been driving around for twenty minutes? Perhaps one to investigate here in the UK then.

Thinking more broadly, what other ’free resource’ might be ripe for similar treatment? I’d happily pay to take someone’s place at the front of a queue for example. Could that be the basis of an app based service as well?

Streetwise Property Alert 5th December 2013

First things first, some of you who have asked for a brochure for The Cotswolds Hotel do not seem to have received it. Apologies. Please email me if you were expecting to receive it and have not and I will personally send it to you myself today…

admin@streetwisenews.com

UK – Beware Averages

So, we are told that the UK property market is ‘in recovery’, ‘bouncing back’ etc and, by and large, it seems to be the case – but not everywhere though! New analysis of Land Registry records by Countrywide reveals that, whilst London and the South-East are progressing, other parts of the UK are doing less well and some have prices lower than they did in 2008.

The analysis shows that prices across 326 local authority districts in England are above their 2008 peak in only 71 of these districts. In 56 per cent of local authorities, property prices are still at least 5 per cent below their 2008 peak.

‘While house price rises in London have attracted considerable attention, in many places outside the capital little has changed since 2010, and house prices remain well below their 2008 peak. To talk of a house price bubble would be to ignore the four-fifths of local authorities where prices remain below 2008 levels and in some cases are still falling. There are only five local authorities across the whole of the North East, Yorkshire and the Humber, North West, East Midlands, West Midlands and South West where house prices have surpassed 2008 levels.’

‘With the largest increases in house prices over 2013 confined to London and its commuter belts, the gap between the South East of England and the rest of the country continues to widen. Increases in house price across London are running at around seven times those outside the capital. Within London itself there are now 15 Boroughs where house prices stand at least 10 per cent above their 2008 peak. While central London has performed strongly since 2008, there is clear evidence that house price growth is spilling out into some of the outer boroughs as buyers look for better value further out.’

Spain – Empty Homes Warning

The Daily Mail has an interesting story if you are looking to buy in Spain. It states that some ‘one million illegal homes were constructed by crooked developers…on protected land…over the past 10 years…many were bought by British expats who were tricked by unscrupulous builders, lawyers and estate agents.’

It goes on, ‘With Spanish officials now trying to offload unwanted and possibly illegal properties, many more Britons could be caught in a legal and financial nightmare. After checking the official Spanish registry of homes for sale…many listed on the website are illegal and even have them on orders against them.’

‘A three-bedroom villa in a remote area in Andalucia which had been abandoned by its owners after they discovered it was to be demolished…is for sale at £64,300. You…could buy an illegal home then be made to foot the bill for knocking it down just weeks later.’ More to come on this – meantime, due diligence, use your own lawyer etc etc – before you sign anything or part with a single euro.

Forestry

The latest market report on UK forestry by Savills and UPM Tilhill suggests that 2013 has been the bumper year everyone was predicting. ‘2013 …a record year, both in the total value of the market and its unit price.’ Let’s quote, ‘While values of properties larger than 50 hectares have dropped in England, prices in Wales are now outperforming
English prices for the first time.’

‘As the year progressed, an improvement in the economy led to early signs of growth in the sector. This was strongly supported by a number of forestry investment funds and high net worth individuals who have been active at the top end. Both sectors of the market have been aggressively bidding for good quality spruce forests which offer reasonable scale and access to timber markets.’

‘The 50 per cent increase in the value of commercial properties traded in England, Scotland and Wales compared to last year is staggering and proves there is huge interest from investors and private individuals who recognise the value and potential benefits of owning forests. They are now looking forward to an increase in demand for timber for construction and biomass and the knock-one effect on timber sales particularly from those with a combination of processing and energy needs.’

All for now, see you again on Friday.

 

Streetwise Property Alert 4th December 2013

A mix of property news for you today…

Hotel Investors – Dig A Little

One of the most common features of off-plan hotel opportunities in London last year was that so many projections were based around 2012 numbers – hardly an average year! We did urge members looking at such offers to consider some of the projected figures closely as they did not look very realistic to us in many instances.

And so we can pretty much repeat the warning for Glasgow-related opportunities coming up. The BBC reports this week that it has looked at 10 hotels, picked at random, and compared their prices during Games and before and after. It discovered the average price increase on a daily rate for a standard double room during the Games was 410 per cent. Food for thought.

Student Hotspots

Philip Hillman at Jones Lang LaSalle, Marcus Roberts at Savills; Jo Winchester at CBRE and Colin Murphy at Torcana, talking at the Student Accommodation Seminar at OPP Live, caution student accommodation investors to do proper due diligence and research before investing. They also draw attention to high-end developments at Bath, Kingston upon Thames, St Andrews and Edinburgh – ‘Scotland is a good option, as fees for European Union students are cheaper than England and many university cities and towns are undersupplied by student housing.’ We are due to take a look shortly at a number of opportunities in Scotland; do let us know if you’d be interested in a short report and, possibly, one or two introductions.

North Dakota Boom

According to The Move Channel’s latest Investment Watch report, North Dakota is attracting the most attention amongst investors. ‘An increasing number of investors are becoming aware of the fantastic investment opportunity in North Dakota due to the uniqueness created by the demand from oil workers for quality accommodation near the Bakken Oil Field. There is nowhere else that investors can benefit from genuine net yields of 36 per cent plus per annum.’ Buying here? We have a report coming soon for serious investors; email for it if you are buying there shortly.

Hotel Deal – 2013’s Hottest

I hesitate to say our most experienced investors have ‘gone mad’ or ‘are in a frenzy’ over this opportunity but I would say that it’s the strongest and most enthusiastic response we’ve had to such an introduction since 2009. As such, I’d urge you to at least look at what’s on offer from our friends Dave and Jeannie…

In line with our policy of offering strong products with clear and substantial due diligence and background, which offer excellent returns with clear exit strategies, we’re very pleased to offer a superb project which should appeal to those investors looking for a really interesting, upmarket project with very attractive returns and conditions. This investment is only available ‘off market’ to a defined category of investors (FCA compliance is in our thoughts always)…

We offer you an exciting opportunity to invest into a new boutique hotel within a spectacular Grade 2 listed building, set in 26 acres in the heart of The Cotswolds.

This property has recently been purchased and will be transformed over the course of 2014 into a truly unique environment generating a number of lucrative revenue streams.

The private members club is already fully functional and the restaurant is due to open before Christmas.

The investment is time limited, therefore the exit strategy is fixed and clearly defined. The investment structure itself is a secure and legally constructed framework with clear and thorough due diligence available.

Key Features

Fully secured, asset back investment

Minimum investment of £10,000

Fixed annual returns of 10 per cent net

Clear exit options (with bonus) at years 3 and 5, offering average annual returns of up to 20 per cent

All investment funds paid and administered via solicitors’ account.

We have a full brochure and due diligence pack available. If you are interested in this exciting opportunity please register your interest now. We have seminars planned at the location, so contact us for further information

If you have £10,000+ and earn less than 10 to 20 per cent per annum on it, email back for full details…

admin@streetwisenews.com

Fractional Ownership – News

Our friends at OPP Connect report that, ‘Russia is looking to create many more resort developments and is opening up to fractional ownership. Plans are underway for a number of resorts to in the south of Russia and ski resorts in the Northern Caucasus region and they are likely to include fractional ownership options.’

They quote David Disick at TheFractionalConsultant.com, ‘Luxury real estate is really taking off and the market is in a growth phase and there is a need for additional luxury facilities. Three years ago, the Russians didn’t know about fractional property, but the government is now encouraging the inclusion of fractional in projects.’

We are currently at work on a short report on BRIC – Brazil, Russia, India and China – property markets and are updating a general fractional investing article for the December newsletter; if you’d like to receive draft versions of these, do let us know. We can, if the interest is there, also take a closer look at fractional ownership in Russia.

Student Investing – Outlook

Our friends at Vita talk us through the outlook for the student accommodation sector over the coming years. ‘The UK’s academic scene is one of the country’s best attractions, meaning that international students are flocking to the UK. The government is making a concerted effort to continue this movement with David Willets, MP and Minister for Universities and Science, stating that government policy is to encourage the predicted rise in international students.’

‘So we’re confident that student numbers are stable but what kind of accommodation can they expect to find? In the coming years it is thought that the sector is going to echo the structure of the hotel industry, with brands and different price points emerging which target clearly defined audiences. By segmenting in this way it means that both investors and students will have a clearer idea of what they are getting for their money. Students will choose a brand based on whatever level of quality they want, from basic single rooms and shared kitchens, to specially-designed bespoke studio apartments with access to communal leisure facilities and social hubs.’

‘This also gives investors a choice as the budget property options which are available obviously mean that the investment has a lower entry point, but potentially lower returns as well. Conversely, luxury student property brands with high specification facilities might have a higher point of entry but the yields will also be greater as students will pay more for it. Because UK universities are striving to maintain their competitiveness in a global race to find the best students they have recognized the need to provide them with a fantastic overall experience as well as the best academic qualifications.’ Good to know.

That’s it, see you soon!

The Flying Nanny

I’m sure we’ve all been on a flight made even more unpleasant by an unsettled or unruly child. Etihad Airways’ have recognised the problem and introduced their Flying Nanny scheme.

Some 300 of the airline’s cabin crew have undergone training to take up the new roles, including guidance on child psychology and sociology. Flying Nannies are  able to answer questions and requests by parents who need some help in dealing with their children and babies throughout the flight. The nannies entertain young fliers with a range of characters, face painting, puppets, magic tricks and origami activities.

Air travel is just one situation in which children can make a situation less enjoyable or productive for all concerned. Are there other situations where you could step in with some form of nanny or child care service?  Might this be useful in high ticket retail environments, for example?

I’m sure any veteran car dealer, kitchen specialist or soft furnishing retailer could talk  for hours, about the sales they’ve lost because a potential customer gave in to a  bored or distracted child and went home. If there was someone on hand to keep children happy and entertained, these retailers may well find that the service paid for itself many times over.

Not something to leap into without thought and planning, but definitely a concept with potential.

Streetwise Property Alert 3rd December 2013

Welcome to today’s round-up of news and views…

BTL Basics

We are now at work on updating our slightly dated buy-to-let course for first-timers. Meantime, The National Landlords Association offers a few tips and tactics…

Provide a proper tenancy agreement, usually an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) agreement that you and the tenant sign. This will outline the length of the tenancy, amount of rent, when it is to be paid, and deposit details.

Carry out full background checks on potential tenants to check they are in a position to meet their rental commitment.

Protect the tenant’s deposit with a government-authorised scheme, such as mydeposits

Create an inventory describing the condition of the property in detail, along with the furnishings

Have gas appliances checked annually by a Gas Safe registered engineer and provide the tenant with a Gas Safety Certificate

Take out comprehensive landlord insurance to protect your property

Ensure urgent repairs are fixed promptly. Use reputable tradesmen that you know and can trust to tend to the property at short notice.

The updated course will be available in January; pre-register to receive your free copy by emailing back.

admin@streetwisenews.com

BTL Mortgage News

We really must start that weekly BTL mortgages review I keep promising! Let’s test it with, say, 20 investors; email back for updates from next week. Talking BTL mortgages, Skipton has reduced rates on selected buy-to-let products by up to 0.20 per cent.

BTL Hotspot – Or Not?

As someone who wades through masses of press releases and marketing materials every day, I regularly see what are essentially promotional pieces being reported as facts, even hot tips. In essence, a journalist has a space to fill. I note today that Sheffield is – fact! – a buy-to-let hotspot. Is it? Well, we generally get good feedback from there, mainly related to the universities.

But we are seeing more headlines along these lines this week. Why? It’s all to do with a promotional campaign by a local estate agent, ELR. Now I have to stress I’m not saying anything negative at all about the agent or the market, just offering it up as an example of the way in which the media can pick up and run with a story. Is one agent representative of an entire market?

Over to Nick Riddle of Lockwood and Riddle (ELR). ‘At the moment we have 17 properties to rent on the books, and more than 100 tenants looking for good quality accommodation – especially in S7,10,11,17 and North Derbyshire – making this a great region for the buy to let market. The greatest demand is for two- and three-bedroom homes, up to about £800 pcm. However, we have had success in finding tenants for properties in the higher rental brackets.’ Interested in this market? We can do some research on this – and other UK ‘hotspots’ if the interest is there. Start by telling us where you are buying!

That’s it, see you again tomorrow.

The Health Spies

It’s not often I find a business idea a bit frightening, but this one certainly is. It sounds like it comes from science fiction, but it’s true.

Businesses can reduce their insurance premiums by proving that they are a low risk. With a wide range of exercise trackers available to consumers these days, FwdHealth is taking advantage of such devices, helping companies cut their health insurance policies by monitoring employee fitness levels.

Designed to work with apps such as RunKeeper and Sleep Time as well as devices like the Fitbit and Nike+, (no I haven’t heard of them either!) the company combines the data to provide a summary of each individual’s exercise regime, diet and sleeping patterns in real time. From the platform’s dashboard, managers can then see an overview of their entire teams’ health and lifestyle habits. Not only can managers gain information about their workforce — which could lead to improved productivity — but they can use the data to get better health insurance deals for their employees.

This seems like a gross invasion of privacy to me, but it does draw attention to the all-important issue of employee health and well-being. If you can find a ‘softer’ approach to helping companies guide their staff to better health and fitness habits, you could find yourself a very lucrative market.

Streetwise Property Alert 2nd December 2013

Welcome to the latest news and views…

Worldwide Overview

The latest global house price index from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) makes interesting reading. Overall – how about that for an average – the index in Q2 2013 was at its highest since Q4 2008. Some 32 of 51 ‘advanced and emerging markets’ saw rises. Leading the way? Hong Kong saw a year-on-year price rise, Q2 2012 to Q2 2013, of 14.6 per cent. Next? Ukraine at 11.7 per cent, the Philippines at 10 per cent and Colombia and New Zealand at 8.8 per cent. Going down? The biggest falls were seen in Hungary, the Netherlands and Greece – all down 11 per cent year-on-year.

‘The variety of experiences across countries is really the story. Many markets are overvalued; Canada, New Zealand, Norway, Belgium, Australia, Finland, the UK, Sweden and Spain. Markets that are undervalued include Japan, Greece, Germany, Portugal and Slovenia. Prices reflect people’s feelings about their permanent income. In countries where home price appreciation risks creating a bubble, policy makers can respond with macro prudential tools that help tighten credit availability and take some of the fizz out of the market.’ Where are you buying in 2014? Let us know.

London – Not Just Canary Wharf!

We have some apartments to introduce in Canary Wharf. These, I think, will be snapped up by our overseas-based members. If you are looking at London, don’t just focus on the ‘sexy’ locations though – as we saw recently, the likes of Croydon, regenerating like crazy, have much to offer.

The Crossrail route is the biggest trigger between now and 2018 – CBRE expects price rises of 10 per cent above and beyond. ‘Since the Cross rail programme gained royal assent in 2008, house prices around affected stations have risen by 20 per cent in excess of the London average.’

‘CBRE has identified that a ten per cent reduction in commuting time will increase a property’s value by up to six per cent. For those travelling into London, travel times are forecast to reduce by an average of 15 minutes. However, from outer stations, including Maidenhead, Taplow and Burnham, the journey times into Canary Wharf will be greatly reduced by up to 40 minutes.’ More soon.

Australia – A Bubble?

New York Economist Robert Gay strikes a note of caution for the property market in Australia. ‘For an American, coming to visit in Australia, things are expensive, and property’s expensive. That doesn’t mean it’s a bubble. It’s only a bubble when banks become too lenient with lending standards and Australian banks do not have a history of being too lax.’

‘But Australia’s property (market) is not impervious to a bubble emerging. Hot money could flow in when the Reserve Bank of Australia has normal monetary policies while other nations had extraordinarily low ones. Australia’s vulnerable because it’s a very attractive place. It’s a natural lure for a lot of Asians who can’t find (investment) vehicles in their own country.’ More to come.

Has our Christmas appeal ground to a halt? If this service – free – has been of any use to you over the past year, please give a fiver.

Thank you: www.justgiving.com/iain-c-maitland