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Why Use an ARLA Member As Your Letting Agent | Lettings in Willesden Green, Kensal Rise and NW Postcodes.

Why should I let my London Property through a licensed ARLA member?

As a landlord or tenant using a letting agent is something many of us do. Lettings agents who are members of ARLA have voluntarily joined the association and taken a formal qualification that gives them the knowledge and experience that will minimize the stress from letting a property and make the process as smooth as possible.

The ARLA (Association of Registered Lettings Agents) is a reputable and recognised professional body that exists to promote high standards in service and knowledge that in turn helps protect the consumer within the lettings industry.

The rules of conduct that member agents must work too are strict. Members must meet a certain criterion relating to professional and ethical practice. The rules are based on agents supporting  and promoting their clients best interests while continuously acting in an open and proper manner.

As a consumer you will get the following assurances by using a licensed ARLA member;

  • Advice from a qualified and trained agent who can give you professional and up to date advice. Members must carry out a minimum level of Continual Professional Development (CPD) each year. 
  • There is a path to redress if something goes wrong. All members must belong to an independent redress scheme such as the Property Ombudsman who can award payments up to £25,000.
  • The agency will be covered by ARLA”s own Client Money Protection Scheme (CMP). The ARLA have the option to make grants up to certain limits if you suffer a financial loss due to the dishonesty or bankruptcy of the member and/or their firm.
  • You are doing business with an agents who voluntarily follows the Code of Practice and Rules of Conduct that have been set out by ARLA. An agent can be fined or even expelled for not following the code. ARLA’s disciplinary body ranges from warnings to penalties of up to £5000.
  • The agency has Professional Indemnity Insurance. With this in place a successful claim would provide financial cover should a member neglect, badly advise or mishandle data.

Dealing with an experienced  and professional agent has many benefits. Regal Estates is a licensed ARLA member agent.

For lettings in Willesden Green call us on 020 8459 2530 or visit our site

Foxtons in shock after profit warning

The estate agency whose staff are known for running round London in green Minis and for their aggressive valuations suffered a setback yesterday when its shares plunged after a shock profit warning.

Foxtons, which floated last year, said that a combination of tighter mortgage lending, economic uncertainty and a mismatch between buyers and sellers had caused commissions from house sales to drop by 8 per cent to £16.4 million in the third quarter.

It forecast that its sales volumes in the second half would be “significantly below” last year and warned that its full-year earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation would be “lower” than last year’s £49.6 million.

The stock market had forecast previously that Foxtons would generate ebitda of £57 million this year.

The surprise warning sent Foxton’s shares crashing as investors cashed out of a stock that, since peaking at 399p in February, has fallen steadily. They slumped nearly 20 per cent yesterday to close at 165p.

In fresh evidence of a slowdown in London’s housing market, Foxtons said that even though house prices had risen this year, they had not been enough to offset the “sharp and recent” fall in sales volumes. Revenue from its lettings division was also flat and Foxtons’ turnover fell to £39.9 million in the third quarter from £41.1 million last year.

The dramatic fall in activity followed an “exceptionally strong” nine-month period to June 30, when sales volumes reached their highest levels since 2007.

The warning came just over a year after Foxtons was floated in a heavily over-subscribed offer.

Analysts at Canaccord, Numis and Credit Suisse all cut their full-year estimates yesterday, with Numis reducing its target for Foxtons’ 2014 earnings by 16 per cent.

Chris Millington, an analyst at Numis, said: “The downgrades are significant and reflect the sharp slowdown in London transactions in recent months against a very strong comparative.” However, he continued to believe in the fundamentals of the Foxtons business.

Nic Budden, the chief executive of Foxtons, said: “Foxtons remains highly profitable, cash-generative and debt-free, and therefore well positioned to deliver further cash returns to shareholders.”

Getting the most out of the F-word

BC Partners has attracted its fair share of attention recently amid criticism that it burdened Phones4u with too much debt. The private equity group denied wrongdoing and said it was “devastated” by the chain’s collapse, which wiped out bondholders.

Initially, BC Partners got its timing badly wrong when it invested in Foxtons, buying the business for £360 million from Jon Hunt in 2007 just before the worst property crash in British history. It lost control of the business to its lenders as revenues plunged and the firm’s partners reportedly referred to the business internally as the “F-word”.

However, it put in more equity and bought back the lenders’ shares to regain control. Last year, it appeared to have got its market timing right, floating Foxtons in a heavily oversubscribed listing. BC Partners has since progressively reduced its stake and is understood to have reaped more than three times its investment.

Labour sets out plan to reach 200,000 homes-a-year target

Ed Balls promises boost in capital spending as party prepares to publish review of the future of housing

Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, has promised a boost in capital spending on social and council housing to make it possible to reach Labour’s target of 200,000 new homes a year by 2020 – the centrepiece of Labour’s long-awaited Lyons review into the future of housing due to be published on Thursday.

Balls frustrated many housing campaigners when he said at the Labour party conference that he would not lift the cap on capital spending by local authorities to allow them to borrow more to build extra houses.

With fresh surveys showing that London house prices rose by 20% in the past year, Balls said on Tuesday night at a meeting organised by Progress magazine: “We are not going to going to come forward with proposals for more spending paid for by new borrowing, but I think we can still make a real step forward to reach the 200,000 number by the end of the decade. Within the overall capital allocation, we will increase the priority compared to George Osborne’s plans for housing.

“That will ensure enough funds for council and affordable housing. If we increase the priority for housing in the overall capital settlement, I think we will be able to show without the need to increase borrowing that we can implement the Lyons review and reach the 200,000 figure.”

Saying that the Lyons report would be about unblocking the supply of housing, he added: ”It will say there is a range of things we can do about new towns, new urban corporations, planning laws, making sure planning permissions are used, skills in the housing market but also a need for more investment”.

He insisted the plans would be politically popular because even homeowners know their children cannot afford to get on to the housing ladder and are increasingly having to stay within the private rental sector.

“We have got to stop house prices outstripping earnings all the time. The only way to solve that is increasing supply,” Balls said.

The Lyons review is set to propose:

• Olympic Park-style new homes corporations with powers to push through building on land, including a backstop power for compulsory purchase;

• the construction of at least five new towns including two in south-east England;

• a large expansion of smaller builders to end the virtual monopoly of large construction firms;

• local authorities being allowed to share cash so a council that has borrowed up to its cap can then apply for resources from a council that has not reached its limit.

The Lyons Commission estimates that new homes corporations could increase and accelerate the delivery of up to 500,000 homes over a five-year parliament. Set up by local authorities, normally at devolved city and county region level where councils choose to collaborate, new homes corporations would work closely with the private sector partners and housing associations, commissioning a wider range of developers to build on sites speedily.

Lyons has identified inefficiencies in the way that land with planning permission is developed as central to the failure to build. A fixed timetable for development would remove the incentive to hold on to land, the report argues.

The new homes corporations would have a duty to ensure there was greater competition in the housebuilding market. The report points out that small builders built nearly two thirds of homes 30 years ago, but that proportion has dropped to less than a third.

The number of small house builders have been dwindling as they are locked out of land, partly because it is difficult to discover who owns options on land. Since 2008, the number of small house builders – those that construct 10 to 30 units per year – has fallen by 50%.

It has been estimated that the ownership of 20% of brownfield land is unknown and the lack of accurate land ownership information exacerbates this problem.


Foreign Investors Tighten Grip on London Commercial Property Market

Foreign investors own about a quarter of the commercial property market in London.

Overseas buyers claimed 24 percent of the city’s commercial real estate including warehouses, malls, offices and hotels by the end of 2013. The figure has doubled in just a decade and has reached its highest for the first time, Bloomberg reported.

London has been seeing a bevy of investors coming in since the great recession. The Financial Times explains that low base rates, political instability in neighboring investing havens like Russia and the fall in the value of sterling have all made London’s commercial property market a great investment site.

So where is all the money coming from?

According to the publication, China leads the pack of foreign investors stashing money on London investments. Other countries like the United States, the Middle East, India and even Taiwan have been regularly pouring in huge chunks of money into the commercial real estate of London.

The arrival of foreign players in the property market has on one hand given the economy of the city a booster, but on the other has pushed up the cost of living in the city. According to a recent Savills report, London was named the most expensive city in the world as real estate costs grew 10.6 percent on a year-over-year basis. As the pound strengthened and rents rose, cost of living in London shot up too.

“…the availability of low-cost office space in and around Silicon roundabout, coupled with affordable residential accommodation, helped put the capital on the technology map. But gentrification has priced out new startups, and the vitality of central London locations are at risk as they become too expensive for the types of occupiers that made them attractive in the first place,” the report stated.

So technically, the same factors that attracted foreign investors have made it difficult for the London natives. Housing supply has been incredibly tight and the lack of land and buildings to accommodate people is now high.

The government is trying to take steps to make life easier for Londoners. According to Biz, the city administration has decided to convert several commercial property into residential developments to meet the housing demand.

“If all the long-term office space currently available was converted it could potentially deliver 250 000 new homes and save just under £140 million over ten years in unnecessary red tape costs,” Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, was quoted by the website.

“Converting offices into homes is the biggest thing going on in central London right now,” Peter Wetherell, a real estate agent in London who has sold more than 100 office properties that would be converted into residential developments, told the website.

“There is now a huge residential development pipeline of over 400 new homes, which will be built in Mayfair alone over the next 5 – 15 years,” Wetherell added.

Businesses raise alarms about London’s high cost of housing

Earlier this week, knocked Hong Kong out of first place as the most expensive city in the world to live and work, according to Savills, a British real estate agency.

A few days later, KPMG, the consulting and accounting firm, announced that it would help its young employees buy houses, offering them private banking services including preferential mortgage rates with two local banks, Clydesdale and Yorkshire.

And on Friday, London First, a business lobbying group, and Turner and Townsend, a global construction consultancy, released the results of surveys they conducted asking businesses, employees and local government officials about the impact of London’s meteoric rise in housing costs.

The news was not good.

Three-quarters of the businesses surveyed warned that London’s housing supply and costs are “a significant risk to the capital’s economic growth” while more than half of employees said they find it difficult to pay rent or mortgage costs and work in London.

“Clearly there is a problem with affordability in London,” said Simon Collins, KPMG’s chief in Britain. “People are worried that they will be forced into renting forever.”

estimates that have jumped 18.4 per cent in the last year in the capital. As a result, talking about housing in London is a lot like talking about housing in New York City: It is an obsessive topic that never seems to bore even though the conversation is roughly always the same (unless, of course, you happen to be a Russian or Chinese oligarch and money is no object). Prices are stratospheric, they appear to be rising fast and getting onto the property ladder is increasingly difficult for professionals not employed at successful hedge funds or private equity firms.

But now the issue is moving from breakfast tables and policy debates into boardrooms, where businesses are expressing concern that London is becoming unaffordable, even with significant commutes, for the talent pool they need to tap.

London has knocked Hong Kong out of the first place as the most expensive city in the world to live and work, according to Savills, a British real estate agency. Here are some reasons for the jump in housing prices and how it is impacting people:

  • Savills estimates that property prices have jumped 18.4% in the last year in the capital
  • A London First report said the high costs of both renting and buying are being driven by a major under-supply of housing
  • The city is growing by 100,000 people a year but the number of homes being built is less than half of what is needed
  • According to a London First survey, more than a third of businesses say they are concerned about the impact that London’s housing supply and costs is having on their ability to recruit and retain staff
  • If housing prices continue to rise, almost half of the employees surveyed would consider moving out of London
  • George Osborne, chancellor of the exchequer, said housing shortage is causing too many people to take on too much debt, and posing perhaps the greatest threat to the country’s strong economic recovery

The London First report said that the high costs of both renting and buying are being driven by a major under-supply of housing. The city is growing by 100,000 people a year but the number of homes being built is less than half what is needed.

“London’s chronic housing shortage is already making it difficult for many of those with the talents the capital needs to live and work here, and this problem is only going to get worse unless we start building more homes,” said Jo Valentine, chief executive of London First, which represents business interests.

According to the London First survey, conducted by YouGov, a British polling firm, more than a third of businesses say they are concerned about the impact that London’s housing supply and costs is having on their ability to recruit and retain staff.

Employees are no happier. When asked how likely they were to move if housing prices continued to rise, almost half said it was likely that they would consider moving out of London.

Not surprisingly, those ages 25 to 39 were hit the hardest: more than two-thirds said the cost of their rent or mortgage made it difficult to work in London.

George Osborne, the chancellor of the Exchequer, has said that the housing shortage is causing too many people to take on too much debt, and posing perhaps the greatest threat to the country’s strong economic recovery.

In April, the Financial Conduct Authority introduced tougher mortgage standards, called the Mortgage Market Review, requiring mortgage lenders to more stringently assess the ability of potential borrowers to meet their initial and future mortgage payments.

When the market continued its tear, the Bank of England intervened, putting a cap on lenders. No more than 15 percent of their loan portfolios could consist of mortgages in which borrowers were lent amounts that exceeded 4.5 times their income.

The market has responded. According to the British Bankers Association, mortgage approvals for house purchases eased back to a 12-month low of 41,588 in August, 14.1 percent lower than January’s 76-month high of 48,396.

But prices continue to rise. According to the Savills report, called “12 Cities,” rising rents and the strong pound pushed up the typical cost for individuals of renting somewhere to live and leasing office space to $120,000 a year (the ranking is based on an index that measures the total costs per employee of renting living and working space on a United States dollar basis in 12 world cities).

That is driving employers to creative ends. Mr. Collins at said that the private banking services package was part of a broader effort to offer what employees want in the workplace. Other changes include more fixed pay and less bonus so employees would invest in pensions and mortgages.

In addition to redistributing salaries toward fixed pay, similar to what is happening in the city because of the bonus cap rules from Europe, KPMG will focus on helping employees move more fluidly around the world and within the company, and it will give people their birthdays off. It will also help with those pricey mortgages.

“Owning a home is fast becoming a fairy tale for all but society’s wealthiest,” Mr. Collins told The Financial Times.

Landlord rents room that can only be accessed by crawling


A landlord who rented a room that could only be accessed by tenants by crawling on their hands and knees has been fined.

The top floor bedroom in a house Hendon, North London, was being let to a couple for £420 a month.

However, in order to get into the room, the couple had to make their way up a staircase that required them to squeeze through spaces just just two feet and three inches and three feet and 11 inches high.

Yaakov Marom was issued with a prohibition order banning him from letting the top floor bedroom after inspectors found it could only be entered by crawling up the stairs before passing through a small door.

Marom failed to comply with the order and officers from Barnet Council discovered he was letting the room.

The authority’s Environmental Health Team found the low ceiling above the staircase and small entrance hatch made it impossible for tenants to reach the room while standing upright.

Marom pleaded guilty to failure to comply with the prohibition order at Willesden Magistrates’ Court.

He was fined £1,500 fine and ordered to pay £1,420 in costs and a victim surcharge of £120.

Councillor Tom Davey, chairman of the Housing Committee, said: “At the very least tenants have the right to expect that the accommodation they are renting is safe.

“Barnet Council is keen to work with landlords and help them to provide safe accommodation.

“However, those who exploit tenants for financial gain will not be tolerated and the appropriate action will be taken.”

Last year, Barnet Council investigated over 970 reports of poor conditions in the borough.

London Property Price Bubble ‘Is Shrinking’

Rightmove has claimed that asking prices in London have fallen this month as concerns over the affordability of homes in the capital deepen and more properties are put up for sale.

The property website declared the market has come “off the boil”, citing tougher mortgage rules and the prospect of rising interest rates alongside a 23% jump in the number of homes on the market.

London has been a particular concern among policymakers for the past year, with buyers forced to enter bidding wars for houses in a market lacking supply. Such conditions have tipped purchasers into borrowing even more.

It was concern about loan-to-income ratios which prompted the Chancellor to agree new powers for the Bank of England to cap mortgages last week to help avoid the prospect of another market bust.

But Rightmove’s report followed other recent studies which found evidence of cooling conditions.

It said that asking prices across England and Wales were at a “virtual standstill”, rising by just 0.1% or £272 on the previous month to reach £272,275 on average.

While London recorded a 0.5% monthly decrease in asking prices, Rightmove said they were still up by 14.5% compared with June 2013 to now stand at an average £589,776.

The North West saw the sharpest month-on-month fall in asking prices, with a 1.8% slide.

Miles Shipside, director of Rightmove, said of the London market: “Some sellers will be looking to cash in and possibly get a lot more house for their money further out, but they may have missed the peak in the rush to realise their gains as parts of London appear to have hit the upper limit price buffer.”

Mr Shipside said that while there has generally been a jump in property supply across the country, estate agents’ stock levels are still “well below” those seen last year.

Rightmove said that, in addition to more houses on the market, stricter mortgage lending rules that came into force in April had already hit demand.

The rules mean that lenders have to question mortgage applicants in more detail about their spending habits to make sure their home loan would be affordable, both now and when interest rates start to rise.

The governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, warned last week that the base rate – set by the bank’s Monetary Policy Committee – could rise earlier than the market expects.



Yet another survey suggests London house prices are cooling

We all knew it had to happen sooner or later.

On Tuesday, we told you that Hamptons International has forecasted thatLondon house prices will slow to 3% growth in 2015, down from 15.5% this year.

Estate agents Haart is also predicting a slow-down in prices next year.

Today, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has released research suggesting London house prices will only grow 4.6% in 2015, down from a forecast of 9.3%.

RICS said that “London indicators are going into reverse” as new buyer demand for houses fell faster in London than in any other region, according to its members.

Simon Rubinsohn, chief economist at RICS, said: “A range of policy initiatives adopted by the Bank of England in recent months – alongside heightened expectations surrounding a turn in the interest rate cycle – has clearly had an impact on sentiment in the market.

“The shift in the mood music among potential buyers in the London market has been particularly pronounced but that is in a sense consistent with the move to a more sustainable market in the capital.”


Does your house make more than you?

With house prices growing faster than incomes in many parts of the UK, is your house making more money than you do? Find out by using the calculator below.

Thanks to an extra breadwinner in the family, Rebecca Fletcher, her husband and two daughters are living the good life in a rural cottage deep in the Hampshire countryside.

The extra breadwinner is their old family home – a three-bedroom, terraced house in south-west London which Mrs Fletcher, a primary school teacher, and her husband, a London solicitor, bought in 2007.

They paid £450,000 – right at the top of the house price boom of the last decade.

When house prices fell after the 2008 banking bust, they feared financial disaster.

“We thought, ‘Are we ever going to be able to move out of this house – are we ever going to recoup the money we’ve spent on it?'” says Mrs Fletcher.

Their fears proved unfounded.

In 2009, prices in south-west London started rising, and went on rising. By the time they sold their former home last August, the price was £655,000.

According to calculations done for the BBC by Lloyds Bank, in the 12 months before the sale, Mrs Fletcher’s London home had increased in price by about £100,000 – more than her and her husband’s earnings put together.


Source: BBC