Match made in heaven?

The Church of Scotland has joined the National Landlords Association (NLA), the leading representative body for private-residential landlords in the UK, becoming its first ecclesiastical member.

ImageThe General Trustees of the Church of Scotland, currently housing 25 tenants, are responsible for all property-related matters for the Kirk including those properties within the private-rented sector.

Tim Parker, Deputy Secretary, General Trustees of the Church of Scotland, said: "The Church of Scotland prides itself on providing a high standard of rental accommodation to its tenants. By joining the NLA, this commitment is demonstrated more fully.

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Westminster offers central London flats for just £85k

First-time property buyers will soon be able to snap up a new flat in the heart of London for less than £85,000.

ImageJust under 80-one bedroom flats will be available to those looking to get a foot on the property ladder in Pimlico, according to Westminster Council.

They will be able to own a 25% share of a flat in the New Woods development at Grosvenor Waterside, just a stone's throw from Victoria Station.

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Capital values set to fall further than 1970s and early 1990s

Over the next two years commercial property capital values could fall by a further 25% taking the peak to trough declines to at least 50%, according to the RICS commercial property forecast.

ImageRICS expects the commercial property market to see at least 16% declines in capital values in 2009 and a further drop of up to 10% in 2010. Since the onset of the credit crunch in June 2007, capital values have already fallen 25% and with more falls to come, the cumulative downturn in prices will exceed the downturns experienced in both the 1970s and 1990s. Rising defaults and credit spreads will constrain a near-term recovery in financing, preventing any recovery in the investment market over the next couple of years. Low interest rates, recovering global growth and improving valuations relative to other asset classes should see the downturn gradually begin to reverse on 2011.

The biggest declines are likely in the office sector with capital values expected to drop a further 30–35% bringing peak to trough declines in excess of 60%. Employment in banking, finance and insurance has accounted for the lion’s share of job creation since the millennium although has moved into decline over the past year.

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CML seeks greater clarity as lending slump continues

There were 39,900 house purchase loans in October, worth £5.5billion, according to new data from the Council of Mortgage Lenders. This was an increase of 14% in volume and 10% in value from September, but an annual decline of 52% in volume and 57% in value.

ImageThe rise in house purchase lending was evenly spread across first-time buyers and home movers. There were 15,400 loans to first-time buyers and 24,500 home mover loans in October, up 15% and 14% respectively from September. A modest rise would typically be expected between September and October, but uncertainty in the summer about a stamp duty holiday may also have inflated October completions compared with September.

There were 70,000 remortgage loans worth £9.4 billion, an increase of 12% in volume and 11% in value from September and a decline of 31% in volume and 28% in value from October 2007.

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ARLA Survey: Rental market patchy – could do better

Nine out of ten investment landlords are marking time, neither selling nor buying residential rental property, even though asset values and rental yields have fallen, according to the fourth quarter ARLA Members Survey of the Private Rented Sector. This is the largest independent survey of the rental market.

ImageHowever, capital values of rental properties appear to be showing signs of stability. Away from prime Central London, where falls of 4.3% for houses and 12.8% for flats have reversed the increases seen in August, the South East saw falls of 4.9% for houses and 5.9% for flats.

By contrast, outside London and the South East, values for rental houses actually rose by 1.5%. For flats, the capital values fell by 3.8% over the three-month period.

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Connells sells stake in Rightmove

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In a dramatic move on the stockmarket, estate agency Connells has today sold its 18% stake in property search website operator Rightmove.

Connells is reported to have sold 21.2 million shares in the company at 155 pence each - realising about £32.9million.

Rightmove shares dropped on the news - falling 16% (20p) at 163 pence by 11.30am.

With many estate agents already frustrated by the website does this sell-off signal the beginning of the end for Rightmove? Tell us what you think using the comment section below

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OFT to seek views ahead of estate agency market study

The Office Of Fair Trading (OFT) intends to launch a market study into home buying and selling, looking at traditional estate agency models and alternative ways of buying and selling homes.

ImageAhead of this, the OFT is writing to stakeholders to ask for their views and engage with them to discuss the scope and scale of the study, which will commence in early 2009.

The OFT proposes that the market study should take a comprehensive look at home buying and selling in terms of:

* Competition on price and quality between service providers;
* Prospects for new entry by, in particular, internet property retailers, and;
* Extent to which consumer interests are protected by the existing regulatory framework.

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RLA: Culture of home ownership pushes millions into debt

The culture of home ownership, as an ideal lifestyle, has pushed millions of people into unnecessary debt – according to the Residential Landlords Association.

ImageBecause the belief that it is the only "done thing" to own your own home ignores the reality that many people just cannot afford to buy a house.

Instead, the housing market would be better served by increasing the number of properties for rent.

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Pawnbroker increases upper limit of loan range to £1m

Borro.com, the UK online pawnbroker is increasing the upper limit of its loan range to £1million to meet the increasing demand from home owners, business owners, property developers and city financiers for liquidity-on-demand.

ImageWith the Government's bank bail-out yet to affect any real change in credit availability - to even the most credit-worthy - Borro.com said it was doubling its loan book every month.

In the last two months Borro.com has seen a significant increase in business owners, property developers, and city financiers plugging their credit short-falls by securing loans of £10,000-plus against fine jewellery, high-end Swiss watches, luxury cars including Ferraris, Bentleys and Lambourghinis, fine art and even yachts.

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upad CEO predicts 25% renting increase for 2009

Renting a home in the UK will no longer be a taboo in 2009, according to James Davis, founder and CEO of online property rental website www.upad.co.uk.

ImageHe predicts that the UK property market is heading towards the European model where it is common for people to rent, as opposed to buy somewhere to live.

Davis sees various factors contributing to this trend:

• The UK will see interest rates fall still further than the 57-year low of 4 December 2008;
• Rents will also stabilise (having fallen 8% in the past year);
• House prices will continue to fall, potentially by another 15%.

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