£400m deal agreed to provide affordable housing

A deal worth more than £400million to help first-time buyers aspiring to buy their own home has been approved by Housing Minister Margaret Beckett, as part of the Government's programme of action to tackle current difficulties in the economy.
More than 130 developers have agreed to offer the HomeBuy Direct scheme which will help up to 18,000 first-time buyers to purchase a home at sites across England aided by an equity loan, part funded by the Government and the developer.

The equity loan, which will be free of charge for five years, can be used as a deposit and can cover up to 30% of the purchase price.

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TV soap close Brookside to be auctioned

Having played host to some of television’s most momentous moments such as the pre watershed lesbian kiss and the infamous patio burial of Trevor Jordache, Brookside Close, the set from the Channel 4 television soap is to be offered at auction at Allsop’s residential sale on 17 December.
Lot No307 - the cul-de-sac of 13 properties - was purchased by Mersey Television in 1982 as part of a scheme by Phil Redmond to cover the costs of the show and provide a more realistic set to some of their rival soaps.

Six of the houses were seen on-screen as sets and the remaining seven were used to house the administration, post-production, canteen, make-up and technical facilities for cast and crew.

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Construction products industry barometer falls to new low

The sale of construction products has reached a new low according to the latest Ernst and Young/ Construction Products Association Activity Barometer.
Overall the survey records a score for the final quarter of the year of just 13, compared to a 50 mark, which represents "no change". This is the lowest result since the barometer started 16 quarters ago and a dramatic fall from the score of 80 recorded in the second quarter of 2007 when the barometer peaked.

Looking forward, manufacturers are even more pessimistic with a figure of just 7 representing expected sales in the first quarter of 2009.

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2009: “The year of the property deal” says Rightmove

In spite of initiatives to keep more owners in their homes, Rightmove predicts 2009 will be the “Year of the property deal” as those in financial distress become the unwilling providers of a wider range of more affordable desirable homes.
Releasing December's Rightmove House Price Index, Rightmove said that this month’s 2.3% fall now meant prospective buyers had seen sellers’ initial asking prices tumble by 5.3% in the space of just two months.

The need to sell quickly will not only be the driving force for those coming to market just before Christmas, but also the predominant factor driving many sales next year.

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Hamptons International UK market predictions for 2009

Hamptons International figures indicate that UK residential property prices will have fallen by around 25% by the end of 2008 - since the peak of the market last year (July 07). Transaction levels reveal that exchanges will be down by 44% and completion levels in 2008 are likely to be the lowest for a decade.
Properties in prime areas and at the top end of the market (£2m+) were initially more resilient. However, they have now fallen back in line and experienced similar drops in price to the mainstream market.

With the sales market slowing, the rental market experienced a distinct lift in 2008, with many potential buyers turning to the rental sector. The first two quarters of 2008 were certainly a landlord’s market, with more people wanting to rent than properties available.

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Top 6 Tips for Students Viewing a Property

Our friends at LiveOut came up with a quite a comprehensive list of things to look out for when your making that all important decision of where you and maybe your future housemates will be living next year.

If your at a loss for what to look out for, take this list below with you on your next viewing and make sure you don't end up in house that will make living there a nightmare.

  1. Gas and Electricity
    • Is the heating in the house adequate?
    • Do all the radiators/heaters work?
    • Do all the kitchen appliances work?
    • Are there any loose wires?
    • If there are gas iappliances in the accommodation, does the landlord have a current Landlord's Gas Safety Record? (By law all the gas appliances must be checked once a year by a CORGI registered installer). All the landlords with properties with gas applances who advertise through our office provide a Landlord's Gas Safety Record.
  2. Furniture
    • Is it in a good state of repair? If it isn't, is it going to be replaced or repaired?
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Top 10 Renting Tips for Students

Our friends at LiveOut came up with some survival tips to help you find a great student house with the least amount of trouble.

If your looking for accommodation now or will be next year, you definately need to read these crucial tips to prevent the major pit falls of renting student accommodation.

  1. Don't leave it too late.

    It is unlikely that however late you leave it you will not find something - but the best properties will go early. Use LiveOut to find your favourite properties first, and then show your friends. This helps to solve the problem that your friends will not all be free at the same time to look round properties.

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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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