Is it Sunday again so quick? Darn! Well before we get ready to head back to the office tomorrow, let’s take a look at the the stories that rocked the world of UK real estate this past week. I’ve got to say, none of these compared to the story of the week…THE FACT IT SNOWED! Yep, for the first October since 1934, we had snow all over London. But enough of the jovial festive weather, let’s get back to British real estate…
- The pound took a battering – Bad news for any Brits who were planning on investing in US property any time soon, the British pound fell to its lowest level against the dollar in more than five years. Of course, it’s not bad news for Brits living on US shores. Those cashing in their dollar assets and changing it back to GBP are getting a rather lovely 23% more for their money compared to November 2007, when sterling hit a 26-year low against the US dollar.
- We got our own online community – In the UK, we’ve never had anything to act as a kind of ActiveRain for people in the industry, there’s been nowhere for property professionals to go and blog, chat and learn from each other. But this week saw the launch of Juicy Red Apple, a community website designed to do just that. The site is built on the Ning platform and is in delta rather than beta mode, but it will be interesting to see if the UK property folk get involved the way their US counterparts have with similar sites.
- New figures showed that net mortgage lending grew in September – If you’re the type of person that always sees the glass as half empty, you’d have looked at the latest BSA (Building Society Association) figures and seen that net mortgage lending for September 2008 was almost half of what it was at the same time the year before. But, if you’re a glass half full kinda person, you’d have been pleased to see that there has been a significant improvement between August ’08 and September ’08. According to the BSA, net mortgage lending by building societies increased from -£37million in August to £314million in September. Which is a good thing, non?
- UK rental demand has been boosted by our European friends – You may not realise that living in the European Union has its perks, the main one being that you can go and live and work in any member state with zero hassle. Being that the UK is obviously the greatest nation in the EU (am I allowed to say that?!) a lot of Europeans want to live and work here and, as long as they are EU members, they’re very welcome to. Over the last quarter, UK rental demand from our European neighbours has grown in strength. Italy and France still make up the largest chunk of overseas demand, but demand from Poland has almost doubled over the last quarter.
- Free Aston Martin with the house sir? Everyone loves a good marketing gimmick, and as the UK goes James Bond crazy this week it’s unsurprising that the latest freebie being offered by an agent is an Aston Martin. Yep, an agent in Wales is offering a V8 Vantage to whoever buys the £1.5million gated Cardiff mansion they have on their books. Personally, I think I’d rather have £100,000 knocked off the house price than a pretty car but maybe that’s just me.
So that’s it for this week boys and girls. Take care of yourselves…and each other.
Austin tops the list of best places to buy a home
When looking to buy a home, taking the long view is important before making such a huge investment – where are the best places to make that commitment?
Looking at the bigger picture
(REALUOSO.COM) – Let us first express that although we are completely biased about Texas (we’re headquartered here, I personally grew up here), the data is not – Texas is the best. That’s a scientific fact. There’s a running joke in Austin that if there is a list of “best places to [anything],” we’re on it, and the joke causes eye rolls instead of humility (we’re sore winners and sore losers in this town).
That said, SelfStorage.com dug into the data and determined that the top 12 places to buy a home are currently Texas and North Carolina (and Portland, I guess you’re okay too or whatever).
They examined the nerdiest of numbers from the compound annual growth rate in inflation-adjusted GDP to cost premium, affordability, taxes, job growth, and housing availability.
“Buying a house is a big decision and a big commitment,” the company notes. “Although U.S. home prices have risen in the long term, the last decade has shown that path is sometimes full of twists, turns, dizzying heights and steep, abrupt falls. Today, home prices are stabilizing and increasing in most areas of the U.S.”
Average age of houses on the rise, so is it now better or worse to buy new?
With aging housing in America, are first-time buyers better off buying new or existing homes? The average age of a home is rising, as is the price of new housing, so a shift could be upon us.
The average home age is higher than ever
(REALUOSO.COM) – In a survey from the Department of Housing and Urban Development American Housing Survey (AHS), the median age of homes in the United States was 35 years old. In Texas, homes are a bit younger with the median age between 19 – 29 years. The northeast has the oldest homes, with the median age between 50 – 61 years. In 1985, the median age of a home was only 23 years.
With more houses around 40 years old, the National Association of Realtors asserts that homeowners will have to undertake remodeling and renovation projects before selling unless the home is sold as-is, in which case the buyer will be responsible to update their new residence. Even homeowners who aren’t selling will need to consider remodeling for structural and aesthetic reasons.
Prices of new homes on the rise
Newer homes cost more than they used to. The price differential between new homes and older homes has increased from 10 percent traditionally to around 37 percent in 2014. This is due to rising construction costs, scarcity of lots, and a low inventory of new homes that doesn’t meet the demand.
Are Realtors the real loser in the fight between Zillow Group and Move, Inc.?
The last year has been one of dramatic and rapid change in the real estate tech sector, but Realtors are vulnerable, and we’re worried.
Why Realtors are vulnerable to these rapid changes
(REALUOSO.COM) – Corporate warfare demands headlines in every industry, but in the real estate tech sector, a storm has been brewing for years, which in the last year has come to a head. Zillow Group and Move, Inc. (which is owned by News Corp. and operates ListHub, Realtor.com, TopProducer, and other brands) have been competing for a decade now, and the race has appeared to be an aggressive yet polite boxing match. Last year, the gloves came off, and now, they’ve drawn swords and appear to want blood.
Note: We’ll let you decide which company plays which role in the image above.
So how then, does any of this make Realtors the victims of this sword fight? Let’s get everyone up to speed, and then we’ll discuss.
1. Zillow poaches top talent, Move/NAR sues
It all started last year when the gloves came off – Move’s Chief Strategy Officer (who was also Realtor.com’s President), Errol Samuelson jumped ship and joined Zillow on the same day he phoned in his resignation without notice. He left under questionable circumstances, which has led to a lengthy legal battle (wherein Move and NAR have sued Zillow and Samuelson over allegations of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and misappropriation of trade secrets), with the most recent motion being for contempt, which a judge granted to Move/NAR after the mysterious “Samuelson Memo” surfaced.
Salt was added to the wound when Move awarded Samuelson’s job to Move veteran, Curt Beardsley, who days after Samuelson left, also defected to Zillow. This too led to a lawsuit, with allegations including breach of contract, violation of corporations code, illegal dumping of stocks, and Move has sought restitution. These charges are extremely serious, but demanded slightly less attention than the ongoing lawsuit against Samuelson.
2. Two major media brands emerge
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