Saturday, May 28, 2005

First time buyers get TV opportunity

BBC Needs First-Time Buyers

A new BBC series is set to become the Blind Date of the Property Market by matching people and properties...
Due to the soaring house prices of the last few years, it's become much harder for young people to get a foot onto the property ladder; so much so that the current average age for a first-time buyer is 34.
As more and more people struggle to afford their first home, mortgage lenders have had to come up with some innovative ways to assist. One of the most popular is sharing to buy, where up to four people club together in order to buy a house.
That's where the BBC comes in, with a new, peak-time series called "Come Buy With Me" which plans to examine this phenomena and add a little spin on the top: they're aiming to set up potential co-owners, and then match them to their ideal home.
It's a fabulous opportunity for anyone who's willing to share to buy, but hasn't yet found their perfect partner. Ideally, the BBC are looking for people that have a decent salary and their own deposit, or first-time buyers who are eligible for the key workers scheme.
North London, Birmingham and Cambridge Most of the ten slots have already been filled by suitable buyers across the country. The last few spaces are in North London market, Birmingham and Cambridge, so if any of those are your area of choice, why not give the Beeb a call? The number is 0207 013 4586, or you can email
What's InvolvedThe show will select and match up suitable property partners and properties in the North London area. The main buyer who cannot afford to buy on his/her own will meet three potential co-buyers, all of who will have been carefully selected.
The main buyer will meet all three people who are in financially similar situations, (looking to buy in the same area, similar property and style ideas,) for a day each and then choose their preferred co-buyer.
Finally, property finder Sarah Van der Noot will find and shortlist a range of properties based upon the personal specifications of each of the co-buyers. From this shortlist the co-buyers will choose which property they wish to purchase.
Once they move in they will have the chance to put their own stamp of style on their new home. The programme will then ask them to renovate and make over one of their communal spaces (sitting room, kitchen, bathroom or hall).
What The BBC Will Give You:
(The actual process of purchasing a property is made much easier by a team of experts at hand to cover the buying costs and to guide them through the un-chartered territory of the property market!)
An expert property finder to help you find the property that is right for you
A financial expert who will find the best deal on a mortgage for each individual co-buying purchase
A solicitor to carry out the conveyancing and draw up a deed of trust between the co-buyers
They will also cover the cost of the surveyor's fees - an integral part of buying a property
For further details, call Lulu on 0207 013 4586 or email her at

Thursday, May 26, 2005

All about Murcia Spain

Murcia: The Facts
murcia9Where is it?: Located at the South-East corner of the Iberian Peninsula, between the regions of Andalucia, Castile-La Mancha and Valencia, the region of Murcia borders the province of Albacete in the North, the province of Alicante in the East, the provinces of Granada, Albacete and Almería in the West, and the Mediterranean in the South-East.

In terms of surface area the region of Murcia is the ninth largest of the Spanish autonomous communities.

Capital: Murcia City

Landscape: Murcia has just over 170 km of coastline. La Manga, a coastal strip of land, completely closes off the Mar Menor from the Mediterranean creating a natural lagoon.

murcia6Inland the region is divided into two distinct areas, the Huerta, which spreads along the banks of the river Segura, and the dry countryside in the Northwest, Northeast and South of the region.

Forty-five per cent of the region is situated between the altitudes of 200 - 600 metres; 23 per cent is less than 200 metres above sea level, and the remaining 32 per cent lies at altitudes of over 600 metres.

Weather: Murcia has an average annual temperature of 18ºC, with hot summers (registering absolute maximum temperatures of 40ºC) and mild winters (an average temperature of 11ºC in the winter months of December and January). The number of days per year with clear skies is 120-150, with approximately 2,800 sun-hours per annum.

Population: Murcia has an official population of 1,190,378 inhabitants

Getting there: Two hours flight from the UK. San Javier Airport is located on the northern shore of Mar Menor, and is served by Ryanair, Jet2, British Airways and MyTravelLite. Easyjet will soon be flying there as well.

You can also use the Alicante (El Altet) Airport, 68 km from Murcia, 45 minutes away by motorway. Murcia can then be reached by taxi or using the regular bus service. A new regional airport is under construction.

Top Tips for buying abroad

1. Do your research. Attend exhibitions organised and attended by companies based in your area of interest, and pick up some expert advice. Read up on the buying process and the area.

2. Visit the area and talk to people who already own property there. You'll get a better understanding of the lifestyle and general practicalities.

3. Find an established, reputable agent recommended by friends or people who know the market.

4. Ask questions: any good agent will be happy to answer them. You need to be sure that all your concerns are laid to rest before making an important decision.

5. Be clear about what you want. Make a list of what you would like from your property and be clear on what your requirements are.

6. Trust your instincts. You'll know when someone is trying to push you into something but you'll also know when you've found the right place.

7. Don't rush into anything, but don't hesitate when you find somewhere you like. You don't want to lose out to someone who is willing to make the decision.

8. Take good financial advice as soon as possible. Any decent agent will have independent partners that they can recommend to you.

9. Look for an agent with after-care service. Setting up home abroad can be stressful, especially if you don't speak the language, and they should be available after the sale to help you with anything you need.

10. Enjoy the process! Forget your experiences of house-hunting in the UK - property viewing trips Hot Weekends and exhibitions like the Best of Southern Spain can be a really fun experience!

Don't forget the Bychoice Spanish property Exhibition at Sudbury and Long Melford from 11am-4pm on Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday.

Murcia Spains property hotspot.

It's the hottest spot in Spain's sizzling property market, but Murcia is still a good bet for buyers in search of an affordable place in the sun...

spain mapThe rise and rise of the Spanish property market has been something to behold. According to a recent report in The Economist, house prices in the country soared by a staggering 149 per cent between 1997 and 2004, the second highest increase in the EU after Ireland.

Despite booming prices, however, Spain remains número uno for British buyers. Since 1999 the number of British owners has increased by 460 per cent and there are now over a million of us happy to swap (permanently or occasionally) damp and drizzly Blighty for sangria, sunshine and clear blue skies.
You can view a range of properties at a spanish property exhibition at Bychoice Esate agents offices in Sudbury and Long melford Suffolk over the Bank Holiday weekend from 11-4pm Sunday and Monday.

The Costa del Sol remains a huge attraction but with prices there rising, buyers have started to look further afield. Nearby Murcia, east of Andalucia, is clearly benefiting from the ripple effect: prices there soared by 26 per cent between June 2003-June 2004, the largest increase in the whole country.

Savings in the Sun

Does the thought of investing in a home overseas while boosting your pension fund seem like an appealing idea? It's set to become a very viable option...

sunAs from "A-day", 6 April 2006, there will be a change in the rules regarding Self-Invested Personal Pensions, commonly known as SIPPs. Currently available only for investing in commercial property, next year's new regulations will make it possible to invest pension funds in residential, buy-to-let and overseas property.

With overseas property prices still languishing behind sky-high prices in the UK, it is likely that many people will take advantage of this and choose to invest in a holiday home that they will be able to enjoy themselves, while also having the option of renting it out.

Property Investment specialist, Assetz, believes that Spain would be an ideal country for UK investors, with capital growth still high and forecast to grow at ten per cent a year for the next five years at least.

Bychoice estate agents will be exhibiting Spanish propertties over the bank holiday weekend at there offices in Long melford and Sudbury Suffolk between 11am and 4pm

Year-round sunshine, beautiful surroundings and high numbers of world-class golf-courses would make a 30 weeks or more annual rent a feasible target, with, according to Assetz, potential gross yields of ten per cent plus. This rental income would be immediately reinvested back into the SIPP and used to pay off the mortgage.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

BYchoice opens 7 days a week

Innovative Estate agents BYchoice of Sudbury and Long Melford have extended there opening hours to 7 days a week.
Both offices will be open from 11am - 4pm
The first weekend they are open will feature an exhibtion of Spanish property comprising new build and resale properties.

Sudbury the the best place to buy ahome in Spain Bychoice.

Buyers looking for a home in Spain will no longer have to travel there to buy a house reports Todd Lewis of Bychoice estate agents.
The new Mayor Leslie Ford-Platt gave her blessing to the In Sun properties Spanish exhibition on Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday at Bychoice's offices in Sudbury and Long Melford.
Buyers will be able to browse new build and existing properties between 11am-4pm each and every Sunday.
They will also be able to get advice on how and where to buy your dream spanish home.

Suffolk house prices on the move

Suffolk house prices are going througha correction period, where over priced properties are now being brought to a more realistic level, says Todd Lewis of Bychoice, Sudbury.

Hometrack say they're confident about the market despite almost a year of decreasing house prices...
According to the latest survey from Hometrack, May is the eleventh consecutive month that house prices have dropped, and the third month in a row where the fall was -0.1 per cent. Hardly a vast slide, but nonetheless it's down instead of up.
Hometrack aren't worried about this downward trend, however; with the last three price falls a mere -0.1 per cent, they argue that the market is stabilising. The average house price now stands at £161,900 compared to last month's £162,100, and down 2.3 per cent from May last year.
Housing market transactions have seen another marked improvement, according to the report, with sales agreed up by 7.6 per cent this month, only slightly less than April's increase of 9.4 per cent.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Home owners must look after there own Title deeds.

Two major mortgage lenders are returning vital documents to homeowners about the properties they have lent money on.
C&G, part of Lloyds TSB, started returning documents this month and will send them back to a million mortgage customers in England and Wales by the end of the year.
Nationwide is returning documents to all customers who have borrowed money since 1999.

Lenders no longer need to keep the title deeds for properties in England and Wales.
Legal ownership in those countries now depends only on the information held by the Land Registry electronically.

There are some title deeds that don't have their contents put onto the land register
Philip Freedman, solicitorBut Philip Freedman, a property partner with solicitors Mishcon de Reya, told BBC Radio 4's Money Box programme the documents can contain vital information:

"Information at the Land Registry is sufficient to show that you own the property and that they have a mortgage over the property.

"But there are some title deeds that don't have their contents put onto the land register.
"So for example you might have agreed when you bought the property to pay something towards drainage or to maintain fences, and not all of those obligations are put onto the land register."

The documents can relate to works, searches and guarantees Mr Freedman also warned that many other documents which lenders are now returning must be kept, such as guarantees from builders, details of building regulation, or planning approval for alterations.

Government offers help first time buyers

The government's announcement to help first time buyers get on the housing ladder doesn't go far enough says Suffolk estate agent Todd Lewis.
"Whilst sharing the equity will help many first time buyers, it doesn't solve the real problem, the genuine lack of new housing stock. Whilst allowing buyers to purchase just 50% of the value is fair, charging rent on the other 50% is pushing the cost upto the original 100%.
If the scheme where to be a success it would only increase demand on an all ready short supply, hence increasing prices!

Friday, May 20, 2005

Suffolk Estate Agent Declares Price War on Tesco

Todd Lewis, founder of Bychoice Estate Agents in Suffolk, is facing up to Tesco’s decision to sell houses for £50 by declaring a price war on the super market leaders.
From tomorrow, Mr Lewis is selling baked beans from his shop on 6 King Street, Sudbury for just 3p a tin.

Mr Lewis denies he’s lost his sense of proportion and says he’s just making a point, “You don’t go to an estate agent to buy beans, that’s not what we’re good at – why would you go to a supermarket to sell you home?”

“Tesco’s have presented this new offer as if they were going to replace estate agents – but it doesn’t take long to realise that homeowners rely on much more than simply an advertising service.”

“Good estate agents help you to price your property in the market at the right level, they polish the presentation of your property, advise you on how to make it more welcoming to visitors, produce regular advertising in the local papers and these days on the internet and then on top of all that, they help to mediate between the buyer’s offer and the seller’s aspirations.”

“Tesco is not going to that for you – and we’re probably not going to make any money selling beans,” says Mr Lewis. “In fact, we’re only going to sell our present stock at this ridiculous price and then we’ll give the money we make away to charity. I challenge Tesco’s to do that – they might as well for what service they’re going to offer!”

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Why sellers should allways get 3 valuations

Home sellers in Suffolk could find their property has been overvalued.Consumer group Which? has said estate agents could be overvaluing properties to get business.Researchers for the group posed as sellers and invited four different estate agents to view a three-bedroom bungalow in Suffolk.There was a difference of almost £30,000, or 14 per cent, between the highest and lowest valuations - £220,000 and £249,950.
Todd Lewis said "It's not uncommon to find such a variance, that's whay it's allways advisable to get 3 opinions. Some agents will value high to get the instruction, and then tie clients up on along contract, gradually bringing down the price to a sensible level over 16 weeks."

Saturday, May 14, 2005

AFC Sudbury's big day in the FA Vase Final

BYchoice will be cheering on AFC Sudbury today when they take on Didcot Town in the FA Vase Final at White Hart Lane 2pm.
It's Sudbury's third attempt to win the prestigous trophy.

RICS call for overhaul

Suffolk Estate Agent Todd lewis of Bychoice Sudbury, is calling on the goverment to licence all Estate Agents.

At present, absolutely anyone can set themselves up as an estate agent, regardless of qualifications or experience, according to The Royal Instituton of Chartered Surveyors...
What a sobering thought, given the vast amount of money involved in property these days. Last year, in response to an Office of Fair Trading (OFT) report, RICS said that they had called for "enforceable minimum standards and effective licensing of agents".
This position, they said, was shared by consumer rights group Which?, the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) and the Ombudsman for Estate Agents (OAE) - a number of heavy players in the property industry.
RICS believed that these minimum standards should include appropriate knowledge and qualifications as well as an effective independent redress mechanism. At that time, however, the government rejected this approach arguing that competition would resolve any problems in the marketplace.
Now, nearly halfway through 2005, RICS feels that the public is confused about property valuations, and therefore greater control needs to be implemented in this aspect of the market.
At the moment it's quite feasibe that a market appraisal could be carried out by someone who isn't necessarily qualified, as opposed to a valuation provided by a qualified surveyor.
Chartered surveyors' valuations, says RICS, are supported by years of education, technical training, professional qualification and independent redress . All RICS members must work to a strict code of conduct and are regulated by their professional body.
RICS believes the public has a right to expect a high level of professional competence and ethical standards from those they use in what is often the most expensive purchase of their lives, and promises to continue pressing the government to introduce effective controls into the property industry.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Bank rate remains unchanged

At BYchoice we aim to proved the most uptodate information for home buyers.

The Bank of England today announced that the Bank base rate will remain unchanged at 4.75%
The Committee's latest inflation and output projections will appear in the Inflation Report to be published on Wednesday 11 May.
The minutes of the meeting will be published at 9.30am on Wednesday 18 May.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Mortgage compliance

Mortgage Regulation A Success

The Financial Services Authority today reported that its investigation into the level of unauthorised mortgage brokers has been largely successful, with most brokers complying with FSA regulations...
The aptly named Mortgage Day commenced on 31st October last year, and gave the FSA regulatory powers to investigate mortgage brokers countrywide, including the authority to close down businesses not playing by their rules, or to advise them on how to rectify mistakes so that they would be within the agreed guidelines.
Clive Briault, FSA Managing Director, said: "Our findings based on contact with more than 600 firms including 450 visits around the country are very encouraging.
"The vast majority of mortgage brokers are well informed about the need for them to be authorised by the FSA if they undertake regulated activities. We found only 11 brokers who should have been authorised, but were not. Seven of these have now applied for authorisation, and four are no longer undertaking regulated activities.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Check your agent before your tennants

Vet Before You Let

Landlords wanting to ensure they minimise the chance of any problems should vet letting agents as vigilantly as they do tenants,
As rental demand continues to grow across the South-East of England, some letting agents are resorting to somewhat underhand tactics to make sure they have the requisite number of properties on their books, the UK's largest independent letting specialist.
For the very best advice when you need it most speak to Suffolks favourite letting agent BYchoice

How confident are you?

Consumer Confidence Steady In April

The Nationwide Consumer Confidence report for April shows a slight rise in confidence levels, as people adopt a "wait and see" approach regarding the imminent election...
Confidence was up across a range of indicators, according to Nationwide, and down in only one - household income. These were:
Current UK Economic Situation: confidence rose by 3 percentage points
Economic outlook in 6 months: confidence rose by 2 percentage points
Current employment situation: confidence rose by 6 percentage points
Employment prospects in 6 months: confidence rose by 4 percentage points
Spending confidence - major purchase (eg house/car): confidence rose by 5 percentage points
Spending confidence - household purchase (eg white/brown goods): confidence rose by 1 percentage point
Household income in 6 months: confidence fell by 3 percentage points
Confidence Stable

Monday, May 02, 2005

Goodbye to the Cowboys

Farewell To The Cowboys

It seems that the dodgy tradesmen who struck fear into the hearts of homeowners countrywide could be becoming a thing of the past...
We've all seen undercover programmes like Rogue Traders on TV and watched aghast as reprobate builders purposefully damaged peoples' properties in order to demand extra money to fix them, or charged exorbitant sums of money for completely botched jobs.
Another common tale of woe featured the workman who spent more time on tea breaks than on repairs, or whose idea of a full day's work was turning up at some unearthly hour, only to finish his labour by eleven in the morning, thereby necessitating his return for a second or third day.
Gone for Good?These horror stories may turn out to be a yarn of yesteryear, however, if survey results from Skipton Building Society are to be believed. They recently compiled a Tradesman Index and found that 63 per cent of Britons who had used a tradesman in the last three years were very satisfied with the work carried out, giving their hired help the highest score on the satisfaction scale.
Fifty-nine per cent of people reported that their tradesman always cleaned up after themselves and 68 per cent claimed that their home improvement project was a stress free experience.