Thursday, 8 November 2007

Property in the UK 6: My Personal Housing Saga Drags On

I started making postings about housing and all the difficulties I have got into with being charged heavy charges by Newham Council for the flat I own in London and how the house I am currently renting is in line to be repossessed. Since the start of July I have been trying to sell the flat and buy a house close to where I now live. Four months have passed and still no progress. Newham Council took over a month to respond to a request from the potential buyer of my flat and the buyer (I am now on to my second as the first one's mortgage lender changed its mind about lending him money) is now trying to squeeze more money out of me, the seller. The first buyer tried this too. I will call this one Mr. A to avoid confusion. Well, after making an offer which was £5000 (€7150; US$10,500) less than the asking price but which I accepted as I was keen to be rid of the flat, Mr. A then started demanding that I totally refitted the bathroom, even though that had only been done two years before. Mr. B, the current buyer knew that the flat came with furniture and in the 3 months since he put in his offer, has not said anything about it, then suddenly this week just as the exchange of contracts seemed ready to happen, he demanded it was all removed and that I pay him £545 (€779; US$1145) to him so that he could do this. What has become apparent is that in East London (where Newham is located) not only do the council try to squeeze as much money out of home owners as they can, but anyone buying your property is going to prevaricate and demand extra bonuses as if you were trading in some Third World market.

Taking four months to sell a house makes it almost impossible to move for work. The only people who benefit are the lawyers who pick up fees on everything. Local authorities also seem eager to tap into the money swilling around in Britain's overheated property market (though for the past two months it has begum to cool, though not as much as the 40% that the International Monetary Fund claims British houses are over-priced by; the average house now costs 9 times the average salary in the UK, meaning most average people cannot afford anywhere big enough for them), that new charges are appearing. Many people in older towns are now being charged for the upkeep of medieval churches in their town no matter whether they are Christian or not. The government finally introduced the HIP (Home Information Pack) after one failed attempt because they had failed to train sufficient people to produce them. You have to buy one of these in order to sell any property with 3 or more bedrooms. They take a month to produce and cost another £3-400. However, many local authorities, are insisting that buyers (in some places sellers) also have to pay for a locally created pack on all properties (my buyer had to get one for my two-bedroomed flat) which again costs hundreds of pounds, the exact charge depending on where the property is. All of these things slow up the UK housing market even more and in fact bump up prices further to cover these costs.

You may say the UK housing market needs to slow down a bit. However, that hampers people trying to move to where work is (something the government usually encourages) and trying to get their children set up well in school (some schools now refuse to take pupils who arrive mid-year and they have to commute back to their old school, hardly beneficial for their education). Thus, soon it will be incredibly difficult to move house in less than half-a-year, something that is reinforced by the fixed 6- and 12-month contracts so many landlords/ladies are insisting on which make the rented sector as inflexible as the purchase one. The lawyers, the landlords and the local authorities all simply gain more money and the average person has to put their life on hold for months. The UK housing market needs adjustment and not simply in terms of prices. I curse the day I ever thought it was a good idea to buy a flat, I should have purchased a caravan instead.


ukhousingbubble said...

UK Housing Bubble .

Check this story out:

Revealed: how UK banks exploit charity tax laws .

UK Banks have been using "charitable status" to offload mortgage debt from their balance sheets. Moreover, the amounts are huge.

Where is the outrage?

UK Housing Bubble .

Rooksmoor said...

I was pleased to have UK Housing Bubble commenting here. I went and checked out the blog and it is very comprehensive. As I ramble over a whole range of subjects I cannot give as much attention to UK housing that that blog does and I suggest that if you are interested in that topic you go and check it out yourself: good information more concisely written than my stuff.