Wednesday, 27 October 2010

The £1 house

Lender valuations have always been a mysterious thing. In my experience, as long as they see you as a good bet, valuations usually come in magically at the amount you want to borrow.
My current home was expertly valued, at our agreed price, by a man who drove PAST the house to ensure it exists. No wonder he didn't mention the damp in the bedroom. If I hadn't shelled out hundreds of pounds for him to carry out his 30mph expert estimate, I would have found his technique funny.
But those were the halcyon pre-credit crunch days, and valuers in the current market are an all together more timid bunch. And while I understand that, with fears of a double dip still causing sleepless nights, caution should be king, the valuer sent to put a price on a Victorian end of terrace near Durham may have taken things too far.
Because, according to the Daily Mail, in a move that has to struck fear into the heart of house owners, a Nationwide valuation officer has given the house a valuation of just £1.
And, unlike other newsworthy £1 valuations from the last few years, it's not teetering a couple of inches from the edge of a Norfolk cliff, doesn't need millions spending on it, like Brighton Pier, and is not trailing in the football league tables and up to its eyeballs in debt like Chester City. No, the Durham rental house, which had previously been valued at £120k was deemed worthless because of rising damp and a possible dodgy roof.
Now, unless Poundland is planning to follow Tesco into the querulous mortgage market, such a valuation can only be seen as provocative. Why couldn't the report, which almost certainly cost many hundreds of times as much as the £1 valuation, simply say, 'we are unable to provide a mortgage until x works are carried out.'
Or, alternatively, they could be honest and say, 'Sorry, money lending is so last year. We'll give you a tenner for it though.'

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Other people's builders

Charles Saatchi and Nigella Lawson's recent hissy fit over their neighbour's building work just goes to show that it doesn't matter how loaded you are, other people's whistling builders are enough to make you want to drop a scaffolding pole on their £50k marble tiles.
And it emerged this week that, on top of the scaffolding saga, another neighbour has put in planning permission for a basement which will, according to a DM Eton Square source, take a couple of years to complete.
I re-read this, and it definitely said years, not months. Are they planning to excavate it with teaspoons? Even the 'Great Escape' tunnels from the Stalag camp only took about a year, and the men had to bring the soil up in their socks.
So, Charles and Nigella are packing up their cupcake moulds and looking for a new homes. Which got me thinking; this could be a good strategy for people looking for a house in a popular location. Simply scan your favourite streets for homes with skips in the front, and leaflet the houses on either side.
You may find that the neighbours, rather than being driven to tear down the scaffolding à la Charles themselves (OK, I know he got his builders to do it, but you know what i mean) might agree to sell their home to you.
And, of course, by the time the torturous conveyancing process is completed the renovations will be done.
Unless it's a basement being excavated by teaspoon that is.