Paramount support RNIB pub quiz

Local residents are taking over the Black Lion pub quiz on Sunday 13 October in order to raise money for The Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB). Their annual campaign to promote reading, Read For RNIB Day, is having its biggest nationwide event on 11th October and the pub quiz is West Hampstead’s contribution to the cause.

The quiz starts at 7:30pm on Sunday 13 October, at The Black Lion on West End Lane. Hosted by quizmaster Gareth, you can expect the usual pub quiz with a few literary themed questions thrown in.

The usual cash prize for the quiz will be donated to RNIB, and Paramount are offering to match what the pub raises. Local businesses have donated prizes for the winners, which will include vouchers for local restaurants, signed books and a brewery tour.

Click here to learn more about RNIB.

Could you receive your S106 money back?

Developers are being urged to check their entitlement to a rebate in S106 costs. This is in the wake of councils all over the UK failing to spend the designated money.

What is a Section 106 agreement?

S106 costs are created under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. They are legally binding obligations that are attached to a piece of land and are registered as local land charges against that piece of land. Planning obligations enable a council to secure contributions to services, infrastructure and amenities in order to support and facilitate a proposed development.

The S106 contributions tend to be distributed for the following purposes:

• Community Facilities • Affordable Housing • Public Art • Education • Open Space • Traffic, Transport & Highways • Adult Training, Employment & Enterprise • Health • Environment & Public Realm

Most notably London Councils are the largest culprits compared with the rest of the UK. Westminster banked 70% of London’s off-site affordable housing contributions in the 12 months to August 2013, collecting a total of £94m. The City of London secured the next highest sum of £17.5m, equivalent to 13% of the London total of £138.4m.

Tracking S106

Upon agreement of your S106, the allocation of the money will be vaguely stipulated i.e. ‘X’ amount to be allocated to “Traffic, Transport & Highways”, where your money will be secured for highway works and sustainable transport initiatives. However, being able to track whether it has actually been spent is another matter altogether. It is a rather challenging process for developers as many lack the resources or time to monitor how their capital is used. In addition, local authorities rarely provide reports on how the S106 contributions have been spent.

The most viable way to track your S106 contribution is by contacting the S106 officer at your local council. The majority of councils across the UK have an internal database which stipulates where the money has been allocated to and if it has indeed been spent. The internal databases tend to refer back to applications from as early as January 2000. Obtaining information prior to 2000 may prove somewhat difficult.

Are You Entitled To Money Back?

It is essential that you read through the S106 that was agreed. All S106 agreements will stipulate whether there is a time period that the S106 must be spent by. If there is no time limit stated then the local council are able to spend the contribution at their own leisure. However, if there is a date or time limit stipulated and this deadline has lapsed, then you are able to contact your S106 officer and make an enquiry as to claiming your money back. This can be in written format or an initial phone call.

The table below shows the Capitals top five commuted payments:

Local authority   Total*
 Westminster  £94.2m
 City of London  £17.5m
 Hackney  £9.1m
 Hammersmith & Fulham  £5.1m
 Southwark  £5m
* Year to August 2013

Paramount Opinion

I believe that S106 contributions need to be made easier to track as to where and when the money has been spent. S106’s have been viewed by developers as a ‘bribe’ from the council in order to allow development to take place. If developers are going to be hit with a ‘bribe’ in order to help new homes be built then I feel that they should be entitled to know exactly what their money has been spent on and when it was spent. If this money hasn’t been spent in accordance with what was stipulated in the S106 agreement then there should be a straight forward rebate procedure in place.

Search for investment opportunities

Open House London

An annual weekend dedicated to buildings and the amazing architecture in the capital? Count us in! This weekend Open House is back for its 21st year and is giving you access to buildings you might otherwise not be able to access.

Hundreds of buildings are opening their doors including Battersea Power Station, the Lloyd’s of London building and the Bank of England, but how about starting your weekend a little closer to home? We round-up the best places to visit North London this weekend.

Ruach Ministries Christian Centre (former Gaumont State Cinema)

197-199 Kilburn High Road

Start your weekend in Kilburn with a visit to what was once the largest cine-variety theatre in England. Built in 1937 and designed by George Coles, it’s a Grade II* listed building with an Italian Renaissance-style interior and original Wurlitzer theatre pipe organ.

Saturday 10am-5pm

South Kilburn Studios

2a Canterbury Road

Built in 2011 South Kilburn Studios is a series of studio spaces available to those in the creative industries. Instead of paying rent, tenants agree to train a local young person instead.

Saturday and Sunday 1pm-5pm

The Tin Tabernacle / Cambridge Hall

12-16 Cambridge Avenue

Built in 1863, this Victorian corrugated iron chapel was transformed after the last war into a ship. Local people decked it out with decks, portholes, bridge and a bofors gun. It’s been described as ‘a unique combination of the work of local people and Victorian industrial practicality that is aesthetically thrilling’.

Saturday and Sunday 1pm-5pm

Underground Bunker

Brook Road, Neasden

The original 1940s underground bunker used during WWII by Winston Churchill and the Cabinet.

The site was sold over 30 years ago, but planning permission was conditional on public access twice a year to the bunker.

Saturday 8am-5pm – you must pre-book by email

Image: HM Treasury (c) Kevin Sansbury

Paramount shortlisted for two property awards

Paramount are excited to share some great news – we have been shortlisted for Marketing Team of the Year and Property Manager of the Year at the Negotiator Awards!

The Negotiator Magazine, established in 1984, hosts the annual Negotiator Awards to recognise the ‘best and highest achievers in the residential property industry’. Estate and letting agents from across the UK enter with the hope of winning one of the coveted awards.

The last 12 months have been award-winning months for Paramount. We scooped Gold - Best UK Single Office Lettings Agency and Gold – Best Single Office London Lettings Agency at the Lettings Agency of the Year Awards as well as Silver – Best Single Office London Estate Agency at the Estate Agency of the Year Awards. Our sales department also won a Silver award at the ESTAS Estate Agent Awards.

The winners of the Negotiator Awards won’t be announced until Tuesday 5th November 2013 so will be keeping our fingers crossed until then. Follow us on Twitter and we’ll update you on the night!

The best pub quizzes in North London

North West London has plenty of great pubs, but we wanted to know where you could find a good pub quiz. We asked our Twitter followers for their suggestions and they came flooding in, so we thought it was only right to compile a list of their recommendations (and try them out one by one!)

West Hampstead pub quiz

For a local quiz @Kimbroolay suggested The Alliance on Mill Lane. It takes place every Thursday at 8:30pm and entry is £2 per person. Winner takes all but there are other prizes on offer throughout the night.

Kilburn pub quiz

Both @Jonners32 and @NW2_RA suggest The North London Tavern pub quiz, which they say is usually excellent. A quiz is held every Monday between 8:00pm and 11:00pm, entry is £1 per person and there are six people to a team. The best named team gets a prize and there is a round of drinks for the winners.

@KilburnDesso has another Kilburn pub quiz suggestion, putting forward Thursday nights at the Sir Colin Campbell on Kilburn High Road. Meanwhile @marmitetoast suggests the one at @PrioryTavern on a Tuesday night is fun.

Kensal Rise pub quiz

Kensal Rise experts @RiseGuide suggest QuizWas @TheIslandNW10, a bi-weekly quiz that starts at 8:30pm every other Thursday. Entry is £2 per person and bar tabs and other prizes are up for grabs.

@RiseGuide also suggest the Heaven Quiz, which is on the 1st Tuesday of every month at The Masons Arms. It’s £3 to play and starts at 8:00pm.

Willesden Green pub quiz

For those looking for a pub quiz in Willesden Green the @RiseGuide suggest Wednesday nights at The Queensbury.

St Johns Wood pub quiz

After taking a look at @Wynn_Wheldon’s suggestion of @Thecliftonhotel we’re pretty tempted to give their Wednesday pub quiz a go. It costs £2 per person to enter and prizes include cash and a bottle of wine for the runners-up.

Did we miss your favourite London pub quiz off the list? Let us know on Twitter and we will add it in.

Best places for breakfast and brunch in North London

It is the most important meal of the day, so choose your breakfast joint wisely.

The Kitchen Table, West Hampstead

The Kitchen Table opened in 2007 and this friendly joint on Mill Lane has been catering to newbies and regulars ever since. They serve Monmouth Coffee so you are guaranteed a decent caffeine hit first thing and all their baked goods are either homemade or from independent bakers across London.

Caravan, Kings Cross

We have recommended Caravan before in our guide to the best places for coffee in North London, so it is no surprise that it also pops up on our best places for breakfast and brunch list. Order yourself a flat white whilst you digest the menu, which features coconut bread with rhubarb and lemon curd cream cheese alongside parmesan grits, girolles and boar sausage and corn and morcilla fritters with avocado and paprika crème fraiche.

Brioche, West Hampstead

There are plenty of places to visit for brunch in West Hampstead so what sets Brioche apart? A varied brunch menu with plenty of choice, good coffee and a selection of newspapers and magazines for you to leisurely peruse.

Ottolenghi, Islington

You might have to queue but you can guarantee that it will be worth the wait. Yotam Ottolenghi brings a Mediterranean influence to Islington and we recommend trying the shakshuka. A North African dish made with eggs, peppers and tomatoes it will make you feel like you are on holiday in no time.

Pumpkin Café, Fortune Green

Thanks to James Taylor for suggesting Pumpkin Café in Fortune Green for a good breakfast. He recommend the full English for breakfast and the salt beef with toast, chips and salad for a filling lunch.

Have we missed your favourite place for breakfast and brunch in North London off our list? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter and we’ll add your recommendation to the list.

On Twitter Eugene recommended three West Hampstead restaurants for brunch - The Wet Fish Café, The Kitchen Table and French restaurant Mill Lane Bistro.

We also had another recommendation on Twitter from Emily, who suggested Brioche and the Alice House who apparently do 'a MEAN bacon & cheese butty' which sounds good to us!

Image: waferboard

Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney's first speech

The new Bank of England governor, Mark Carney, gave his first official speech yesterday at the East Midlands Conference Centre.

Carney’s first speech confirmed that the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) Board will implement the June 2013 recommendation of the Financial Policy Committee (FPC) regarding the amount of liquidity held by banks and building societies.

He explained that: “for major banks and building societies meeting the minimum 7% capital threshold, the Bank of England will reduce the level of required liquid asset holdings.  The effect will be to lower total required holdings by £90 billion, once all eight major banks and building societies meet the capital threshold. That will help to underpin the supply of credit, since every pound currently held in liquid assets is a pound that could be lent to the real economy

As governor of the Bank of England Carney sits on the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), the committee that determine the base rate. Currently at a low of 0.5%, the base rate is the interest rate set by the Bank of England for lending to other banks. Quantitative Easing (QE) also falls within the remit of the MPC.

Carney recently issued guidance regarding the future conduct of monetary policy, suggesting that the base rate will be maintained at 0.5% at least until the unemployment rate has fallen to 7%.

The next MPC meeting will be held on 4-5 September

Related articles

Interest rates linked to unemployment

Property for Mark Carney to rent in London

Mark Carney appointed new governor of the Bank of England

That’s news to me!

Image: Bank of England

Providing an out of hours service

When a tenant moves into a property let and managed by Paramount we do everything we can to make their experience with us a great one. We give them an area guide full of local information, a book of vouchers to use in local independent shops and most importantly, peace of mind that they can contact us at any time.

It all starts before the move-in day, when the new tenant is contacted by a member of our property management department. They introduce themselves and our tenants have often commented on how great it is to know who they need to call for help and advice during their tenancy. The reality is that a tenant will only contact a property manager when something has gone wrong, but we like to get the relationship off to a nice start so the tenant knows we can be relied upon further down the line.

At Paramount we have property management and property maintenance departments who often work together to solve problems. Handling all management and maintenance in-house enables us to ensure the highest standards are met at all times, and that any maintenance requests are responded to and arranged within short time-frames.

Lucy Shapiro co-ordinates the maintenance team at Paramount. She explains the reason why Paramount Maintenance was created:

“Here at Paramount, we realised the importance of our tenants being able to contact us at any time with emergency maintenance issues, so created Paramount Maintenance who are available 24/7 to deal with any issues that occur. Since having Paramount Maintenance in place, it has enabled all emergencies to be dealt with quickly and has given both our tenants and landlords piece of mind.”

However property management is not just about fixing things; it’s also about preventing them in the first place and sharing our knowledge. In the last year the property management team have created a series of advice guides for tenants renting through Paramount:

Would you like to suggest a topic for our next property management guide? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter

Five things I wish I knew before buying a home

Buying your first home is an experience unlike any other. To make the process easier, we asked a few first time buyers what they wished they had known before buying their first property.

Extra costs

I spent two years saving for a deposit so I could afford to buy my first home. I knew there would be extra costs but I didn’t realise how many; the survey, conveyancing and contents insurance all add up so put aside a few extra months of savings to cover these costs.

Stamp duty

After checking mortgage calculators online I knew how much I could afford to pay for a property. However spending over a stamp duty threshold added thousands more in costs, so to purchase the property and pay for stamp duty I had to increase my loan-to-value ratio which means my monthly mortgage payments are larger than I had expected.

I didn’t need to buy a home

I grew up with the belief that everyone should strive to own their own home. For years I saved for a deposit and eventually bought the property I live in. I now know that buying a property at this time of my life wasn’t the right thing for me to do; as a tenant I changed properties frequently, moving to different areas to experience life across London. Now I’m stuck in the same place and miss discovering new areas.

How much it costs to run a home

It might be cheaper to pay a mortgage than rent in some parts of England, but running a home has a number of extra costs. Always have enough money aside in your own kitty just in case the boiler breaks suddenly.

The price of utilities

Council tax, broadband, gas, electric, water… I’ve had more post (bills) in the first three months of buying a flat than I had in the last three years. I wish I had known exactly how much utilities would cost prior to moving so that I could budget accordingly.

Guest blogging for West Hampstead Life

Join us over at West Hampstead Life where we are discussing the lettings market, and place your vote regarding the benefits of renting a property.

How many households in West Hampstead do you think live in private rented accommodation? According to the 2011 census it's a staggering 44%, which is considerably higher than the average percentage across all Camden Wards (32%).

For many years West Hampstead has been a desirable place for people to call home. Renters are drawn to the area for a number of reasons, including the often cited transport links. The lettings market is based on supply and demand so it's no surprise that, with the strong demand, the market has favoured landlords over the past few years. However we have now reached a point in West Hampstead where supply is plentiful, and as stock levels increased we began to see a downturn in rental prices. 

Read the full article here

Interest rates linked to unemployment

Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, has hit the headlines today as the Bank of England provides explicit guidance with regard to the future conduct of monetary policy.

Monetary stability is one the Bank of England’s two main purposes, and essentially it means they work towards low inflation and confidence in the currency, which we experience as stable prices. According to the Bank of England, stable prices ‘are defined by the Government’s inflation target, which the Bank seeks to meet through the decisions taken by the Monetary Policy Committee’.

Last week the Monetary Policy Committee voted to provide some guidance with regard to the future conduct of monetary policy. They have provided a news release with this guidance:

The Committee intends at a minimum to maintain the current highly stimulative stance of monetary policy until economic slack has been substantially reduced, provided this does not entail material risks to either price stability or financial stability.

In particular, the MPC intends not to raise Bank Rate from its current level of 0.5% at least until the Labour Force Survey headline measure of the unemployment rate has fallen to a threshold of 7%, subject to the conditions below.

It was announced on 1 August that the Bank of England would maintain the bank rate at 0.5% and the size of the asset purchase programme at £375 billion. The next MPC meeting will be held on 4-5 September.

What is the base rate?

The base rate is the interest rate set by the Bank of England for lending to other banks. This is determined at the Monetary Policy Committee monthly meeting.

What is the MPC?

There are 9 members on the monetary policy committee; the Bank of England governor, the two Deputy Governors, the Bank’s Chief economist, the Executive Director for Markets and four external members appointed by the Chancellor. Each member has an expertise in the field of economics and monetary policy and they meet once a month to set the interest rate.

What is quantitative easing?

Quantitative easing is a way for the Bank of England to put money into the economy directly. They do this by buying assets with money created ‘out of thin air’. The idea is that new money is provided to the institutions selling financial assets, increasing the supply of money.

That's news to me!

A round-up of the local news and property stories that we heard about this week.

Bank Rate announcement

The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee have voted to maintain the Bank Rate at 0.5% and the size of the Asset Purchase Programme at £375 billion. The Bank Rate has stayed at 0.5% since March 2009.

How clean are West Hampstead restaurants?

Earlier this week West Hampstead Life highlighted the scores received by a number of West Hampstead restaurants, pubs and takeaways on their Food Standards Agency inspections. Full marks went to many but a certain few don’t seem to be doing so well…

Read more here

Investment opportunities

Want to be the first to hear about investment opportunities? Looking to buy sites with planning, commercial property or a pub? Make sure you register online to receive details as soon as something new hits the market.

Register today: http://bit.ly/18OIMtl

Property of the week

We’ve got a three bedroom home available for £135,000 – when did you last see a price like that? It’s a cub house, and for more details view the full property listing here: http://bit.ly/11x4nUR

Recently in the magazine

Permitted change of use from offices to residential

From 30th May 2013 new permitted development rights were introduced, including the right to change of use from offices B1(a) to residential dwelling (C3). This controversial new right does not apply throughout England and Wales as some areas, such as the City of London, have been specifically excluded.

There are a number of exclusions from this new permitted development right. Conversion is not permitted where:

  • The building was not used as B1(a) immediately before 30th May 2013 or, if the building was not in use immediately before that date, when it was last in use;
  • The site forms part of a safety hazard area;
  • The site forms part of a military explosives storage area; or
  • The building is a listed building or a scheduled monument.

The new right will be subject to what has been called a 'prior approval' by the local planning authority (LPA). A developer will need to apply for a determination as to whether the prior approval of the LPA will be required as a consequence of:

  • Transport and highways impacts of the development;
  • Contamination risks on the site; and
  • Flooding risks on the site.

The application to the LPA should include a written description of the proposed development, a plan indicating the site and showing the proposed development, the developer’s contact details and any fee. The LPA can also require the developer to submit information regarding the above factors.

Development may only commence if:

  • The LPA state that prior approval is not required;
  • The LPA give their prior approval; or
  • 56 days have elapsed after the LPA first received the application and they have not notified the applicant as to whether prior approval is given or refused.

As already noted, this change will not apply to areas in 17 local authorities. These include areas in the City of London and the London boroughs of Camden, Islington, Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Southwark, Lambeth, Wandsworth, Westminster, Newham, and Kensington and Chelsea. Other excluded areas are in the borough councils of Vale of the White Horse, Stevenage, Ashford (Kent), the district councils of Sevenoaks and East Hampshire, and Manchester City Council. It remains to be seen how other authorities seek to prevent use of these rights either by abusing the prior approval process or through seeking to remove the rights by making what are known as Article 4 directions.

The new right is temporary and the right to take it up will expire on 30 May 2016. This does not affect buildings that have already converted under the rights.

The Paramount Opinion

The new permitted change of use is a welcome addition for developers looking to maximise capital value on office buildings (B1). For what feels like a constant battle between developers and local planners, this temporary permitted use will be utilised by many and seen as a sign of relief to individuals holding on to empty office space. I believe that the introduction of new permitted development rights will however come with its issues. This is due to the lack of detail stated by the planners, such as ‘do the permitted rights include new build office units which have been left vacant since construction?’ It will take some time before these initial teething problems can be ironed out, but I feel this is certainly a step in the right direction for the development industry.

Guest post written by John Bosworth, Partner Ashfords LLP. Email: j.bosworth@ashfords.co.uk

The average price of property in London is £383,930

The June data from the Land Registry House Price Index shows a monthly price change of 0.6 per cent across England and Wales. Annual growth stands at 0.8 per cent which brings the average house price in England and Wales to £162,621.

Although prices have increased the number of property transactions has fallen over the last year. From January to April 2012 there was an average of 48,299 sales per month while in the same months a year later the figure was 47,308.

June data for London shows that the average price of property in the capital is £383,930. It also shows a monthly increase of 3.1 per cent and an annual change of 6.9 per cent. London saw the greatest rise in both monthly and annual prices whilst the North East saw the greatest monthly and annual price fall.

Tim Gray, Sales Negotiator at Paramount, explains that prices have increased in the last year. ‘Prices have increased by 1-1.5 per cent over the last month and are 10-12.5 per cent higher than in June 2012. With mortgage availability improving we have seen an increase in viewings, particularly on Saturdays, by 50%.’

In London Brent experienced the highest monthly price increase, with a movement of 2.6 per cent. Wandsworth saw the highest annual price rise whilst Newham saw the greatest annual price fall.

In numbers:

  • 37: over the past 37 months transaction volumes have been relatively consistent.
  • 47,308: between January 2013 and April 2013 sales volumes averaged 47,308 transactions per month. This is a decrease from the same period a year earlier, when sales volumes averaged 48,299 per month.
  • £1 million: the number of properties sold in London for over £1 million in April 2013 increased by 50 per cent to 490 from 327 in April 2012.

How to keep your house cool in the heat

We share our top tips for keeping your property cool in the summer heat.

Humidity

Steam makes everything hotter so keep showers short and ideally take them at cooler times of the day. Similarly use the washing machine and dishwasher at cooler times of the day too.

Shut the windows

‘Our first instinct on sultry summer days is to fling open the windows, but all this will do is let hot air straight into your home. The trick is to keep windows shut and curtains drawn during the hottest part of the day, then crack open the windows at night, when it’s cooler.’ The Telegraph

Change your diet

Stick to eating salads and cold meat to avoid using the oven. Alternatively head outside to your garden for a barbecue.

Turn off the lights

‘Homes today have endless electrical appliances, and each one generates heat. Switch off your computer and television if you’re not using them, and keep the number of lights on to a minimum.’ The Telegraph

Fans

To make the most of your fan place a jug or bottle of frozen water in front of it. As the ice melts it will get the cold air circulating.

Switch rooms

Because warm air rises, when possible spend as much of your time on the lowest level of your home.

Lamps

‘Don't place lamps or TVs near your air conditioning thermostat. The heat from these appliances will cause the air conditioner to run longer.’ MSN Real Estate

Property management guides

Property with outdoor space

Looking for a garden to relax in this summer? Take a look at our selection of properties with gardens in North London.

Property to rent

Hillfield Road, West Hampstead

  • 4 bedrooms
  • 1 reception room
  • 3 bathrooms

Beautiful four bedroom mews house off a quiet residential road in the heart of West Hampstead. The property has a rear patio garden, perfect for dining outside in the sunshine.

View full property details 

Gladys Road, West Hampstead

  • 3 bedrooms
  • 1 reception room
  • 2 bathrooms

A newly refurbished split level apartment in West Hampstead. The top floor master bedroom (with ensuite) leads to a large private roof terrace.

View full property details

Prospect Road, Childs Hill

  • 3 bedrooms
  • 1 reception room
  • 2 bathrooms

A lovely family home spread over three floors. The south-facing patio garden would make an attractive dining area in the summertime.

View full property details 

Property for sale

Fawley Road, West Hampstead

  • 2 bedrooms
  • 1 reception room
  • 2 bathrooms

One of the finest two bedroom garden flats with off street parking in West Hampstead. The lovely 60’ plus rear garden also has a decked area.

View full property details 

Narcissus Road, West Hampstead

  • 4 bedrooms
  • 3 reception rooms
  • 4 bathrooms

A fabulous Victorian family home which has been thoughtfully modernised and extended. The kitchen has concertina doors that lead onto the garden.

View full property details 

Chatsworth Road, Mapesbury Conservation Area

  • 3 bedrooms
  • 1 reception room
  • 3 bathrooms

A three bedroom conversion across two floors in the Mapesbury Conservation Area. The reception room provides access to a private garden.

View full property details 

Sales Market Update

I’m thrilled the sun is finally shining - our vendors are too, as anything with outdoor space is selling extremely well at the moment. Properties with a terrace, balcony or a garden always do well in the summer months but this year especially so – house prices are up 10% on this time last year.

1 and 2 bed flats are selling very well but houses are selling the best as demand is outstripping supply, especially in the £850,000 - £1,400,000 price range. Houses in Mapesbury are extremely popular and the tree lined streets look especially attractive in the summer.

We have more properties this month than last and the average duration a property is on the market has also decreased. There are two reasons for this; firstly our open days are a real success, with the majority of open day properties under offer within 48 hours of an open day and achieving above the asking price. The second reason is because we have employed Myles Meehan as a Sales Co-ordinator. He helps make appointments, freeing the rest of the team up to help buyers and vendors.

Interested in lettings? My colleague Spencer Lawrence, Lettings Director, provides a brief update on the lettings market.

Compared to this time last year there are a lot more properties currently available to let. Demand is still strong but there has been a shift of ‘would be renters’ deciding to take the plunge into the sales market as lending criteria has been relaxed, resulting in the highest level of mortgage approvals for first time buyers in three years.

Lettings Market Update

I’ve been reading the English Housing Survey from the Department for Communities and Local Government and noted that the number of private rented homes have doubled from 2 to 4 million since 1996.

This isn’t surprising news, but compared to this time last year there are 100% more properties available to let. The market is currently flooded with rental properties as fewer people are looking to rent.

Demand is still strong but there has been a shift of ‘would be renters’ deciding to take the plunge into the sales market as lending criteria has been relaxed, resulting in the highest level of mortgage approvals for first time buyers in three years.

We let properties across London and the strongest area for rents this month has been Islington. The demographic is younger than other areas we cover and this group of tenants are not yet ready to purchase a property and are happy to rent out of choice; consequently the properties that are renting well are one bedroom flats.

Although properties across London are still in demand we are marketing flats for longer than last year. Historically there have been better periods for landlords but if they are receptive to current market conditions and provide a good quality product at a fair market rent then good quality applicants are readily sourced.

Interested in sales? My colleague Robert Lazarus, Sales Director, provides a brief update on the sales market.

Anything with outdoor space is selling extremely well at the moment. Properties with a terrace, balcony or a garden always do well in the summer months but this year especially so – house prices are up 10% on this time last year.

1 and 2 bed flats are selling very well but houses are selling the best as demand is outstripping supply, especially in the £850,000 - £1,400,000 price range. Houses in Mapesbury are extremely popular and the tree lined streets look especially attractive in the summer.

Open days this weekend

This Saturday we are hosting four open days for properties for sale in North West London. If you would like to view any of these homes please call Robert on 020 7644 2311 to register your interest for the open day.

Streatley Road, Brondesbury

£324,950 Leasehold

  • 1 Bedroom
  • 1 Reception Room
  • 1 Bathroom

Click here to view full details and images for this property 

Brondesbury Park, Brondesbury

£385,000 Share of Freehold

  • 2 Bedrooms
  • 1 Reception Room
  • 2 Bathrooms

Click here to view full details and images for this property 

Messina Avenue, West Hampstead

£525,000 Share of Freehold

  • 2 Bedrooms
  • 1 Reception Room
  • 1 Bathroom

Click here to view full details and images for this property 

Brondesbury Villas, Queens Park

£415,000 Leasehold

  • 2 Bedrooms
  • 1 Reception Room
  • 1 Bathroom

Click here to view full details and images for this property 

Thinking of selling? 80% of properties sold this year have received asking price offers within 3 days of an open day. Call Robert on 020 7644 2311 for more information.

The best markets in North London

East London has Columbia Road and Brick Lane, South London has Brockley and Borough and West London has Portobello Road, but we think North London markets can more than hold their own. Here is a selection of our favourite North London markets.

Camden Lock Market

Open seven days a week, Camden Lock Market has been home to independent shops, market stalls and some of the best food and drink in London since 1972.

On a hot summers day a visit to the Chin Chin Laboratorists for ice cream is a must, but first take your pick from Caribbean, Japanese, Polish, Spanish, Turkish or Japanese food from a market stall overlooking the canal. If you fancy a spot of shopping try Jalal Leather for leather bags and belts and for alternative lamps and handmade jewellery visit the Elementary Lamps stall.

West Hampstead Farmers’ Market

Run by the London Farmers’ Market organisation, the West Hampstead market opened in 2012 and continues to be used by local residents on Saturday mornings. Located on the forecourt of West Hampstead Thameslink station, all producers come from within 100 miles of the M25.

Stock up on cakes from Celestial Cakes, cheese from Ellie’s Dairy and fruit from Pippins Orchard.

Want to get your hands on a Farmers’ Market bag like the ones in the picture? Visit the Paramount office in West Hampstead to collect yours.

Walthamstow Market

Walthamstow’s claim to fame is that it is home to the longest market in Europe. Quantity doesn’t guarantee quality but with 500 stalls it’s unlikely that you’ll go home empty handed. This is very much a local market with stalls predominantly selling fruit and veg, clothes and hardware goods.

Walthamstow Market is open Tuesday-Saturday and on Sunday there is a farmers market at the Town Square.

Queens Park Farmers’ Market

Voted the Best Farmers’ Market in the UK in 2012, like the West Hampstead market this Queens Park favourite is also run by the London Farmers’ Market organisation.

Based in Salusbury Road Primary School and open on Sunday mornings you can find hot food, organic meat, fruit and veg and cakes on offer. We recommend buying some food and heading to nearby Queens Park for a delicious picnic.

Have we missed your favourite North London market off our list? Send us a tweet or let us know on Facebook and we will add it to the list.

Read more of our ‘Best in North London’ guides: