Live blog: How to do a property viewing

We know many of you are new to London and perhaps new to renting too.

The first few property viewing you do can be difficult. How do you know you are asking the right things?

We decided to accompany a friend to a viewing of a flat and live blog the process so you can see the types of things she asked and the responses she got. 

Three tips to emerge from the viewing:

  1. Speak to the current tenants if possible. We found out about a break-in at a nearby property and that the internet connection is quite slow.
  2. Ask what council tax band the property is in – this will have a big impact on your bills.
  3. With issues relating to the condition of the property, ask if they can be sorted before you move in. This is sometimes called a “snagging list“.

You can see the tweets we sent out on our Twitter feed @LDNRoomrs or take a look below.

 Is there anything else we should have asked? Have you got any tips for viewing properties? Share them with us @LDNRoomers

What were they thinking? Some truely terrible estate agent photography

Pictures are really important to estate agents.

The right set of pictures for a property can get prospective tenants interested and through the doors.

So what on earth were these estate agents thinking? We’ve collected some of the best “bad estate agency photos” the web has to offer on this pinterest board.

A special shout out must go to the people running the wonderful Tumblr terriblerealestateagentphotos.com - there are some crackers on there.

Have you seen some downright awful estate agent photography? Tweet us with the worst offenders @LDNRoomers. 

Where to buy in London

A Crossrail tunnel beneath London. Credit: Matt Brown/Flickr

A Crossrail tunnel beneath London.
Credit: Matt Brown/Flickr

Crossrail is coming.

 

From 2018 services will start running along the central section of the line, with it expanding outwards in the months that follow.

 

Crossrail will provide direct links into central London for areas in outer London that previously had none, and will shorten journey times considerably.

 

If you’re looking to buy in London, areas along the Crossrail route are the places to buy; in particular Plumstead in South London and West Ealing in West London.

 

Plumstead will benefit from the Crossrail station at Woolwich, giving it a direct link into central London for the first time. Currently a three-bedroom Victorian house around Plumstead Common is around £300,000.

 

West Ealing is to get a Crossrail station, cutting journey times to the City and Canary Wharf in half. Currently a two-bedroom flat in West Ealingis around £375,000.

 

Both are bargains when compared to the average London house price of £458,000.

 

Crossrail links will encourage investment in the areas surrounding the stations, increasing the property prices in the vicinity.

 

LDN Roomers took to Twitter to see why Plumstead and West Ealing are the places to be. Who knows more about the areas than those who live there?

 

PLUMSTEAD

  1. The food is good

…and here’s the evidence

2. Plumstead Market

3. And not forgetting the O2 arena which isn’t far away

west ealing

 

1.  There are loads of parks

2. Questors Theatre is the largest amateur dramatic playhouse in Europe

3. There’s a farmer’s market every Saturday morning

4. Pitzhanger Manor hosts arts and architecture exhibitions, weddings, and is just quite nice to look at

Podcast: My flat hunting experience

It was the stressful nature of my own flat hunting experience last September that inspired us to create the LDN Roomers blog.

In this podcast I describe how I eventually came to find my current room. I discuss my mixed success with using the website spareroom.co.uk and how I eventually decided to take a financial gamble to end up in a decent flat share.

I hope my story gives you hope during your flat hunt.

A selection of estate agent cards I picked up during my search.

A selection of estate agent cards I picked up during my search.

If you would like to share your own flat hunting experience – or if you have any hints or tips for the best way to find somewhere to live – then please share them below or get in touch @LDNRoomers.

Video: Thinking of moving to Finsbury Park?

We know how hard it can be deciding where to live in London when you aren’t very familiar with some of the potential options.

Finsbury Park is popular with renters and first time buyers.

According to estate agents Ludlow Thompson the Finsbury Park neighbourhood is “popular with young professionals and city types who find the area more affordable than nearby Islington.”

But in our experience the area is really diverse, with people from all cultures and walks of life.

We took to the area’s namesake on a sunny afternoon to ask local residents what they love about the area.

Do you live in Finsbury Park? Is there anything you think we should add to our list? Tweet us @LDNRoomers or comment below.

What’s next for the property market?

House prices in London are rising faster than any time in the last seven years.
Over the last 12 months, house prices in the capital have risen by an average of 17.7 percent.
House prices in London are currently out of the reach of many, but if they continue to rise what’s going to happen to the capital?
Alex Hilton, director of Generation Rent (a campaign group for well managed and affordable rented property) explores the future of rising house prices, not just for buyers, but for renters too.

 

Alex Hilton, director of Generation Rent. Credit: Generation Rent

London is an exciting place for a newcomer, but the initial experience of glittering lights, great nightlife, famous landmarks – and the higher pay – can soon wear off. That’s normally around the time of your first rent payment.

 

The capital might be the UK’s economic powerhouse, creating 80% of new jobs, but research by the campaign PricedOut found that while wages here are 20% higher than the rest of the country, rent is more than twice the national average.

 

Creating jobs is a doddle when you’re in the country’s financial, media and political centre, but it’s less easy to house the people who end up working in them. Landlords can wring huge rents out of a workforce that really has no choice but to live in the city. According to a ComRes poll, two fifths of private renters in London are having to cut down on food and heating because of the cost of their rent.

 

It’s not just rent that goes up when there’s a shortage of homes. Knowing that renters will compete for a roof, landlords can get away with neglecting their properties, allowing problems like damp and mould to develop. If tenants complain, there’s nothing stopping a landlord simply issuing an eviction notice, painting over the mould and finding replacements who won’t make a fuss.

 

The alternative is to buy a house, but prices, already well out of the reach of normal people, have risen by 18% in a year – thanks in large part to property speculators gambling on the housing bubble.

 

If there’s a shortage of housing in a free market, the only way to bring down the cost is to build more, and this is indeed happening. The only problem is that the homes being built are the luxury flats that are popular with investors, and the danger is that many will be left empty as prices rise even further, while people who need a place to live remain crammed into shared flats and bedsits.

 

London is the goose that lays golden eggs for Britain, so it needs to keep creating jobs and enabling people to make a living. But if housing costs keep rising, the only real winners will be those lucky enough to own property, and those eggs will become smaller and rarer.

 

There is a lot more that can be done to build the homes that London needs, in ways that avoid getting into bed with speculators who make their money from other people’s misery. And unless house prices crash again, most of us will be locked out of ownership for decades if not forever, so the experience of renting has to improve.

 

There’s an election next year and Generation Rent is working hard to make sure politicians give you something to vote for. We want better rights for tenants, fewer opportunities for landlords to jack up the rent and a more professional sector where tenants are treated as customers rather than livestock.

 

The alternative is a city that will push away talented people who could make London even better if they could afford to live here. And if that happens, London will start to wither.