10 Questions on … 2011

2011 was a fairly dreary year in the world of property, but it wasn’t all bad news. We have compiled a list of ten of the property stories which shaped 2011.

What was the best addition to property jargon in the last year?

The word ‘gazanging’ emerged and made a bid for inclusion in the Oxford dictionary, with an increasing amount of sellers getting cold feet at the last minute and pulling out. According to Indeed, sales fell through at the last minute for more than 54,000 homebuyers in the first half of 2011 due to gazanging.

With the UK housing market suffering in most areas, did any other countries finish with good housing figures?

Albania was the most remarkable here, with a 10.3% rise in house prices across the country year on year to the end of the third quarter with economic pointers indicating a continual improvement in economic outlook. Despite debt crises around Europe, Albanian economic growth (GDP) reached highs of 4.3% and its budget deficit was predicted to drop to just 3% of GDP.

Who are the worst neighbours in Britain?

Surprisingly enough, in 2011 just about all of us were experiencing, or had experienced, bad neighbours. The year saw a survey reveal that one third of Britons never talked to their next door neighbours, whilst a fifth had been involved in a row with neighbours, and 1 in 20 had had to relocate because of one. In addition, 4 in 10 people wouldn’t trust their neighbour to keep an eye on their home.

What was the hottest new property destination in Britain?

Figures revealed that North Surrey had an influx of foreign buyers into the upmarket destinations of Wentworth and St George’s Hill. One agent alone sold £150m worth of property in these areas in 2011.

What was the most expensive eviction this year?

Although various cases were ongoing concerning the August rioters, this high accolade belonged to the travellers of Dale Farm who filled the headlines for much of 2011. With an estimated cost of around £18 million to get rid of them, and a decade spent trying to do it, Basildon Council finally breathed easy once the controversial camp had moved on.

Why did Geoffrey Boycott get hit for six by property law this year?

In a case reputedly worth £1.25m, Geoffrey, in his inimitable way, attacked the gobbledegook in which conveyancing documents are written. He was reported as saying: “Us ordinary people are meant to get a fair deal from the law.”

Unfortunately he lost the case concerning a property in Poole when the tenant, his friend and confidante, changed the tenancy from joint tenants to tenants in common, allowing her to leave her half of the property to her own heirs.

Who would people most like as their next door neighbour?

In a web poll by Zoopla, the online property website, Colin Firth grabbed 15% of the votes. Cheryl Cole came a distant second with 9.1% and Ant and Dec garnered 8.7%.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, Katie Price took a staggeringly large proportion of the votes for least desirable neighbour, with 29.1% voting for her. Jedward, Peter Andre and Alex Reid also, some might say unsurprisingly, figured highly.

Who staged the most determined campaign in the property world this year?

Empty Homes (emptyhomes.com) ran a strong campaign to bring into wider knowledge the number of dormant properties, at the time nearly one million of them, in the UK. They used celebrities like George Clarke, presenter and architect, and Phil Spencer, journalist and TV property personality, to emphasise the need to bring these properties back into use, bearing in mind it was estimated that at the time two million families lived in inadequate housing. They produced annual statistics on the issue and gave guidance on how the British public could get involved.

What legislation concerning the property market came into effect this year?

2011 was a big year for regulation change as the Coalition government has sought to ease the housing crisis and stimulate the economy. The Draft National Planning Policy framework was released, proposing various changes to the way planning works in the UK, including a reduction of the giant guideline document from 1,000 pages down to just 52 – and a presumption in favour of ‘sustainable development’.

What was the most amusing story to come out of the property market in 2011?

Our favourite from 2011 must be the story from Bognor Regis in July, where a council worker took 25 minutes, a crane and number of fencing units just to change a light bulb ten feet off the ground. Read the full story.

Article: December 2011

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