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 10 of the property stories which shaped 2011 as part of our monthly “10 questions on…” section.

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 last year, with an increasing amount of sellers getting cold feet at the last minute and pulling out. According to In-Deed, 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 is 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 and economic pointers indicating a continual improvement in their economic outlook. Despite debt crises around Europe, Albanian economic growth (GDP) reached highs of 4.3% and its budget deficit is predicted to drop to just 3% of GDP.

Who are the worst neighbours in Britain?

Surprisingly enough, just about all of us are, or have experience with, bad neighbours. This year saw a survey reveal that one third of Britons never talk to their next door neighbours, whilst a fifth have been involved with a row with neighbours and 1 in 20 have 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 reveal that North Surrey has seen 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 there are various cases ongoing concerning the August rioters, this high accolade belongs to the travellers of Dale Farm who filled the headlines for much of this year. With an estimated cost of around £18m just to get rid of them, and a decade spent trying to do it, Basildon Council can finally breathe easy now that the controversial camp has 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 is 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, nearly 1 million, 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 back into use, bearing in mind it is estimated that 2million families are doing without adequate housing. They produce annual statistics on the issue and give guidance on how the British public can 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 1000 pages down to just 52 and a “presumption in favour of sustainable development” (a complete nonsense commitment and phrase – to read more click here). You can find out more about the potential affects of the framework here and about the mixed reaction in our article here.

To read a full list of legislation changes in the UK over the last year, visit the Communities and Local Government website here.

What was the most amusing story to come out of the property market this year?

Every month we do an ‘In case you missed it…’ section highlighting what we think was the funniest or most intriguing story to come out of property and construction that month. Our favourite from last year 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… 10 foot off the ground. Read the full story here.

Find all of our amusing stories here and read this month’s amusing titbit by following this link to our article on the ‘Naked flesh debate arousing residents all over Britain’.

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