Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Mr Reginald Jackson - 1926 - 2011

On 01 April 2011, Reginald Jackson passed away at his home in Findhorn.

Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time.

Among many other interests Mr Jackson managed to write his blog for our website for over two years and his knowledge of the property and investment market was second to none, he will be sadly missed by us all.

Please take your time to read through his many informative posts of the past.

Here's to you Mr Jackson - Hope that you're enjoying a huge blueberry muffin and mug of Rington's tea wherever you may be !

Your friends at Moray Property.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Houses for when Zombies attack.

Sponsored by a Louisiana-based US architecture firm, the 2010 Zombie Safe House Competition features four homes designed to be safe from a zombie attack (something which the Home Information Pack never really explored, but if you're concerned you could always ask your surveyor). There are four designs to choose from. Go and vote... your future may (or may not) be at stake.

Vote For Your Zombie Safe House

Frighteningly Yours,

Mr J.

Stirling - 'I was robbed.....'

Sir Stirling Moss - Robbed by his tenants.

His Italian chef and girlfriend tenants are said to have failed to pay rent for seven months, before scarpering on the eve of the bailiffs' arrival, and taking the Pimlico flat's furnishings with them. Crockery, furniture, bed linen... all gone. Moss's daughter, who manages her father's portfolio, describes her initial concerns:

Alarm bells did ring when I first met him, because he had tattoos on his neck.

Seriously, though... I wonder whether a high-profile case like this will do anything to add to the pressure to change a system that forces landlords to affectively offer half a year's free accommodation to any tenant who just doesn't fancy paying?

Apologies for my lack of blogging of late - Another longer stay in hospital, without Wi-Fi, put paid to that.....

All the best now,

Mr J.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Conman's £1m Fraud

A conman who stole his landlord's identity to sell his £1 million house in one of London's most exclusive areas was jailed three years today.

Steven Rice, 43, was part of a gang of fraudsters who used false names to rent two houses in South Kensington.

Using bogus identity documents, Rice then adopted his landlord's name to sell the home for just over £1 million, Southwark Crown Court heard.

The conman was caught when he tried to transfer the proceeds from the sale of the house in Donne Place to an account in Dubai.
A diligent bank employee spotted he was using a fake driving licence in the name of the 83-year-old owner and reported him.
Passing sentence the judge, Mr Recorder Phillip Bartle QC said Rice was at the 'front end of the fraud'.

'Although I accept, as does the prosecution, that you were not the principle architect in relation to this fraud ... you were as has been described at the front end of the fraud in which you did play a part.'

The judge continued: 'You were used by other people, I have no doubt about that.'
Rice claimed he had been offered £10,000 to provide his photographs and signature to the gang of fraudsters but had no idea how they would be used until his arrest.
The judge said this was an 'undoubtedly carefully planned and sophisticated' con.

Prosecutor Gavin Ludlow-Thompson told the court: 'This case involved the plundering of an innocent person's identity on a grand scale. 'The prosecution say that this was a skilfully orchestrated and planned fraud involving millions of pounds.

'In a nutshell what the defendant and the other members of the gang were seeking to do was to get control of high value properties in the Kensington and Chelsea area and then posed as the vendor of the property either to sell it or to raise funds by way of a mortgage or loans.'

In September last year, former yachting Olympian Vernon Stratton, put his three-storey, four bedroom house in Donne Place up for rent.

Rice and his gang of fellow conmen, none of whom have been caught, managed to secure the tenancy agreement for the house, which is behind Harrods, using a fake passport and references in the name of Stewart Knight.

'Two electronic transfers were made from an account in Dubai in December and January for around £20,000 in advance rent and deposits,' the prosecutor said.

Once Rice, who was in Dubai at the time, had control of the property his henchmen quickly changed the locks and went about gathering information in order to 'purloin' the identity of Mr Stratton, who lived on the Isle of Wight.

Within weeks a 'facilitator' had been approached by the gang to sell the property.
Mr Stratton's home was then sold to property company Pall Mall Developers for £1.047 million.

The money was then paid into a fraudulent account set up in the landlord's name.
Rice was caught out on March 15 of this year, just a day after arriving from overseas, when he went into a branch of Halifax in Brompton Road and asked to transfer £850,000 to a Dubai account.

Staff raised the alarm when Rice presented them with a 'poor quality' fake driving license in Mr Stratton's name, and he was arrested shortly afterwards.

Detectives discovered Rice had also been involved in an attempt in October last year to secure a loan on a £4m home at 27 Montpelier Square in Knightsbridge.

The defendant adopted the name of Alan Mason to take a tenancy and a loan of £489,235 was agreed to be advanced by Lloyds TSB bank.

But the attempt was thwarted at the last minute and the money transfer was cancelled.
Others were involved in both scams, including a female accomplice who posed as the owner of the Montpelier Square house, Caroline MacKay Lewis.

Mr Ludlow Thompson confirmed that no other arrests had been made but said 'enquires were ongoing'.

The defendant is the managing director of a company called Alchemy Yachting, which refurbishes luxury yachts in Majorca and Singapore and employs 50 people.

Jacqueline Vallejo, defending, said Rice was under enormous financial strain due to the recession and mounting debts. She said he owes at least £50,000 in unpaid tax and VAT. Rice was promised £10,000 for the 'successful' completion of the fraud.
Ms Vallejo said: 'No one else is before the court. 'He is the fall guy and is taking the wrap for everybody else.'

Rice, of Basingfield Close, Old Basing, Basingstoke, Hants, admitted two counts of possessing a false ID document with intent and one count of acquiring criminal property.

He also admitted a charge of acquiring criminal property in relation to the Montpelier Square fraud, and asked for it to be taken into account for the purpose of sentencing.

Oh the joys....

Afternoon All,

This little story was told to me by Tracey Kellett at BDI Homefinders, after chatting with a local agent recently

"There are no buyers," says the grim-faced estate agent.

"Transaction levels are going through the floor." "Well at least you have the lettings side to see you through," I say cheerfully. "Ah yes, lettings", he says. "That's kept us afloat the past few years. But no more, I fear." "But aren't rents going up, and aren't we increasingly becoming a renting society?" I ask. "Hmm, yes… theoretically. I'm advising landlords to raise rents 8%. But I've got nothing to rent out. All the tenants who used to move out to buy, can't, so are staying put. The tenants who moved out to better places are staying put because there's nothing else out there."

"Not only that," he continues, "but over the last few years the market has been replenished by all those amateur buy-to-let landlords. It drove down rents but it kept a constant new stock supply. They've gone." He continues sombrely, "I make my money when tenancies change, be it new stock or old. So things for the business, sales and lettings, are pretty dire. The only real winners in this market are the landlords. They're starting to hit pay dirt." I throw him a sympathetic glance. "Oh don't worry about me," he says. "Got myself a nice little portfolio in 2008… when all those amateur buy-to-let landlords panicked."

The joys of being an estate agent !

Have a good weekend y'all.

Mr J.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Top Gun No More..... ?

Reading in the P&J today, the Ministry of Defence confirmed that it owns more than 900 houses either outright or under a private finance initiative.

Gordon(Nice Guy with Elvis hair)Hay, of Harvey Donaldson & Gibson chartered surveyors in Elgin, said closure of the bases at Kinloss & Lossiemouth would over-saturate Moray’s housing market in the rental and home-ownership sectors.

Sellers would be forced to accept lower prices, developers would stop building, and tradesmen would be out of work, he argued.

“It’s a knock-on effect. It’s not just property value that will be affected. Nothing positive could be taken out of this at all,” he said.

Moray Solicitors Property Centre chairman Sandy Mitchell said that closing a base would take a few years, hopefully giving the area time to absorb the impact.

HIE's manager for Moray, Calum MacPherson, said a recent report in this matter provided a factual base for decision-makers.

He added: “Due to the scale and long-term presence of the RAF in Moray the two bases are woven into the surrounding communities, not least because they support at least 16% of local employment. The threat to the economy and population in the region is therefore more acute in Moray than other region in the UK."

Moray business leader, Chamber of Commerce chief executive Jim Johnston, said nobody should be in any doubt about the value of the bases to the economy.

“It’s the equivalent of taking a town the size of Keith and closing it down. Just obliterating it from the face of the earth,” he added.

Moray Council convener George McIntyre said: “In addition to the economic input, the RAF personnel and their families play a vital role in the communities in the region with significant contributions to volunteer and charity work.

“It is vital the decision-makers consider the economic and social consequences of the defence review.”

A government document leaked earlier this month revealed plans to save £7.5billion by grounding RAF Lossie’s 120-strong fleet of Tornado GR4/GR4As.

RAF Kinloss is equally insecure.

The base has lost all its Nimrod MR2 surveillance aircraft and is waiting for the arrival of the next generation of Nimrod MRA4s. Which will no doubt land, therefore honouring BAE's contract, then turn straight around and head 'down South'

The MoD said speculation was “entirely unfounded”.

Speculation is rife around Moray, with stories about the Army moving into Kinloss, the Navy into Lossiemouth, Richard Branson basing Virgin Galctic here, etc... etc....

Lets' face it, no one knows, certainly not your butcher, hairdresser or the local journalists.

No local report is going to carry any weight at Whitehall I'm afraid - It's just a money saving exercise as far as they are concerned. We just have to keep our fingers crossed that they make the right decision.

Until the next time.

Mr J

Monday, 16 August 2010

Meet Bob......

From the Guardian today and the mystery to many how ordinary people can afford to live in the UK's capital. Consistently ranked one of the most expensive cities in the world, London's house prices are ever more ludicrous, even in these dark days of pay freezes, mass redundancies and bankruptcy.

Visit one of the campsites encircling the city and it becomes clear how some people make the sums work: by shunning bricks and mortar to live in tents, caravans and mobile homes.

Each morning at these sites the shower blocks teem with commuters washing, shaving and making themselves presentable for a hard day's graft in the big smoke.

Last week a council worker called Philip Hanman hit the papers when he claimed he had been forced out of his job after his bosses discovered he was commuting to work in Barking and Dagenham in east London from a campsite in Epping Forest, where he slept in a £30 tent. Hanman has taken voluntary redundancy from the council and now lives with his family in Cornwall, where he previously spent his weekends.

Camping commuters are far from rare in the capital. On the Lee Valley site in Edmonton, north London, near a monster branch of Ikea and surrounded by pylons, 40 pitches are reserved for "long-termers".

Many of them work constructing the Olympic park, driving buses or in other jobs in the city, returning to their "real" homes at the weekend.

Here, in a neat caravan, lives one of the more unusual residents. Last year Lucy Boggis, 21, spent her days chasing amateur athletes up a climbing wall in her role as Tempest in the Sky series of Gladiators. Now, she is devoting all her energy to the 2012 Olympics, where she hopes to represent Britain in the heptathlon.

With no lottery funding, money is tight. So last September she decided to set up camp at the Lee Valley site, which is next door to an athletics centre.

Each morning, she makes herself porridge on the small van's stove, before padding over to the shower block for a wash.

She's at the track for 9am, and spends the day practising the hurdles, high jump and the other five disciplines that make up her event. On the weekends she goes home to her family in the West Country. "Some of my fellow athletes take the mickey, but most of them actually think it's a good idea. If you don't have funding, you don't have much spare money, and it's much cheaper to stay in a caravan than rent a one-bedroom flat," she said.

Lee Valley is one of the more expensive sites around London, charging between £12.30 and £16.40 a night for a one-person pitch, depending on the season, plus £3.60 per day for electricity.

In a caravan a few doors down from Boggis lives IT contractor Keith Davidson, who commutes to Canary Wharf each day.

The City is less than an hour away by public transport, with a regular bus service stopping at the site and taking campers to the nearest station.

"My family lives up in Aberdeen, but I often get contracts down here. The main reason I stay here is because of the flexibility – if you rent a flat you often have to commit to six months or a year, whereas here you can come and go as you like," he said.

The campsite's only residency rules are that everyone has to clear off during the few winter months when the site is closed, and that you pay for every night you're taking up a pitch, whether you're there or not. In a motorhome nearby lives Bob Casbeard, who commutes a few days a week to his urban planning job in Hackney. "I've been coming here on and off for eight years," he said, showing off his retractable satellite dish and extensive cooking facilities. Unlike many of the other long-termers, Casbeard is not camping to save money – he owns houses in east London, Suffolk and the Champagne region of France. "I do it to save the planet," he said, pointing up to the solar panels on the roof.

He added: "It does save me some money, though. Sometimes I stay in a hotel in Chigwell, and it costs £70 a night, which even for three nights is more expensive than parking my van here for a whole week."

We'll see more people on the campsite in Findhorn soon I reckon !

Until the next time.

Mr J