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Six in ten Britons track friends’, colleagues’ and lovers’ house prices

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Nearly 60 per cent of Britons have tried to find out how much people they know spent on their latest property purchase, new figures have revealed.

While few believe it is acceptable to ask someone what they paid for a home outright, the vast majority have adopted under-the-radar tactics to discover what family, friends, ‘frenemies’, neighbours, colleagues and even potential partners paid for their homes.

Twenty-four per cent of people admitted they had even called time on a relationship after finding out the value of their partner’s home, according to Zoopla.

Clued up: Nearly 60 per cent of Britons have tried to find out how much people they know spent on their latest property purchase, according to Zoopla

Clued up: Nearly 60 per cent of Britons have tried to find out how much people they know spent on their latest property purchase, according to Zoopla

People also use ‘super-snooping’ tactics, which include searching for sale records online, to see how much a home they want to buy was last sold for, or to track what has happened to the price tag of a property they used to live in. 

‘People always want to know what others have paid for a property’, Camilla Dell, managing partner at Black Brick Property Solutions, told This is Money. 

While the majority of people are activity snooping, 65 per cent said they would never admit to the owner that they had researched their property’s sold price.  

Neighbours, friends and family member’s homes are the most likely targets for super-snoopers, but 11 per cent said they had also looked up what a colleague paid for a property. 

Three in ten said they were able to make assumptions about their colleagues’ pay packets after finding out how much they were able to fork out for their home.

How to track house prices

HM Land Registry has an online tool which enables people to look up sold prices for properties across England and Wales. Separate tools apply for Scotland and Northern Ireland. 

The Land Registry sold data is used by websites including Rightmove, Zoopla and others to show how much properties went for. 

At the height of the pandemic last year, there was a lull in publishing up-to-date sold price data for house prices, with the Land Registry claiming it was focused on providing its ‘core’ services instead. 

But sold price data is now readily available, and generally seems up-to-date again.

There are a few other options for keeping abreast of house prices near where you live.  

Halifax and Nationwide both publish their own indices each month.

Both of these data sets are based on significantly fewer transactions than the Office for National Statistics’ – around 15,000 a month – and as they are based on their own mortgage lending they exclude cash purchases, making them less comprehensive.

They are, however, more up-to-date than the Land Registry, where a sale can take weeks or months to be registered in the system. 

Every three months, Nationwide also puts out more detailed regional house price reports.

There’s also LSL Acadata, which is based on Land Registry data, but uses its own internal models to give more up to date predictions and forecasts.   

One in ten people said they had even checked out the value of the home of a prospective, current or former partner. 

Nearly a third said they continued to date someone they would have otherwise ditched after viewing the price tag of their home online. For people aged between 35 to 44, this figure rose to 46 per cent. 

Around half of people said seeing a partner’s property value ‘encouraged’ them to keep dating someone, rising to 63 per cent for men. 

But a quarter of people said they had called time on a relationship after viewing the value of their partner’s home. 

The emotions stirred by seeing how much someone has paid for a home can be complicated, and 11 per cent admitted they felt jealous after seeing the figures involved.

However, 10 per cent said they respected the person more after seeing their property’s value, while 9 per cent said they felt they liked the person more than before. 

Tom Parker, consumer spokesperson for Zoopla. said: ‘Buttoned up Brits love talking about house prices – but for most, asking someone straight up what they paid for their home is still considered a taboo.

‘But how much a house sold for is publicly available information and is easy to source online.

‘Whether it’s your boss, a friend or even a potential partner, it’s clear we want to know more about the homes they live in and will often treat them differently as a result.’

Buying agents will often go to great lengths to help their clients find out what other people paid for a home they are interested in. 

Camilla Dell added: ‘As buying agents, before we submit an offer on a property we always do a comprehensive “buying report” for our clients. 

Poll

Have you ever tried to find out online how much someone you know paid for a home?

‘Within the report we highlight relevant comparable sales. It’s all about the price per square foot – the price paid divided by the internal square footage. 

‘This gives our clients a pretty good idea if the price they are paying is reasonable or not, and also aids us with our negotiations.

‘We obtain data via Lonres – an industry-only database for agents, and the Land Registry. 

‘For off-plan sales, obtaining comparable sales data is a lot more difficult as sales will only appear on the Land Registry once they have completed which could be years away.’

Last month, data from the Office for National Statics revealed that average house prices across the country increased by 10 per cent in the year to May. 

Some buyers fear they paid too much for their latest property, after savings from the stamp duty holiday were eaten up by soaring price tags. 

The main stamp duty holiday applicable on homes up to £500,000 ended on 30 June. 

Until 30 September the nil rate band will be £250,000. It will then return to the standard amount of £125,000 on 1 October.

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Topps Tiles founder breaks record for the most expensive mansion sold in Sandbanks

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A waterfront mansion formerly owned by football manager Harry Redknapp has broken the record for the most expensive property to be sold on Sandbanks.

Harbour Gate sold to a mystery buyer for a whopping £10million in the last week, almost £2million more than the previous record selling price on the millionaire’s playground in Poole Harbour, Dorset.

The six-bedroom house was sold by entrepreneur Barry Bester.

The Topps Tiles founder previously bought the property off Harry Redknapp and his wife Sandra for £6.9m in 2015. 

Since then he has spent £2million on refurbishing the mock-Tudor mansion, including having a £40,000 golf simulator built on the grounds.

Harbour Gate has broken the record for the most expensive property to be sold on Sandbacks, after going for £10million

Harbour Gate has broken the record for the most expensive property to be sold on Sandbacks, after going for £10million

The six-bedroom property was once owned by former football manager Harry Redknapp and his wife, who sold it in 2015

The six-bedroom property was once owned by former football manager Harry Redknapp and his wife, who sold it in 2015

If the sea is a bit rough, the new owners can always go for a swim in the indoor pool

If the sea is a bit rough, the new owners can always go for a swim in the indoor pool

As well as astonishing views, the house boasts a huge kitchen and breakfast room, dining room, lounge, and library

As well as astonishing views, the house boasts a huge kitchen and breakfast room, dining room, lounge, and library 

The £10million property also features a gym and sauna

The £10million property also features a gym and sauna 

The property has its own cinema room

The property has its own cinema room

Barry Bester, the founder of Topps Tiles, sold Harbour Gate for a Sandbanks record of £10million

Harry Redknapp, right, and his wife Sandra left Sandbanks and moved to nearby Poole in a brand new eco house

Topps Tiles founder Barry Bester (left) bought Harbour Gate from Harry and Sandra Redknapp (right) for £6.9million in 2015

The previous record sale price on Sandbanks was £8.09million, which was paid for the mansion next door to Harbour Gate in 2018. 

The £10million figure dwarfs the £400,000 price once paid for the same property in 1995. The Redknapps themselves bought it in 2001 for £3million, and lived there for 14 years, during which time Redknapp managed Spurs, Portsmouth, Southampton and Queens Park Rangers.

Harbour Gate sits on arguably the best plot on the Sandbanks peninsula, backing on to the entrance to Poole Harbour which is usually teeming with passing boats.

It has a kitchen and breakfast room, dining room, lounge, cinema room, library, indoor swimming pool, gym with sauna and an office.

The master bedroom has a large en suite bathroom, huge dressing room and a balcony that looks out onto the water.

Outside there are two sun terraces and a private jetty that has ‘parking’ for two jet skis which are hoisted into the water by way of a hydraulic lift.

Harbour Gate has parking for two jet skis

Harbour Gate has parking for two jet skis

The waterfront property boasts huge bedrooms

The waterfront property boasts huge bedrooms

Overlooking the seafront, the house also has breathtaking views

Overlooking the seafront, the house also has breathtaking views

The property also comes with a three bedroom detached gatehouse which by itself would probably be worth £1million.

There is also a double garage which has a professional dog grooming bathtub and driveway parking for 10 cars.

Who is Barry Bester and how did he make his money? 

Barry Bester was the co-founder and former chief executive of the retail company Topps Tiles.

He was responsible for day-to-day operations of the business and primarily the sales and store management.

He served as the non-executive director of the company from 1984 to 2011. He also served as executive co-chairman until 2005 and as non-executive chairman from 2007 to 2011.

In 2013, he sold his entire holding in the company – 22,956,790 ordinary shares of 3.33 pence each at 70 pence per share – which represented 11.95 per cent of the company’s issued share capital.

 Source: InsightDIY

Steve Isaacs, of local estate agents Luxury and Prestige, who handled the sale, said: ‘We can confirm that the house has sold and it is quite a landmark sale as it is the most valuable house on Sandbanks to have sold.

‘We have a delighted buyer and seller for this beautiful home but as a matter of policy we never disclose details of our clients.

‘The house occupies arguably the best position on Sandbanks. It sits on a double-sized plot and comes with a lodge house on the grounds that would be quite a valuable house on its own merits.

‘It has had a lot of money lavished on it by the seller and every aspect of it if exceptional.

‘We have got unprecedented demand for high-end waterside homes at the moment, principally from buyers based in London and beyond.

‘There are now more buyers than there are sellers.

‘This has been fuelled by wealthy individuals relocating from London and other parts of the country as well as those looking for additional homes.

‘We have clients who have been able to run their businesses away from offices in town during the pandemic and want homes by the sea where they can work.’

The house that held the previous record for the most expensive property was The Moorings, next door to Harbour Gate.

Its former owners, entrepreneur Chris Thomas and wife Sue, built the palatial home on the 13,000sq ft of land before selling it in 2018.

The Moorings has five en suite bedrooms, three reception rooms, an office, cinema room, indoor swimming pool, sauna and steam room, gym, changing rooms, garden room and a wine room.

There is also a guest suite that has its own en suite bedroom, kitchenette and living room.

Outside, there is a gate house, a boat house, terraces and balconies make the most of the harbour views and the sunken garden leads to a private jetty.

The exclusive Sandbanks peninsula where a property has just sold for £10million

The exclusive Sandbanks peninsula where a property has just sold for £10million

There is also a grand wine cellar in the property featuring grey stone tiled floors and brick alcoves stacked with bottles of wine and champagne

There is also a grand wine cellar in the property featuring grey stone tiled floors and brick alcoves stacked with bottles of wine and champagne 

The area has been dubbed the 'millionaire's playground'

The area has been dubbed the ‘millionaire’s playground’

The £10million is a record for Sandbanks, above the £8million and £7million spent on neighbouring properties

The £10million is a record for Sandbanks, above the £8million and £7million spent on neighbouring properties

It occupies arguably the best position on Sandbanks and sits on a double-sized plot and comes with a lodge house on the grounds

It occupies arguably the best position on Sandbanks and sits on a double-sized plot and comes with a lodge house on the grounds

Local estate agents Luxury and Prestige said the new owner of the property was 'delighted'

Local estate agents Luxury and Prestige said the new owner of the property was ‘delighted’

Outside the property, there is a private jetty that has 'parking' for two jet skis which are hoisted into the water by way of a hydraulic lift

Outside the property, there is a private jetty that has ‘parking’ for two jet skis which are hoisted into the water by way of a hydraulic lift

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Government ‘committed’ to better redress scheme

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A “significantly enhanced” scheme will be needed to help the owners of severely damaged and crumbling homes with mica problems, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said.

He told Sinn Féin finance spokesman Pearse Doherty that he could not make any definitive commitments on it at the moment but “it will be a matter for Government to decide before the end of the month”.

Speaking in the Dáil, Mr Varadkar said Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien was committed to working with the homeowners to find a resolution to the problem and he acknowledged that a “resolution is long overdue”.

He also accepted that “we need a significantly enhanced scheme” which was being developed.

Mica is a mineral that can absorb and store water, resulting in excessive amounts in building blocks which over time causes cracks and crumbling in blocks. The number of affected homeowners in Donegal and Mayo is estimated at between 7,000 and 8,000 “and possibly more”, according to the Government source. Claims have also been made in Mayo, Limerick and other counties.

A 2018 redress scheme opened for applications in 2020 but required owners to pay 10 per cent of costs, unlike the pyrite scheme for Dublin homes which was 100 per cent Government-funded.

Mr Varadkar acknowledged that with the mica scheme the 90 per cent in Government funding did not turn out to be 90 per cent “because of other costs including rent when people move out of their house, engineering reports and such matters”.

Mr Doherty called on the Tánaiste to “lift the burden off so many families” and commit to establishing a 100 per cent redress scheme for homeowners and families “in Donegal, Mayo and other counties who are seeing their homes crumble before their eyes”.

He said that several family homes had been demolished including that of Donna and Mike Price and their three children. Their home “was reduced to rubble by a digger”.

He said “others continue to live in the conditions that put them and their children at risk with walls and ceiling crumbling around them”, and the problem had placed a heavy toll on their mental health and relationships.

“They cannot be allowed to wait any longer. They are victims of self-regulation, no-regulation and light-touch regulation regimes.”

Mr Varadkar, who previously visited Donegal to witness the impact of mica, said “not only have I seen it with my own eyes, but I have felt it in my fingers when I touched those walls.

“One can see how easily they can break and crumble. I know the devastation it has caused people.”

He said: “I agree that we need to bring forward an enhanced scheme, a better scheme, than the one we put together under the last Government to deal with this issue. We are committed to doing that.”

Speaking in Limerick on Thursday, the Minister for Housing appeared to open the door for a 100 per cent redress scheme for homeowners. When asked about the possibility, he said: “I’ve taken nothing off the table.”

Mr O’Brien said the Cabinet would “assess” documents to be handed into Government by Donegal and Mayo campaigners on Friday, adding: “I want to be able to bring improvements to the scheme, and try to bring a resolution to this in the next few weeks.”

“I’ll have to go to Cabinet with some of the changes, if they require additional expenditure, which I expect it will do so.”

On Thursday, Fine Gael TD Joe McHugh said the problem had become a “national emergency” and it was time for Government “to bite the bullet”over the mica scandal.

Mr McHugh said the original redress scheme – ostensibly offering homeowners 90 per cent of the cost of repairs – was reluctantly accepted at the time by those affected but was scuppered by changes made by Department of Public Expenditure officials.

“I believe to this day if that scheme was honoured in the way it should have been done, in terms of the conditions applied therein, we may not even be here today because that 90/10 [90 per cent redress, 10 per cent paid by homeowner] scheme effectively became a 70/30 and in some cases a 60/40,” he said.

Different caveats and different cost measures were brought into it, the Donegal TD told RTÉ’s Today with Claire Byrne.

“The scheme was politically signed off on, and like anything in politics, you have a policy as a government, and once the officials start digging down and delving into it, we came out with a scheme that is not workable.”

Separately, a survey published on Thursday by the Mica Action Group, found that mica householders are “suffering a major negative impact to their mental health” and that some are medicating for the first time ever in order to cope with the stress.

Representatives of the mica action group are to hand in their survey as well as a document calling for 100 per cent redress which will “detail exactly what is needed to end the homeowners’ turmoil and allow them to move forward”.

“It can only be hoped that it is treated with respect and gravity, and is acted upon with urgency,” said Lisa Hone, a spokeswoman for the group.

Ms Hone said 483 registered members of the Mica Action Group responded to the survey, and they admitted to “dealing with unrelenting anxiety about safety and finances, the distress of having homes demolished and worries about future homelessness”.

“A common theme running through comments from defective block homeowners was the constant nature of the anxiety seeping into all corners of their lives, with 50 per cent feeling unsafe in their home.”

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Homes you can let in the top 10 UK rental hotspots revealed

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The rental shortage hotspots have been revealed, with the Isle of Wright, West Devon and Cornwall leading the way.

Rental shortages are so acute that in some towns and villages in these areas, there is only one property available to rent.

In the West Devon market town of Tavistock, for example, the only property listed on Rightmove to rent is a basement studio flat costing £460 a month. 

The rental shortage hotspots have been revealed, with the Isle of Wright, West Devon and Cornwall leading the way

The rental shortage hotspots have been revealed, with the Isle of Wright, West Devon and Cornwall leading the way

In other areas, the listings are reading that ‘viewings are fully booked’ within a day of the property being advertised online.

Rightmove’s findings were based on more than 400,000 rental listings in June and July this year and comparing them to the same period two years ago.

It revealed the true extent of a lack of homes to rent compared to pre-pandemic levels, with the Isle of Wight topping the list with a fall of 82 per cent in available rental stock.

We have picked a property in each of the top 10 rental shortage hotspots to provide a snapshot of what is on offer to rent in each of these locations. (Scroll down for the selection of property listings.)

The Rightmove research did not analyse what type of homes were hardest hit – such as a flat or family homes – and instead focused on locations only.

The areas with the biggest reduction in stock compared to the summer of 2019 are in seaside locations and holiday resorts.

The only property to rent in the West Devon market town of Tavistock is a basement studio flat costing £460 a month

The only property to rent in the West Devon market town of Tavistock is a basement studio flat costing £460 a month

Tim Bannister, of Rightmove, said: ‘Landlords in the typical tourist destinations around Britain have been chasing the huge surge in demand for holiday lets this summer, which has led to a temporary drop in the stock available for permanent tenants.

‘However, as the summer holidays are coming to an end, agents are now reporting more landlords turning their attention to longer-term tenants as a more secure and stable option for the rest of the year and into 2022.

 Landlords in the typical tourist destinations around Britain have been chasing the huge surge in demand for holiday lets this summer

Tim Bannister – Rightmove 

Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, said: ‘As the commitment to commute has declined, so has demand to live in coastal or country areas increased. 

‘Others have enjoyed being by the seaside so much they have turned temporary stays into more permanent ones.

‘The result has been an increase in demand, which supply has struggled to match, particularly recently in the staycation season. Other owners have taken refuge in the short let and Airbnb market, which also kept longer-term rental stock levels down.

‘Although traditionally September and October are the busiest months for rentals, the demand and supply imbalance is likely to continue at least until the end of the year when poorer weather should dampen demand to the extent that rents will inevitably soften.’

Properties to rent in ‘shortage hotspots’… 

1. Three-bed semi-detached house, Isle of Wight, £895 per calendar month

This three-bedroom semi-detached house in Brading on the Isle of Wight is available for rent for £895

This three-bedroom semi-detached house in Brading on the Isle of Wight is available for rent for £895

This property on the Isle of Wight is available to rent for £895 a month via letting agents Hose Rodes Dickson.

It is in the town of Brading, on the east of the island, and within reach of the railway station and main bus routes.

It is semi-detached, unfurnished and has three bedrooms. It is available to rent from October 18.

2. Three-bed semi-detached, North Devon, £975 pcm

This three-bedroom semi-detached house in Fremington, North Devon, is for rent for £975 a month

This three-bedroom semi-detached house in Fremington, North Devon, is for rent for £975 a month

This North Devon home is in the village of Fremington, three miles west of Barnstaple.

It has three bedrooms, a driveway and a single garage. It is available to rent to non-smokers without pets. 

It is being let for £975 a month by letting agents Phillips, Smith & Dunn. It is available to rent from September 20.

3. Studio flat, West Devon, £460 pcm

This basement studio in is the only property in Tavistock available to rent on Rightmove

This basement studio in is the only property in Tavistock available to rent on Rightmove

This basement studio flat costing £460 a month is currently the only property available to rent on Rightmove for tenants looking in West Devon’s Tavistock.

It is two minutes from Tavistock town centre and includes a garden and off-street parking. It is available via letting agents Mashroom.

4. Four-bed house, Northumberland, £1,500 pcm

This detached house in Northumberland has four bedrooms and is available to rent for £1,500 a month

This detached house in Northumberland has four bedrooms and is available to rent for £1,500 a month

This four-bedroom unfurnished farmhouse is in the countryside near Gunnerton in Northumberland.

The detached property includes a large front garden, outbuildings and a half acre paddock. It is available to rent for £1,500 a month via letting agents Galbraith.

5. Three-beds, Blackpool, £650 pcm

Viewings on this property to rent in Blackpool are 'now fully booked', according to the listing on Rightmove

Viewings on this property to rent in Blackpool are ‘now fully booked’, according to the listing on Rightmove

Within a day of this three-bedroom property in Blackpool being advertised online, the listed read that viewings ‘now fully booked’.

The rental is being handled by Tiger letting agents and the semi-detached property is being let for £650 a month.

6. Three-bed detached house, Torridge, £925 pcm

This detached home in Torridge has three bedrooms and is for rent for £925 a month

 This detached home in Torridge has three bedrooms and is for rent for £925 a month

This three-bedroom home is in Milton Damerel, in the local government district of Torridge in North Devon.

It is available to rent via letting agents Kivells, from September 20 and is unfurnished. It has been recently decorated and costs £925 a month.

7. Three-bed semi-detached house, South Tyneside, £620 pcm

This family home in Hebburn has three bedrooms and is available to rent for £620 a month

This family home in Hebburn has three bedrooms and is available to rent for £620 a month

This semi-detached home is in the town of Hebburn, on the south bank of the River Tyne.

It is available immediately and is being rented unfurnished via letting agents Reeds Rain. It has three bedrooms and a enclosed garden.

8. Three-bed detached house, Neath, £950 pcm

This award-winning rental home has three bedrooms and costs £950 a month

This award-winning rental home has three bedrooms and costs £950 a month 

This detached chalet bungalow is in the village of Crynant, in Wales’ Neath.

The property won the LABC Cymru award for Best Individual New House and the NPRCB Building Excellence Award for 2020.

It has three bedrooms and costs £950 a month to rent via letting agents Payton Jewell Caines. However, the listing online had set a deadline of September 15 at 5pm for tenants to apply.

9. Three-bed cottage, Cornwall, £950 pcm

This Cornish cottage is costs £950 a month to rent and is available either furnished or unfurnished

This Cornish cottage is costs £950 a month to rent and is available either furnished or unfurnished

This cottage in Cornwall’s St Just includes a feature fireplace, three bedrooms and an enclosed garden.

It is available to rent for £950 pcm via letting agents Marshall’s, and is available either furnished or unfurnished.

10. Three-bed semi-detached house, North Tyneside, £800

This family home is in the village of Shiremoor in Newcastle Upon Tyne and costs £800 a month to rent

This family home is in the village of Shiremoor in Newcastle Upon Tyne and costs £800 a month to rent

This semi-detached family home is in the large village of Shiremoor in Newcastle Upon Tyne.

It has three bedrooms and is available to rent via letting agents Your Move for £800 a month. It is available immediately and is unfurnished.

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