Brockley in the media: The Sunday Times' "Buying and Selling"

A Brockley flat features in a piece on buying houses at auction in today's Sunday Times.

The writer visits places in Kilburn, Crystal Palace and Camberwell, before coming to her senses and checking out SE4:

"The third property I singled out was a lower-ground-floor flat in Brockley, a short drive to the southeast. It was on Wickham Road, a beautiful street lined with oak trees and impressive Grade II-listed homes. A five-minute walk from Brockley station (a stop on the East London Line extension, due to open in 2010), the flat was in a Victorian brick house with a jolly red staircase."

But like many Brockley landlords, the owner hadn't bothered to do some basic improvements before putting it on the market:

"It was not quite so jolly inside: the walls were filthy and cracked, and the smell of damp was overpowering. The flat had gone on the market at £190,000 in March, but was going to auction with a guide price of £110,000-£120,000. The owners, who lived in the country and had been letting out the flat, appeared to have put little effort into making it attractive to potential buyers. The ceilings were fairly high for a lower-ground-floor flat and most of the problems were cosmetic: the kitchen cupboards were filthy, while the garish bathroom decor, all fake marble tiles, dirty pink cupboards and swirly bronze handles, made me want to run a mile.

"Dealing with all this would cost a lot of money, but given that one-bed flats in the area sell for upwards of £180,000, it still seemed a good deal..."

And guess what? The flat failed to reach its reserve price at auction. So instead of a property supplement writer living in the area, we have an empty, mildewed husk.

As an anon points out in 'Suggest a Topic', the final twist is an apocalyptic note from a 'former estate agent', who took a folder of hyperbole with him when he cleared his desk:

"I wouldn't waste your hard earned cash on areas like Brockley. Wait another year and you will find you can afford Clapham and Battersea. Wait another two years and you will find you can afford to move to Fulham. Happy hunting from a former estate agent.
Lawrence, London, UK"

61 comments:

Monkeyboy said...

Even I'm getting bored of property porn now.

Tamsin said...

But why have other people do up the property to make it attractive for you. It would not, presumably, cost upward of £50,000 to make the improvements and you can then make them as you want them.
I can never understand the mentality of the prospective buyers in those selling your property shows (which I confess to occasionally having watched) who reject the property when it is in its basic state but when it has been tarted up and cleared out a bit say "ooh, yes, I would like to buy it now" - even at £15K more or whatever. Are they too blind to see the potential and too sheep-like to want to make their own changes?

barryls said...

Never trust a 'former' estate agent or a journalist.

Anonymous said...

I'm happily wasting my cash in areas like Brockley.

max said...

Remind me what the qualification to be an estate agent is...

Anonymous said...

About the same as to work in Woolworths

max said...

I passed in front of Foxtons in Angel last week, it's a monument to pretentiousness, it's all glass and there's a lot of them inside, all wearing hand-free phones and sitting in front of their iMacs, just sitting, nothing happening, looking at each other inquisitively, a fish bowl really.
This video reminds of it quite closely:
http://tinyurl.com/59wesg

Anonymous said...

One more deli, Max, and that's what Brockley could become.

lb said...

I think the area's probably better off for not having a property-supplement hack living here, don't you?

Anonymous said...

I like to think of East Dulwich as an idea of what we could aspire in Brockley, not bleedin Clapham or Islington, boring!

Hugh said...

Anyone here interested in getting into BTL in Brockley? It's the right time to look at it. Let me know.

MB said...

erm...BTL...wot's that then? Is it a public school thing?

max said...

It's a sandwich filling, isn't it?
And yes, it's elevenses' time.

quick brown fox said...

I've lived in Fulham, it's not a patch on Brockley.

Headhunter said...

I agree Hugh, now may be a very good time to get into the property market. Anywhere in London, not just Brockley, as long as you can get the financing. Not too sure about BTL though, the rental market has been flooded with people who don't want to sell and are waiting for prices to pick up again. Take your time picking off bargains at auctions. With stamp duty down and rates at such low levels, it's a great time to buy at auction.

I remember them building that Foxtons in Islington. Prior to that it used to be in a more humble looking building. The guy who owned Foxtons is an economics genius, he established and built Foxtons at the perfect time and then exitted the market, selling Foxtons to a private equity firm, also at the absolute perfect moment.

max said...

Those that bought Foxtons at that time for that price rather confirmed the very simple explanation to the credit crunch "there's too much money around".

comment sense said...

Economics genius? hmm more like he got lucky with the timing. Everyone knew that house price inflation as the rate it was going was unsustainable it was just that we didn't know when things were going to stop.

Hugh said...

Luck had nothing to do with it. He timed the market very well, having worked in it for years.

Comment sense said...

You can do all the research in the world, luck still plays a major part, best laid plans of mice and men...

tyrwhitt ali said...

You know, I'm pretty sure I looked at that flat myself when I was flat hunting before deciding to rent. You could barely get in the flat for the existing tennants stuff and it was really dark. Must start watching the auction sites...

The Cat Man said...

don't touch the housing Market until jan 2010 and don't assume prices will continually go up. There's a structual change to having free barriers to trade and that will push down prices.

The uk housing is relatively expensive and wages are generally higher. Expect both to fall as we continue to compete with overseas countries.

Who says globalization is a good thing.

Hugh said...

BTL won't ever die and the best time to get in is during a downturn. Who's in?

drakefell debaser said...

I don't like Foxtons but it made Jon Hunt an astonishing amount of money so whilst luck might be a factor I think his fat bank balance is largely down to himself. I hear working for Foxtons is not quite as neat as the offices are though.

BTL funding is easing but you need at least a 25% deposit or 30% to 40% to get a decent set of options. And be prepared to be charged the equivalent of a small new hatchback in bank fees for the privilege.

Headhunter said...

I doubt Jon Hunt's decisions were purely down to luck. Businessmen don't simply stick a wet finger in the air and say hmmm, today I think I'll sell up... Of course everyone knew the market was headed down the toilet but he couldn't have sold at a better time, the credit crunch had yet to bite, the banks were still lending and he got optimum price. 6 months later the property markets was beginning to slide and banks were more cautious about lending to leveraged clients like private equity firms.

Regarding the housing market, Cat Man, you announced the other day that a terraced house in Brockley had actually gone up in value! I understand what you're saying re 2010, but that's what everyone thinks. The number of times I've heard people say that the market'll be dead til 2010... It'll be self fulfilling.

Best time to get in is 2009 when everyone else is still avoiding the market like the plague and you can drive a really, really hard bargain because sellers have no other choice. The only thing is that there is less on sale, so you need to start looking around now as it'll be harder to find exactly what you want.

Comment sense said...

It's not all down to luck, but neither is it all down to being a genius in economics.

A lot of CEO's will have people believe that their success is all down to their innate ability, their 'genius' of course it helps justify their salaries and boost the book sales and tours in which they impart their pearls of wisdom.

The real genius in any industry or any endeavour in life is to work hard, put the hours in and then you find 'luck' comes your way.

Jon Hunt a straightforward about his success.

Jon Hunt worked hard

Headhunter said...

Whether he worked hard or not (and I'm sure he did when he 1st established the business at least) he had impeccable judgement re when to sell Foxtons. Whether you call that genius, luck or an innate sense of business, he has it in spades.

Of course I'm sure he had advice and wasn't sat alone at the top making his own decisions but if you eat, drink and breathe a certain business sector, you're going to have a certain level of specific intelligence when it comes to what's going to be happening.

Comment Sense said...

"I'm absolutely not a genius. But I have been in property since I was 18. If I knew what the market was going to do I'd be extremely rich."


" I simply felt I'd done long enough. I'd been selling property for 40 years - that was enough".

"'[he]...spent 14 hours every day for years working in the market."

Jon Hunt

Headhunter said...

Well he's probably not going to tell everyone he's a genius. He doesn't appear to have the ego of Mohammed Ali...

"If I knew what the market was going to do I'd be extremely rich."

He IS extremely rich and last I looked his wealth is derived through property and he predicted exactly where the market was going! He has done exactly what he says he didn't. It's just modesty...

comment sense said...

Lol @ your spin. Have a good day headhunter hahaha

jpm said...

Well, if 'Lawrence' the estate agent was all he was cracked out to be, why was he clearing out his desk? Why so late in the day a 'former' estate agent?

No Foxton guru he, in fact it seems likely that Lawrence hasn't got any 'hard earned' cash of his own and so he won't (even) be buying in Brockley. Wait a year or two though and expert Lawrence will be back, selling used cars and pearls of wisdom along the way.

jpm said...

And another thing, Lawrence...

I posted some time back that a two bed property in NW (Zone 2) is (was?) valued at 55.5% more than Brockley - a difference just short of £200k in that instance.

A rather compelling reason why Brockley and surronding areas, will make the new ELL properties the number one hotspots in Zone 2 London. Is Brockley going to fall as much as NW? Will it stay there for long if it does? I don't think so, Lawrence.

Hugh said...

If NW was 55% more expensive than Brockley it hardly follows that Brockley is safe from price destruction during the downturn. Wake up, smell coffee.

fred vest said...

house prices

jon s said...

Now is a very bad time to get into property, we have only seen the first wave of prices falling, Brockley and elsware.

The next comes when people who could afford their mortgages are made redundant or cannot remortgage to decent rates and are in or near negative equity. This includes owner-occupiers and BTL.

There is money to be made in a recession, in fact I will be launching a firm mid - late next year but it is all about creating efficiency and reducing costs,not riding a bubble.

Alas, the poor man's hedge fund of BTL property will always exist, but will struggle in the short term.

Hugh said...

Quite the reverse, Jon. Now is exactly the time to get into property, if you can get in. Prices are pitched at the anticipated market bottom, so bargains are there for the taking if you can get a seller to sell.

Or would you prefer to invest at the top?

Ditto shares, by the way.

Paddyom said...

Brockleys house prices are being badly affected by the credit issues, however if NW London is priced 55% higher than here, it has further to fall compared with more modestly priced SE4. The difference however is that the comparitive NW suburb probably has good tube connections, a decent high street with nice bars shops and restaurants, attractive to many young people and therefore wont fall as quickly as demand remains high.

I personally think that a major factor which will impact Brockleys house prices is how low prices go in nearby 'aspirational' areas such as Blackheath/Greenwich/Dulwich etc... I suspect Brockley attracts many young people who rented in these 'cooler' areas but could not afford to buy, yet want to stay within reach for the shops/nightlfe etc... If prices in these areas fall 20% Brockleys will need to fall a similar amount to keep the 'discount' between the two which I suspect is what stimulates many young people to consider moving to SE4 in the first place.

The ELL will make the area considerably more attractive to young people who had never considered living Saff of the river before. Many of my friends who would like to be able to easily access trendy Hoxton Sq and Shoreditch but dont want to live in Hackney or Bethnal Green and cant afford Islington or Old Street. Being able to get there in 15 minutes via tube from Brockers will make it worth consideration. Brockley will be the first new stop on the line and is nicer than New Cross (I think) so can only benefit.

Who knows what will happen but one things for sure, until the banks recapitalize not much will be happening anywhere in the housing market.

Anonymous said...

Regarding buyers opinions when viewing...it's odd what puts people off a property.

I know someone who rejected a property because the seller had decorated the rooms with dried flowers.

The dried flowers became the main subject of conversation after the viewing, rather than layout, room sizes etc.

Anonymous said...

ELL Line will hopefully attract workers from The Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel who want to take advantage of short commutes and cheaper prices.

Tressilliana said...

Did anyone else hear File on 4 on Radio 4 last night? The reporter attempted to compare what various properties sold at auction had fetched with what they had sold for on the last occasion they were on the market. I think he was finding an average fall of over 40% in an average period of a couple of years.

He was also told that most buy to let mortgages are not being renewed unless the owner can put up a 30% deposit and various experts said that hedge funds and vulture funds are buying up mortgages with a view to getting their hands on the properties. The managers have no qualms about repossessions, even where there is only monthly payment in arrears.

We're in for a very bumpy ride, folks!

Headhunter said...

Exactly Hugh. Of course timing is key and it's best not to buy in if the market is still falling, but I would certainly keep my eyes open (if I had money lying around) for bargains, I mean deep cuts off asking price.

Everyone expects the market to start recovering in 2010 and that has yet to be seen, but even the government was going on about "when the economy recovers in 2010..." yesterday. I think that 2009 could be the key year to get in when the market is literally on its knees. Why would you want to wait around til the market has started to pick up again? And of course, especially in London (not specifically Brockley) when it does pick up, it'll rocket, like it did in the late 90s and early 00s as the boom and bust continues.

Of course when the market is down, people who previously would have considered Brockers because the couldn't afford Blackheath or Greenwich may no longer come here, however there will always be others who perhaps couldn't afford anything at all, who can now afford to live in Brockley, so when things pick up there will always be demand right across London.

God there's nothing like a discussion about house prices...

Moira said...

I was interviewed this week by Living South (I think the journalist said), who was doing an article on those of us looking for property. We are obviously such a rare breed these days, that we're newsworthy.

Headhunter said...

Bumpy ride yes, but that's exactly what hedge fund investors look for. Surviving HF and private equity firms are all jumping at distressed opportunities, there was something in the press about some distressed fund looking to swallow up Woolworths the other day.

Comparing auction prices now with estate agent prices a year or 2 ago is not really realistic though. Auction prices are always way down on estate agent prices, whatever the market so of course there will be a huge differential.

Anonymous said...

I lived along the Lillie Road Fulham once in one of those mansion flat type places- vv expensive and the staircase always smelt of urine. At least Brockley streets are nice and wide and there is plenty of light, although there are often some very dubious smells as well

Hugh said...

Headhunter, I think saying prices will rocket once they begin to recover is optimistic in the extreme. But they will rise again.

As for RLH workers coming to Brockley, great but NHS wages are hardly going to lead to a local boom.

As for young trendies moving here in order to take the ELL to bars in Hoxton, pull the other one.

jon s said...

In the long term Brockley will do well as it is getting the ELL making it more accessable, but we're not at the bottom yet.....

The UK has been living off the fat of globalisation and a debt mountain. Debt chains have further to unravel and will cause more pain. Be prepared for further job cuts and the city to be hit as a global centre of finance.

Best cartoon ever in the economist, Dubya says I'm the leader of the free world, Hu say's I'm the repo man.

Who else are the Repo men and what do they want? Particularly the ones in the gulf.

Hugh said...

Unless you define 'long term' that statement is meaningless.

Headhunter said...

Well true, a lot depends on banks' confidence, perhaps I'm being a bit premature, but as soon as the banks start lending again it'll be a good time to get in.

As for prices rocketing, perhaps they won't immediately take off, but I'm sure they'll pick up pretty sharp-ish in London at the other end of all this. Of course if everyone gets made redundant and leaves, there'll be no demand, but at the moment I know several people who would like to buy but are holding off due to uncertainty, as soon as that is removed and provided they still have jobs, they'll jump in.

Basically the fact remains that there is limited accommodation in London and in the good times this translates into quick price increases.

Anonymous said...

Lets face it, all of these comments are merely pissing in the wind.

Headhunter said...

Not really. We've got hundreds of years of economic history to learn from. the boom/bust cycle is hardly a new phenomenon....

jon s said...

Pomposity is so tiresome when it is trying to lever a position of ignorance....... FYI, in property long term is 10 or more years.

Headhunter, the supposed shortage of property has minimal impact on house prices (direct supply), it is the ammount of money people have available (aggregate demand).

We're just getting over another period of bublenomics based on dodgy debt that artificailly inflated the price of all comodities people could invest in. Look at oil.

Headhunter said...

Certainly over confidence pushed prices higher than they should've gone, but I still think that basic lack of supply in London is going to push prices up. Of course banks chucking money in many multiples of income at any Tom, Dick and Harry hasn't helped

fred vest said...

in the long run (apart from being dead) house prices have to be anchored to the amount of value produced in production (production of value that is), this is what generates the money to ultimately payback borrowings used to fund the purchases in the first place (either directly through paying off mortages, or indirectly through rent to private/scum landlords), you may have cycles of boom and bust where the value of house prices, and the corresponding levels of credit supply, seem to detach themselves from this level, but like a magnet the production of value will always determine & shape what goes on elsewhere

so i'd say jon is more correct in focussing on demand, although it's effective demand unfortunately what's important (i.e. not actual need), and effective demand ultimately demands on the underlying value produced, all else stems from this

and like all good marxists know (just like ricardo, smith, locke and petty before him), value is produced through human labour, in the realm of production (and then appropriated from those who produce value by those who don't) - value can be shunted around in circulation/markets, but at a societal level this doesn't add anything, merely rearranges who has it

fred vest said...

second paragraph, i said 'demands on' should have said 'comes from''

Hugh said...

Not trying to be pompous, Jon, just trying to make sense of your remarks.

Saying Brockley will 'do well' is pretty empty as well. Do you mean relative to the rest of London? Or to shares?

A bit of precision makes posts worth reading. Otherwise it's just vacuous pub chatter.

jon s said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jon s said...

Brockley property will do well relative to the rest of London due to the rail link, the number of shops around the station and the general quality of housing in the area.

In the long term (share cycles are of a different length to property cycles) top share aggregates (e.g. FTSE100) always outperform property as houses just sit there whilst companies actively try to make a profit for their investors.

Hugh said...

If by 'long term' you mean in any 10-year period, the second claim is clearly false.

As for the first, it hasn't happened so far.

Pretty assertive for one who detests pomposity, mate.

Hugh said...

And if you mean 20 or 30 years or some other period, it still isn't true. It depends when you get in and out.

Companies may 'try' to make money, but the price of houses can rocket regardless, so I think citing the profit motive gets you nowhere.

Anonymous said...

Tonight on Panorama we investigate what happens when Unstoppable Optimism meets Unshakable Dogma via Unpalatable Arrogance.

Anonymous said...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/merseyside/7752635.stm

The whole of Brookside Close for half a mil! Look what the price of one house on Wickham gets you!

fred vest said...

i've read a couple of reports lately about vulture/property funds buying up whole streets

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