Monday, 22 June 2015

House prices rising due to reduced availability

A recent survey by the RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) has found that house prices rose in April, mainly due to a reduction in the number of people putting their home up for sale.
The number of homes being placed on the market has fallen for the third month in a row, the fastest rate of decline seen since May of 2009.
Surveyors across the country reported an increase in house prices for the first time since August 2014, and over 70% of surveyors expect to see prices continuing to rise for the forthcoming 12 months.
The findings were attributed in part to pre-election uncertainty, but also a reflection of 'deeper underlying problems'.
Chief Economist at RICS, Simon Rubinsohn, said: "It is conceivable that the decisive outcome to the election could encourage a pick-up in instructions to agents and ease some of the recent upward pressure on house prices, but it is doubtful that this will be substantive enough to provide anything more than temporary relief."
RICS’ Head of Policy, Jeremy Blackburn, commented: "We need a coherent and coordinated house building strategy across all tenures."
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Monday, 15 June 2015

Architectural charity Article 25 appeal to rebuild schools in Nepal

Article 25, the architectural aid charity, has launched an appeal looking to raise £50,000 to fund the rebuilding of schools in Nepal following the recent earthquake devastation.
Nepal was hit by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake, the most deadly it has experienced for 81 years, which caused devastation across the country. Even climbers on mount Everest were hit by avalanches caused by the tremors.
The death toll has risen to over 6,000, with over 8,000 injured in the disaster.
The charity is hoping to raise the £50,000 within eight weeks, allowing them to "be on the ground after the initial urgent need for food and water has subsided" to carry out rebuilding and earthquake resilience work with local partners.
Managing director of Article 25, Robin Cross, explained that they had been planning work on increasing the earthquake resilience of schools in the capital Kathmandu and surrounding areas even before the earthquake, saying that "everybody knew the earthquake was coming".
"Schools are a particular area of concern," Robin continued. "They protect future generations and act as a safe haven for the community when it needs it. We can't prevent earthquakes, but we can mitigate their impact."
The primary need is for funds, but Robin said that they would also be happy to hear from anyone with suitable skills who is interested in getting involved.
Article 25 has over ten years experience in the construction of earthquake-resistant schools in disaster-hit countries around the world, and have shown that after the initial aid response, long-term planning can make all the difference.
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Monday, 8 June 2015

A battery to power your house

US electric car company Tesla has revealed a couple of new products - batteries - not to power an electric vehicle but your whole house.
The batteries were recently announced by Chief Executive Elon Musk. They are designed to provide a supply of stored energy that could be used during blackouts, for those who can generate their own energy via solar panels or wind, or to provide power in locations where this would otherwise be impossible.
The batteries use the same lithium-ion technology as those employed in the company's electric cars, and will be available initially to installers in the form of a 7kWh unit for £1,954 and a 10kWh unit for £2,275.
One kWh is enough to power a laptop for two days, a full washing machine cycle or to boil a kettle ten times, according to energy comparison company USwitch.
Alasdair Cameron, renewable energy campaigner at Friends of the Earth, thinks that solar panels and a storage battery could become as common as central heating in future. He said: "Just as the internet changed the way we use information, so renewable sources, like wind and solar, are changing the way we make and use energy - and electricity storage is an important part of that change."
Director of Engineering at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Colin Brown commented: "Without storage you've always got to have huge capacity just in case one of the peaks comes through at a particular time, such as a very hot day when you need a lot of cooling, and so a lot of demand. With storage, you don't have to have all of that massive production of energy."
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Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Election not affecting home buyers' interest

The general election doesn't appear to be deterring house buyers, despite the related uncertainty which naturally surrounds this time. The election "has not impacted customer confidence" in the market, according to a recent trading statement from housebuilders Taylor Wimpey.
The UK housing market has continued to grow during the first quarter of 2015, with demand for new homes remaining high even with the forthcoming general election occupying the news constantly.
Taylor Wimpey's order book has increased to 1.9bn currently, increasing by 0.2bn from December 2014. The average selling price of new homes has also increased to £282,000 from £249,000.
Chief executive Peter Redfern commented "During the first four months of 2015 we have seen the UK housing market continue to grow, with increasingly competitive mortgages and secure employment prospects underpinning homebuyers' confidence."
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