Making the rounds is audio of Spike Lee giving a passionate response to a question on gentrification and whether or not it is a good thing.
This for me isn’t an easy question to answer as no doubt the additional services and increase in property value is great for those own, but those left renting are often displaced. Heck, in 2001 after I left LexisNexis in Chicago, I considered moving back to Boston so I could be closer to family. I went so far as to secure a new job with a major publisher.
However, didn’t end up moving back as couldn’t afford the rents. My old stomping ground of Dorchester (the heart of the hood in Boston!) had become ridiculously expensive due to gentrification. I also tried surrounding neighbourhoods and it wasn’t any better. Like Dorchester, areas in Roxbury, Mattapan, Hype Park, etc. had all become popular with hipsters and wealthy arrivals moving back to the city and rents along with property values had skyrocketed. So was quite disheartened because with the rents being what they were, no matter how hard I tried, the sums didn’t add up; not with my desire to eventually own a home of my own.
Fast forward to 2014 and things haven’t gotten any better. In fact, it’s only gotten worse. Heck, like so many others, my elder sister is considering moving out of Boston because property prices have become prohibitive. Renting is expensive and getting on the property ladder a major challenge. So is gentrification good? Well even with improvements to property, policing and schools, I’d have to say no. Not in its current form.
Now this doesn’t mean I’m against white people moving into inner city neighbourhoods. In fact, I think it’s better for our society if we all lived in mixed neighbourhoods. However, the migration back to the inner cities needs to be managed so as not to displace those who were there for decades. Progress can’t just come at the expense of those who endured for decades only now to be pushed aside.
This morning on my way to work, bumped into my next door neighbour who put their house up for sale this past July. After your normal pleasantries, I inquired about the number of viewings and more importantly if any offers had been received. She indicated that an offer was recently made for £5K less than the asking price but they were now holding out for £10K more than the listed price.
My chin almost hit the ground as either sale price under current market conditions would be brilliant and so immediately wondered if they are being greedy. Of course, I’m not going to judge too harshly as I really want them to get the £10K more – as this would be £35K more than I paid for my house (similiar size and standard) three years ago. So hopefully a buyer will come along and pay what they are trying to achieve as this will put me in a really good position when I eventually come to sell.
When will that be? Not any time soon really as destiny dictates that I be in my current location for a wee bit longer. That said, things are really looking up for property prices in my area. I suppose this is aided by the new developments and restaurants opening up. Soon there will be a Buddha Belly and Chimichanga all within walking distance. Oh yeah!
With my 2 year anniversary in London fast approaching, about a month ago I decided to kick things up a bit. Specifically, I’ve been spending more time out after work and on the weekends being social. I also decided to try and exercise more and not drink alcohol. Now I’m not a big alcohol drinker to begin with (I’ve only been throw up drunk once in my life), but in that drinking in a big part of the English culture, I’ve finding it a bit hard. Mainly because people just don’t go out for 1 drink, they have several. And watching everyone else get drunk while you remain sober gets old after a while.
In other news, I have to move in a few weeks. Despite the fact that I’ve paid my rent on time to my landlord each month, he has failed to pay the mortgage and so the property is being repossessed. I’m most annoyed by this as I didn’t rent from a doggy estate agent. I rented from Foxtons one of the largest estate agents in London. In fairness to Foxtons, they have been quite sympathetic but in that they just manage and do not own the property, there is nothing they can do. So I’m pissed off about the whole situation.
Moving beyond my anger, I am trying to think about my next move. Do I continue to rent? Or do I try and get on the London property ladder? After this experience I’m leaning towards buying but somewhat worried that I won’t be able to afford a 2 bedroom flat in my desired neighbourhood. So visiting a mortage broker on Monday to get the process rolling. And since I have to move from my current place by 17th April, I’ll also be looking for a 6 month rental situation. Thinking that will give me enough time to traipse around London with various estate agents in search of that elusive dream
With that in mind, everyone out there who owes me money (you know who you are), needs to repay the debt. London is one of the most expensive housing markets in the world and being a single gal, I am going to need every penny to make this dream a reality.
I’m thinking about purchasing a house in London when my current rental lease expires in May 2007 and so praying to God that by the time this date roles around I will have saved up enough money to purchase in my desired area. More importantly, that I find an honest estate agent amongst all the property sharks out there.
Estate agent ‘lies’ caught on film
By Devika Bhat
TV investigators have exposed potentially illegal sales practices
Debate: should estate agents be regulated?
ESTATE agents have been exposed engaging in unethical and potentially illegal practices, including putting forward false offers to vendors, misleading surveyors and faking signatures on key documents.
Footage in a BBC programme, due to be broadcast tonight, even shows one estate agent supplying an undercover reporter — posing as a potential buyer — with a false British passport in exchange for £750, in order to apply for a mortgage.
The revelations come on the same day that the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) sets up a code of practice for estate agents, aimed at ensuring that buyers and sellers get a fair deal and are less likely to be duped by maverick agencies. The programme, Whistleblower, shows two reporters who worked undercover in estate agents across London over a four-month period.
During the investigation, they are shown to have witnessed unscrupulous activities, including agents lying to surveyors about the value of other properties that had sold in an area, so that buyers would potentially pay more than they should. In another instance, buyers are encouraged by an agency to sign up to a firm of financial advisers, who pass their apparently confidential financial details back to the agency so that they can see how much clients can be pushed to spend on properties.
The agent who is shown providing a fake passport to an undercover reporter, is also filmed supplying other false documents to aid with the mortgage application, a service for which he accepts a separate cash payment.
Employees also describe how sellers can be lured to sign up to an agency with the promise of a high asking price, only to be subsequently encouraged to lower their expectations following false low bids placed by the agents.
Agents are also shown lying to vendors about real bids, initially lowering their value so that the seller is led to believe that they have gained a good deal when the true price of the bid is eventually quoted.
In an illegal practice, an agent is shown acknowledging instances of flyboarding — putting up “For Sale” posters at properties not actually on the agency’s books. Elsewhere, an agent claims he can sell a property to a developer — one of the whistleblowers — at a price much lower than its actual value, in exchange for a personal payment of £10,000.
Anna Adams, one of the reporters involved in the investigation, said: “I found the practices used by some estate agents really shocking. Clients are often paying them thousands of pounds in fees so this brings into question whether agents really are acting in their clients’ best interests.”
An OFT spokeswoman said that unfair and unethical practice within the industry was prominent and well-known. “For many people it is the biggest transaction of their lives and if it goes wrong, it can go horribly wrong. There are plenty of horror stories that we have heard about,” she told The Times.