Property: Penny Jackson column

What is felt in London today will affect others
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Indy Lifestyle Online
IT IS almost a year ago that the froth started to come off house prices in the South-East. The chances of buyers paying the extraordinary sums of the early spring had already diminished by July.

But now this slowdown is being more widely felt and, in its latest report, Black Horse Agencies says homes are taking on average 13 weeks to sell, some two weeks slower than in February. Interestingly, though, it also finds that half of the 12 fastest selling areas are in the eastern region, which lends weight to the theory of the "ripple effect" - what is felt in London today will get to other parts tomorrow.

What Black Horse is in fact discovering is not an alarming fall in prices but a failure on the part of vendors to keep up with changes in the market. Many have in their minds percentage increases in double figures, and stories of shortages and stampedes of frustrated buyers and so are putting their homes on the market for unrealistic prices.

David Woodcock, managing director for Black Horse Agencies, describes it as a "tug of war between vendors expecting higher prices and buyers reluctant to meet those demands". Buyers tend to have a far better idea of the market than sellers, which explains some of the price reductions in parts of London recently.

CAMBRIDGE students this week beat some of the country's leading architects in a competition to design an innovative house for the next century. The students, from The Martin Centre for Architectural and Urban Studies, came up with a "solar collector", a system for pre-heating air for ventilation, and a "warm wall" for storing and emitting energy. Their winning scheme included a communal wetland habitat, designed in part to filter water from the development's handbasins and showers. The Living Sites competition was run by Wates Built Homes.

USUALLY WITH a sigh, estate estate agents say that, yes, they know Brixton has great houses, competitive prices and the Tube but some families are still nervous about moving there. Still, Charles Church is building luxury flats on the old Brixton School of Building in Stockwell. Can it be long before this pocket of London is washed by the tide of interest that is now lapping at its borders?

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