Property news roundup: How will space travel affect property prices?

Plus, home improvement hotspots, easyproperty, and renting near London's best pubs

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The Independent Online

Sub-orbital space travel has the potential to entirely change the property market, suggests a new report.

Knight Frank's latest Wealth Report examines the effect that operations such as Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic could have on the upper end of the property market.

"Breakfast in Mayfair could easily be followed by lunch overlooking Sydney Opera House,” said Knight Frank’s Head of Research Liam Bailey. "It doesn’t take much imagination to see the dramatic impact this innovation could have on global luxury property markets."

The report emphasises the importance of pricing - if tickets are affordable by the very rich rather than only a handful of billionaires, then there could be a significant knock-on effect.

"Take second homes in Europe," said Liam Bailey. "Right now, demand is mainly restricted to European investors who try to limit their travel to less than two hours. In future, that same time limit could allow Chinese or Indian investors to pop over for the weekend to visit their Tuscan farmhouse. As all the global hubs become dramatically more accessible, the criteria for choosing a second home may become more about the location itself, and much less about the convenience of travel."

Home improvement hotspots

London tops the list of the UK's most popular areas for planning applications, with Kensington & Chelsea, Westminster and Hammersmith in the top three slots.

Figures from construction intelligence specialists Barbour ABI show that in 2013, the planning departments in Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster received nearly 11,000 applications

The South East is seeing the most home improvement activity, especially in Uttlesford, South Bucks, Sevenoaks, Elmbridge, St Albans and Tunbridge Wells - 12 of the top 25 boroughs for home improvement activity in 2013 are found in this region.

Michael Dall, lead economist at Barbour ABI, said: "Not surprisingly, the two big drivers for home improvement activity appear to be income and spending power. There is a strong link between average earnings and the number of home improvement applications submitted, and this pattern is repeated across the country.

"However, in the more picturesque areas of Britain, spending power plays a big part in determining the level of home improvement applications. South Hams in Devon is a perfect example. There, average earnings are lower than the national average but the presence of wealthy retirees drives up home improvement activity."

At the bottom of the home improvements table are Blackpool, Redditch, Stoke, Hull and Burnley.

A pint in London

Rentonomy has taken a look at the Good Pub Guide which shows that Holborn is the capital's ideal place for a pint with more than 40 pubs listed. However, the London rent experts actually suggest that Greenwich is arguably a better area to rent in if you want a decent nearby local - it has 16 pubs featured in the Guide and average rents for a two bed are £306 per week, two per cent below the London average.


Expect an orange glow to the property market soon as gets ready to launch. EasyGroup, the company founded by Stelios Haji-Ioannou, says; "In true 'easy' style we are going to shake up the UK property market to make buying, selling, renting and letting simple, quick and cost effective." Work is well underway on their online platform which they say will be launching soon in a bid to "make property transactions straightforward and aggressively slash estate agency fees".