May keeps up it’s bullish reputation

This spring season has seen a national property average price rise of 3.6%, nearly a whopping £10,000, pushing the national average up to a record high of £272,003, said to be caused by the combination of the Easter and May bank holidays causing a lull in the number of properties coming to market at a time of high demand.

Whilst demand for housing remains strong (up by nearly 20% for Rightmove enquiries so far for 2014), the supply of new properties just can’t keep up. Early 2014 appeared to be a tease, fondling with an increase in new sellers.

Annually, the rate of increase is now 8.9% (the highest rise since October 2007 when it stood at 10.4%), yet whilst the housing market momentum is recovering, London is still letting the team down. New seller asking price in the big streets of London is up by 16.3% compared to an average of 4.9% in the rest of small town England and Wales. Translation? 2014 asking prices are up by around £4,405 per week in London whilst the weekly average for the rest of us is £1,521.

Indeed, outside London and its commuter belt, demand may be better balanced with supply by the more stringent checks and affordability tests under the Mortgage Market Review (MMR) that became mandatory less than a month ago. The main conclusion at present is that the delays in lenders’ processing systems are curtailing lending, with it being too early to comment whether mainstream buyer activity will have a significant drop-off from the new controls.

Where a major imbalance exists between supply and demand the long-term solution has to be to create more housing supply to meet any structural need rather than to artificially hold down demand. But with Spring over and the summer fast approaching, the lull in the market can only get better! This is where we come in! Here at The House Crowd, we believe Investors should “crowd” together, each providing a small amount of the money needed to purchase a suitable investment property at a good price,  typically an empty or run down property where we can add value through refurbishment. This in turn improves the supply of the housing market, creating fair value for money.

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Congratulations to Crowdcube

Crowdcube the UK-based equity crowdfunding platform, announced this week that it raised £12.2 million in 2013 a 550 percent increase on the previous year. That’s fantastic – well done! Crowdcube were one of the inspirations behind The House Crowd (for which we are very grateful) and we are pleased they are doing so well. Their co-founder Luke Lang stated: “This last figure is really encouraging as it demonstrates a real appetite for Crowdcube investors to back multiple businesses listed on Crowdcube and shows level of sophistication; investors are wisely building portfolios to spread risk rather than having all their eggs in a single basket”.

Crowd funding throughout the USA and the UK is growing at a superb rate (despite the efforts of the FSA to regulate it out of existence). It is giving birth to innovative new companies, creating jobs (we now have 24 builders/tradesmen working for us full time), fueling growth and giving investors the opportunity to cut out the greedy middle men and earn a decent return on their hard earned money.

Crowd funding is making a paradigm shift in the way  enterprises, entrepreneurs, non-profits, and individuals raise capital. Crowdcube are the leaders in their sector and we have established ourselves as the clear leaders in the crowd funded property investment space. We plan to emulate their success and are currently developing plans for major growth this year. Watch this space!

Ethical Crowdfunding Success as ‘The House Crowd’ Raises £1 Million

We’re delighted to share the news that we’ve now surpassed £1 million of crowdfunded property investment in The House Crowd.

With Britain facing an affordable housing crisis comparable to that of the early post-war years, we are pleased to be doing our bit as an innovative property investment company, alongside our investors, to support Communities Minister Don Foster’s campaign to revitalise the estimated 1 million empty homes in Britain.

So far, forgotten communities in parts of Oldham, Farnworth and Little Hulton have already benefited from our efforts to revive distressed properties, where quality housing has been provided at fair prices to those most in need.

Our ‘caring capitalism ethos is something which sets us apart from other property investment companies and we are pleased to see property investors join our ethical crowdfunding revolution, to the tune of £1 million. Onwards and upwards!

The House Crowd is a brand new concept in property investment which allows people to invest small amounts via crowdfunding (for more information on the process, visit www. We are committed to breathing life into empty, rundown properties whilst giving investors great returns on their investments (for more information about us, visit www. If you’ve read enough and want to invest now, visit www.

Property Investment Predictions For 2013

The Royal Institute Of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) have made positive property investment predictions,  forecasting that UK house prices will rise 2% during 2013 and rents will increase by 4% on average.

It also forecasts a rise in the number of property sales. It estimates that there will have been 930,000 property transactions in 2012, and this will increase to 960,000 in 2013.

RICS is also predicting that the number of repossessions should fall to under 35,000 – the lowest figure in 6 years. Simon Rubinsohn, RICS’s chief economist, said: “The average house price in the UK looks set to rise by a further 2% next year, despite the uncertain outlook for the economy.

“More positively, the amount of property sales going through should also see an increase across the country, climbing to its best level since 2007, as the Funding for Lending scheme helps boost the availability of mortgage finance.

“But these tentative signs of recovery in the sales market should not blind us to the very real problems that still exist. Even with the Funding for Lending scheme and some other government policies beginning to be felt in the mortgage market, many first-time buyers will continue to find it difficult to secure a sufficiently large loan to take an initial step on to the housing market.

“Meanwhile, the alternative of renting is becoming more and more costly, with a further increase in rents likely in 2013. Critically, the Government needs to ensure that the conditions are in place that will enable the stock of new housing, whether for purchase or rent, to rise more rapidly.”

The House Crowd view: if these property investment predictions are correct, it should make it easier to sell our refurb/sell projects, though we still believe it will be fairly tough for first time buyers to get a mortgage and it will continue to take a while to find buyers.

It bodes well for our long term buy and hold strategy that the shortage in housing will continue, pushing up rental demand and to some extent rents.

Although we recognise there are limits to what people can afford to pay and we know from the Council Landlord Forums we attend, that LHA rates in Salford /Manchester will only rise by about 1% next year, but as you know we typically achieve 11% yields and have plenty of margin to pay the 6% guaranteed yield.

There is now such stiff competition in the market for investment properties in the £45-£55k price bracket, that we operate in, that we cannot see how prices could fall further. If anything they will probably rise slightly in 2013.

Tips for a novice property investor

Taking your first steps into property investment can be an incredibly daunting process, which is why we’ve outlined some key property investor tips for novices to follow.

The obligatory legal particulars can seem convoluted, the amount of time it takes for a return puts off many and the risk of losing your life savings is frightening. However, if done properly with the right preparation, getting into property investment can be a relatively straightforward and exciting adventure.

Here are The House Crowd’s key property investor tips to help you make your first forays into property investment a success:

-          It is important to understand that property investment is a business, not a hobby. You need to be prepared for long hours of research, negotiation and, sometimes, disappointment. Going it alone can provide fantastic returns for some, but only those with a committed business mentality.

-          Property investment is truly a long-term investment and accepting that there may be times when your outlay exceeds your investment income is part and parcel of the process. Be prepared for unforeseen circumstances, such as property repairs, which can affect the time it takes to see decent returns.

-          Beginning your adventure with a small project is advisable. It’s easy to get carried away if you fall in love with a property (remember, you won’t be living there, this is business!) and bite off more than you can chew without knowing if you’re cut out for property investment. There will be plenty of opportunities for tackling big projects once you have gained some experience – though you, like many, may learn that smaller projects can actually offer better rewards!

Remember, with The House Crowd you get a very good return on your money and need do nothing at all. You have no mortgage payments, no bills, no void periods, no tenant problems, no maintenance or repair issues to worry about. And, of course, you can spread your money over as many different properties as you like rather than putting all of your eggs in one basket!

The House Crowd is a brand new concept in property investment which allows people to invest small amounts via crowdfunding (for more information on the process, visit www. We are committed to breathing life into empty, rundown properties whilst giving investors great returns on their investments (for more information about us, visit www. If you’ve read enough and want to invest now, visit www.

Donating a fair share back into Manchester’s communities

At The House Crowd, we take great pleasure in breathing new life into empty unloved homes and communities, in order to provide good value, quality housing for those who need it most. Couple this with our love for Manchester and its surrounding areas, and it’s clear to see why we recently chose to donate a £1000 share in our next buy-to-let project to Forever Manchester, the community charity for Greater Manchester.

Our donation to Forever Manchester will guarantee at least a £60 return in the first year alone, in addition to a significant amount of money upon sale of the property.  We are excited in the knowledge that through Forever Manchester we will be helping to provide support for neighbourhoods and communities across Greater Manchester, with better places to live and valuable activities to get involved in.

Nick Massey, Chief Executive at Forever Manchester, said: “The generous project share provided by The House Crowd is fantastic and will help to support the work we carry out across the region for people of all ages, from all backgrounds. The House Crowd takes a place amongst our exclusive Manchester Million Club of generous organisations keen to support our work. This is a fantastic example of charity, the Mancunian way.”

We know we’ve donated to a great cause and cannot wait to watch our donation to Forever Manchester grow with a minimum return of 6% a year, plus a share of profits upon sale.

The House Crowd is a brand new concept in property investment which allows people to invest small amounts via crowdfunding (for more information on the process, visit www. We are committed to breathing life into empty, rundown properties whilst giving investors great returns on their investments (for more information about us, visit www. If you’ve read enough and want to invest now, visit www.

The perils of buying repossessed property – part 2

So here’s part 2 on why buying repossessed, bmv property is not for the faint hearted, or for those with high blood pressure.  Here we continue to expound on the cans of worms you may open up when you choose to buy a repossessed property, a process that even James Bond would be hard pressed to keep calm over.

Here are some more useful tips:

Tip: Speed is of the essence. Emphasise to the seller (if true) that you are a cash buyer and will pull out the stops to complete quickly. Make sure you use a solicitor who will proactively push things forward as quickly as possible.


The fact is people are not going to be happy about being kicked out of their home. It’s common for people to blame someone else for their troubles and likely that people being repossessed will become vindictive. They not only frequently leave the place in a dreadful mess, but will often actively vandalise the property and steal anything they can. Examples we have experienced include taking all bathroom fittings, removing boilers, copper piping, cutting and sabotaging the copper wiring (labour costs to replace £1200!), sabotaging the water tank – which meant the newly re-plastered walls despite using all manner of industrial heaters and dehumidifiers took over 2 months to dry, massively delaying what should have been a 4 week refurb.

Tip: Do not expect a survey to reveal all the potential damage. Build in a generous contingency fund to your budget.


Chances are the gas and electric bills will not have been paid and the supply will have been cut off. It may even have been de-energised from the main street power source. The seller will have no information about who the suppliers are and you will need to set aside a good few hours to indulge in Kafka-esque dealings with utility companies to find out who supplies it and how you are going to get it reconnected. Not anyone’s idea of fun.

Tip: You have two choices to deal with this and retain your sanity. 1. Outsource it to a person who you don’t know (as they will probably never speak to you again after 6 excruciating hours of banging their head against a wall) or 2. Order a large supply of Valium and try not to smash your phone into tiny pieces – not that I have ever done that of course. Maybe once… Or twice. Definitely no more than thrice.

Block Management Issues

There are apartment blocks up and down the country that have been sold to investors at the height of the market.  Many investors’ motivation, I suspect –given the ridiculous prices recorded at the Land Registry, was some sort of dodgy cash back incentive rather than a long term rental income. These investors showed no commitment to paying their mortgages and as they bought whole blocks of flats with 100% finance to maximise the cash they could immediately get their mitts on, when they defaulted on their mortgages, whole blocks have been repossessed. They also in may cases have avoided paying their service charges which means the block management companies (which subsequently gone bust) stop maintaining the communal areas and they are often in a state of disrepair.

No mortgage company will finance the purchase of a flat where there is no block management contract in place. It can therefore represent a great opportunity for an investor who can buy for cash and wait for all the flats to be resold so that a new management company can be appointed to sort out the mess.  But it can be a complex situation to establish whether the purchaser will be responsible for unpaid service charges and it can even be an issue as to working out who has the right to receive that service charge. It is definitely not for the faint-hearted.

Tip: It is essential to ensure you have a very good and experienced lawyer. It may well be the difference between getting the deal done or not and also ensuring you are not held liable for thousands of pounds worth of accumulated charges.

Solicitor’s Not Completing –

In 18 years of property investing, I had never heard of this happening – until it happened to us. Essentially, our solicitor left a junior in charge of the completion whilst he was on holiday. He informed us that we had completed on the property – a fantastic bargain where we acquired a 5 bed house in Bolton and a 2 bed flat on the same title for £50,000. Open market value was well over £100,000. We collected the keys and sent the builders in. Two weeks later, after racking up over £20,000 of building costs, I received a call from the solicitor telling us there was a problem and they hadn’t actually completed on the property (despite having transferred the money to the seller) and the seller now wanted to sell to someone else. I can feel my blood beginning to boil just thinking about this again, so I won’t go in to any more details. Suffice to say after protracted negotiations to try and rectify the situation, we had to concede and are now suing our (ex) lawyers for the losses incurred.

This last problem is highly unlikely to ever happen to you, but the point is totally unpredictable things can and will happen at some stage.

Tip: “hope for the best prepare for the worst” (thanks, Grandma).

So, in conclusion, the truth about buying repossessions is things are never as easy as the gurus make out in their seminars – if they were everybody would be doing them. When investing in repossessions, the maxim “caveat emptor” (I knew 3 years of Latin would come in useful one day) should always be borne in mind – buyer beware.

Tips for successfully gaining planning permission – part II

Following on from our previous post, here is the second instalment of our top tips for maximising your chances of gaining planning permission for alterations to residential property:

  • It pays to be realistic. Applying for planning permission for modifications that will make your property stick out like a sore-thumb is almost guaranteed to be rejected. Take a good look at properties in your area that have had extensions and renovations in the past couple of years and use this as an approximate gauge for what is acceptable.
  • Making highly disruptive modifications without consulting your nearby neighbours is not only impolite, it can also hamper the work you are carrying out if they choose to launch an objection with your local council. A trip over the fence (sweet treats optional) to explain the work you are planning and how long it will take is common courtesy and should help negate future objections.
  • Never try to cheat the planning system, regardless of how frustrating it gets. Penalties for breaching planning rules include fines of up to £20,000 and the possibility of jail. Councils also have the right to send workmen to your home to, quite literally, tear down unauthorised alterations at your expense!

The House Crowd is a brand new concept in property investment which allows people to invest small amounts via crowdfunding (for more information on the process, visit www. We are committed to breathing life into empty, rundown properties whilst giving investors great returns on their investments (for more information about us, visit www. If you’ve read enough and want to invest now, visit www.

Buy to Let Property Boost in Manchester

Could the bright lights of London finally be fading, as tenants search to avoid the high premiums of renting in the capital and instead look to Manchester, a city close to our hearts?

The buy-to-let market in Manchester has become increasingly popular over the last 12 months, with a 1.7% increase in rents making it a great area for investment. And it’s no wonder the city is becoming a big draw, with its dynamic centre offering great culture, a rich architectural legacy, excellent transport links, lovely canals and home to the brand new BBC… the list is endless!

If the Manchester market is looking enticing to you, and you have aspirations of becoming a savvy investor but don’t have the capital to stump up for a 25% deposit or you’re struggling to find a buy-tolet mortgage product, then fear not, with The House Crowd, you can still get a piece of the action.

Here at The House Crowd, we take the hassle out of property investment and more importantly the burden of being a landlord, by finding great investment properties, in areas of good rental demand that produce high property investment net yields.  We then add value through refurbishing empty and run down properties, and then sell them on, leaving you to reap the rewards.

The House Crowd is a brand new concept in property investment which allows people to invest small amounts via crowdfunding (for more information on the process, visit www. We are committed to breathing life into empty, rundown properties whilst giving investors great returns on their investments (for more information about us, visit www. If you’ve read enough and want to invest now, visit www.

Buy When There Is Blood In The Streets

John D Rockefeller, the richest man who ever lived, once said “buy when there is blood in the streets”. Warren Buffet, no pauper himself, follows a similar strategy of buying when everyone else is selling and prices have crashed.

In fact it is a common link between the world’s richest people throughout history that they have invested in property and other assets at discount prices when the majority of people have sold.

History has shown us time and time again, that despite what the doom and gloom merchants proclaim in order to sell their newspapers, markets do bounce back and when they do those that bought property at the right time see their wealth grow exponentially.

Take just one example – that of JP Getty who purchased the Hotel Pierre in New York, in the middle of The Great Depression, for the princely sum of $2,350,000. The economy recovered just a few years later and the market value of the hotel shot up to a massive $35,000,000 and that’s in the 1930’s!

Right now there is, metaphorically speaking, definitely blood in the streets. With some time and effort put into research we find property repossessions through asset management companies, auctions and negotiating with private sellers who are selling their properties at hugely discounted prices from what they bought them at a few years ago.

Of course to some degree waiting for prices to rise is speculation (even if historically they have always done so over a reasonable period), so it is essential to buy properties that produce sufficient income after all expenses (including a contingency for voids and repairs) to provide positive cash flow every month.

We believe the best way to do that is find properties at the lower end of the market which produce yields in excess of 10%, whilst shying away from those offering a much higher yield in the very worst parts of town as in practice the high yield tends to be theoretical and actually collecting it highly problematical.