30 January 2019

What’s next for property imagery?

There’s no end to the PropTech and photography solutions available to estate agents these days to help them sell good, old-fashioned bricks and mortar.

But photographs continue to be the key tool for attracting purchasers to view properties – whether they’re in their traditional or 360VR format.

Let’s take-a-look at the five key trends that every agent must know about this year if they want to attract the best buyers:

Great photos are more important than ever

It’s a given, isn’t it? As you sit down and read this article, over 500,000 photos will have been uploaded to Instagram and only 495,000 of those would have been uploaded by a Kardashian.

That’s a sign of the visual economy that we live in and there’s no getting away from it. That said, for as-long-as terriblerealestateagentphotos.com continues to thrive, we know there’s a need for property professionals to take on-board that photographs create the first impression of almost every property they’re selling – so, it’s really important that they’re top-notch.

In fact, there are so many stats out there to prove that great images will help you market better, that it’s hard to know where to start; but I’ve taken a dip in the ocean and here I’ve referenced the Centre for Realtor Development 2018 study which says:

- Homes with great quality photos sell 32% faster

- Homes with more photos also help them sell faster – homes with one pic spent an average of 70 days on the market vs. homes with 20 spent 32 days!

The great thing about Eyespy360 (apart from being a low-price solution) is that unlike its counterpart, Matterport, it uses JPEGs.

This means that when it comes to photographing messy living rooms or placing the camera in front of a mirror for example – Eyespy360 images can be edited.

So, shooting and editing Eyespy360 JPEGs gets around the nightmare of photographing a tenanted property, or the vendor just not tidying before you arrive.

At Doctor Photo we started offering 360* editing last year - another service that has gone from strength to strength.

More agents are outsourcing their editing

As agents have increasingly realised the value that post-editing delivers to their property marketing, more and more have started using services like Doctor Photo.

Outsourcing means it’s done right, and it saves you time. From brightening up dingily-lit bathrooms, to adding blue skies on a dreary British day, or removing clutter or cars off driveways, retouching really transforms the look of a property from an object, to an object of desire.

Make sure it’s done well though, otherwise you’ll end up in the Daily Mail – and nobody want’s that!

Agents are being more creative with their images

There are two key creative ways that agents can harness the power of really-high-end photo retouches:

1. Day-to-dusk photo-manipulation

2. Photo-visualisation

Both offer something different when it comes to the agent’s first objective – to get their properties noticed - but both will also help attract the best buyers and also help an agent’s brand to differentiate from their competitors’ when it comes to selling-in their services to potential vendors.

First up, Day-to-dusk. Simply, an agent can take a photo of a property at any time of year and photo-retouchers can make it appear as though the image was taken at the end of the day.


With properties that feature large   instead to inspire them – to show them what could be, and should always be used alongside a clear disclaimer that it’s an artist’s impression and comes with or without planning consent.

So that’s it! I hope it’s inspired you to think beyond the humble photograph in 2019 to be a tool that can inspire, add value, help speed of sale and help you differentiate your brand!



*John Durrant is director of Doctor Photo

See original article here



30 January 2019

Brokenshire unveils £500 million affordable homes funding boost

Nearly £500 million will be spent building more than 11,000 much-needed affordable properties across the country.

Published 30 January 2019


Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, Homes England, and The Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP


Government backs pioneering project to build rooftop properties in London on the top of existing buildings.

Further £497 million for housing associations to build more than 11,000 new affordable homes, including properties for social rent.

Nearly £500 million will be spent building more than 11,000 much-needed affordable properties across the country, Communities Secretary Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP has announced today (30 January 2019).

The funding boost, which will help the government towards its target of building 300,000 properties a year by the mid 2020s, was announced at the London First Building Summit this morning.

The strategic partnerships, agreed by Homes England from Essex to Eccleston, will give the successful housing associations the freedom to spend the money on the developments where it can have the biggest impact.

Alongside this, homes will be built on London rooftops by the summer after Homes England agreed a £9 million funding deal with Apex Airspace Developments.

The properties – which will be built on five sites across the capital – are largely constructed off site before being winched on top of buildings, minimising disruption to residents.

The first of the homes will be completed by the summer – and in total 78 rooftop homes will be built under the three year deal.

Our revised planning rulebook encourages authorities to promote the use the airspace above existing residential and commercial premises for new homes.

Communities Secretary Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP said:

By providing targeted investment in affordable homes, and funding innovative projects to build rooftop properties, we are making our housing market work for everyone.

Our £500 million funding boost for housing associations will help them build thousands of extra affordable homes – including properties for social rent.

These measures are all part of our plans to deliver 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s.

Homes England Chairman, Sir Edward Lister said:

I welcome the new strategic partners who share our ambition to build better homes faster.

Our new ways of working with the sector means that housing associations can use their funding flexibly across their development programmes and respond quickly to local housing demand and a changing market.

The infrastructure upgrades being funded by government include:

Rooftop properties:

The government’s housing accelerator, Homes England, has struck a 3-year deal with SME developer, Apex.

Apex is a pioneer of ’airspace’ development where unused airspace above residential, commercial and public buildings is used as a location for new homes.

The funding will enable the offsite construction of the homes prior to transportation to each of the 5 sites.

These will then be lifted on top of existing buildings with a crane – resulting in minimal disturbance to existing tenants and residents.

The rooftop properties will be built in Tooting, Wanstead, Walthamstow, Putney and Wallington.

Further information

The Housing Associations to benefit from the funding – in the third wave of strategic partnerships – are: Bromford, Curo & Swan, Liverpool Mutual Homes & Torus, Longhurst & Nottingham Community Housing Association, Together, Walsall Housing Group, Yorkshire and Your Housing Group.

The previous wave of Strategic Partnerships were announced as part of the 2018 Budget

The purpose of the Partnerships is to give Housing Associations greater flexibility and boost delivery, by ensuring money can be allocated where it is need across multiple projects – rather than a case by case basis.

The rooftop properties will be built across five sites in the capital in Tooting, Wanstead, Walthamstow, Putney and Wallington.Apex expects the first three sites, comprising 32 homes, to be ready by summer 2019. Homes delivered will bepriced within the Help to Buy threshold to help support more people into home ownership.The project is being funded from the government’s £4.5 billion Home Building Fund.

Homes England is the new housing delivery organisation that has been created to adopt a more commercial approach to respond to the long term housing challenges facing this country. The new, expanded agency will play a far bigger role in investing in supply and intervening in the market to help deliver 300,000 homes a year by the middle of the next decade. For more information visit Homes England on Gov.uk


See original article here



Published 23 January 2019

Much-loved coastal heritage assets to be saved with almost £1 million of Coastal Revival Fund

23 projects have been awarded up to £50,000 each to help restore local community assets and landmarks to their former glory.



Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government and Jake Berry MP

23 coastal projects to receive a share of nearly £1 million from the government’s Coastal Revival Fund

44 coastal projects backed by £5.6 million since 2015

Two sites on Historic England’s ‘at-risk’ register to receive over £80,000

Coastal heritage sites around the Great British Coast will be saved as 23 projects are to receive a share of almost £1 million from the Coastal Revival Fund.

The projects, from Blackpool to the Isle of Wight, have today (23 January 2019) been awarded up to £50,000 each to help restore local community assets and landmarks to their former glory.

These include Banksy’s Pinwheel in Weston-super-Mare, a community project in a derelict smugglers’ inn in Cornwall, and the preservation of Blackpool’s 3 historic piers.

The Coastal Revival Fund provides grants to coastal heritage sites to fund repairs, restoration and bring economic growth to coastal communities. It also supports large scale projects which are important to local communities but have not yet reached their full economic potential or are facing neglect.

Coastal Communities Minister Jake Berry MP, said:

I’m proud to support these 23 magnificent projects from Ryde to Runcorn with investment from the government’s Coastal Revival Fund. Putting heritage at the heart of our coastal towns is an important way of attracting visitors and boosting our local economies.

We’re determined to save these historic landmarks for the benefit and enjoyment of future generations while delivering on our promise to invest over a quarter of a billion pounds into the Great British Coast by 2020.

Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive of Historic England, said:

Our seaside towns are rich with unique historic buildings and places, from the grand Lytham Hall to the Victorian public pleasure grounds of Saltburn-by-the-Sea.

We’re delighted that this further round of funding will help secure the future of these 2 important sites on our Heritage at Risk Register so that they can be used and enjoyed by generations to come.

Successful coastal projects include:

Banksy@Pinwheel Corner Project

A total of £50,000 from the Coastal Revival Fund has been awarded to North Somerset council to refurbish and provide a permanent home for Banksy’s Pinwheel in Weston-super-Mare’s Italian Gardens in the town centre. The exhibit, which was donated by the graffiti artist following the globally successful ‘Dismaland’ exhibition in 2015, is set to provide a focal point to link the seafront and the town centre.

Ice-cream and Science in the Bay

A total of £30,000 has been awarded to a feasibility project in Sandown on the Isle of Wight, which would revitalise the country’s first Henry Cotton-designed 1930s public golf course and further work at a former ice-cream factory which has been repurposed as a hub for environmental science.

Great Yarmouth Rows Project

A total of £50,000 has been awarded to a project to revive, enhance and celebrate the Rows – a medieval street pattern made up of 150 narrow alleyways confined within the town wall of Great Yarmouth.

Lytham Hall and Historic Parkland (Phase II) Project

A total of £42,500 has been awarded to a restoration project for the exterior of the Georgian Grade I Lytham Hall, an ‘at-risk’ building on the Fylde coast. The project is set to create a sustainable heritage attraction of regional significance vested in community ownership; and to release the potential to play a major part in the life and economy of Lytham and the Fylde coast.

Saltburn Valleys Conservation

A total of £40,000 will see the production of a Conservation Management Plan for the ‘at risk’ Saltburn Valleys to gain a better understanding of the heritage significance of the site and to identify management policies and actions that will ensure the sustainable future for this historical landscape. Saltburn is a key Victorian tourist town in the heart of Redcar and Cleveland. On the Yorkshire coast and with the North York Moors National Park on the doorstep, Saltburn is the jewel in the tourism crown for the Redcar and Cleveland Borough.

The Old Ship Inn – back from the ashes

A total of £50,000 has been awarded for a long-term project to fully rebuild the derelict Old Ship Inn, in Cornwall which was completely destroyed by fire in 2013. The Grade II pub which was once a key central point in the Cornish smuggling trade, and is said to have been visited by Admiral Lord Nelson, is one of the oldest buildings in Cawsand village and an iconic location at the heart of the community. The project will create permanent, local jobs; provide low-cost rented housing; and create a major new community space.


See original article here




24 January 2019

Tech unicorns transforming London:areas from Broadgate to Battersea becoming hubs for cool new homes, barista workshops and axe-throwing

Billion-dollar ‘unicorn’ private digital firms are flocking to Battersea, Fitzrovia and Broadgate, bringing homes for their techies.


This is not a scene from a George RR Martin novel or Tove Jansson fantasy, but global tech giants and so-called unicorns — private digital companies valued above $1 billion — are setting up in Battersea, Fitzrovia and Broadgate.


They bring with them a tech workforce, drawn from Britain and around the world, that’s changing London communities and lifestyles.

Despite the threats Brexit may present to the City’s financial services, London is already the European tech capital, having produced the highest number of billion-dollar digital companies.

“The UK is home to the highest concentration of ambitious tech entrepreneurs in Europe,” a recent report by consultancy GP Bulldog reads.

“With 102 tech start-ups fast approaching a billion-dollar valuation it looks like the prospect for Brexit Britain is strong.”

Of the giant brands, Apple is expected to amalgamate its multiple sites into one UK campus at Battersea Power Station by 2021. Its 1,400 staff will be spread over six floors within the Grade II-listed building beside the Thames.

Facebook is in residence at Rathbone Square in Fitzrovia, close to Snapchat, Instagram and Netflix.

Google is in talks with Camden council about plans for an 11-floor European HQ. Dubbed The Verge, the new office will hold 4,000 employees, with a running track on the roof overlooking King’s Cross station.

Game-changer: Apple is expected to move in at Battersea in 2021


WeWork has created a vast new office “campus” at Liverpool Street and is building a new base in Waterloo with skateboard “half pipes” in the foyer and free beer and prosecco on tap.

As for the unicorns, the artificial intelligence company BenevolentAI has made Bloomsbury its home and digital bank OakNorth is in Soho.

Silicon Roundabout at Old Street is no longer the only go-to destination for such companies. Tech clusters are springing up around the mega brands, driving the development of new homes and amenities.


Fitzrovia has long been a creative area attracting media and PR companies, especially around Great Portland Street where Tank Magazine and Getty Images are based.

Tech start-ups are gathering in Fitzrovia, Bloomsbury and Soho to access this market. Sam Amrani runs tech firms Tameco and Olvin out of an office in Shaftesbury Avenue.

“We relocated from St James’s and are now at the intersection of Fitzrovia, Soho and Covent Garden — perfect for the action,” he says.

There is change afoot around this Zone 1 village. “The new mega department store Flannels is opening at the bottom of Oxford Street,” says Becky Fatemi, founder of estate agents Rokstone.

A regeneration wave is spreading out from luxury Centre Point tower along Tottenham Court Road. “Buyers are also spilling over from Marylebone into cheaper Fitzrovia,” adds Fatemi.

There is mixed housing stock: Victorian terraces, social housing and warehouses with many conversions and new schemes.

At 38 Langham Street, the transformation of a Grade II-listed block into 17 flats by Great Marlborough Estates, there are rooms available so entrepreneurs working from home can hold meetings without using their own private flat. It also has a secured cycle store.

From £950,000: flats at 38 Langham Street, Fitzrovia, the conversion of a Grade II-listed building, include one designed by Katie Earl and Emma Rayner, founders of No 12 Studio


“With Facebook and Netflix moving into the area, Fitzrovia has emerged as a tech hub, welcoming a generation of creatives who are shifting the way we think about property and interior design,” says Grant Lipton of Great Marlborough Estates.

“Ultimately, the new Fitzrovia native would rather acquire individual designs, less bling and fewer big-brand labels.”

Interior designer Katie Earl of No 12 Studio, who with co-founder Emma Rayner, has designed one of the flats at 38 Langham Street, says: “The tech crowd didn’t tend to grow up with old-school wealth, and they spend their money wisely. They don’t want the gratuitous overadornment so often associated with central London apartments. Their luxury has a more pared-back quality.”

The average Fitzrovia property price is up nine per cent on last year at £1.8 million.

Prices at 38 Langham Street start at £950,000. Savills (020 3527 0400) has a two-bedroom, two-bathroom warehouse flat with a roof terrace for £1,895,000, and a two-bedroom lower-ground floor flat for £750,000.

A five-minute walk from Goodge Street and Great Portland Street Tubes, a newly refurbished two-bedroom first-floor flat in a period conversion is for sale with Foxtons for £875,000. Call 020 7659 8100.

Appealing to the young techie crowd: Aussie coffee shop Kaffeine, with branches in Eastcastle Street and Great Titchfield Street, Fitzrovia (Alamy Stock Photo)


There is demand for independent retailers, not Mayfair boutiques. There are Japanese record shops, cycling brands such as Vevolution and quirky coffee shops.

There are barista courses on offer at the Australian café Kaffeine and you can buy wallpaper inspired by extinct animals from Moooi.


Apple is expected to move in at Battersea in 2021. Though Battersea Power Station Development Company didn’t set out to target the techie, there was a “huge boost to sales and confidence” when the giant brand signed up, says head of sales Mark Hutton. It has influenced the scheme since.

Battersea's latest skyscraper and roof garden overlooks 200-acre park

'Rusty' 20-storey apartment block on stilts to join Battersea skyline

Fitzrovia penthouse with balconies, residents' garden and wine cellar

Exciting leisure activities, such as urban axe throwing, have opened up along Nine Elms and appeal to a young tech crowd. Whistle Punks axe-throwing league starts in February.

A spokesman for the company says: “The local budding tech community visit us to let off steam after work or use us for team-building and networking events.”


Worth $2 billion, Mimecast is the latest and largest tech firm to take up office space at Broadgate Circle, a new commercial hub by Liverpool Street, a stone’s throw from Silicon Roundabout.

The cybersecurity firm has signed up for 113,000sq ft and will move in this winter. It follows tech Starling Bank, software firm Onfido and digital lender Neyber.

“Broadgate is located between the tech and creative areas of Shoreditch, Spitalfields and Old Street and the financial centre of the City. It’s where tech and finance meet,” says David Lockyer, head of Broadgate at British Land.

The developer has welcomed restaurants and retailers that will suit the young workforce, such as Franco Manca pizza chain and speakeasy Mrs Fogg’s Maritime Club & Distillery.

From £502,000: studios and flats with one, two or three bedrooms at The Silk District in Whitechapel (020 3918 9338)


In Whitechapel, a Tube stop or a quick bike ride away, are new Mount Anvil homes at The Silk District. There will be 450 studios, one-, two- and three-bedroom homes in four phases.

Residents have access to flexible workspaces, a rooftop terrace, a gym and a dedicated spin studio. From £502,000. Call 020 3918 9338.


The first residential phase at Battersea Power Station, Circus West Village is now complete and home to fashion techie Ryan Mario Yasin.

Inspirational surroundings: fashion techie Ryan Mario Yasin lives and works at Circus West Village, Battersea Power Station, cycling around the complex to meetings


The Royal College of Art graduate founded Petit Pli, a childrenswear firm that uses special technology to allow kids’ clothes to expand as they grow. He cycles around the complex from home to studio to meeting rooms.

“I moved to Battersea last year to live opposite the power station, which is an architectural icon and future home to Apple,” he says.

“As an entrepreneur, living and working in an environment which couples the old with the new so seamlessly is inspiring and the facilities are perfect for hosting creative pitch meetings with my team.”

See original article here

24 January 2019

Reservation Agreements set to become part of the buying process

Politicians and officials are studying a ‘model’ two page reservation agreement drawn up by a law firm as a possible way of slashing fall throughs and speeding up transactions.

The news has been revealed by Matt Prior, the lead officer at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, working on ways of improving the sales process.

In a contribution to a debate at the Council for Licensed Conveyancers’ annual conference in London yesterday, Prior confirmed that Philip Freedman QC, chairman of law firm Mischon de Reya, has already drafted the model agreement.

Prior told conveyancers at the event that the government is “looking at the parameters” of reservation agreements including “how much money should be put down” and what circumstances - “such as bereavement or loss of a job” – would allow a consumer to pull out of a reservation agreement without penalties.

He says the government wants to work with estate agents and conveyancers to iron out any practical issues connected with operating such agreements, and assessing how the concept could be accepted into a modified and simplified house buying process.

At the same event junior housing minister Heather Wheeler gave political endorsement to the reservation agreement idea.

She told delegates that there are many sellers who don't think their sale will go through and who worry that a buyer pulling out will cause a chain to collapse.

As a result, some 50 per cent of buyers and 70 per cent of sellers say they are happy to enter a reservation agreement to reduce the risk of a fall-through according to a survey conducted by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

A formal announcement on the introduction of reservation agreements is expected later this year.

Wheeler also announced at the same event that, in another part of the government’s agenda to make the house sales process more transparent and accountable, agents’ referral fees would be the subject of new Trading Standards guidelines to be issued next month, alongside a new code on the issue from The Property Ombudsman.

See original article here

24 January 2019

Dezeen MINI Living Future Urban Home 2019: plan for flood-proof Georgian terrace houses named as the winning vision for new city homes in 100 years’ time.

UK architects and designers took the top three places in an international contest to imagine the future of city living.

London has scooped the top three prizes in the Dezeen MINI Living Future Urban Home competition. And today we exclusively reveal who these London winners are, with more details on the dezeen.com design news website.

Dezeen was set up in 2006 by multi award-winning journalist Marcus Fairs and now has 2.5 million “unique visitors” each month.

MINI Living, set up in 2016, is an initiative by the Mini car people, hatching city-based ideas for “creative use of space”. Their motto is “big life on a small footprint”.

The contest asked for a vision of new city homes in 100 years’ time. What will be the challenges, and how will our homes cope?

There were more than 400 entries, 50 of which came from the UK.

Marcus Fairs is not surprised: “London is home to more world-class architects, top designers and emerging talents than any other city,” he asserts. And the winner is...


1. The D*Haus Company

The Kentish Classic by The D*Haus Company, a practice in north London, self-described as a “collective of architects, artists, sculptors, web developers and product designers”.

Masterminds were David Ben-Grűnberg and Daniel Woolfson, both 35, plus architect Carmen Gallano, 32, from Barcelona. They win £5,000.

Their proposal, unexpectedly traditional, resembles homes in Leverton Street in Kentish Town near their new studio in Crouch End, a particularly pretty Georgian terrace.

The D*Haus Company: the winning project references the pretty pastel houses of Leverton Street in Kentish Town


“We think period properties will always be desirable, says Ben-Grűnberg, “so we rejected any concept of a futuristic pod.”

Their little houses are surrounded by waterways instead of roads because river levels are inexorably rising, say the designers, adding that London could become like Venice.

Their suggested façade is CNC-cut from stained plywood and raised on a flood-proof 3D-printed platform.

Marcus Fairs, chief judge on a panel of four, says: “The Kentish Classic is unexpectedly nostalgic, and avoids apocalyptic visions of the future. It is simple, colourful and optimistic. It assumes period homes will be as popular in the future as they undoubtedly are today.”

Adds co-judge, Oke Hauser, creative leader of MINI Living: “Rising sea levels will be one of the biggest spatial challenges of our urban future.”


2. Studio McLeod

Coming second and winning £3,000, architectural practice Studio McLeod imagined small, sculptural homes that can fly from city to city on heated balloons, docking at will. They called this Hour Glass.

Project leader Duncan McLeod, 44, worked with Olga Baker of Ekkist, 28, a chartered surveyor and a faculty member of the International WELL Building Institute.

Studio McLeod: runners up with their project Hour Glass


Humans, they say, have been nomads for 99 per cent of our known existence, only “settling” about 10,000 years ago.

Notwithstanding, by 2050, nearly 70 per cent of the world’s population will live in cities, and the project envisages friendly technology harnessed for a utopia of wellbeing and happiness.

“We will be virtually present anywhere. With computer-aided thought and AI assistance, we will share mental capacity, performing multiple roles to benefit society.” Homes that produce, recycle and store energy and water will be infinitely flexible.


3. Maria Vergopoulou

In third place, winning £2,000 comes Maria Vergopoulou, 27, who grew up in Greece but has lived in London for nine years, finishing her architectural training at Westminster University.

Now she lives in north-west London in a shared Victorian flat and works for a prestigious London firm of architects.

Maria Vergopoulou's visionary plan for a micro home made from bioplastic fibres won third prize


Her visionary concept, Cocoon BioFloss, developed while at college, is a micro home made from fine bioplastic fibres, which people could make themselves from four domestic ingredients: starch, glycerine, vinegar and water.

She has used a home candyfloss machine as a 3D printer, replacing sugar with plastic filaments.

“When heated and spun, the plastic becomes thin, floss-like fibres. They loop up with each other, forming a cocoon.” She stresses that her new material will easily degrade when discarded — you can even compost it.

Vergopoulou says: “Designers have a responsibility. We must explore materiality and technology in response to the environmental issues of our age.”

See original article here