Plus, poor quality homes for Armed Forces and Labour minister shamed over buy-to-let property

Slight pick-up but the trend is down for house prices

House prices picked up slightly last month despite the summer’s financial crisis, according to The Times. The Land Registry reported that completion prices in England and Wales rose 0.4% in September.

Buy-to-let Barbie cashes in on MPs’ housing perk

Labour minister Barbara Follett has claimed more than £120,000 in MPs’ allowances to pay for a London home, while owning a buy-to-let flat in the capital, the Sunday Times reports.

Funding inadequate for Services’ housing

The Ministry of Defence has admitted one third of accommodation for unmarried members of the Armed Forces will still be of the poorest quality in six years, in spite of a £5bn pledge to improve conditions, The Times reports.

High-life solicitor goes on the run as mortgage ‘scam’ comes to light

The Irish courts are going after two high-profile solicitors with debts of more than £50m after a major property scam was revealed, says The Times. Michael Lynn is alleged to have taken out multiple mortgages on several properties as well as using clients’ funds to finance personal transactions. Thomas Byrne, who has absconded, faces similar charges.

Fursa carrying out Erinaceous threat

Activist hedge fund Fursa is following through on its threat to demand the removal of the former senior management of troubled property services group Erinaceous, says the Financial Times.

Brussels gets tough on C02 emission limits

The European Commission set tougher limits on carbon emissions yesterday, the Financial Times reports. Brussels cut 10% from the figure requested by European governments for the second phase of the emissions trading scheme.

New homes needed in dearest regions

The Financial Times reports on findings from the National Housing and Planning Advice Unit that house prices in the south and east of England are on course to overtake those in London because of an acute shortage of new homes.

Debt advisers warn of sharp rise in repossessions

Borrowers with subprime mortgages are finding it increasingly difficult to service their debt, prompting fears of a surge in home repossessions next year, says the Financial Times.

Long-term loan appetite low

Government plans to encourage borrowers to opt for long-term deals are being threatened by a lack of public interest in long-term fixed rate mortgages according to the Financial Times.

Property trust investors hunker down and wait

Private investors in real estate investment trusts who have seen the value of their stakes plummet this year were dealt a further blow on Thursday when The Bank of England warned of growing risks to the commercial property sector, says the Financial Times.

Planners rely on citizen jury for green verdicts

The design for the government’s 10 promised eco-towns will be chosen by a citizen’s jury, according to The Observer. The panel will choose from shortlisted designs from a competition to be run by the DCLG, CABE, RIBA and the Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment. The winning design will be adapted regionally by the ten successful councils.

UK seeks lower green energy targets

Business Secretary John Hutton told the Observer that Britain will lobby for a lower national target for renewable energy than the 20% agreed by the EU earlier this year. Hutton also said that the construction of nuclear power stations would be staggered, with the first station aiming to be in operation by 2017.

Building 3m new homes will not end crisis, adviser warns minister

A report from the National Housing and Planning Unit warns that 3m new homes will not be enough to meet the deepening housing crisis in England, reports Saturday’s Guardian. The planning unit said that the current proposals would only stabilise long-term affordability, and would not make houses more affordable for first-time buyers.

Supermarket ombudsman in store

The Competition Commission is expected to propose the appointment of an ombudsman to regulate the relationship between Tesco, Sainsbury, Asda, Waitrose and their suppliers, according to Saturday’s Guardian. Next week’s report from the watchdog is expected to criticise the rise of ‘Tesco towns’ and accuse the Big Four supermarkets of using land holdings to frustrate rivals.

Mud slung at Valencia’s damp opera house

Santiago Calatrava’s futuristic Paul de les Arts opera house in Valencia is in hot water over the cause of recent flooding to the building, according to Saturday’s Guardian. Calatrava is at odds with the local authorities on who was responsible for the building’s tendency to take on rainwater during torrential storms, damaging electrical and cooling systems and flooding rehearsal areas with mud and water.

St Pancras Reborn

The Mail on Sunday reveals details of the extravagant opening ceremony to be held at St Pancras Station on November 6. Three trains will reportedly perform a synchronised ‘ballet’ performance accompanied by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and a ‘son et lumiere’ presentation. The station will become the main hub for cross-channel Eurostar services eight days later.

Green rules could add 60% to cost of new-builds

Increasing green regulation could add up to 60% to the construction costs of new buildings, according to a study by property developer Miller Developments, reported The Sunday Telegraph. European and UK legislation on planning regulations and building standards have already resulted in a 14 per cent increase in build costs, a figure which could rise to more than 60 per cent if BRE environmental Assessment Method (BREAM) standards are met.

Rich list celebrates property boomers

The Estates Gazette Rich List shows there are now 485 individuals and families with property-related wealth of more than £30m, reported The Sunday Times.

Victoria falls prey to credit crisis

Victoria Mortgages, which specialised in loans to sub-prime borrowers with poor credit histories, has been dissolved said The Sunday Telegraph. The company became Britain’s first failed sub-prime lender earlier this year after it was forced to call in administrators.

Stamp duty paid by 80pc of buyers

The number of home owners paying stamp duty in England and Wales has more than doubled to nearly one million under Labour, The Daily Telegraph said Eight out of every 10 buyers now fall into the bracket where they have to pay the tax on their new home, according to Land Registry figures.

Largest US mortgage bank posts $1.2bn loss

Trouble mortgage lender Countrywide plunged to its first quarterly loss in 25 years after a series of writedowns totalling more than $2.9bn (£1.4bn), said The Daily Telegraph on Saturday. The company, America’s largest mortgage bank, posted a $1.2bn loss for the three months to September, reflecting the state of the US financial market at large.

Erinaceous urged to sack senior executive

Erinaceous’s biggest shareholder is calling for the senior management to be sacked as the ailing property services firm has seen its shares plummet 94% since the start of the year, said The Daily Telegraph on Saturday. Fursa, the activist hedge fund that owns almost 19% of Erinaceous, is demanding that an extraordinary meeting be called to oust deputy chairman Neil Bellis and chief operating officer Lucy Cummings.