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Algarve  Investor
Algarve Investor
Full-time overseas investor
6378  Profile Views

About Me

Spend half my time in England and half my time in Portugal, where I own and let out a number of properties ranging from apartments to villas.

my expertise in the industry

Wouldn't say I was a property expert, but my dealings with the industry in the last two decades have given me a great insight into both the good and bad sides of estate agency. Most people I've met have been professionalism personified, but not all. Which is why I get annoyed by rogue landlords and agents who live up to the greedy estate agent stereotype - it tars everyone with the same brush!

Particularly annoyed by high house prices and the inability of successive governments to build enough new houses. Very keen on innovation and entrepreneurial spirit - estate agency has the tools to lead the way when it comes to new technology (embracing this doesn't mean a rejection of traditional methods!)

Algarve 's Recent Activity

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From: Algarve Investor 07 June 2019 16:05 PM

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From: Algarve Investor 14 May 2019 08:27 AM

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From: Algarve Investor 30 January 2017 16:13 PM

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From: Algarve Investor 06 December 2016 10:01 AM

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From: Algarve Investor 24 November 2016 09:04 AM

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From: Algarve Investor 22 November 2016 11:01 AM

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From: Algarve Investor 22 November 2016 11:00 AM

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From: Algarve Investor 02 November 2016 15:06 PM

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From: Algarve Investor 17 October 2016 11:47 AM

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From: Algarve Investor 17 October 2016 11:43 AM

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From: Algarve Investor 14 October 2016 11:30 AM

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From: Algarve Investor 13 October 2016 10:27 AM

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From: Algarve Investor 26 September 2016 13:22 PM

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From: Algarve Investor 21 September 2016 12:23 PM

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From: Algarve Investor 26 August 2016 13:20 PM

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From: Algarve Investor 17 June 2016 13:17 PM

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From: Algarve Investor 23 May 2016 15:21 PM

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From: Algarve Investor 08 April 2016 14:18 PM

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From: Algarve Investor 06 April 2016 16:37 PM

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From: Algarve Investor 06 April 2016 16:36 PM

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From: Algarve Investor 30 March 2016 11:13 AM

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I think you make a very prescient point. Estate agency, more than ever, needs to move with the times and be ahead of the game, or they will be left behind. It seems likely that there will be the call for traditional agency for some years yet, but buyers and sellers will be looking for alternatives. If agents charge too much of a fee - and don't back this up with an excellent service - they will start to find instructions much harder to come by. I can understand the line of argument that traditional agents who have had a high-street presence in a local area for years would provide a more intimate, personal service, as well as more experience, knowhow and tricks of the trade than a purely online-based operation who have only recently entered the market. But it's not the case that every estate agent offers good value for money and a superb service. Many do, but many more don't. Therefore it's inevitable that people will look for cheaper, more flexible services. It'll only become a race to the bottom if the levels of service diminish. As we've seen with Lidl and Aldi in the supermarket arena, they have made the likes of Tesco, Waitrose and Sainsbury's up their game quite considerably. They offer cheap, good value produce, but it's high-quality produce. I think we are seeing too many online agents entering the market - and traditional agents, for that matter - but it looks like hybrid, where the best of both worlds are merged, will be the way forward for agency. I think an eBay-type thing will be the future - it's no doubt something the likes of RM and Zoopla already have in mind - but we won't reach that stage for a few years yet.

From: Algarve Investor 23 March 2016 15:17 PM

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From: Algarve Investor 22 February 2016 15:10 PM

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From: Algarve Investor 22 February 2016 15:04 PM

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From: Algarve Investor 28 January 2016 11:49 AM

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From: Algarve Investor 25 January 2016 09:09 AM

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I agree that it's pretty depressing reading, but PCL operates on a whole other level to almost anywhere else in the world. This market has grown considerably over the last few years and now encapsulates many more areas. It used to be quite niche, including only the really affluent areas like Chelsea, Knightsbridge, Mayfair and Notting Hill, but its reach seems to get bigger every year, which is a worrying trend. The PCL might be slowing slightly, but its average price is still very high and will remain that way until London is no longer attractive to super-rich overseas investors. There are pros and cons to luring these super-rich people. Supporters of it will say it brings in much-needed investment and helps to support the economy, critics will say it leaves homes empty, pushes up prices across the capital, makes property more unaffordable for the many and is actually bad for London's economy because these foreign investors don't actually spend time in the city where they've brought property - they just see it as a nice investment, a little nest egg to sit on as it goes up and up in value. If these investors aren't living in the city, they're not contributing to the local economy. They're not visiting local restaurants or shopping in local shops, or using public transport, or going to the theatre or museums, etc, etc. I have to say I'm sympathetic to this second point of view. While there might be an initial period of readjustment in the short-term, in the long-term not turning London into a haven for the super-rich can only be a good thing. London is not Monaco or Luxembourg or Jersey or the Cayman Islands. It's one of the biggest, richest, most-visited and most diverse cities in the world. People from all walks of life should be allowed to live there. At the moment, the very poorest are being driven out. London without people living there will soon grind to a halt. So we need to be very wary of pricing too many out.

From: Algarve Investor 16 December 2015 14:03 PM

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Exactly. The attitude from successive governments towards housing has been one of casual disdain. They have allowed house prices to go out of control, they have allowed buy-to-let investments to go out of control, they have allowed the pressure on the PRS to go beyond anything it can cope with. What we really need is a cross-party agreement on housing, to provide affordable homes to buy and affordable homes to rent for all. Just look at the issues with social housing. How about, instead of selling off our social housing stock, we start using it to house those who need it most. How about we stop driving people out of London with high rents and insane house prices and start to build some homes that are actually affordable. How about we say no to Buy to Leave. We need to start looking towards Germany and Scandinavia for a better model. France, too. Here in Portugal, the housing market resembles something much closer to normality (i.e. house prices aren't rising four times as fast as wages or whatever it is in England). After the war there was a massive housebuilding programme. In the 70s it was the same. What has happened since then? Right to Buy definitely didn't help, neither has this obsession with house prices continually rising (and that being seen as a good thing). We shouldn't blame the buy-to-let investors or landlords or even the foreign investors who are eager to buy luxury properties in London. As an investor in overseas property myself, it would be hypocritical of me to say all foreign investment should be restricted or that buy-to-let should be completely scrapped. But in the UK investing in property from overseas is far easier than anywhere else on the Continent. The UK is also seen as the most lucrative place to buy property, especially London. That might not be such a bad thing if our housing market was in a stable condition, but it patently isn't. People can't afford to buy and they can't afford to rent. People can't afford even 5% or 10% deposits on homes because you need to be earning £50,000 to even make this feasible. You also have the ludicrous situation where, if you can actually buy a home, mortgage repayments are cheaper per month than rent. There are no easy answers to this, but if the government continue to bury their heads in the sand and hope that shared ownership, Help to Buy and Rent to Buy will solve the housing crisis, then we won't be moving forward anytime soon.

From: Algarve Investor 08 December 2015 11:04 AM

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As I've said numerous times before, I really don't understand the animosity towards online agents from traditional agents. Surely, if you're so convinced that they are going to fall flat on their face, it would be better to sit back and watch that happen from a distance? Then you can say "I told you so" without coming across as smug and patronising. It may have escaped your attention, but online estate agents aren't going away anytime soon. In fact, they are growing in numbers. Granted, many are fairly rag-tag operations, but there are plenty who have a fair bit of nous and investment behind them. In many cases, online agencies are created/founded by former traditional agents who have grown disaffected with the traditional model. Purplebricks, eMoov, House Simple, easyProperty, Tepilo - these are names people are starting to hear about on a regular basis. They have significant PR teams behind them and, as I said before, plenty of big-money backers. They aren't just going to die a death. You can be sceptical about what these big onliners have actually achieved and the wisdom of them floating and valuing their businesses in the millions, but you can't deny they are having an impact. People will look for cheaper options when times are tight, that's just a fact of life. Do estate agents justify the high fees they charge? In some cases, yes. In some cases, no. Again, you could argue that the flat fee onliners bang on about is nothing of the sort - £595 (of whatever it may be) can soon turn into quite a bit more. But, in an increasingly digital world, people will seek out alternatives. If they see that they can get their home sold for £595, that is something that is going to lure them in. High street agents have to deal with that and show how their model is superior.

From: Algarve Investor 08 December 2015 10:46 AM

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From: Algarve Investor 04 December 2015 09:43 AM

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From: Algarve Investor 03 December 2015 12:55 PM

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From: Algarve Investor 03 December 2015 09:22 AM

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I agree, Smile Please. Many high street agents already have most, if not all, of the elements that online agents say make them unique. But not all traditional agents. Some still don't embrace social media, some still haven't embraced the portals, some still have websites that look like they've come direct from the late 80s. Have you seen the websites of certain small and medium size agencies? They are, in some cases, an assault on the eyes. As more and more people head online to search for and sell property, there is a chance that these agencies who don't buy into the new-fangled ways of doing things will die out. Do you also not believe there is a place for both in the market? If high street agents are so sure that the online model is a load of rubbish, why do they get so defensive about them? That's what I never understand. If there's no threat, why all the shouting? And the idea that because online agents are cheap their service must be rubbish just sounds like snobbery on your part. Because a high street agent charges more doesn't mean they automatically offer a superior service. There are high street agents out there who offer a shoddy service, while there are online agents who offer a very good one. To use the analogy of a restaurant. You can go to a really basic, unflashy and authentic place and the service and food could be amazing, but you only pay peanuts. There are plenty of these in Portugal, for example. By the same token, you could go somewhere really upmarket and poncey and pay an arm and a leg for poor food and service. It's the same with agencies. A high street agent might charge you high fees and offer a really poor service, while an online agent can charge £595 and provide a brilliant, professional and efficient one.

From: Algarve Investor 03 December 2015 09:21 AM

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From: Algarve Investor 03 December 2015 09:05 AM

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From: Algarve Investor 06 September 2015 15:11 PM

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From: Algarve Investor 19 August 2015 11:40 AM

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It's no real surprise, is it? With a lack of supply and a lack of affordable housing stock, people are finding it more difficult than ever to buy. The large deposits that are needed are out of the reach of many, particularly those in Generation Rent, and mortgages are more difficult to acquire (for various reasons). The PwC report said that the cost of running a house is not so much of an issue - with low mortgage rates meaning monthly repayments for homeowners are lower than what some private renters have to shell out - it's affording the house in the first place that is the main problem. Home ownership reached a peak in the 80s, 90s and early 2000s, with Thatcher's RTB, 100% mortgages and a more relaxed attitude to lending from banks and building societies. That all changed with the financial crisis in 2008 and home ownership has been on a downward spiral ever since. This wouldn't be a major problem - many on the Continent rent for their whole lives with few issues - if the standard to private rented accommodation was good enough. Which, in many cases, it's not. And it's not secure. Or affordable. Any tenant thinking about buying a home will find it nigh on impossible to save up for a deposit if half their income is going straight out again on rent. As you say, John, this whole idea of a property-owning democracy is laughable. The government don't take housing seriously and they will continue to follow that mantra until there is a drastic fall in house prices and the economy takes a nosedive too. Then they might take action. Until then, don't hold your breath. Either you build more houses and make them more affordable, or you improve the PRS (and also make it affordable) so it's actually a long-term prospect for people. Not everyone wants to buy, but if buying (in the long-term is going to be more cost-effective, where's the incentive to rent? Unfortunately, the government will ignore this report and focus instead on tearing up the welfare state bit by bit and ruining the NHS. They quite clearly don't give two stuffs about the housing crisis, so things are very unlikely to change anytime soon.

From: Algarve Investor 23 July 2015 09:45 AM

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"Finally, we need to remember that modest steady growth and lots of stable transactions are far better for our businesses and for our clients than rapidly rising prices which prevent younger people buying and cause people to delay their house sale in expectation of ever higher prices in the future." This is totally spot-on, Adam. There does seem to be this idea, peddled by the media, the government and certain people in the property industry, that prices going up rapidly year-by-year is a fantastic thing and something to be celebrated. However, as wages stagnate and house prices continue to rise to absurd levels, it's going to become even harder for many people to buy. As you say, young-buyers - or Generation Rent as the popular coinage goes - are being hit hardest by this. They really struggle to put together a deposit and then, once they've done that, they really struggle to get a mortgage. If they manage that too, then the actual process of buying is made almost impossible by endless surveys, delays with conveyancing, solicitors who seem to take an age to do absolutely everything, and then sellers who get cold feet and withdraw/increase their asking price to see if they can more for their house. That's not to mention gazumping or other possible breaks to the chain. It's not hard to see why so any are just simply giving up. If more and more buyers are put off, then sellers will find it more and more difficult to sell and you get this vicious cycle whereby no actual activity is taking place. Modest growth with plenty of stable transactions seems much more sensible than the madness we have at the moment. House prices were one of the few things not affected by the financial crisis, quite the opposite, but that doesn't mean they're invincible. If the housing bubble does crash, which there is every chance it will, a lot of people will be in bother. Negative equity will become a major problem. This boom and bust approach in the property industry is not healthy, and I've got a dreadful feeling it's all going to end in tears.

From: Algarve Investor 22 July 2015 15:32 PM

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From: Algarve Investor 30 June 2015 09:37 AM

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From: Algarve Investor 24 June 2015 14:01 PM

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From: Algarve Investor 15 June 2015 12:11 PM

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@Trevor Mealham - you assume all budget agents are offering a bad service. That's an extremely broad assumption to make, isn't it? We've seen it in other industries, particularly retail and aviation. Say what you want about Ryanair and EasyJet, and many have, but they do what they say on the tin and do it in a cheap, no-frills way. Their levels of service are sometimes better than pricier, more prestigious airlines. We've also seen it with Lidl and Aldi - sometimes giving customers a budget choice is very popular. Budget doesn't always mean naff. The implication that because a service is cheap, it stands to reason that it will be terrible. The 'you pay for what you get' line of thinking. While that's true to a degree, it's not always the case. You can pay over the odds for a service and it turns out to be worse. The same applies to estate agents. An agency charging high fees won't necessarily offer a fantastic, great-value-for-money service. Just look at Foxtons. Whereas a budget (by which I assume you mean online) agent might offer a fantastic service for a quarter of the price. There are good online agents and bad ones. There are good traditional agents and bad ones. I don't know why traditional agents find this so difficult to fathom. They obviously see online models as a threat to them, blithely dismissing their services as cheap, tacky and not as good as what you'd find on the high-street. Ignoring the fact that many online agents have come from a traditional agency background. Any tricks of the trade, good and bad, that they've picked up would have come from there. So online and traditional agents aren't as chalk and cheese as some would like to make out.

From: Algarve Investor 08 June 2015 16:55 PM

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From: Algarve Investor 05 June 2015 14:26 PM

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From: Algarve Investor 03 June 2015 09:55 AM

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From: Algarve Investor 03 June 2015 09:51 AM

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From: Algarve Investor 11 May 2015 11:22 AM

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