Negotiation, Negotiation, Negotiation

UK Property Investment news and comments from Mark Harrison of YourPropertyExpert.com

Archive for the ‘Overseas property’ Category

How to sell a house on the Internet (in Hawaii)

Posted by markharrison on September 1, 2008

One of the places I write for is a website called Ezine Articles. I was recently contacted by a lady called Kathy Ostman-Magnusen who is trying to sell her house on Hawaii…

Nothing unusual so far.

In addition to looking for a Realtor, she is also posting about her house on the Internet, on her blog, and on Twitter…
Slightly less common, but still not newsworthy.

Kathy writes that the reason for their move is that her husband, who became ill in Vietman, can’t get help from the Veterans’ Association in Hawaii, but can in California…

Which puts our problems with the NHS into perspective, but is the kind of thing we knew happens in the US 😦

Where Kathy really caught my attention is in the lengths she’s going to to promote the sale – not in an aggressive, spammy way, but by doing interesting things.

The house is undeniably beautiful, which I guess shouldn’t be surprising, since Kathy is an artist, but as a gift the Realtor that sells her house, she’s offered a 24x30x2 giclee on stretched canvas… and blogged about that (with a picture of the artwork in question.)

Now, I know nothing about the property market on Big Island, Hawaii, let alone the investment opportunities, but at £115,000 for a stunning second home it caught my eye, as did the way that she is promoting it!

You can find out more on her blog at http://www.kathysart.blogspot.com/

Posted in Overseas property, Property Investment | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

This week’s currency movements

Posted by markharrison on June 15, 2008

For some while, I’ve been getting Smart Currency Exchange’s weekly updates on currency movements.Smart is a company I’ve used to transfer money to a company I’m setting up in Canada, and specialises in transfers for business and property-purchase purchases. (Basically, they don’t do small amounts, but have rather better rather than, say, my bank, for sending a few tens of thousands of pounds or more.) This is their weekly newsletter, reproduced with their permission.The rates given are the “inter-bank” rates, for comparison, not the “client rates for sending, by the way”.

Currency Rate Last Week Rate This Week
EURO 1.252 1.268
US$ 1.969 1.943
CAN$
2.004 1.995
AUS$ 2.049 2.075
NZD 2.570 2.600
AED 7.243 7.135
CHF 2.015 2.044
ZAR(Rand) 15.465 15.846

Charles’s Thoughts: Sterling continues to be “steady as she goes”. Over the last few weeks there has been little downward movement which suggests that sterling has found a base from which it may strengthen. The only worry is if we have another shock such as a Northern Rock. UK inflation is the major concern. Not just here in the UK but worldwide. There is even talk that the Bank of England may have to increase UK interest rates sometime soon as a counter to UK inflation. I must admit my feeling is that this is unlikely given the parlous state of the UK economy but the BOE might be “forced” to do a one off increase of 0.25%. I suspect “more steady as she goes” until we see a pick up in the UK economy.

The US$ has gained a bit of ground on the back of high level rhetoric and, if I was to be honest, wishful thinking. The US retail figures for May were better than expected. However US inflation rose sharply in May. Both these events have helped support the market view that we have seen the last reduction in US interest rates for a while. I think this is probably correct but I suspect we won’t see any increases in US interest rates for a while given the level of US personal debt and an already weak economy.

The € has lost a bit of ground against the US$. This is on the back of rhetoric from both sides of the Atlantic with the US talking up the US$ and Euro land talking down the €. This included the European Central Bank trying to make it clear that we will not see a raft of Euro land interest rate increases in the coming months, in fact probably just one. This rhetoric has been successful in the short term and it has to be remembered that Euro land does have some significant problems of its own with some areas suffering very badly from the strong €.

The main mover in the other currencies was the South African rand which lost ground. This was on the back of a less than convincing increase in South African interest rates of 0.5%. The market believed it should have been more, a lot more, so as to counter inflation.

[Declaration: I receive a small commission for any customers I refer to Smart using the above link. This does not affect the price you pay for your currency, since it replaces money that would otherwise be spent on advertising.]

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This week’s currency movements

Posted by markharrison on April 18, 2008

For some while, I’ve been getting Smart Currency Exchange’s weekly updates on currency movements.Smart is a company I’ve used to transfer money to a company I’m setting up in Canada, and specialises in transfers for business and property-purchase purchases. (Basically, they don’t do small amounts, but have rather better rather than, say, my bank, for sending a few tens of thousands of pounds or more.) This is their weekly newsletter, reproduced with their permission.The rates given are the “inter-bank” rates, for comparison, not the “client rates for sending, by the way”.

Currency Rate Last Week Rate This Week
EURO 1.245 1.268
US$ 1.971 1.996
CAN$
2.014 2.013
AUS$ 2.122 2.135
NZD 2.481 2.535
AED 7.244 7.331
CHF 1.965 2.047
ZAR(Rand) 15.445 15.48

Charles’s Thoughts: Sterling had a good end to the week. A couple of factors seemed to benefit sterling. Firstly the Royal Bank of Scotland has announced a rights issue which indicates that UK banks have started to restore their balance sheets. Also it is thought that the Government is set to announce next week plans to ease tight conditions in the mortgage market which will help markets. Hopefully these positive factors will allow sterling to regain some equilibrium short term.

The US is enjoying the papal visit. However there has been no divine intervention as regards to the US economy and the expectation is for further interest rate cuts. Still significant economic problems which are weighing on the US$ as it closes in on US$1.6/€1. No relief short term.

The € had an interesting week. Euro land inflation is still at the top end of expectations which means that the European Central Bank will not cut the € interest rates in the short to medium term. However, there are ever rising concerns about the Euro land economy and the strength of the €. The € maintains its “safe haven” status which it has held for a while but pressure is continuing to rise in Euro land.

Sterling had a good end to the week against most of the high yielding and commodity back currencies. Concerns in New Zealand about a possible recession are rising and as such we could start to see weakness for the New Zealand $.

[Declaration: I receive a small commission for any customers I refer to Smart using the above link. This does not affect the price you pay for your currency, since it replaces money that would otherwise be spent on advertising.]

Posted in Overseas investment, Overseas property | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

US Interest rates cut AGAIN

Posted by markharrison on January 30, 2008

Nine days ago, the US Federal reserve cut US interest rates by .75%.

Since then, I’ve been increasingly concerned about it – it DIDN’T feel like a sensible response – it felt like a knee-jerk reaction to stock market problems the day before – It wasn’t at their regular meeting, but at an emergency session of the FOMC (the US equivalent to the Bank of England’s MPC.)

They’ve just announced, at their normal meeting, that they are cutting US interest rates by a further .5%, down from 3.5% to 3.0%.

The rationale, this time round, seems to have been that the US Q4 economic growth figures were lower than expected. This may well be true… but the US Q3 economic growth figures were much HIGHER, so overall the second half of 2007 panned out pretty much on target for them.

While I’ve written before about why it’s a bad idea to second-guess the Bank of England, this has got to increase the pressure on them to move UK interest rates down a little to. Most analysts, and most traders are assuming that the BoE will bring rates down in February (by .25%) and later in the year, probably twice.

Hopefully good news for those UK people who will see their mortgage payments fall. (Variable rate mortgages are far more common here than in the US.)

And very good news for UK investors looking to buy in the States at the moment 🙂

Whether lower base rates will turn into lower fixed-rates, or lower short-term discounted mortgages for UK investors is another question though – while some rates are lower, banks are a lot less willing to lend to anyone even vaguely borderline.

Posted in Overseas property, Property Investment | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

This week’s currency movements

Posted by markharrison on January 25, 2008

For some while, I’ve been getting Smart Currency Exchange’s weekly updates on currency movements.Smart is a company I’ve used to transfer money to a company I’m setting up in Canada, and specialises in transfers for business and property-purchase purchases. (Basically, they don’t do small amounts, but have rather better rather than, say, my bank, for sending a few tens of thousands of pounds or more.)This is their weekly newsletter, reproduced with their permission.The rates given are the “inter-bank” rates, for comparison, not the “client rates for sending, by the way”.

  • Euro
    • 1.348 / £, compared with 1.34 last week
  • US dollar
    • 1.982/ £, compared with 1.961 last week
  • Canadian dollar
    • 1.998 / £, compared with 2.011 last week
  • Australian dollar
    • 2.242/ £, compared with 2.220 last week
  • New Zealand dollar
    • 2.565 / £, compared with 2.567 last week
  • Swiss Franc
    • 2.173 / £, compared with 2.161 last week
  • South African Rand
    • 14.086 / £, compared with 13.843 last week

Charles’s Thoughts: Sterling continues to gather friends. Not enough friends for a party but a great improvement when compared to two weeks ago. The minutes of the last Bank of England meeting were announced and showed that the BOE was still focussed on combating inflation and a key control is UK interest rates. The market still expects UK interest rates to be reduced but one suspects that unless something like a new Northern Rock happens the cuts will be made in 0.25% steps over a period and in a considered manner. Otherwise UK news was dominated by news from elsewhere. So given the uncertainty either way I would suggest that to buy or sell euros makes sense so as to be very sure of what your costs are or what you are getting.

The US$ had an entertaining week. The Fed Chief surprised the market on Tuesday by reducing US interest rates by 0.75%. This had been “expected/hoped for” by the market given the need to stave off recession in the US. More cuts in US interest rates are expected and I wonder if in order to avoid falling into recession US interest rates will need to head back to 1%.

The Euro lost a bit of ground this week. Not a huge surprise given the news of the week was a Paris based trader managing to lose Euro 5 billion. How on earth can you manage to do such a thing? It appears with not much difficulty and it doesn’t take much time. We live in a very strange world when such things can happen! Euro land finance ministers want the European Central Bank to focus on the economy [reduce Euro interest rates] but the ECB continues to focus on inflation [maintain Euro interest rates].

Sterling held its ground against the higher yielding currencies. Not really a surprise given the reluctance of investors to take on higher risk in these very volatile markets. I suspect there is more upside for sterling than downside against most of these higher yielding currencies.

[Declaration: I receive a small commission for any customers I refer to Smart using the above link. This does not affect the price you pay for your currency, since it replaces money that would otherwise be spent on advertising.]

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This week’s currency movements

Posted by markharrison on January 11, 2008

For some while, I’ve been getting Smart Currency Exchange’s weekly updates on currency movements.Smart is a company I’ve used to transfer money to a company I’m setting up in Canada, and specialises in transfers for business and property-purchase purchases. (Basically, they don’t do small amounts, but have rather better rather than, say, my bank, for sending a few tens of thousands of pounds or more.)This is their weekly newsletter, reproduced with their permission.The rates given are the “inter-bank” rates, for comparison, not the “client rates for sending, by the way”.

  • Euro
    • 1.324 / £, compared with 1.336 last week
  • US dollar
    • 1.957/ £, compared with 1.973 last week
  • Canadian dollar
    • 1.996 / £, compared with 1.973 last week
  • Australian dollar
    • 2.189/ £, compared with 2.259 last week
  • New Zealand dollar
    • 2.489 / £, compared with 2.571 last week
  • Swiss Franc
    • 2.157 / £, compared with 2.181 last week
  • South African Rand
    • 13.348 / £, compared with 13.579 last week

Charles’s Thoughts: Sterling continues to be friendless. The Bank of England kept UK interest rates on hold. The BOE have a difficult balancing act. The economy is suffering but inflation is on the up. We have seen sterling lose 10% plus against the Euro in a very short period in time. This will help make our exports more competitive. However at the same time it makes our imports more expensive thereby adding to the inflationary pressures. Retail figures have been mixed. M&S had a poor Christmas whereas Sainsbury and John Lewis seemed to do well. Also the credit crunch continues to be a problem with banks still wary in lending to each other. So overall not a happy situation which will take a while to work through. So we wait to see where the bottom is for sterling.

The US$ continues to gain against sterling and lose against most other currencies. The US has very similar problems to the UK with large budget and balance of payment deficits and an interest rate that will be reduced significantly this year. What they will do relative to each other is difficult to assess but the market probably errs on the side of the US$ given how much it weakened against sterling last year.

The euro is all conquering given the sorry state of sterling and the US$. The European Central Bank kept interest rates on hold and have made it clear that they will not be reducing interest rates any time soon as inflation is their major concern. It is thought very unlikely the ECB will increase interest rates given the parlous state of western economies. Euro land exports must be suffering but as yet this does not seem to be a major factor in the ECB’s thinking.

Sterling seems to have lost ground against most currencies apart from the Canadian $. This seems to be on the back of the market expecting Canadian interest rates to be cut following domestic building permits coming in below expectations.

[Declaration: I receive a small commission for any customers I refer to Smart using the above link. This does not affect the price you pay for your currency, since it replaces money that would otherwise be spent on advertising.]

Posted in Overseas property | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

This week’s currency movements

Posted by markharrison on December 22, 2007

For some while, I’ve been getting Smart Currency Exchange’s weekly updates on currency movements.Smart is a company I’ve used to transfer money to a company I’m setting up in Canada, and specialises in transfers for business and property-purchase purchases. (Basically, they don’t do small amounts, but have rather better rather than, say, my bank, for sending a few tens of thousands of pounds or more.)

This is their weekly newsletter, reproduced with their permission.The rates given are the “inter-bank” rates, for comparison, not the “client rates for sending, by the way”.

  • Euro
    • 1.380 / £, compared with 1.399 last week
  • Cypriot dollar
    • 0.803 / £, compared with 0.809 last week
  • US dollar
    • 1.9847/ £, compared with 2.022 last week
  • Canadian dollar
    • 1.973 / £, compared with 2.057 last week
  • Australian dollar
    • 2.287/ £, compared with 2.342 last week
  • New Zealand dollar
    • 2.588 / £, compared with 2.629 last week
  • Swiss Franc
    • 2.292 / £, compared with 2.330 last week
  • South African Rand
    • 13.940 / £, compared with 13.848 last week

Charles’s Thoughts: Sterling has had a bad week. First the minutes of the last Bank of England interest rate meeting were released and showed that the vote to reduce interest rates was unanimous. This surprised the market. Then the balance of payment figures were released. These were very bad with a huge net outflow of funds. And now the Christmas retail period is not going as well as hoped and house prices continue to fall in most places. All doom and gloom so it is not a surprise that sterling is suffering. Sterling only seemed to make a gain against the South African rand. Shows how the market views the new head of the ANC in South Africa!. But I suppose they did win the rugby world cup.

The US$ has been on the up. No clear reasons as to why apart from the need for US financial institutions to realise their investments so as to make their balance sheets look as good as they can by the year end. Also investors needed to cut their losses if they had “bet” on the US$ would lose further value. However I do wonder if this positive news is short term given the major economic problems faced by the US$ in 2008.

The Euro is still the preferred currency. Inflation continues to be of concern to the European Central Bank. So any cuts in Euro interest rates are very unlikely short to medium term. But clearly the credit crunch is having an affect on Euro land as the ECB lent Euro 350 billion to financial institutions last week who were having difficulty borrowing elsewhere. And I still feel that Euro land cannot be immune to the slow down elsewhere. Talking to one of my clients who does a lot of business in Euro land he said there was a lot of pain being suffered by Euro land exporters given the strong Euro exchange rate.

As noted above all major currencies gained against sterling apart from the South African rand which faces problems given the markets uncertainty with possible political instability. Canada still has the most going for it with its huge natural resources but no currency is safe in the current climate. HAVE A WONDERFUL CHRISTMAS AND ALL THE EVRY BEST FOR 2008.

[Declaration: I receive a small commission for any customers I refer to Smart using the above link. This does not affect the price you pay for your currency, since it replaces money that would otherwise be spent on advertising.]

Posted in Overseas property | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

This week’s currency movements

Posted by markharrison on December 16, 2007

For some while, I’ve been getting Smart Currency Exchange‘s weekly updates on currency movements.

Smart is a company I’ve used to transfer money to a company I’m setting up in Canada, and specialises in transfers for business and property-purchase purchases. (Basically, they don’t do small amounts, but have rather better rather than, say, my bank, for sending a few tens of thousands of pounds or more.)

Anyway, I’ve received permission to start reproducing their weekly newsletter here, so here we go – here is Friday’s. It’s written by Charles Purdy, their MD.
The rates given are the “inter-bank” rates, for comparison, not the “client rates for sending, by the way”.

  • Euro
    • 1.399 / £, compared with 1.388 last week
  • Cypriot dollar
    • 0.809 / £, compared with 0.807 last week
  • US dollar
    • 2.022 / £, compared with 2.030 last week
  • Canadian dollar
    • 2.057 / £, compared with 2.036 last week
  • Australian dollar
    • 2.342 / £, compared with 2.310 last week
  • New Zealand dollar
    •  2.629 / £, compared with 2.602 last week
    • Swiss Franc
      • 2.330 / £, compared with 2.298 last week
    • South African Rand
      • 13.848 / £, compared with 13.583 last week

    Charles’s Thoughts: Sterling has been steady and has gained against most currencies apart from the US$. Economic news has been mixed with pressure on house prices and sales volume countered by a surge in production price inflation. The latter means that the market has become unsure on future cuts in UK interest rates. The central banks of the UK, US and Euro land agreed a financing package in an attempt to add liquidity to a market that was/is in danger of grinding to a halt. Still uncertain times and an uncertain future for sterling.

    The US$ made gains against both sterling and the Euro. The Fed cut US interest rates by 0.25% which was less than hoped for by the market. However, a bit like the UK, producer price inflation is on the up [in fact hitting 34 year highs!]. Also retails sales for November were stronger than expected. So there is uncertainty in the market as to the likelihood of further interest rate cuts short term. But I don’t see the US$ strengthening too much further shorter term.

    The Euro is still the preferred currency when the other choice is the US$ or sterling. And inflation is of also of concern to the European Central Bank. So any cuts in Euro interest rates are very unlikely short to medium term. But clearly the credit crunch is having an affect on Euro land as the ECB were part of the consortium noted above. And Euro land cannot be immune to the slow down elsewhere. They may not have the overhang of highly priced properties throughout Euro land but businesses need to export and if elsewhere is contracting and the strong Euro makes these exports less competitive then the Euro will suffer.

    A mixed week for the high interest rate currencies. They all fell against sterling even though the carried trade seemed to have made a reappearance. Will be interesting to see how long this lasts.

    [Declaration: I receive a small commission for any customers I refer to Smart using the above link. This does not affect the price you pay for your currency, since it replaces money that would otherwise be spent on advertising.]

    Posted in Overseas property | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »