When the champagne corks went pop at midnight on December 31, 2010, it was a poorer vintage than usual among property auctioneers - and the clink of glasses was to salute the future, with no more than a nod to the past. For 2010 was not a great year. But 2011 is looking stronger. "This year should offer real opportunities in the auction room for both buyers and sellers," says Richard Auterac, of Acuitus. "The gulf in the expectations of the two sides of the auction equation that stalled the sale of some assets in the summer is now narrowing.
Property predictions for the UK in 2011 have varied either side of the zero line. Most agents and landlords expect prices to go up only a little and some predict a small drop in average prices. It is going to be a year of "consolidation", they say, rather than "growth"(agent-speak for boom) or "rationalisation" (agent-speak for bust).
Look more closely at the research and you will find that north-west London and south Hertfordshire have a rosier future than the rest of the country, according to agents.
Prime market sales values in the South East are forecast to rise by 29.8 per cent over the next five years and mainstream sales values by 25.5 per cent. However, it's not all bright news for homeowners. The latest research from estate agent Savills anticipates that mainstream and prime property prices will experience a secondary "slip" in 2011.
Yolande Barnes, head of residential research at Savills, adds: "The market will be characterised by subdivisions defined by location, property type and the nature of occupier demand and it
Allsop has released its final auction catalogue for 2010 - and it's a bumper sale of more than 350 lots. Held on December 16 in London, the sale will include vendors such as Harrow School, Luton Borough Council and Network Rail.
More than a third of the 350 are "insolvency" lots, where owners have gone bust. However, Gary Murphy of Allsop says that the large number of them is due to Allsop's success rate in the last year.
One of the UK's grandest country estates has come to the market as a refurbished and rebuilt new-homes development. Grade I listed Balls Park is on the outskirts of Hertford. Developer City & Country Group is transforming the mansion (built around 1648) and the grade II listed coach house and stables (1902) into 40 apartments.
Prospective purchasers can now see the show apartment in the Stables. It comprises 12 one- and two-bedroom homes, which will be ready for occupation by Christmas.
Demand for £1 million-plus lots dominated Acuitus's latest commercial property auction, which raised £17.332 million from the sale of just over half of the 29 lots offered, with 10 of these selling for more than £1 million. By value, just under 75 per cent of the investments offered sold, at an average of £1.15 million - substantially above the corresponding average sale prices in other autumn sales to date.
It's one of London's superstar suburbs, with a low-key loveliness that attracts the rich and famous. Surrounded by green belt, Radlett emerged as a top-rank suburb in the late 19th century, following the building of the Midland Railway from Bedford to London. Today its population of 8,000 (around a quarter of them Jewish) can boast some of the highest property prices along the M25.
Lambert Smith Hampton holds its next auction on December 1 in South Yorkshire, with 130 lots, including investment properties. Among highlights are the Carlton Industrial Estate in Barnsley (12 units let, producing £86,600 pa; two vacant, would let for a full ERV of £97,000 pa). In Caerphilly, LSH is offering a freehold car park investment, let to GE AES, producing £63,400 pa. It comes with 3.5 per cent annual uplift.
Four new penthouses are for sale at Ridgemont, a development by Countryside Annington in Mill Hill, north-west London. These offer more than 1,000 sq ft of space overlooking landscaped grounds. Each apartment has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, full-height glazing and a private terrace. Other features include oak engineered flooring, granite worktops and ceramic floor tiling.
Advised by local property specialist Preston Bennett, Jewish Blind & Disabled has won planning consent for its new building after a six-year search for a site. Pictured far right (from left) are Preston Bennett chairman Ronnie Preston, JBD chief executive Hazel Kaye and Village Homes directors Warren Rosenberg and Mervyn Graver, in front of what will be the entrance to the Bushey complex.