Nationwide TalkBack

I was invited to a Nationwide TalkBack event at St Mary’s stadium on Thursday, which turned out to be pretty good. The evening started with a buffet before Matthew Wyles kicked of the main Q&A session with a short talk. It was a lively presentation and I got the impression that there was a genuine desire to keep members informed and answer questions candidly. I was almost tempted to ask their views on security problems in the banking industry, or why the same rules for windfalls don’t apply to all members, but there were plenty of other questions, and Jo was keen not to delay the second part of the evening: a tour of the stadium.

Before even getting to the tour itself, the name of the room where the main part of the TalkBack event was held will be familiar to anyone who has flown from the Matt Le Tissier International Airport:

Next stop, after more food that is, was the players area of the stadium, starting with the corridor leading to the dressing rooms and of course the pitch:

There have been some big visitors to St Mary’s recently, like the Bees, oh and some team from Manchester, who get a decent enough dressing room:

While, unsurprisingly, Saints players get something a little more flash:

Outside was slightly quieter than the last time we were there, but Jo looked quite at home on the bench:

Past Saints players get to sit a little further from the pitch in their executive box, where we got a good view of the groundsman’s attempts to trick the grass in to growing (the lights weren’t for our benefit):

Apparently Stephen Fry’s grandfather used to play for Southampton but the, slightly more impressive, claim that he was offered the Albanian throne may not actually be true. Good story for the tours though! Finally, after an excellent evening, we passed a rather large paint pot and headed home:

So if you’re a Nationwide member I would recommend going to a TalkBack event if you get the opportunity, especially if you have any questions, or have had any problems; there were plenty of people on hand for one to one discussions before and after the main session. Plus a tour of St Mary’s is definitely worth it if you get the chance; it is a nice stadium… maybe a bit big, but very nice!

Update: there’s now a short article about the Southampton TalkBack on the Nationwide Members’ Zone. (18 February 2011)

Not moving house

We’ve been trying to move again the last couple of weeks, with even less success than last time if that’s possible. Ok, so the first problem was of our own making: sell before you buy. Ok, we knew it was probably a bad idea, but we had a look round a pretty good house in the road next to ours and decided to give it a go. To stand any chance of getting a buyer in time to put an offer in we used the same agent, which was also the agent we’d used last time so they already had all our details ready. Sadly we just missed out, with two other people offering above our maximum. Bother.

By some amazing coincidence a house we’d been interested in before came on to the market almost the same day as we lost out. After having a look round we still liked the location but weren’t quite so keen on the house, but in another strange twist an almost identical property came on the market in another road which was much nicer. So nice house in worse road, or worse house in nice road. We put an offer in on the worse of the two houses, based on a fair bit of investigation on what it’s really worth. Sadly that offer was rejected to today; we’ll be keeping a look out for what it sells for in the end… if it ever does sell that is.

We weren’t actually planning to try and move quite so soon anyway, so unless something new materializes in the next couple of days, I think we’ll have to let our buyer go and take the house off the market again. There are just too many problems trying to move at the moment:

We live in a really nice house in a very good location

Well of course we would say that when trying to sell our house! It’s true though. Even houses costing far more don’t offer that much extra apart from the tiniest of extra rooms. Surely floor area should make more of a difference to house prices instead of simply the number of rooms. Thanks to Eastleigh’s absurd planning rules for parking spaces, which seems to be just over one space allowed per house, our current house has better parking than a lot of bigger houses. Of course that reduces traffic enormously… erm, not.

There are no first time buyers

Despite putting our house on the market slightly below the estate agent’s valuation, there was practically no interest. Only a couple of first time buyers and some investors. First time buyers can get mortgages, but they need deposits again which, as Sarah Beeny points out, is a good thing over all. I still think house prices are a touch too high as well (it looks like I’m not the only one). Interest rates can only go one way from here and the only thing that seems to be keeping prices up at all is…

There are no houses

There is barely anything coming on the the market. Well, apart from the house we originally wanted, and the house twins. Even so, one of those was probate and the other has been on the market twice before recently. Since we have a buyer, we’ve been looking around for other places to buy but what’s out there is either not much better than the place we’ve got, or is over priced.

Estate agents are a pointless as ever

In some cases I think they are actually making things worse in their current role. A percentage commission is little incentive to get the best price for a vendor at the best of times, but with such a low turn over it’s even less important than getting a sale. They also do all they can to get money through other services; despite already having an independent financial advisor, I had a pretty hard sell from one estate agent which it turns out was actually enticing me to borrow more so that I could make a higher offer, instead of just telling me that our first, best, and final offer had been rejected. Isn’t that the kind of thing that got us in to this credit mess in the first place?

Many of the things I mentioned the last time I questioned estate agents are now possible using Sarah Beeny’s free Tepilo site. It’s still pretty new and I don’t think Tepilo will sell your house on its own just yet. If you do want to market your own house though, I think it provides a very professional looking place to host your details. While your property won’t appear on Rightmove, it will find its way on to other sites like Nestoria. As far as we know, we didn’t get a single viewing through Rightmove anyway, which is actually pretty surprising. If we don’t end up moving this time, I’ll certainly be using Tepilo again, and hopefully it will have gained even more momentum by then.

So, does anyone have a three bed house to sell? If so, get the details on Tepilo and send me a link!! If not, I think we’ll be giving up and enjoying our current house for another six months or so.