Leaseholders should “take control” of their properties and stop getting “ripped off” by managing agents, says block management specialists Urban Owners. Over 70 per cent of lease-holding flat owners are unaware of the Right to Manage – government legislation which gives them the right to take over the management of their properties. By taking on the Right to Manage, each leaseholder stands to save approximately £400 a year. Management agents often charge over the odds on cleaning and other basic maintenance and services.

UK house prices will have fallen by 4 per cent from current levels by the end of 2011, predicts C B Ellis, the commercial real estate firm. Unemployment and restrictions on lending are expected to diminish demand in the short term. However, healthier conditions are anticipated in London and the South East, where the market should be boosted by a City bonus pool of £7.2bn. Slower completion of projects, creating limited supply, could also lead to a cramped demand that pushes prices too high.

Sellers acting through estate agents Chesterton Humberts will see their VAT on the agent’s fees frozen at 17.5 per cent until 28 February. The company will pay the extra 2.5 per cent itself, as long as sellers instruct the company as sole agents at their standard commission rate and contracts are exchanged on or before 30 April 2011. “We want to give property owners considering selling a bit of motivation,” says Robert Bartlett, CH’s CEO. “We want to do what we can to minimize the pain.” Every little helps, right?

After a wobble during the recession, the Brits’ favourite sunny island is regaining strength. Estate agent Cluttons reports an increase of 70 per cent in sales completed between 2009 and 2010. It is still a good time for buyers, though, as prices have stayed 15 per cent lower than they were in 2008. Kieran Kelly, of Cluttons Barbados, says: “Home buyers are attracted by the potential to negotiate a discounted price with high expectations of rental and capital growth.” Figures indicate that prime locations bounce back first.