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What real estate agents would never spend money on

Monday, September 25, 2017

Before you fork out on home improvements, ask yourself "Will this help sell my house?".

Fletcher confirms KPMG review of biggest projects

Monday, September 25, 2017

Fletcher Building has issued an NZX notice confirming speculation that consultants KPMG is reviewing its two biggest construction projects."Fletcher Building is aware of speculation that it has commissioned KPMG to review projects...

Election 17: Foreign restrictions, more new housing planned post-election

Monday, September 25, 2017

Housing is planned to be a big focus of the next Government, whoever rules.National plans to build 200,000 new residences, NZ First wants to restrict foreign investment and Labour has its KiwiBuild policy to erect 100,000...

'Jeremy Corbyn has exceeded expectations': Sadiq Khan talks to Katharine Viner – video

Monday, September 25, 2017

Guardian editor-in-chief Katharine Viner asks Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, about housing in the capital, Brexit and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Khan’s verdict on Corbyn is: ‘Good manifesto, energising Labour supporters who’d left our fold, bringing them back, energise a new generation of Labour voters … huge progress made by Jeremy in the space of two years’

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Parole for $33 million mortgage fraudster after one year in jail

Sunday, September 24, 2017

An Auckland man involved in a $33 million mortgage fraud has been released on parole after spending just over a year in jail.Simon Lawrence Turnbull, in his mid-40s, last year admitted his role in a mortgage fraud where false loan...

Royal Bank of Scotland delays introduction of low-rate credit card

Monday, September 25, 2017

Chief executive says high level of consumer debt is factor in decision despite bank’s shrinking share of market

Royal Bank of Scotland has postponed plans to introduce a cut-price credit card amid concerns about the £200bn of lending amassed by UK households.

The bank, which is 70% owned by the taxpayer, has decided against launching a more competitive credit card at a time when the consumer credit market – personal loans, credit cards and car finance – is facing scrutiny from the Bank of England.

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Britain's growing debt problem demands a fresh set of eyes | Phillip Inman

Monday, September 25, 2017

The OBR’s figures haven’t added up for years. It’s time for an in-depth examination of where the economy is going

It’s a sad economic choice: accept the need for mounting debts just to achieve moderate growth or crack down on borrowing and get no growth at all.

When there are queues at food banks and child poverty is on the rise, it might seem irresponsible to choose between reckless growth and sober stagnation. Neither option does the poorest any favours, but that appears to be the main dilemma for central bank policymakers.

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Stop the bombs! How Slough became Britain’s most dynamic town

Monday, September 25, 2017

John Betjeman thought the place should be razed to the ground. But a new survey says it’s now the UK’s best place to work

Name: Slough.

Age: 1,000 years, give or take.

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Land of tassels, swags and sash windows: a swipe at Britain's pseudo-Georgian wonderland

Monday, September 25, 2017

It’s cheap, boring, shoddy and everywhere. But now artist Pablo Bronstein has turned his love-hate relationship with Britain’s ‘pseudo-Georgian’ architecture into a delightful show

Fibreglass porches, panelled garage doors and uPVC sash windows have rarely been celebrated in the hallowed halls of the Royal Institute of British Architects, but then Pablo Bronstein isn’t your usual suspect for an exhibition at the Portland Place pile. “I like to think it’s a bit Christine Hamilton,” says the artist, standing in one of the rooms, wallpapered a buttercup yellow, that he has erected in the RIBA’s gallery.

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'Unliveable': Five townhouses less than 1m away

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Ways to help make a Christchurch woman's home more "liveable" after five two-storey townhouses started being built close next door will be investigated.City council head of resource consents John Higgins, his colleague John Gibson,...

What's Selling Now: Homes That Sold for Around $450,000

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Recent residential sales in New York City and the region.

I cancelled Virgin Active membership but it kept on taking my money

Sunday, September 24, 2017

I also realised belatedly that it had been overcharging me from the start

I took out gym membership with Virgin Active in April 2016. Through my health insurer, Vitality, I was eligible for a plan discounted to £100 a month, which could be cancelled at any time. However, the rep persuaded me to set it up as a normal account, costing £134 a month and requiring 12 months’ notice to cancel, which they would convert into a £100 Vitality account. This would make the first partial month free.

In August I changed job location so instructed Virgin Active to cancel my membership. But recently I noticed it never stopped taking £134 a month (instead of £100) from me, even though its records show I have not attended a gym since August 2016. It transpires that this is because the rep never converted my account into a Vitality one, so the cancellation team incorrectly believed I required 12 months’ notice.

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People’s Trust fund aims for long-term and sustainable wealth creation

Sunday, September 24, 2017

The fund will welcome investors with as little as £500 to put in, and promises returns of 7% a year

An investment fund that promises to break the mould of City short-termism and aims to make gains of 7% a year is to open for small investors able to put in as little as £500.

The People’s Trust, backed by Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable, is the brainchild of Daniel Godfrey, the former head of the Investment Association, which represents fund management groups. He left after some IA members were unhappy with his campaigning for lower charges and greater transparency.

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Leeds building society makes rate promise

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Minimum of 0.5% will be guaranteed on savings accounts from the end of October

Beleaguered savers have been given a small ray of hope in the current era of low interest rates after Leeds building society said it would guarantee a minimum of 0.5% on savings accounts.

The society, the fifth largest in the UK, will raise the minimum rate it pays from 0.4% across Isas and non-Isa accounts from the end of October. The new rate is twice the Bank of England base rate. The move comes at a grim time for those with savings accounts – the last time the Bank raised interest rates was in July 2007.

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Mt Roskill residents mourn loss of 'hill': told to take private litigation

Sunday, September 24, 2017

When is a hill not a hill?In a case which has left a group of Mt Roskill residents frustrated, developers working on a subdivision neighbouring their homes have removed a small hill beside their driveway.The residents have been...

House sitting the new trend to beat the Auckland housing crisis

Sunday, September 24, 2017

There is a way for those without a home to have a place to lay their heads. Saving hundreds of dollars a week is motivating some to choose homelessness - but they are not without a bed.A growing number of Kiwis are tapping into...

Inside my art gallery home | Kate Jacobs

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Art sets the tone in each room of this home, a gallery with a difference. Kate Jacobs is given a private view

When Jemma Hickman launched the bo.lee gallery in Bath nine years ago, her choice of artists was intuitive. “I would ask myself, would I want to hang this piece in my own home?” she says. This proved to be a prescient principle as, having brought the business to London in 2012, she decided to look for a space that was a home and gallery in one.

This decision was partly down to the capital’s prohibitive rents, but also because of the benefits of displaying art in a domestic setting. “Galleries can feel quite sterile and intimidating, but a home feels more relaxed, plus it freed me up to travel to international art fairs,” says Hickman.

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Ask Real Estate: Renting a Second Apartment for a Spouse Under Care

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Exploring options for a couple who live in a rent-stabilized apartment on the Upper East Side.

Happy houseplants: how to help them thrive

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Get your indoor plants to flourish, and you’ll find that you will, too

I guess it should be no surprise that my house is full of plants. They jostle for the best spot on the windowsill, hang from railings, gather together in pools of light on the floor and take over the kitchen countertops. I am not alone. Houseplants are having a moment because micropropagation has made them fast and relatively cheap to grow, and as we are increasingly apartment dwellers: the only growing many urbanites get to do is indoors.

Houseplants make a house a home; someone lives here, someone cares, they say. They are not merely decorative: they respond, they bloom, they let the seasons into your house. A well-cared-for and healthy houseplant improves your indoor life, filtering out pollutants in the air.

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Gardens: what to do this week

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Drown in dahlias, plant sage, sprout an avocado

Your starter for 10: cactus, ball, decorative and fimbriated are all types of what? Dahlias, of course: the undisputed kings of the September garden. Anglesey Abbey near Cambridge is celebrating the dahlia with a three-week festival, and giving fans a chance to tour its dahlia garden, a huge, curving border that allows a great view of more than 70 varieties. On until 1 October.

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A beginner’s guide to pickling

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Grown too many vegetables? Sick of making chutney? There is an alternative…

Your harvests may have been bountiful, but by now you must be bored with making chutney. It’s time to embrace brine. With the help of salt water, a process known as lacto-fermentation can give surplus veg a new lease of life.

Fermented foods are manna for good gut flora, and fermented pickles are part of that package. These sorts of pickles are often best done in small batches, so they’re ideal for that handful of beans you can’t motivate yourself to eat, or the courgette that ballooned when you weren’t looking. You can also save crops that might not be at their best, such as green tomatoes that won’t ripen. Turnips, radishes, carrots, runner and french beans, mangetout, grated horseradish, chillies, peppers and tomatoes are among my favourites.

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Venice contemporary displays a fresh face, forward-thinking

Sunday, September 24, 2017

This contemporary residence, built in 1988, in Venice’s canal neighborhood presents itself as a happy marriage of eco-conscious features and minimalist design following a renovation by David Hertz.

The architect-environmentalist added a third story to bring in natural light and promote passive...

Cindy Crawford adds a stylish Beverly Hills flip to her home wardrobe

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Cindy Crawford has gone shopping on the Westside.

The supermodel and her husband, businessman Rande Gerber, have bought a Beverly Hills home from OneRepublic frontman Ryan Tedder and his wife, Genevieve, for $11.625 million.

Tedder and his wife worked with Alvarez Morris Architectural Studio to...

The £230-a-year marriage allowance you could be missing out on

Saturday, September 23, 2017

The tax allowance came into effect in April 2015 and so far £1.3bn hasn’t been claimed – but applying online is easy

Is there £662 out there with your name on it? Two million couples have failed to claim their share of £1.3bn of marriage allowance cash, it has emerged. Yet getting hold of this money – much of which would be sent to you in the form of a cheque – is simple and takes just a few minutes, so every couple should check whether they might be eligible.

That’s the message from the former pensions minister Steve Webb, who says: “Given the pressure on household finances at the moment, it’s vital that people claim the money that is theirs to be had.”

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The foolproof way you can stop ID fraud

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Former GCHQ worker Jamie Jamieson has put a ‘notice of correction’ on his credit file requiring a thumbprint for all credit applications

Identity theft has reached epidemic levels, but a retired GCHQ worker has taken matters into his own hands, literally, with what he claims is a foolproof way of beating fraudsters. Jamie Jamieson uses his thumbprint to protect himself from ID thieves and suggests anyone worried about falling victim to this crime should follow his example.

His system costs nothing and is low-tech; it has also received a partial endorsement from one of the UK’s leading experts on credit reporting.

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Are online promo codes worth using any more?

Saturday, September 23, 2017

None seem to be exceptional, but perhaps I’m missing something

Every week a Guardian Money reader submits a question, and it’s up to you to help him or her out – a selection of the best answers will appear in next Saturday’s paper.

This week’s question:

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You hate Ryanair – but you will fly it again

Saturday, September 23, 2017

The recent flights fiasco has upset travellers, but low prices mean they will keep on coming back

Here are just a few of the hashtags that sprouted up on Twitter as Ryanair’s flights fiasco exploded on the internet: #BoycottRyanair, #ryanairareshit, #IhateRyanair, #RyanairAreRubbish, #RyanairNightmare, #1stflightonRyanairneveragain, #RyanairFails, #goodbyeRyanair. I could probably fill this whole column with variations on the theme.

But you won’t say goodbye to Ryanair. You’ll fly it again – and the airline’s boss, Michael O’Leary, knows it. I was at his hastily arranged press conference in Dublin on Monday and, amid the multiple apologies, contrition and mea culpas, one statement revealed all you need to know. Asked if devastated customers would stop buying tickets in future, O’Leary almost choked. “Our booking engine is full of passengers who have sworn they will never fly with us again,” he proclaimed. He didn’t even think the current debacle ranked particularly highly among past cock-ups by the airline, although later in the week he may have changed his mind on that.

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Want to write a bestselling novel? Use an algorithm

Saturday, September 23, 2017

In the first of a four-part series on earning money, we look at the fast-track route to a chartbusting book – with a little help from a computer

It’s the multimillion pound question that publishers and writers have been pondering for decades: what makes a bestseller? Attempting to write one could certainly pay off – the highest-paid author in the world, JK Rowling, has made $95m (£70m) in the past year, and the 10 highest-paid authors in the world earned more than $310m between them, according to Forbes.

But few authors will see that kind of cash. The average annual income for a UK writer is £12,000, well below the minimum wage for a full-time job, a recent European commission report found. The Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society says professional authors have experienced a 29% drop in income in real terms since 2005, with the top 5% earning 42% of the money made by UK writers. And the bottom 50% struggle to generate even 7% of the total income.

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Direct Line, why has my home insurance gone up by 442% in one year?

Saturday, September 23, 2017

The firm’s new tool for assessing flood risk could see home premiums soar, as one reader with a £1,000 policy discovered

When Paul Barlow from south London opened his latest home insurance renewal quote from Direct Line, he was staggered by the increase in the premium. The year before the insurer had charged just £189 for his property: a ground-floor, two-bed flat he rents out in Bermondsey, near Tower Bridge. But this year it wanted £1,025 – an increase of 442%. When he rang, thinking it must be some sort of mistake, the representative said he was lucky because if he had been a new customer the insurer would have turned him down entirely.

Barlow’s home is not in some hell-hole location where burglary is rife; he has not been making large claims for subsidence or other matters that usually make insurers hike premiums. What Barlow has fallen victim to is a new flood-mapping tool used by Direct Line called geospatial analysis, which attempts to assess flood risk with pinpoint accuracy and could see huge premium increases for thousands of other homes, not just in the capital but all over the UK.

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Hot Property: The best seats in the house

Saturday, September 23, 2017

For real estate entertainment value, it’s hard to beat Southern California’s celebrity market. This week, a boxing champ picked up a contemporary knockout in Beverly Hills, a former Lakers point guard traveled out of Hidden Hills and an HGTV star let us in on what floats his boat.

Once you’re done...