Monthly Archives January 2010

iPhone therefore iPad

I don’t have an iPhone. I know people who do but I am used to having a half decent camera with a flash on my phone and I couldn’t convince myself that all the other features of the iPhone outweighed the lack of a decent camera.

So I went for the HTC HD2 which some people have dubbed an ‘iPhone Killer’ but mostly by people who don’t like the thought of any one product being so popular.

And now the news of the launch of Apple’s iPad.

There’s a really good review and demo here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/8484823.stm

Personally I don’t really see the point.

It really does just come across as a giant iPhone and reminds me of the Dom Jolly sketch with the giant mobile.

I can picture people walking down the road trying to hold their iPad to their ear… Funny image but I would actually expect people to use a headset!

I’m struggling to think of instances where the iPad would be better applied than a decent laptop though.

It plays games, great.  But it’s nothing like a 42″ TV with a surround sound system.

You can look at maps, wow. Is that really useful on something so chunky? I’d rather use my phone if I’m out and about or my laptop if I’m planning a trip.

It surfs the net, amazing. But why use the iPad over a PC, laptop or phone?

You can use email, who’d have thought it! But why is the iPad the place to do it?

It plays movies – but does it have a stand or do you have to lean it against something or hold it to watch them? – Again, TV or laptop just seems more logical.

You can read books with it! Whoa, steady on! Perhaps this is one feature it has that suits its purpose.

As you can tell, I’m failing to understand the point of this device.

There’s no doubt it looks pretty cool, the screen is bound to be crystal clear and you know it would be very aesthetically pleasing in the hand but surely a fast booting touchscreen laptop with built in mobile phone technology (or the ability to use it as a glorified handsfree kit) would have many more practical applications than an oversized iPhone?

Or am I just being old fashioned?

Mortgage Rates are Getting Better – But Lenders are Still Sneaky

I wasn’t going to write this as its after 8pm on a Friday and I really should pack up for the day but as I went to shut down I went to close the website I was researching and thought, what the hell.

Over the last few months, fixed mortgage rates have been gradually creeping down and now deals are available from around 3% with plenty of other offers between 3% and 4%.

Sounds good but all of the best rates on the market are for 2 year offers.

If you, like many others fear interest rates will rise in the future and favour the security of a long term fixed rate then things don’t look so good.

3 year deals start from 4% and go up to 5% and beyond and 4 & 5 year deals start from 4.9% and upwards with the majority of 5 year deals being above 5.4%

So why is there a 2% difference between 2 year deals and longer 4 or 5 year deals?

Well, for starters there’s the ‘swap rates’ (the rate at which banks borrow money) see here:

http://www.swap-rates.com/UKSwap_extended.html

2 year money costs lenders 2% so they mark it up by 1% for profit and sell it to mortgage customers.

5 year money costs just over 3% but most lenders are slapping on an extra 2% for themselves (and admin costs of course).

So, the longer you have your mortgage, the more profit the lenders will make from interest charged and the more it will cost the rate wary consumer.

Is that treating customers fairly?

So why is it like this?

My guess is it’s all about short term cash flow for banks.

If 10,000 mortgage customers have to remortgage every 2 years that’s £9,950,000 in lender arrangement fees (based on a fee of £995).

Nearly £10 million every 2 years.

And that’s just 10,000. There are a lot more than 10,000 mortgage customers in the UK!

In fact, a quick search online suggests over 14 million homeowners.

If only half of them have a mortgage and then half again chose a 2 year deal with a £995 fee that’s 3.5 million x £995 =  £3,482,500,000

Nearly £4 billion every 2 years on lender arrangement fees alone.

That’s why I think 2 year deals are better.

Naturally it’s good for mortgage brokers and therefore the industry too but is it fair on the consumers?

Property Developer Wins Landmark Case

In what has been described as a “landmark” ruling by newspaper The Mail, a judge has awarded damages of over £130,000 to a property developer after an unnamed buy-to-let investor pulled out of a deal to buy two flats in a Plymouth city centre new-build.

The 122-unit development has been plagued with troubles since the onset of the property crash, with just 18 flats sold so far and the remaining having to be let out by the developer, Prestige Homes South West.

However, the group’s victory in court has no doubt helped their plight. Since Prestige Homes won the case they have reportedly been contacted by a number of investors looking to complete contracts that were supposed to have been settled by last summer.

The case could have far reaching consequences for the 300 similar cases that are piling up in London courts.

Scores of property developers in the UK were left in the lurch as new-build values plunged by more than 40% over the last eighteen months and investors who had put down a deposit fled, finding themselves unable, or unwilling, to complete on the deal.

In the past 15 months alone, 130 claims have been filed by Irish developer Ballymore, whilst Trelford Homes has filed 50 and the now-collapsed Imagine Homes has chased 40 defaulting buyers.

Jeremy Raj, the head of residential property at law firm Wedlake Bell said the ruling, though significant, may not mean the end of these types of cases. He added: “This court ruling will have clarified matters for developers, but it is not a green light that all actions against defaulting buyers will succeed.”