Property drama - but it’s okay, it’s not in St Albans

Nothing like a surprise!

Nothing like a surprise! - Credit: Archant

Millionaires, stalkers and more confusing statistics - who said the world of property was without it’s soap opera tendencies?

Taxidermy on display

Taxidermy on display - Credit: Archant

I know what you did...

The property world comes with its tales of drama; bad sales, noisy neighbours, messy tenants, cowboy builders. But stalking is one of the less common problems property moguls might have to deal with.

Not in the case of Andrew de Candole, the founder of de Candole Residential, whose case against investor Thomas Badian came to a conclusion this week in London. Mr Badian pleaded guilty to two counts of “harassment by sending repeated electronic messages”. Ah, the digital age. The stalking opportunities are endless.

Why was he harassing this man, I hear you asking. Apparently, Mr de Candole was romancing Badian’s fashionista girlfriend, Michaela Frankova, behind Mr Badian’s back. This, however, would have also been behind the back of Mr de Candole’s girlfriend Nateploy Thamsaroch. Don’t you just love the names? It’s like a Chekhov play.

It’s unclear what this property developer was doing interacting with Ms Frankova - but who cares? Scandal is scandal, whether there was a property deal involved or not. Ms Frankova was taken to dinners on several occasions by Mr de Candole - perhaps to simply discuss this season’s trends in damask trim - which evidently infuriated Mr Badian to a level of digital outrage. Fake social media accounts were set up, weird emails were sent, and on one occasion Mr de Candole received a text message at 5am that read: “Today is full of surprises.” How very “I Know What You Did Last Summer”.

Mr de Candole and girlfriend Ms Thamsaroch (who apparently knew all about Ms Frankova and didn’t really seem that bothered) then started receiving emails from an address called “Project ADC”. How very “Homeland”.

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This was the extent of the stalking, as the law got involved after that. No horses heads in beds; no socialite beauty queens being chased across the Millennium Bridge at 4am; and no champagne trips on the London Eye unaware that the man in the glass pod above you is brandishing a fish hook. Merely a restraining order, community service and a remorseful Ms Frankova, who has since said: “I regret this whole episode.” I bet she does!

Come live with me

What would you look for in a housemate? Tidy? Non-smoker? Millions in the bank?

Millionaire entrepreneur Rupert Hunt is currently going through the motions via (which he founded) of finding people to share his £3m home in London’s Spitalfields with him.

Why do I know this? Because it’s a massive exercise in PR.

The whole episode is being catalogued in a YouTube video diary, reported via the Mail Online and the spare room is being advertised at an unbelievable rate of “whatever you can afford”.

This story hit the news a month ago, but Hunt’s most recent YouTube entry (Monday) sees him meeting with various applicants at a “speed-room-mating” event.

I find this creepy.

He has conducted a photo-shoot of himself positioned in various poses around his house - including sitting on the toilet (with clothes on). If this isn’t weird enough, the shots of his collection of taxidermy and his openness to live with pretty much anyone are the next causes for alarm bells to chime.

I think my problem is that this man is a millionaire - and so it all seems a bit more acceptable somehow. If it was just a regular person it would appear dodgier. But money plays such an integral role here that the prospective roommates are surely not in the least bit hesitant about submitting an application. They get to pick the rent amount, and what’s more they have a millionaire mate.

I feel sorry for this guy. Yes, he’s rich; but the allure to those applying is the financial factor. The whole thing is an exercise in money buying happiness.

Reporting the obvious

I just want to point out that I totally sympathise with the general public when the various banks and insurance firms and building societies churn out surveys and reports that analyse the cost of living, or house prices or how likely it is that you will be able to afford a one bedroom flat in the centre of St Albans and own a car, a guinea pig and at least one child at the same time.

The latest one baffles me. The Hamptons International affordability index have reported that buying a home has become slightly easier for Britons in the past year, but basically not so much if you don’t happen to live in the North-East or Wales. This has been calculated using official data on house prices, incomes, interest rates and changes in the cost of living. A typical household in Britain is £69 better off every month, giving them more cash to put towards buying a home, according to the figures. That’s if they actually want to do that though. One might prefer to go shoe shopping.

The ability to buy in the South-East, however, has deteriorated due to the fact that while house price growth slowed to 8 per cent from July to September 2015 (from 10 per cent during the same period a year earlier), wages only increased by 3 per cent.

Thankfully, Fionnuala Earley, director of residential research at Hamptons International, is able to put the disheartening news into simpler terms: “While it’s encouraging that ability to buy is getting better year-on-year...the key to better affordability is for wages to increase substantially faster than house prices.”

Thanks, Fionnuala.

I could direct you to the official report but if you want to look at a load of charts that cross reference percentage change in disposable income after tax, essentials and mortgage payments against the ability to buy index in regions of the UK since 1997, then I suggest you get out more.