Newspaper review: Papers focus on housing market


A surge in interest from first-time home buyers is driving up property prices - and adding to signs of a turnaround in the economy, according to the Times.

It says the appetite for owning a house is being propelled, in part, by the greater availability of mortgages for people new to the market.

The paper suggests that the average cost of a flat has already gone above £250,000 in England and Wales, heavily influenced by London prices and new properties.

However, the Times carries a warning that the government's attempts to support the housing market, through its Help to Buy mortgage package, could increase personal debt.

The Financial Times says the latest lending data is driving calls for ministers to drop the scheme because of worries about another housing bubble.

Experts tell the FT that the government's support for the market in this way risks putting house prices further out of the reach for people who would like to own their own home in the future.

Phone sale

The Daily Mail carries a warning that pensioners are taking "the biggest gamble" of their lives when they buy annuities to provide for their retirement.

The paper reports that annuity rates - which determine how much a pension pays - have fallen to an all-time low because of increased life expectancy.

Dr Ros Altmann, who advised Tony Blair on pensions, tells the Mail that there needs to be greater transparency from the pensions industry so people can compare products more easily and are fully aware of the risks.

"For sale: one phone firm. Popular with the president. Used to be habit-forming." That is the headline in the Guardian as it reports that the company behind Barack Obama's favourite smartphone, the BlackBerry, is looking for a buyer.

The paper says BlackBerry has suffered a calamitous decline as rivals revolutionised the business that the Canadian firm did so much to start.

The Financial Times thinks BlackBerry is probably finished as a standalone company, after things turned sour for it.

The FT suggests that the PC manufacturer, Lenovo, and the telecommunications equipment maker, Huawei, which are both based in China, are among interested buyers.

That has raised the question of a political angle to the sale because so many devices are used in governments.

One investment bank tells the FT that he does not see the US allowing BlackBerry to be owned by a Chinese firm because of "national security concerns".

Cookery spat

The Sun reports that a television crew spent 10 days partying in Thailand at the expense of BBC licence-fee payers.

The paper says filming for a BBC Three show was scrapped when three teenagers pulled out.

In a statement to the Sun, a BBC spokesman is quoted as saying: "There was a break in filming but the team continued to work and film other material."

The knives appear to be out in the world of celebrity TV chefs, as the Queen of Baking gives the King of Ranting - and reality television - a roasting.

A number of papers report on an interview in the Radio Times, in which Mary Berry says she hates Gordon Ramsay's programmes.

The Daily Telegraph says the 78-year-old cook, who appears in The Great British Bake-Off - which sees ordinary people compete for baking supremacy - accuses modern television of being "violent, cruel and noisy".

The Daily Express says she could not resist firing a broadside at Ramsay's style of TV show.

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