Rapid descent; Wingsuit flyers leap off the side of a mountain during practice ahead of competition in Zhaotong, Yunnan province, China. (Photo: China Daily).

Whilst commercial investment agents are benefiting from a bull market and high deal volumes, it appears that their counterparts in the residential sector have less to be cheerful about.  Shares in estate agent Countrywide, which owns brands including Hamptons and Bairstow Eves, fell by 11.3% on Wednesday after the company issued a profits warning.  Shares in rival agent Foxtons also fell sharply...by 6.3%. The anticipated post-election re-bound in transactions seemingly never materialised and the sector is laying the blame (in part) on the changes to the SDLT regime, which has depressed sale volumes at the higher end of the market.  Bad news for agents, but also for would-be homebuyers who are left with limited choice, especially in London, at a time where lack of supply is continuing to drive pricing upwards.  So who are the beneficiaries?  We'd speculate that the home improvement sector is do a roaring trade, which in turn should be good news for investors of bulky-use retail warehouses!

The £260 million Broadway Shopping Centre in Bradford finally opened its doors this week - more than a decade after construction first started on site.  The Centre was officially opened by Alexandra Burke who (to assist all those who aren't dedicated followers of the X-factor and therefore have no idea who she is) won the talent competition way back in 2008 - probably about the same time that she was first signed up for the opening ceremony?!  Joking aside, the opening also coincides with a resurgence in consumer demand.  The British Council of Shopping Centres (BCSC) latest footfall monitor found year-on-year increases across the regions - with the Rugby World Cup giving a further boost to visitor numbers in specific host regions.  Westfield, or more accurately Mayer Bergman, will be hoping the belated Broadway opening has been timed just right. 

The sound of grunting, roaring and the clashing of antlers signifies that the deer mating season is in full swing.  The spectacle of two, testosterone-fuelled stags rutting furiously to secure their harem is indeed a fearsome sight.  However, concerns were raised this week that over-zealous photographers in Richmond Park are putting the male deer off their stride.  The Park's managers claimed that the photographers' behaviour - though unintentional - could disturb the natural selection process with longer term concerns for the quality of the herd.  And if walkers and nature-lovers need anymore encouragement to keep their distance, the Park's managers warn that stags in "rutting-mode" can be dangerously unpredictable.  One deer caught sight of its own reflection in a car and promptly head-butted it - presumably thinking it was another deer!  Grunting, fighting, head-butting; the similarities with most UK High Streets at pub closing time on a Saturday are uncanny!

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