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The Times Bricks and Mortar - 12 January 2018

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FRIDAY JANUARY 12 2018
How to move or improve
THE STRATEGIES YOU NEED IN A WEAK MARKET
pages 7-9
The McMafia effect: why the drama is driving the British to drinks trolleys page 11
2 Bricks & Mortar
1G P
Friday January 12 2018 | the times
HOME OF THE WEEK
A six-bedroom home in Battersea, London, is �.5 million through Russell Simpson
A place in town
with a rural feel
This spacious family house is in the smartest
part of Battersea, says Anna Temkin
T
he redevelopment of
Battersea Power Station,
the regeneration of Nine
Elms (the home of the
new US embassy) and
the Royal College of
Art?s expanding
Battersea footprint have
shone the spotlight on this area of
southwest London in recent years.
Interest has piqued since Prince George?s
enrolment in September last year at
Thomas?s Battersea.
Battersea House, a modern family
home situated between the school and
Battersea Park, is on the market through
Russell Simpson for �.5 million. Built in
1998, it has six bedrooms, six bathrooms
and three reception rooms. The vendors
are the second couple to have owned it.
Having raised their children here, they
are looking to downsize, but plan to
stay in the area.
Set behind electronic gates on a quiet
street, the house has the ambience of a
country pile, and its entrance hall is
more what you would expect to find on a
sprawling rural estate than in a low-built
property in southwest London. A black
and white tiled floor is complemented by
tables adorned with decorative pieces
and a grand staircase designed by Robert
Kime, who also designed the red
wallpaper in the dining room.
Many of the furnishings of the house
were handpicked in the Proven鏰l town
of L?Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. The large kitchen
and the main drawing room have French
windows that lead to the garden, where
there is a swimming pool. The owners
built a coach house, in the same style as
the main house, to provide more parking
space, and it also houses a gym and a
wine cellar.
Jake Russell, a director at Russell
Simpson, says: ?The brilliant thing about
the property is how lateral it is ? it is
difficult to find this amount of square
footage [almost 5,500] over two floors.
The fact that it has its own driveway is
another plus. You can park four or five
cars there without any trouble.?
GET THE
LOOK
The
staircase,
above, and
the red
wallpaper,
right, were
designed
by Robert
Kime
(robertkime.
com)
Prime properties
Fixer-upper
Village home
Great Glen, Leicestershire
Tiddington, Warwickshire
WHAT YOU GET This period property,
built as a single residence, was split into
two dwellings in the 1960s, and is now
owned by a single family. It has three
bedrooms, a bathroom, sitting room,
study, kitchen/breakfast room, shower
room and a two-bedroom annexe. There
is a garage and the grounds have lawns
enclosed by mature trees.
WHERE IS IT? In Great Glen, a village
between Leicester and Market
Harborough where there is a post office
and Leicester Grammar School.
UPSIDE The annexe could be integrated
into the main house.
DOWNSIDE Renovation costs are
estimated at �0,000 to �0,000.
PRICE �0,000
CONTACT Strutt & Parker,
01858 438713, struttandparker.com
WHAT YOU GET Modern design meets
period features in this refurbished
double-fronted Georgian house. It has
sash windows, open fireplaces and a
modern kitchen. There are four bedrooms,
two bathrooms (one en suite), an en
suite shower room, two reception rooms,
a reception hall, kitchen/breakfast room,
dining room, study, utility room, cellar.
An outbuilding with three garages and
a workshop is included.
WHERE IS IT? The village of
Tiddington, less than two miles from
Stratford-upon-Avon.
UPSIDE It?s a renovated blank canvas.
DOWNSIDE There is a pedestrian right
of way to the side of the house.
PRICE �0,000
CONTACT Knight Frank, 01789 297735,
knightfrank.co.uk
the times | Friday January 12 2018
Bricks & Mortar 3
1G P
MATTHEW DAVIS; ALEX WINSHIP
ON THE MARKET
Make the move to
an Edwardian home
Wimbledon, SW19
This detached, unmodernised Edwardian house has pink shutters,
curved dormer windows and a white stucco and red-brick front
elevation. With five bedrooms, a southwest-facing lawn garden and
off-street parking, it is a home on which buyers can put their stamp.
�75 million, jackson-stops.co.uk
Oxford,
OX2
This seven-bedroom
detached Edwardian
house is on a quiet road
in the north of the city.
It has high ceilings and
period features ? the
living room has an inset
wall with windows, wood
panelling and a fireplace
surrounded by green tiles.
�75 million,
carterjonas.co.uk
Shaldon,
Devon
The Teign estuary and
three tors on Dartmoor
can be seen from the
reception hall and
the first floor of this
Edwardian house. The
veranda at the rear of
the four-bedroom home
is a lovely spot to enjoy
the garden?s features.
�5,000,
dartandpartners.com
Writer?s house
Stevenage, Hertfordshire
WHAT YOU GET This grade I listed
property was the childhood home of
EM Forster, and features in his novel
Howards End. Formerly known as
Howards, Rooks Nest House has Tudor
origins and sits in more than four acres
of land. It has parquet flooring,
fireplaces, a double-aspect sitting room,
kitchen, scullery, lobby, utility room, five
bedrooms, bathroom and a cellar.
WHERE IS IT? On Weston Road in
Stevenage, less than three miles from
Stevenage railway station, from where
trains to London take 26 minutes.
UPSIDE Its literary pedigree.
DOWNSIDE It needs modernising.
PRICE �5 million
CONTACT Hunters, 01438 313393,
hunters.com
Claire Carponen
Thorney,
Cambridgeshire
Available for the first
time since 1921, this
six-bedroom former
farmhouse is
quintessentially
Edwardian and has rooms
with large sash windows.
Set in 12 acres, 7 miles
from Peterborough, it has
views of the countryside.
�5,000, savills.com
Claire Carponen
4 Bricks & Mortar
1G P
COMMENT
Adjust to the new
normal or regret it
Anne Ashworth
Property and Personal Finance Editor
L
ots of people assume that
they are property experts.
Often this is based on little
more than past increases
in the value of their homes,
which they regard as proof
of their taste and foresight,
rather than the result of
economic factors such as low-cost finance.
In 2018 mortgages will remain cheap,
but anyone who wishes to relocate needs
to become an expert on a market that,
for the moment, bears little resemblance
to past periods of slowdown. A willingness
Friday January 12 2018 | the times
MATTHEW WILLIAMS
to adapt to the new normal must be
combined with a full reality check, based
on a study of the prices at which homes
are changing hands, rather than on
starry-eyed asking prices.
Such knowledge is the only option if
you do not want to be the seller whose
overpriced house is being used by estate
agents to highlight the allure of similar,
nearby properties that can be acquired
for less, as we report on page 7.
In previous downturns it was a tenet
of belief that torpor in London and the
southeast would spread elsewhere.
However, one cause of London?s fall
from grace is the ascent of affordable
cities such as Birmingham and Bristol
that are within the reach of househunters on a budget.
Better-off buyers are also keen on
a bargain home, especially if it?s a
fixer-upper, but there is a smallish
clientele for an immaculately renovated
residence. Anyone, however, planning
to improve in the hope of a swift sale
should be aware that, while a loft
extension may provide an uplift, a new
kitchen may not perform the same feat.
Your rustic-meets-industrial look may be
another person?s style clich� and an
excuse to walk away, leaving you to
regret the sums you spent on the gritty
exposed brickwork and the range cooker.
indicates that he is secretary of state for
housing, as well as for communities and
local government. Why did it take
so long?
The UK is said to need 300,000 new
homes a year, but uncertainty surrounds
the shortfall between this target and
output. About 180,000 homes were
built in England in 2016-17. But, as Neal
Hudson of Residential Analysts points
out, other official data shows that
?217,350 net additional dwellings? were
completed, when homes created from
agricultural, office and other ?permitted
rights? conversions are taken into
account.
This is our Statistic of the Week
because it will provide Nimbys with
a pretext to oppose widescale
development, although many more
homes, particularly of the affordable
type, are still required. Raab may be
urged to see permitted rights projects as
the answer, but local authorities are
turning against such schemes. Housing
minister may be a job with a short
tenure, but a long list of challenges.
Statistic of the Week
The tally of housing ministers since
1998 is the week?s most talked-about
number since no fewer than 16
individuals have held this crucial post
during that time. After the reshuffle,
Dominic Raab has become the latest
incumbent.
Voters may not view such constant
cast changes as the solution to the
housing crisis, especially in light of the
questions being asked about the extent
of the problem facing Raab and Sajid
Javid, his boss. Javid?s title finally
Follow us
on Twitter
@timesproperty
@anneashworth
@carollewis101
@davidbyers26
@francescasteele
@jessiehewitson
@annabellew80
@annatemkin
@bricksscotland
When less is more
If your mission to declutter this year
needs inspiration, we suggest
Remodelista: The Organized Home by
Julie Carlson and Margot Guralnick
(published by Artisan, �). This guide
supplies 75 storage staple ideas, some
of which are pictured above, but also
warns that ?ample storage is not
necessarily a good thing?, because large
cupboards and wardrobes are a
temptation to accumulate rather than
prune your belongings. I am trying out
some of the suggestions and will inform
you on my progress.
the times | Friday January 12 2018
Bricks & Mortar 7
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COVER STORY
The price is right: a guide to valuation in 2018
T
he old adage goes: ?There is
no such thing as a bad
property, just a bad price.?
A sharp slowdown in house
price growth last year, along
with several reports of sellers dropping
asking prices in central London, means
that many homeowners may be
wondering how to price their house sale
correctly. Should you listen to your estate
agent, or look at house price indices?
How much more should you expect
buyers to pay for your designer kitchen?
?The key is research,? says Caspar
Harvard Walls, a partner at Black Brick,
a buying agency. ?There are some estate
agents who are desperate for stock, and
so will value a property high so that they
can get it on their books. All too often
the overpriced property is then used as
a ?lever?, whereby agents will show it
alongside more accurately priced
alternatives in a bid to make them look
cheap. This does not help the owner, and
they will have to bring their price down.?
We answer your pricing questions.
What do the house price indices say?
Research from Nationwide shows that
house prices rose by 2.6 per cent last year,
compared with growth of 4.5 per cent in
2016. London was the worst-performing
region, with house prices falling 0.5 per
cent last year. Meanwhile, prices in the
West Midlands grew by 5.2 per cent, and
in the East Midlands by 4.6 per cent.
Regional disparities could also be
significant this year. Savills forecasts a
There is logic to this, but also ask each
agent to demonstrate how and why
they?ve come up with the price they
have given. If they can?t justify it, alarm
bells should be ringing.? Compare the
agents? valuations with sold price data
on Rightmove, which shows the latest
Land Registry figures. David Lee, the
head of sales at Pastor Real Estate, says:
?Do some research into what has sold in
your area and a radius of five streets
within the past six months.? Alex
Newall, the founder of Barnes
Private Office, says: ?Don?t
look at Rightmove or
Zoopla?s approximate
pricing of your house.
They are mostly
incorrect.?
further house price fall of 2 per cent in
London this year, and growth of only
0.5 per cent in the southeast and east of
England. Over the next five years the
estate agency predicts growth of 7.1 per
cent for London, compared with a rise of
18.1 per cent for the northwest and 14.8
per cent for the West Midlands.
How can I tell how much my house is
worth? Don?t look solely at property
portals, as these will tell you the prices
that sellers are asking, not what they are
achieving. ?Get the opinion of three local
agents,? says Christian Warman, a
director of Tedworth Property. ?Often
people opt for the middle valuation.
Top: in Chelsea, west
London, a five-bedroom
home is on sale for
�.5 million. Inset
above: this five-bedroom
house in Broadway,
Worcestershire,
is on the market for
�9 million with Savills
Should I
underprice?
It depends. Round
numbers pick up
people searching
online for different
price brackets. ?Gone are
the days of pricing just
under or over a price point ?
say, at �9,950 in favour of getting
�0,000,? says Tim Simmons, the
head of residential sales at Humberts.
?Vendors will render themselves invisible
to those looking in the �0,000 to
550,000 price point.? Vendors keen to
sell quickly are often advised to drop
down a price bracket and add ?offers in
excess of?.
Should I factor in higher stamp duty?
Absolutely, says Alexander Lewis of
Knight Frank. ?Anything above �million
is being down-valued because of higher
stamp duty [since it went up in 2014].
Buyers expect sellers to factor at least 50
per cent of [the loss] into their pricing.?
Does my location matter? Yes. Lewis
says: ?Not only should you think about
what is selling in your neighbourhood,
but what makes your house worth more
than the neighbourhoods near by.?
Prime southwest London properties have
experienced a decline in prices over the
past year, Savills says. Property prices in
Battersea, Clapham, Fulham, Wandsworth,
Barnes and Richmond fell by an average
of 4.2 per cent last year, making it
London?s weakest prime market. Regional
city markets are likely to hold their
value, but check out the competition.
So what is likely to alter the value of
my house? Transport links are key
(including imminent ones, such as
Crossrail), as are good local schools.
Agents say that buyers are happy to pay
more for completed works that add
structural value, such as a loft conversion
or extension, but not for expensive
cosmetic changes such as a new kitchen.
?If something has been on the market for
six months or more, even if you are
getting lots of viewings, you may want
to reconsider the price,? Lewis says.
Francesca Steele
How to move and improve, pages 8-9
8 Bricks & Mortar
1G P
Friday January 12 2018 | the times
COVER STORY
How to move or improve in a
Do you want to sell your house? Take a reality
check and follow these tips from Carol Lewis
on achieving your goals in a difficult market
W
hether your
dream home
is a thatched
cottage in
Devon, a
castle in the
Highlands,
a new-build
in the Midlands or a Victorian terraced
house in London, 2018 could be the year
in which you achieve your
housing goals ? despite the
slow market conditions.
This week Halifax
announced that
house price growth
in the UK has
more than halved
in the past
year, leaving
homeowners
wondering whether
they will better
achieve their housing
ambitions by moving,
staying put and improving
the property they are in ? or
building their own from scratch.
?The million-dollar question at the
moment is do we stick or twist?? says
Jake Russell, a director at Russell
Simpson, a central London estate
agency. ?With prices falling, a rise in
deals being agreed for under the asking
price and investors perturbed by the
unattractive stamp-duty levies, selling
your home is not a simple process.?
Caroline Takla, the founder of The
Collection, a buying agency, says:
?Buyers are understandably fickle, and
are opting for properties that are
immaculate or are priced so
competitively that they can absorb the
work themselves and see some form of
upside, or hedge the uncertainty
in the market.?
We assess the options,
wherever you are on
the housing ladder.
Gain space
?For those who are
set on moving there
is a lot of interest in
homes that have
been recently
completed or
modernised and are
ready to move into upon
exchange,? Russell says. ?This
can be a better option for those
wanting to upsize and who need a
liveable space straightaway, or simply
don?t have the time to hire an interior
designer. Also, as the market softens,
now could be the best time to bag a
bargain. While those selling may need to
Why the only way
is up for apartments
T
raditionally, a family house
in an area undergoing
gentrification was considered
the type of property most likely
to appreciate. This is evident
in the performance of houses in areas
such as the east London borough of
Hackney, where the average price per
square metre rose from �7 in 2012 to
�5 last year ? an increase of more
than 60 per cent. However, with houses
beyond the reach of so many
homebuyers, experts are beginning to
argue that the homes with the most
potential for appreciation are flats in
locations under regeneration.
Their values have already begun to
rise faster than those of other homes.
The national average apartment price
has increased by 27.3 per cent over the
past decade, according to figures from
Lendy, a peer-to-peer investment
group. This compares with rises of 19 per
cent for terraced properties, 18.9 per cent
for detached houses and 17.6 per cent for
semi-detached houses.
The increases have been driven by
younger house-hunters who, priced out
of suburbs, have turned to developments
on regeneration zones in London,
Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow,
where prices are more reasonable.
The L1 postcode, which covers the
centre of Liverpool, was named the most
desirable place to invest across England
and Wales by Which?, the consumer
watchdog. The price of properties, most
of which are flats, in this area popular
with young professionals and the city?s
large student population, rose from
�,000 to �0,000 between 2014 and
2015. As regeneration bears fruit, the
average price has reached �5,479,
according to Rightmove ? well beneath
the national average. Developments in
this area include Sir Thomas House,
where flats start from �,000, with an
8.4 per cent rental return in two years.
Liam Brooke, the co-founder of Lendy,
says: ?Flats were once for people who
couldn?t afford anything else, but that
has changed. Many buyers are looking at
areas that were formerly industrial sites
close to the city centre, but have been
redeveloped with residential complexes.?
Research from JLL, the property
consultant, highlights the growth in the
price of homes (mostly apartments) in
regeneration schemes compared with
the surrounding areas. In Elephant &
Castle, southeast London, prices in the
area?s eight regeneration schemes
(composed of 1,360 flats) have risen
from �0-800 a square foot in 2011 to
�200 a square foot today.
Prices of homes in the Elephant Park
be realistic on the price they accept, there
is also a lot of value for them in the
market when looking for themselves.?
Frances Clacy, a research analyst at
Savills, has found that the most
expensive move proportionally is from a
three-bedroom to a four-bedroom home
? a 63 per cent uplift, which equates to
an average of �4,117.
The cheapest upgrade proportionally,
with a 38 per cent uplift, is the move
from a two-bedroom to a three-bedroom
property, which costs an average of
�,938. ?If you add an extra bedroom to
a three-bedroom property, you have the
same property with an extra bedroom,?
Clacy says. ?If you move to a fourbedroom house you gain extra reception
The performance of flats
Value per square foot in London
regeneration areas
Woodberry
Down,
Hackney
2009
Now
�0
�0
South Acton
estate,
Ealing
2012
Now
�0
�0
King?s Cross
Central,
Camden
�0
Royal Arsenal,
Greenwich
Borough average: �7
Borough average: �4
2013
Now
�500
Price growth in the UK
since 1997 in all
property types
Semi-detached
17.6%
Detached
18.9%
Terraced
19%
Flats
27.3%
Borough average: �045
2010
�0
Now
�140
Borough average: �2
scheme, which covers three of the
developments, have risen from �0 a
square foot in 2014 to �200 a square
foot. This compares with �1 a square
foot across the borough. The area is also
becoming a key rental location as part
of the purpose-built build-to-rent sector.
Meanwhile, prices on the Woodberry
Down regeneration scheme in Finsbury
Park, north London, have gone up from
�0 a square foot in September 2009
to �0 today ? a 138 per cent increase.
This compares with a borough-wide �7
a square foot ? an 88 per cent increase.
The value of homes in Hale Village in
Haringey, north London, has gone from
�0 a square foot in March 2011 to
�0 today, a 117 per cent increase;
borough-wide the figure is �7 a square
foot and an increase of 73 per cent.
Flats in big regeneration schemes
outside London have also appreciated
UK average
(not including flats)
18.6%
Source: JLL: Lendy
Scotland
What?s happening to
country house prices
Online at thetimes.co.uk
and in tablet editions
A four-bedroom house
in Bucknell, Shropshire,
is on the market for
�5,000. Left: in Fulham,
southwest London, this
five-bedroom house is
on sale for �85 million.
Both are being sold
through Strutt & Parker
strongly. Salford in Greater Manchester,
which is the home of the �billion
MediaCityUK development, has become
a buy-to-let hub because of an influx of
creative and digital jobs and a student
population of 70,000. In the present
market, fewer homes in Salford that are
for sale have been reduced in price
compared with the regional average.
This is also the case for homes in other
regeneration zones in cities such as
Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Nick Whitten, the associate director
of UK research at JLL, says that in
London, Nine Elms on the south bank
of the Thames is likely to be the next big
riser, even though a fall in interest from
foreign investors in the area?s luxury flats
last year triggered a 16 per cent drop in
prices in the SW8 postcode, which
contains Nine Elms and Battersea
Power Station. It compares with a boom
in nearby Brixton and Stockwell.
In August 2017 it emerged that Dalian
Wanda, China?s largest commercial
property company, had walked away
from its �0 million acquisition of
Nine Elms Square. ?This is not about
taking a punt on an area, but having an
image of the long-term vision,? Whitten
says. ?The earlier you get into a
?regeneration hotspot?, the better return
on investment you will receive. Imagine
what Nine Elms will be like when it is
complete, with a shopping centre,
underground stations and schools. The
regeneration may be in its early stages,
but homebuyers need faith.
?You would not criticise a book when
you?re only a few pages in, and this is
the same for these regeneration sites
? they are in their early chapters.?
David Byers
the times | Friday January 12 2018
Bricks & Mortar 9
1G P
COVER STORY
a market slowdown
Stay put
rooms and have a bigger garden, which
is why proportionally the jump in value
is so much more.? The rise in price from
a three-bedroom to a four-bedroom
house is proportionally less in London,
and more in places such as northwest
England, Clacy?s research shows.
In outer London a move from a
three-bedroom to a four-bedroom
house will cost an average of �7,719
(an uplift of 47 per cent). In northwest
England a four-bedroom property
will cost 79 per cent more than a
three-bedroom home ? or the
equivalent of �6,673.
Rightmove data shows that the most
expensive place outside London to
move from a two-bedroom flat to a
three-bedroom house is St Albans,
Hertfordshire, where the price difference
was �4,005 for homes sold last year.
Other places where the differences
were substantial were Winchester in
Hampshire (�0,995), Chichester in
West Sussex (�6,362) and Chelmsford
in Essex (�5,885).
On the
cover
A house
in Queens
Park,
northwest
London,
with six
bedrooms
is on
sale for
�8 million
(Knight
Frank)
A three-bedroom house in Aldgate, east London, is
on the market for �1 million. Above right: a house
in Birgham, the Scottish Borders, is on sale for
offers of more than �25 million (both Knight Frank)
Johnny Morris, the research and
analytics director at Countrywide estate
agency, has found that people are most
likely to improve rather than move in
London and the southeast. Although the
scales are still tipped towards moving ?
just ? the home-improvement capital
of Britain is south Buckinghamshire,
where there are 82 planning applications
for every 100 house sales.
?The more expensive an area is, the
more likely a homeowner is to improve
rather than move,? Morris says. His
research shows that those living in
super-expensive areas of London, for
instance, add more space than anyone
else in the country, and that those with
larger properties are more likely to
extend ? principally because they have
a greater space in which to do so.
Across Britain, homeowners add an
average of 15 sq m, the equivalent of
16 per cent more space or one additional
room. In London that rises to 16 sq m,
18 per cent more space, and in prime
central London 22 sq m, or 22 per cent
more space.
Owners of detached homes are likely
to add an average of 26.6 sq m, a 21 per
cent increase in space, or the equivalent
of 1.6 additional rooms. Those most
restricted unsurprisingly expand the
least, so those living in flats add only
6 sq m, and those in mid-terrace homes
9 sq m. ?In reaction to market conditions
a number of would-be sellers delist their
homes and opt for renovation works to
increase living space or freshen
up their surroundings,?
Russell says. ?This can
work in favour of the
vendor in the sense
that they can expand
their home, add
rooms, recreation
facilities or
completely revamp
the interiors to suit
new trends and
needs, which in turn
can add value to
their home.
?However, one thing we
make clear when advising our
clients on which way to go is that
renovating a home can be costly, so they
need to weigh up the pros and cons of
sticking and improving against finding
somewhere new. A further issue that
can be a hindrance to some looking to
vastly increase their living space is the
ban on large basement extensions, as
experienced in Kensington and Chelsea,
and Westminster of late.?
When deciding whether a property is
worth improving, balance the expected
expenditure against the value of the
property. Research by Banda, a
development company, shows that a loft
extension shouldn?t cost more than 5 per
cent of the value of a property, which
means that it is not viable for a home
worth �0,000 or less in London, and
that a basement excavation isn?t worth it
in a home valued at less than �million.
However, innovative building
techniques are making renovating easier.
Robin Chatwin, the head of Savills in
southwest London, says: ?In recent years
prefab loft conversions have risen in
popularity. While planning permission
must still be sought, the modular lofts
are custom-built and craned in place to
sit atop a property. The full installation
process may only take a matter of weeks,
so can certainly suit those where time is
of the essence.?
Take on a project
With stamp duty higher than ever,
homes with room for expansion or
improvement are in demand because
they cost less (in price and stamp duty)
than those that have already been
renovated. There is also renewed interest
in unmodernised ?doer-uppers?.
?There is quite a vogue at the moment
for young couples with no experience of
refurbishing to buy houses that need
loads of work, as they perceive it as the
best value for money and a good way of
getting the home they want,? Rob
French, the head of Knight Frank?s office
in Clapham, southwest London, says.
?Although sometimes I would say they?d
be better off buying a home already done
and getting back six months of their
lives. People always underestimate how
much work a house will need? that?s
not just in terms of financing, but also
the time and effort needed.?
Consider self-build
The government has a target to facilitate
20,000 self-build and custom-build
homes by 2020. It looks as though it is
on track, having granted 20,000
planning permissions to self-builders last
year, according to Michael Holmes, the
chairman of the National Custom &
Self Build Association. This is a 32 per
cent increase since 2016, when the
government introduced Right to
Build legislation, which requires local
authorities to provide serviced
plots with planning
permission for those
who wish to build their
own homes.
Holmes says
that Cherwell in
Oxfordshire stands
out as an authority
that has embraced
the legislation,
offering 1,900
plots on a former
airbase near Bicester.
Self-build is not
confined to large, complex,
expensive builds such as
those portrayed on the television
programme Grand Designs. Teignbridge
council in Devon has approved planning
permission for 20 custom-build homes
in Newton Abbot for first-time buyers at
20 per cent less than market values.
One of the advantages of self or
custom-building is that you pay stamp
duty only on the land, rather than on
the total value of the house and land,
and the build is VAT-free. So, for a plot
of land costing �0,000 and a build
price of �million, you are likely to end
up with a home valued at about
�million. If you were to buy that home
ready built you would pay �3,750 in
stamp duty, but if you build it yourself
or opt for a custom-build, you would
pay �,500.
The key challenge, according to
Holmes, is accruing the deposit required
to buy the land and pay for the build.
Bank loans usually cover about
75 per cent of the cost, meaning that
it is often only within the means of
those who can release equity from
their existing home.
Holmes is campaigning for a
help-to-buy-style scheme to make
self and custom-build more affordable
for more people.
Tastemakers
Erin Martin
T
he American designer
Erin Martin ended 2017
on a high, winning the
prestigious Andrew Martin
International Interior
Designer of the Year award.
Previous winners include Nicky Haslam,
Kelly Hoppen and Rose Uniacke.
The awards have been held since
the early 1990s, when they were started
by the interior designer Martin Waller,
and are dubbed ?the Oscars of the
design world?.
As the daughter of an artist and an
architect, creativity is in Erin Martin?s
DNA. She has never believed in rules.
Her design training? ?No school, lots
of travel and a wild imagination.?
Having been in the industry for
more than 20 years, Martin has
worked everywhere from Morocco
to Hungary. These days her main
base is a studio in California, where
she has taken on projects such as a
Four Seasons resort, a Napa Valley
winery, a luxury San Francisco
apartment and a private residence
in Sonoma, California. Robert Redford
is among her clients.
Her designs are renowned for their
grit, eccentricity and playfulness; think
dark shades, exposed brickwork and
statement lighting.
W What is your biggest source of
design inspiration? My mother and
good literature.
W Chintz or minimalism? No rules,
remember? If you get scale, you can do
anything ? it?s not either or.
W What is your design essential?
Champagne and humour.
W Favourite interior design ?quick fix??
Champagne and humour.
W Prediction for the next big interior
design trend? It can be anything that
you dream or want.
W The design pitfall to avoid? Rules.
W If you could live in anyone?s house,
whose would it be and why? My
mother?s, because it is home.
W When decorating what do you
splurge on? I don?t decorate, but if I did
then art ? always.
W What would you
save on? Everything
but art.
W The best piece of
design advice you
have ever received?
Don?t do it.
W What is your
favourite thing
about your
home? That it
tells the story
of my life,
and my
daughter?s.
Anna
Temkin
the times | Friday January 12 2018
1G P
Bricks & Mortar 11
RM
JAKE FITZJONES
INTERIORS
T
here were nearly two
searches every minute
for chesterfield sofas on
eBay in the first week of
January, nearly 1,200
searches for chandeliers
and 300 for drinks
trolleys. The site has put
this unusual boom down to one thing:
the McMafia effect. Since the BBC series
started on January 1, everyone wants a
piece of oligarch chic.
The mega-rich Godman family, exiled
from Russia to a glamorous block of flats
a short stroll from Hyde Park in central
London, may have furnished their lavish
apartment using dirty money, but they
have great taste in fancy cushions.
As Dimitri (Aleksey Serebryakov)
comforts his cashmere-clad wife, Oksana
(Mariya Shukshina), on their velvet sofa,
spot the stack of design books, including
Luxury Houses, artfully arranged on the
leather chesterfield footstool next to a
vase of pink dahlias. Or notice the deepred walls setting off priceless artwork,
and the dark polished wood writing desk
as (spoiler alert) Alex (James Norton)
sprints away from the men wielding a
silver caviar knife in episode one.
In the past Russian interior design,
especially of the homes of extremely
wealthy Russian expats living in the UK,
has earned itself an unfortunate
reputation as being naff, blingy and over
the top. Yet those who work with
high-net-worth international clients say
that this is no longer the case. Chandeliers
still rule, but may be art deco influenced
rather than dripping with crystals, or
coupled with polished parquet floors and
Farrow & Ball painted walls.
?Russians have an unfair reputation
for tastelessness, which simply isn?t true
any more,? says Louisa Brodie, the head
of search and acquisitions at Banda
Property, which helps wealthy clients,
often from overseas, to find suitable
houses in London. ?They like prestigious
addresses, well-known and
established brands, and feel
reassured by following
rather than setting
design trends. In my
experience Russians
prefer a turnkey
house rather than
a project.?
Wealthy Russian
buyers are returning
to the UK property
market. Over the
autumn Trevor
Abrahmsohn, the head
of Glentree, an estate
agency catering to the
super-rich, says the cheaper pound
has attracted expats from Moscow with
?new-found gusto?.
?The drop in residential property
prices in key parts of London of up to
25 per cent, together with the sterling
currency discount, is an irresistible
opportunity for them to ?bag? some
Artwork is used to great effect in this country mansion in Godalming, Surrey, designed by Maurizio Pellizzoni
There is change afoot, however,
from a second generation keen to
demonstrate that not all Russians in
London are into ostentatious wealth.
Olga and Anatoly Alekseev, who
grew up in Siberia in blocks of flats with
traditional Soviet interiors ?not pleasing
architecturally and aesthetically?, run
the studio Black & Milk, which is on a
mission to alter attitudes to Russian
design. Olga says: ?People came out of
the Soviet not thinking about the design
of their residential spaces, having to all
wear the same, buy the same furniture.
The first generation had all this money
that they wanted to then show off. The
second generation have been raised in
a different environment and have
learnt to appreciate beauty; they are
well travelled and well educated.?
The Black & Milk philosophy is
?understated luxury?, borrowing design
principles from Nordic countries, but
injecting them with the style from Olga?s
Siberian childhood, and Russian nature.
The pair favour natural materials such as
wood, and textures and patterns on the
walls and floors using natural-fibre
wallpaper in bright, floral styles.
In a cold climate texture and layers are
important for insulation. Olga likes to
use gold tones, but in subtle touches on
table legs, or the arms of lamps.
?We try to create relaxed interiors
that feel secure and cosy,? Olga says.
?We do not want people to feel they
are in a palace where they cannot
touch anything.?
Svetlana Arefieva is one of a new wave
of second-generation interior designers
based in Russia and runs Well Done
Interiors, based in Moscow. She recently
transformed a late 19th-century
apartment in the centre of Moscow,
belonging to a couple with ?refined
tastes?, in a mix of modern and antique
styles. ?They already had a nice
collection of Soviet and modern art, rugs
and some antique and vintage furniture,
and they came to me with the idea of an
interior where Russian estate meets
Victorian,? says Arefieva. ?They wanted
lots of colour. I used bold chartreuse for
the living room, with a custom-made
turquoise fireplace mantel; the prototype
for it was an antique Doulton fireplace.
Some of the furniture we found in Paris,
some at Moscow galleries.?
Ukrainian embroideries and eastern
carpets are combined with French and
English antique furniture, Russian
empire chandeliers, chinoiserie and
Arts and Crafts wallpaper. Dark-red
William Morris pattern wallpaper in
particular demonstrates that an active
print can be a great background for art
pieces, she says. ?Russian culture is a
part of European culture.?
buyer and the seller. They must also
report any suspicious activity they come
across to the National Crime Agency.
Although it is illegal to disclose that a
suspicious activity report has been made,
the agency receives about 300,000 a
year ? many in the context of property
sales. The reporting company may ask
the agency to give ?appropriate consent?
allowing the transaction to proceed. If it
does not give permission, a moratorium
period applies during which the agency
can take action to freeze the relevant
bank account or seek other court orders.
The moratorium period was recently
raised from 31 days to 217 days by the
Criminal Finances Act 2017. The
transaction can only proceed once
consent is given, or the moratorium
period expires.
Failure to comply with these rules is
an offence under the Proceeds of Crime
Act 2002, punishable by up to 14 years?
imprisonment for the person concerned.
Therefore, money-laundering checks
have to be carried out in every property
transaction and you cannot dispense
with them to speed up a sale.
Mark Loveday
The writer is a barrister with Tanfield
Chambers. Email your question to:
brief.encounter@thetimes.co.uk
More is more: the
art of McMafia chic
The BBC drama on the lives of Russians in London has led to
a rush on chandeliers and drinks trolleys, says Laura Whateley
prime London residential assets that can
be bought for up to 50 per cent less [on
average] than would have been possible
in 2014,? Abrahamson says.
Alex Newall, the managing director
of Barnes Private Office, another
super-prime buying agency, has a
Russian buyers? checklist: high ceilings
(3m minimum), great location, a
sauna and spa facilities at the
property or close by,
en suite bathrooms,
underground parking
and proximity to
good schools and
shops. In terms of
style, he believes
that a lot of
Russian taste stems
from a desire to
honour their
imperial history.
?Walk around some of
Russia?s greatest 17th and
18th-century palaces and you
see, like the great country houses of
England, large rooms, high ceilings, large
crystal chandeliers, fine cornicing and
parquet wooden floors ? features
popular with Russians today.
?Carpentry and rosewood are in high
demand, so [designers, such as] Clive
Christian fit kitchens and studies.?
James Norton as Alex
Godman in the BBC
series McMafia. Inset
left: Nureyev drinks
trolley with side rails
by Soane Britain
More interior designs
inspired by McMafia
online and in tablet
editions the-times.co.uk
A striking stairway designed by Svetlana
Arefieva, who runs Well Done Interiors
ASK THE EXPERT
We are selling our home and the
contracts in the chain are ready for
signing. We are anxious that things
are being held up by our buyer?s
solicitor. Part of the deposit is
coming from the buyer?s parents
and the solicitor won?t proceed
until they have completed
money-laundering checks. What is
the requirement for these checks?
Money-laundering checks frequently
cause delays to property transactions.
Unfortunately they are not something
a buyer can dispense with, because
money-laundering obligations strictly
apply to the solicitors or conveyancers
involved in the sale.
Under the Money Laundering
Regulations 2007, the Proceeds of Crime
Act 2002 and the Terrorism Act 2000,
regulated solicitors and conveyancers are
required to verify the identity of their
clients and the source of funds they
receive, and to identify the ultimate
owner of that money. These rules apply
equally to companies that act for the
14 Bricks & Mortar
1G P
Friday January 12 2018 | the times
LUXE
Paradise found in a Caribbean bay
Christophe Harbour,
on a peninsula at the
tip of St Kitts, is a
luxury living dream,
says Liz Rowlinson
W
hen the
seasoned
superyacht
skipper
Aeneas
Hollins
dropped
anchor in
one of the scalloped bays on the
southeastern tip of St Kitts in 2007, he
decided to stay put. There he saw the
opportunity to design a destination
marina to rival those of Albany in the
Bahamas or Porto Cervo in Sardinia.
?With great flatwater anchorages, St
Kitts is a natural cruising area for big
boats,? he says. ?In fact, it?s so quiet you
can sail with a glass of champagne in
This four-bedroom furnished villa in
Christophe Harbour is $3.99 million
your hand.? It wasn?t so calm when, a
decade later, Hurricane Irma passed
through the Caribbean and battered the
freshly planted palm trees at Hollins?s
state-of-the-art marina, although the
damage could have been a lot worse.
CURRENCY SERVICES
Buying
or selling
property
abroad?
Trust us to take care of
your transfer.
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bungalows at Ocean Grove from
$1.3 million, or there is fractional
ownership ? you can buy a one
tenth share (five weeks a year) of a
four-bedroom villa for $450,000. These
fractions qualify for the island?s
33-year-old Citizenship by Investment
Thanks to Charles P ?Buddy? Darby,
programme that has a $400,000
the American owner of Hollins?s
threshold. Most buyers on St Kitts are
superyacht, who had shared his
from the US, with smaller numbers
skipper?s vision, the 24-berth marina
from Canada and the UK.
is only one part of an assiduously
Wealth preservation and lifestyle,
planned 2,500-acre gated island
not citizenship, are the driving
Sandy St Kitts
community now known as
forces for those who buy here, says
Point
Basseterre
Town
Christophe Harbour.
Darby. ?Prices of the resale
Christophe
Harbour
Once a largely neglected
properties
here have gone up
Frigate bay
peninsula with a stagnant salt lake,
35 per cent in four years,? he says.
New Castle
it was bought by Darby from the St
Elsewhere on the island prices
Caribbean
Nevis
Kitts government nine years ago.
are
static, and there?s not much
Sea
Christophe Harbour, where you can
competition ? yet. Various schemes
Charlestown
buy freehold berths from $1.875 million,
in the north of the island have been
is undoubtedly a stunning natural
built with citizenship-scheme buyers in
Two miles
playground. Its golden-sand beaches
mind, but not all are faring well, as
backed by green peaks are heaven for
buyers will often sell (at a loss) after
hikers. Although only a ten-minute drive
five years.
Custom-build your
away, you feel a million miles from St
However, investors might be attracted
dream home on a vacant
Kitts?s main tourist hub of Frigate Bay, or plot in Sandy Bank Bay
to a Hilton condo complex, Embassy
the immense cruise ships coming into
Suites, planned for 2018 in Pelican Bay,
in Christophe Harbour.
the port at Basseterre, its capital.
near Basseterre, and also the
Plots start at $3.3 million
Darby likes to call it a ?marina
$180 million Koi Resort & Residences
development designed by sailors for
development near Frigate Bay.
sailors? and, located in the chain of the
In response to the issue of high crime
Leeward Islands, it completes the
(local gang-related, rather than against
yachting triangle between Antigua and
tourists), Darby points to the one-road
St Barths/St Maarten. With room to
access to the Christophe Harbour
accommodate boats up to 300ft
peninsula. ?Where else in the Caribbean
Christophe Harbour is, Hollins suggests,
can you control the security on a
?five or six years behind? the luxury
2,500-acre piece of land?? he says.
marina development of Porto
The newly opened Park Hyatt hotel
Montenegro in southeastern Europe.
? the first of its kind in the Caribbean ?
Behind the dock an elegant, colonial-style
in secluded Banana Bay, looking
customs house will process arrivals (it is
across the strait to the island of Nevis,
a designated port of entry) and provide
is also a key milestone in putting
the services that superyacht owners and
Christophe Harbour on the radar,
crew require. This includes a handful of
according to Darby.
small ?Mustique-grade? boutiques ready
Though the lively Sunday nights at
to meet visitors? beach-to-bar clothing
Salt Plage, Christophe Harbour?s stylish
needs, with restaurants and apartments
go-to beach bar, cannot compete with
to come at a later stage.
the variety of top-quality restaurants and
Fast-track immigration for owners
amenities that Barbados and St Barths
is a selling point. Whether you arrive
offer, for lunch you can pop across to
into St Kitts?s Robert L Bradshaw
Nevis, a smaller island that has an
international airport by British Airways
affluent expat crowd that is only
(direct flights twice a week from Gatwick)
embryonic on St Kitts. Yachties take
or private aircraft, it?s possible to whizz
note ? there?s a superyacht marina
through the VIP lounge and be on your
planned there too.
boat within 30 minutes of touchdown.
Non-yachting owners can enjoy a rum
punch in the members? Pavilion beach
club, or relax in their villa.
Through the American-style purchase
set-up, you can buy custom home sites
from US$740,000 (�7,500), on which
you can have your home built by a
recommended developer at $500 to $650
a square foot. Or you can buy a resale
property, with four-bedroom villas
typically just under $4 million. ?These
would be $12 million if located in St
Barths,? says Genevieve Conroy, the
vice-president of marketing for the
development. There are spacious
The island of Nevis can be seen from this four-bedroom villa,
turnkey two-bedroom, two-bathroom
which is on the market for $3.695 million, in Christophe Harbour
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