FRIDAY MARCH 16 2018 Take a reality check THE THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW TO SELL A HOME NOW pages 10-11 How to embrace the Versace look page 13 What decor season are you? pages 14-15 2 Bricks & Mortar 1G P HOME OF THE WEEK Contemporary style in SW3 This family house in Chelsea has a formal sitting room, wine cellar and gym, says Anna Temkin I t took two and a half years of negotiations for Banda Property, a developer, to secure planning permission for Orford House in Chelsea, southwest London. Situated on Rawlings Street, it was previously the site of a postwar building divided into five apartments. The wait was worth it, says Edo Mapelli Mozzi, the chief executive of Banda Property: ?We have reintroduced the formal first-floor sitting room that was such a signature of Chelsea townhouses in the past, but have made the house thoroughly modern in terms of technology and energy efficiency. We also wanted to make sure that the layout was suitable for family living ? a lot of the older houses [in the area] are dominated by staircases and the rooms are spread across five floors, but here you have all your living space [more than 3,000 sq ft] across two floors.? On the market through Russell Simpson for �million, it has four bedrooms, four bathrooms and two sitting rooms. Fitness enthusiasts will approve of the gym, while oenophiles will delight in the climate-controlled wine cellar ? and the large south-facing terrace, which is ideal for enjoying a glass of wine on a warm summer?s evening. The interiors scheme, by the leading design company Turner Pocock, which was founded by Bunny Turner and Emma Pocock, combines traditional Chelsea grandeur with contemporary materials. It is dominated by a palette of classic creams and muted greys, offset by Orford House in Chelsea, southwest London, has four bedrooms and is on sale for �million through Russell Simpson brass detailing. The kitchen features neolith stone worktops and splashbacks, with statement pendant lighting above the island. In the master bathroom, which features a walk-in shower, Carrara marble tiles adorn the floor. The modern artwork throughout the property has been curated by Carrie Scott of CS&P, an art service. Orford House is about a five-minute walk from Sloane Square Tube station and ten minutes from South Kensington. ?It is incredibly rare to find a new-build home in the centre of Chelsea,? says Jake Russell, a director at Russell Simpson. ?The location, condition, proportions and amenities set it apart in a market that is very low on stock.? Prime properties Former rectory Barn conversion Kingsbridge, Devon Cookham, Berkshire WHAT YOU GET A Georgian former rectory, this listed house has more than an acre of grounds, ecclesiastical features including vaulted ceilings, five bedrooms, three bathrooms, two large reception rooms, a reception hall, kitchen/ breakfast room, snug and storage rooms. There is a converted two-bedroom coach house with a garage/workshop. WHERE IS IT? In Kingsbridge, a market town in the South Hams area of outstanding natural beauty on the Kingsbridge Estuary. UPSIDE Elegant yet homely rooms with large windows and timber flooring. DOWNSIDE The house is approached by a drive to the rear of the property. PRICE �5 million CONTACT Marchand Petit, 01548 857 588, marchandpetit.co.uk WHAT YOU GET This 5,000 sq ft restored home is in a new development created from four detached barns. It mixes original and reclaimed features with modern fittings and open-plan living spaces. It has five bedrooms, four bathrooms, a dining room, kitchen, family/breakfast room and a garage with a self-contained one-bedroom annexe. WHERE IS IT? In a rural spot south of Cookham, a village on the north bank of the river Thames known for its Stanley Spencer Gallery. Maidenhead is less than three miles away. UPSIDE The mix of contemporary design and rustic features are innovative. DOWNSIDE It?s not in the village centre. PRICE �85 million CONTACT Savills, 01753 834 600, savills.com Friday March 16 2018 | the times the times | Friday March 16 2018 Bricks & Mortar 3 1G P ON THE MARKET Make the move to a converted school Near Spurstow, Cheshire With its stone ogee windows, steep gables and an octagonal clock tower, living in this four-bedroom former school feels like stepping into a fairy tale. Built in gothic revival style in 1872, it is set in enchanting grounds, with a parterre garden, clipped hedging and well-stocked borders. �0,000, fishergerman.co.uk Abbotsbury, Dorset This five-bedroom former school house is in Abbotsbury, a village a mile inland from the Jurassic Coast and Chesil Beach. It has high ceilings, a country-style kitchen and terraced gardens backing on to woodland. �5,000, jackson-stops.co.uk Wandsworth, SW18 This one-bedroom converted apartment with a living room and off-street parking is on the second floor of a grade II listed former school. The property?s galley kitchen is compact, but it is dual aspect and has wooden windows. �0,000, johndwood.co.uk By a stream Bosham, West Sussex WHAT YOU GET This 948 sq ft Victorian cottage has sash windows, an open-plan sitting/dining room, refitted kitchen with oiled hardwood worktops and a study on the ground floor, two bedrooms, a shower room and bathroom on the first floor, and a double bedroom on the second floor. There is a garden with a terrace. WHERE IS IT? On Gordon Terrace in Bosham, a historic coastal village on the eastern side of Chichester Harbour. Chichester is five miles away. UPSIDE It?s a popular spot for sailing and boating types. DOWNSIDE It has limited storage. PRICE �5,000 CONTACT Jackson-Stops, 01243 786316, jackson-stops.co.uk Claire Carponen Middleton, Lancashire A former grammar school in need of modernisation, this three-bedroom home was built in the 1600s. It has original features, but the windows are small. The layout needs thought. To be auctioned on March 20 with a guide price of �0,000, auctionhouse.co.uk Claire Carponen 4 Bricks & Mortar 1G P Friday March 16 2018 | the times COMMENT The online dating way to sell a home Anne Ashworth Property and Personal Finance Editor T here may be 50 ways to leave your lover, or so the song tells us. But if you want to sell a house in a neighbourhood where the mood is chilly, there is only one way to end the relationship. This is to take a reality check, lowering your price, while adopting the methods of online dating ? all of which sounds obvious, until you learn how many sellers are still rejecting such an approach. They believe their property?s value remains undiminished, despite the standstill in the costlier parts of London and the southeast. These locations rebounded rapidly after the financial crisis, but are now held back by deteriorating affordability and stamp-duty rises (see page 18). Sellers in denial refuse to see the point of decluttering and depersonalising. The process seems to them to be a betrayal of the happy family life they have led in the house, rather than a means of meeting house-hunters? new requirements. People looking for love on Tinder and other dating sites are drawn to enhanced snapshots of suitable matches. When searching for decor tips, they are equally enticed by the stylish images on Instagram, and similar apps (see pages 10-11). These online preferences lead them to demand that a property for sale complies with the same visual standards, unless their heart?s desire is a fixer-upper wreck. Even in areas where the tempo is brighter, buyers? expectations about looks have been raised. Some sellers may not be able to reconcile themselves to the heightened awareness of appearances. But they must be prepared for a long wait for any viewings and be braced for the impact on the market of interest rate increases ? a high price to pay for inflexibility. Dining table, �9, and chairs, �9 for two; blue glass bulb vase, �; dip-dye runner, �; blue wine glasses, �(marksandspencer.com) Statistic of the Week The chancellor?s spring statement contained some big housing numbers, such as the � billion scheme to ?raise supply to 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s?. But since Statistic of the Week tends to focus on the present, we opted for data on a present trend. More members of Generation Rent are leaping on to the property ladder, thanks to a tax break that is proving unexpectedly effective. At the outset, the first-time buyer stamp-duty exemption, introduced in the budget on November Follow us on Twitter @timesproperty @anneashworth @carollewis101 @davidbyers26 @francescasteele @jessiehewitson @annabellew80 @annatemkin @bricksscotland 23, was estimated to cost �5 million in the remaining months of the 2017-18 tax year, �0 million in 2018-19, rising to �0 million in 2022-23. The independent Office for Budget Responsibility now says that the bill could be 15 to 20 per cent higher. About 60,000 buyers have used the concession, under which no stamp duty is levied on the first �0,000 of a property worth up to �0,000. These first-steppers are choosing more expensive properties in smarter neighbourhoods. In London the average price paid by a first-time buyer using the stamp-duty exemption is �5,000 ? 18.5 per cent higher than last year, says Johnny Morris, the research director at Countrywide, the estate agency. Elsewhere the average price is �2,000, 3.9 per cent more than last year. It remains to be seen whether this pattern will be repeated in Scotland and Wales, which have their own versions of the tax break. Meanwhile, the popularity of the perk raises questions. How many of the beneficiaries had a loan from the Bank of Mum and Dad? And what policies will the government adopt for the priced-out millennials who have not been empowered by this exemption? Seasonal decor disorder Are you spring, summer, autumn or winter? Once you have decided, you will know which style you should follow in your spring makeover, which will be full of zingy colours if you are an autumn, or brimming with chintz if you are a spring (see page 14). Since winter is all about blues (such as those above), I suspect that this is my category. In April, winter will be coming to my home. 6 Bricks & Mortar 1G P Friday March 16 2018 | the times OVERSEAS Italian charm and snow for a little less ROBERTA BARBERO/GETTY IMAGES Low-key Cervinia is set to be a base for the third largest ski area in the world, says Carol Lewis I taly?s general election was a typically eccentric affair, featuring a pig called Babe and the country?s notorious former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. Commentators have compared the result to Brexit after the unexpected support for the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, particularly in the south, led to a hung parliament. However, in the northern ski resort of Cervinia in the Aosta Valley, there is a feeling that the election will not dissuade British buyers. Quite the contrary. They are hoping that plans to expand the piste area and invest in the town will entice more Britons to holiday and buy property. Breuil-Cervinia ? simply known as Cervinia ? has a low profile in the ski property world. There are no large international estate agencies in the area, with most choosing to concentrate on the resort?s more glitzy Swiss neighbour, Zermatt, on the other side of the Matterhorn (or Cervino as it?s known in Italy). Federico Maquignaz, the president of Cervino, the company responsible for the pistes and lifts in the resort, predicts that investment in the area will be ?life changing?. A SwFr52 million (� million) state-of-the-art gondola is due to open next season between the Trockener Steg ski area and Matterhorn glacier on the Swiss side of the mountain. A year later there are plans to open a lift from the glacier to the Plateau Rosa ski area on the Italian side. A range of lifts is also planned for the small neighbouring ski resort of Chamois and a link to the ski area of Alagna Valsesia. Millions of euros are also being invested in snow machines. ?For the first time you will be able to get from Cervinia to Zermatt easily, without skiing [driving takes more than three hours]. This will open us up to an incredible market. We will never close again, we will be open year round. People will be able to fly into Turin or Milan, spend a couple of days in Cervinia and then transfer to Zermatt,? Bag a Tuscan bargain Maquignaz says. ?Our piste area will expand from 360km to 560km, with Cervinia at the heart of it. We will be at the centre of the third largest ski resort in the world ? after Portes du Soleil and Les Trois Vall閑s.? Maquignaz, who heads several committees in the town and is called Mr Cervinia by some, says that 2,000 additional hotel beds are planned for the resort over the next two to three years. He says there are five or six plots of land left on which to build developments; 70 per cent of this is expected to be hotels and 30 per cent residential. It is also hoped that there will be more investment in facilities and shops. ?In Cervinia we have some very good hotels and restaurants, but the shops are not at the same level. The connection with Zermatt might change that by bringing more wealthy people to the resort and bigger brand names,? he says. There has never been a better time to buy a classic Umbrian farmhouse or Tuscan villa, according to Amy Redfern, the head of the Italian sales team at Knight Frank. ?In regions of the Val d?Orcia [in Tuscany] and parts of Umbria there really are some of the best opportunities to buy a four or five-bedroom villa or estate with two to five hectares for between ?1 million and ?1.2 million. Five years ago you could never have found a villa or farmhouse at that kind of price,? she says. Knight Frank is selling a five-bedroom farmhouse with a vineyard close to Bagni di Lucca in Tuscany for ?1.05 million, while Savills has a restored five-bedroom farmhouse, with a two-bedroom guest cottage, near Montone, Umbria, for ?985,000. Top: the Alpine town of Cervinia. Above left: one-bedroom flats in the Residence Carel development in nearby Valtournenche start at ?490,000 through the-viewing.com. Above right: this six-bedroom chalet, in need of refurbishment, is on sale for ?1.5 million with Casa & Country This five-bedroom farmhouse in Bagni di Lucca is ?1.05 million (Knight Frank) Prices in much of Italy are believed to be as low as they will go. According to Knight Frank?s latest figures at the end of 2016, prime prices in most areas were down on the previous year. In Forte dei Marmi on the Tuscan coast a nice feel to it. And it is affordable and accessible,? Rollason says. Prime properties in Cervinia cost almost half that in Zermatt ? ?7,000 a square metre compared with ?13,000 a square metre ? but, aside from the fiscal fundamentals, Switzerland?s Lex Koller regulations restrict sales of property to foreigners in the Swiss resort. Prime properties in Cervinia are also cheaper than in the Italian resorts of Cortina d?Ampezzo and Val Gardena, according to Savills. ?If you had ?1 million in Cervinia you could buy something really nice. In Zermatt they would laugh at you. it won?t go far. Even with ?5 million you might have to wait a couple of years for something to become available,? Rollason says. However, Gemma Bruce, the managing director of Casa & Country Italian Property, says: ?It is quite common for buyers to start their property search in Zermatt and when they realise how expensive it is they begin looking at Cervinia. Once they come here they see it has a lot to offer. It has a glacier with summer skiing, golf, trekking and mountain biking. It is beginning to attract more interest. Property prices have remained steady, unlike some other areas of Italy, but there is more demand than there is property coming on to the market.? Cervinia doesn?t have the classic Alpine beauty of Zermatt, but it has a charm not found in many purpose-built ski resorts. There is also a movement to improve the architecture, an example being the recently opened Aux Pieds du Cervinia?s main street, which has small Roi, an eco-hotel and spa. independent shops, contrasts with the The property developer Les Maisons high-end boutiques of Zermatt. des Alpes is part of an international However, Jeremy Rollason, the consortium that plans to build head of Savills Ski, says: ?It the Hotel Gran Baita, with would be rather nice to residences, on the site of SWITZERLAND maintain Cervinia?s the former hotel in the earthy charm; after centre of Cervinia, Zermatt all, it is why people which has stood Cervinia Matterhorn go there.? empty since a fire in Cervinia (at the 1970s. One of 10 miles 2,050m) has a lot the resort?s main ski Valtournenche going for it: it was lifts will run into the Alagna named the fifth back of the hotel, Valsesia most resilient ski making it an unusual I TA LY SS26 area in the world ? ski-in/ski-out Milan Zermatt was ranked property. They are also approx 64 miles first ? in a recent ski putting the finishing report by Savills. ?What is touches to Residence Carrel good about Cervinia? The food, ? eleven apartments in two the golf course, its dual seasonality, that new-build, traditional-style chalets just it is Italian, but has access to the Zermatt outside the village of Valtournenche (at ski area, and faces the Matterhorn. It has 1,524m), with spectacular views across the golf course to Cervinia and the Matterhorn. The apartments, priced from ?490,000 for a one-bedroom 60 sq house prices were down 13.3 per cent, m flat to ?790,000 for a 100 sq m twoin Val d?Orcia in southern Tuscany bedroom penthouse (the-viewing.com), they were down 11.1 per cent, and in the including all furniture and accessories, as Maremma, southwest Tuscany, they well as a residents? lounge, terrace, bar, were down 9.5 per cent. Savills data spa and gym, and a shuttle bus to the ski shows prime property prices in Italy lifts or into Cervinia. The apartments are are also down, 30 per cent on their being sold under the Residenze Turistico 2008 high. Alberghiere scheme and need to be Annabelle Dudley, the head of Italian available for rent when not in use. and Spanish sales for Savills, says There are few resale properties in the British vendors who have been sitting village, although a six-bedroom chalet in on their sales for some time have now need of refurbishment, close to the piste, re-evaluated their prices.? with a large garden and views across the Redfern says: ?British sellers might valley, has come available with Casa & lose on the price of the property, but Country for ?1.5 million. they will gain when converting back Massimo Fiorio of Les Maisons des to sterling.? Alpes says: ?Valtournenche is only a The uncertainty over the recent ten-minute drive from Cervinia, has a lift election, though, is not dissuading connection directly into the ski area, and buyers. Dudley says: ?I haven?t noticed property prices about 20 per cent any dent in inquiry levels or retractions cheaper than the resort, but it is hardly of offers or sales fall through.? talked about.? 8 Bricks & Mortar 1G P Friday March 16 2018 | the times LONDON Deptford: the east?s latest hipster enclave A s residents will tell you, Deptford, in southeast London, is a place with a long and complex history. Originally named after the deep ford that crossed the River Ravensbourne, a tributary of the River Thames, Deptford was on the ancient road from London to Canterbury and was mentioned in Chaucer?s Canterbury Tales. Its dockyard, founded by Henry VIII in 1513, became Britain?s pre-eminent Tudor shipbuilding outpost, crucial to the defence of the realm and its trade. After the dockyard closed in 1869, an area previously known for being indispensable to the Empire slid into decline, turning from a cattle market into a military and industrial zone, and eventually into severe decay. Today, however, this corner of London, situated less than four miles from London Bridge, is making a comeback as one of the city?s fastest-growing regeneration hotspots. The evidence of rapid change is apparent when you take a stroll around: hipster caf閟, such as the vegetarian Waiting Room on the high street, are a few minutes? walk from student pubs, such as the Royal Albert on New Cross Road. Panda Panda, a Vietnamese street food outlet, is highly regarded, while those with a taste for craft beer head to The Tap Room on Deptford Market Yard. As the young professionals arrive, so too do new developments. Pocket Living, the compact-home developer, is refurbishing an old propeller factory, turning it into a development of 14 one and two-bedroom flats. These homes, with high ceilings and timber floors, are on Arklow Road, which is about a ten-minute walk to Deptford or New Cross stations. The block has been designed with artwork by Jessica Childs, a local artist, and features a communal garden and cycle parking. ?Most homes are being sold to owner-occupiers, so it will have a strong community feel from the outset,? says Lucian Smithers, the sales and marketing director for Pocket Living. Flats start at �0,000. Meanwhile, a purpose-built rental block of one, two and three-bedroom flats between Deptford and New Cross, by Uncle, the British arm of the Canadian company Realstar, is fully occupied. But Deptford?s housing stock is varied. For family homes, the St John?s and Pocket Living is refurbishing an old propeller factory in Arklow Road, Deptford, above, into one and two-bedroom flats, left, with prices starting at �0,000. The development also has a communal garden Deptford Park conservation areas feature an impressive stock of Victorian houses, with three-bedroom homes costing about �0,000. As well as an influx of hipsters there has been a resurgence of cultural institutions, such as The Albany, a well-known performing arts venue, and Trinity Laban conservatoire of music and dance. Daniel Thomas, a senior valuer at Keatons, the estate agency, says: ?Deptford has massively changed over the past 18 months and has undergone significant gentrification. The high street has been completely redone in the past two years and we are seeing quite a few independent businesses opening, particularly restaurants. People are emigrating from other areas of London, such as Islington and Kentish Town, because it?s still central, very well connected, but more affordable.? Like many areas undergoing swift gentrification, parts of Deptford can be scruffy and noisy, particularly near Goldsmiths, University of London, near New Cross station. Despite this, the area is superbly connected to central London, with New Cross, New Cross Gate and Deptford stations. A train from Deptford to London Bridge takes about ten minutes and it?s an easy cycle to Greenwich, Blackheath and Peckham. David Byers the times | Friday March 16 2018 Bricks & Mortar 9 1G P INTERIORS ASK THE EXPERT The growth of rattan There is a telephone pole in my garden, with overhead wires supplying my neighbours. Can I get rid of the eyesore? R attan furniture is popular again with interior stylists and creative directors of furniture companies, so don?t be surprised to see chairs, loungers, ceiling shades, tables and bed frames made from the material in shops this spring. Rattan is a vine-like plant that is part of the palm family, grows naturally in rainforests and regenerates quickly. It has a lot going for it: it is sustainable and bendy, which makes it easy to weave. It is also light, meaning that it is easy to move, and it is cheaper than wood. As with anything that was popular in the 1970s, the crucial factor to incorporating rattan into interiors, according to Victoria Harrison, the editor of Houzz.co.uk, an online design platform, is not using too much of it. Think orange velvet sofa with rattan sides, she says, not full-on Abigail?s Kitchen. Jessie Hewitson U Elmley handwoven rattan ceiling shade, � habitat.co.uk U Retro-style rattan basket armchair, �3.59 houzz.co.uk U Fusion rattan baskets, from � johnlewis.co.uk V Salbe side table with rattan shelf, �9.99 houzz.co.uk X Dakara cabana, two-seat sofa pod, �9 johnlewis.co.uk V Akaros rattan lounge chair and footstool, �0 habitat.co.uk Mark Loveday is a barrister with Tanfield Chambers The first thing to establish is who owns the pole. Most are owned by Openreach (formerly BT Openreach), although a few are owned by other companies. The pole should carry the owner?s mark to identify it. Next, find out if the pole is covered by a way leave agreement, which gives a utility company the right to keep its equipment on your land. Way leaves can be old, although Openreach has a central register of them and can supply you with a copy if one exists. A way leave covers things such as maintenance of the pole, and requires a landowner to be paid a small rent. Check the way leave to see what it says about termination and removal of the pole. Generally, removal of telegraph poles and lines are governed by the Electronic Communications Code that came into force on December 28, 2017. Part six of the code (which appears in the first schedule of the Digital Economy Act 2017) includes provisions about the removal of equipment. The new code reduces a landowner?s rights to require removal compared with the Telecommunications Code 1984, which it replaced. Many way leaves, or ?code agreements?, can only be ended on limited grounds, such as where the landowner wants to redevelop. Giving notice to end a way-leave agreement is more favourable to the operators. Before the equipment can be removed, there is a requirement to give the operator reasonable written notice and meet one of the narrow conditions in paragraph 37 of the code. So, if you want the telephone pole removed, you will need to check for a way-leave agreement and meet the requirements of the code. 10 Bricks & Mortar 1G P Friday March 16 2018 | the times COVER STORY It?s time to take a price reality Want to sell your home? Take a lesson from Tinder, and follow this guide from David Byers M arco Nardi and his wife, Anne, assumed they would have no problem selling their home in Kensington, west London. They first placed their property of 2,761 sq ft over four floors on the market for �65 million 14 months ago. Today, without a single offer having been made, except for one that Mr Nardi describes as ?very cheeky?, they have agreed to reduce the asking price to �25 million and move on to their fifth estate agency. The couple, who run a publishing house that specialises in illustrated books, are aghast. They thought their 1878 artistic heritage property with light-filled rooms and high ceilings would be easy to sell. ?Our property is still waiting for a brave suitor,? he says. While Mr Nardi and his wife have dropped their price, experts say too many sellers are still in a state of profound denial about the realities of a slowing market. ?For many sellers, the reality of the modern market can be quite brutal,? says Ellie Rees, the creative director at Brickworks London, an estate agency. ?Their property is not worth what they think it is, and it?s not worth what many estate agents tell them either. Some are quicker to take this on board, but others are not so quick.? With the market slow, people now have to work harder than ever to sell their home. Here are some key things that may help the process along. If the price is wrong, it might not sell for years Mr Nardi and his wife have had to slash their price repeatedly to try and attract buyers. Make sure you get yours right from the get-go. ?If you overcook on price at the beginning, the property could end up sitting on the market for years,? says Alex Lyle, the director of sales at Marsh & Parsons, an estate agency. ?Make sure your agent understands the market and that the price is right. If they give you what seems to be an unusually high asking price, you have to wonder about their motivation.? Choose the right agent first time around The longer your house remains on the market, the harder it is to sell, so in a slow market it is crucial to find the right agency from the start. The key questions to ask include: does the agency understand your area well? This nine-bedroom Queen Anne-style house near Sherborne, Dorset, comes with a two-bedroom coach house. It is on the market for �5 million through Jacks Meet all the staff involved in selling your home Before deciding on an agency, don?t only meet the manager, but also the other staff, including valuers and negotiators, who will be at the frontline of selling your property. ?Are they enthusiastic? Are they competent?? says Mr Lyle. ?How big is the team, and how mature are they? These are all key to getting your house sold.? Get the photography right ?Property websites are like Tinder for houses,? says Phoebe Oldrey, an interior designer from Smartstyle Interiors, a design company based in Tunbridge Wells, Kent. ?People are going to fall in love with your home by looking at photographs before they walk through the front door. ?It?s amazing how many people clear their homes up before viewings, but take useless photographs. I?ve seen people who had a photo of a bathtub with a potty in it. People are going to think you let your child wee in a bath. No one is going to want to take a bath in that.? Get repairs done ?Too many people can?t be bothered to deal with their skirting boards, or to touch up their paintwork; they just assume their home is so marvellous it will sell without them making an effort,? Ms Rees says. ?In a buoyant market you might not have to do this, but in a slow market everything has to be presented absolutely beautifully. We provide clients with a snagging list and tell them we?ll take it on if they do the work first. Otherwise, there?s no point and everyone?s going to be wasting their time. First impressions are critical.? Hire some furniture for viewings If your furniture looks tired, you could hire some designer items while your home is on the market. Maurizio Pellizzoni, the interior designer, specialises in taking staged photography, and will frequently rent the perfect sofas and tables from furniture stores for the photos. Getting a typical Chelsea flat photographed with hired furniture costs about �000, and a house �,000, he says. If you keep the furniture for two months while your house is on the market, it will set you back about �,000. ?You?ll get the money back ? and more ? when you sell the house,? he says. Many top-end buyers choose to take the furniture, too. Does it deal with a lots of homes in your price range; and can it can reach buyers from far and wide? In Southwell, Nottinghamshire, this five-bedroom house is on sale for �85 million through Humberts. Left: Marco Nardi and his wife, Anne, have dropped the price of their four-bedroom home in Kensington, west London, from �65 million to �25 million On the cover in Templecombe, Somerset, this seven-bedroom house is �85 million with Jackson-Stops Spruce up your rooms for viewing It sounds obvious, but make sure your house looks its best. Buy some flowers to make rooms more appealing (orchids are recommended) and put fresh linen on your beds. Declutter the rooms so people can appreciate their true size, and remove excessive family pictures from rooms, which buyers don?t tend to like. It?s also worth checking which way internal doors open. ?A lot of houses contain doors that open outwards, into a corridor, rather than into a room ? it feels fiddly for people to get into a room if they?re walking around a door that protrudes outwards,? Ms Oldrey says. It may be worth having them rehinged, if possible. the times | Friday March 16 2018 Bricks & Mortar 11 1G P LUXURY y check MARCUS NEWEY Expert advice 0 ?We had a situation yesterday where we met a family who wanted to instruct us as their third agent. We were trying to help them declutter, and they were really put out and offended, and unable to emotionally detach themselves. Our relationship with them is not going forward, and now they?re looking for a fourth agent.? Ellie Rees, creative director at Brickworks London, estate agency 0 ?People are not reacting quickly enough to the realities of the marketplace, and they don?t listen to the advice given to them by people who know what they?re talking about. If a property sits on the market for a month, then two months, and then six, you need to act decisively to sell it. Invariably, the reason they?re not listening is because the problem is the price they?ve put it on for.? Alex Lyle, director of sales, Marsh and Parsons, an estate agency 0 ?If you must cook a fragrant Indian curry, ensure that the extractors are on full, with the kitchen windows open. Scented candles help, but not when they smell like lavatory deodorisers.? Trevor Abrahmson, managing director of Glentree International, an estate agency 0 ?An unfurnished property, or a small space, can make it hard for people to imagine what it would be like to live there, while a tired-looking home can portray lower quality. Often, the price has to be reduced as a result.? Marina Collett, a partner at TPS Furnishings, which arranges home makeovers for those looking to sell son n-Stops Make your home smell sweet Much has been made of properties selling better if they smell like coffee or fresh bread. Yet Ms Oldrey says this has been overstated. In her experience, a neutral smell is fine ? but far too many still smell odorous. ?I?ve been to houses where people spent all day cooking Brussels sprouts or pungent fish,? she says. ?It?s extraordinary people don?t realise this will be a bad idea.? Scotland What you should know about buying in the Highlands On our tablet editions and online at thetimes .co.uk Check your lease If you?re selling a flat, check the length remaining on the lease. If it is less than 80 years, you?ll struggle to sell it because buyers will often find it difficult to get a mortgage. Many buyers and lenders insist on a minimum of 90 years. It isn?t cheap, though ? bringing a 60-year-old lease up to 100 years can cost as much as �,000. It?s often a bureaucratic process, involving lengthy negotiations with your freeholder. Get it sorted before putting your home on the market, or at least start the process so that buyers can see that the issue is being addressed. Rinse and repeat If a property has been on the market for a while, get it photographed again to make it look fresh and interesting when people come across it. This increases your chances of selling it. Penthouses in the Landmark Place development in east London start at �74 million and have views of Tower Bridge. Below, inset: in Shoreditch, east London, this four-bedroom penthouse is �75 million. Both are available through Savills Room at the top: why buyers are passionate about penthouses T itans of industry like to feel that they are above the rest of us and nothing reinforces that more than a home on the top floor ? after the corner office it is the most coveted of locations. So much so that, despite estate agents bemoaning that property prices in prime central London are subdued, penthouses can still have a 17 per cent premium. Data from Savills shows that the average price for a prime central London flat is �900 a square foot, whereas the price for a penthouse in the same location is �200 a square foot. The price per square foot doesn?t do justice to what is on offer though: at 20 Grosvenor Square residents can have refrigerated wardrobes ? ?the best way to protect fur coats and expensive clothes from moths? ? as well as �0,000 H鋝ten Vividus beds and �,000 Toto lavatories. If you fancy the idea of moth-free cashmere, an 11-layer mattress and heated lavatory seats, you still can, but you will have to settle for a lower floor because the penthouse at 20 Grosvenor Square has just sold. The price paid hasn?t been disclosed, but flats in the Four Seasons-serviced development, by Finchatton and Qatari Diar Real Estate, start at about �.5 million. At a slightly lower price point, if not vantage point, is the penthouse in Rathbone Square, Fitzrovia, which comes with a cosmetics fridge in the bathroom and built-in jewellery safe in the dressing room. The four-bedroom, four-bathroom flat on the seventh floor of this development by Great Portland Estates comes with a �75 million price tag. Almost all penthouses come with 24/7 concierge services, spas, gyms, swimming pools and private dining rooms with top-rated chefs on speed dial. Many also come with five-star hotel services and top-level security services. Stephen Holmes of Savills in Kensington says: ?Penthouses find their roots in 1920s New York, when it became fashionable to add another ?house? to the roof of buildings. While the term is often used to describe a top-floor apartment, a true penthouse is set back from a building?s outer edges, with the remainder of the roof space used to create a terrace. ?While the buyer profile is varied, penthouse owners can include high-profile individuals wanting a discreet and secure place to call home, as well as others attracted to owning a statement or trophy address.? So prestigious is the concept of the The four-bedroom, four-bathroom designer penthouse in Rathbone Square, Fitzrovia, central London, is on the market for �75 million through Savills This three-bedroom penthouse in Thames Reach, Hammersmith, west London, is �8 million (Knight Frank) penthouse that some developers are trying to expand its allure to the flat below. W-One International is selling ?a three bedroom sub-penthouse? at The W1 London on Marylebone High Street. ?The sub-penthouse is the sister to a four-bedroom penthouse that has sold,? it says. The flat, priced at �.5 million, is lovely, but no amount of marketing will elevate it to the top floor. Not all penthouses are created equal, though, with the one at the South Bank Tower, by the developer CIT, being the antithesis of that at 20 Grosvenor Square. Instead of an array of interior design features, this vast (4,375 sq ft) duplex is being sold as ?shell and core? ? or, in other words, unfinished. Buyers who don?t want to employ their own architect and interior designer can take advantage of a proposal by Dara Huang, an acclaimed designer at Design Haus Liberty, the architecture and design company. The price, fitted out to Huang?s design, is � million. Penthouses are not exclusive to London, but they do tend to be more common in cities where land prices are at a premium. However, they aren?t all urban new-builds: Strutt & Parker is selling a three-bedroom penthouse at the top of a grade II listed country house near Sevenoaks in Kent for �15 million. It?s also selling a penthouse on top of a grand Victorian mansion in Tonbridge, also in Kent, for �35 million. Carol Lewis the times | Friday March 16 2018 Bricks & Mortar 13 1G P LUXE T here is one real knockout star of The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story series on BBC Two: Villa Casa Casuarina, Gianni Versace?s Miami mansion, on the steps of which he was shot in 1997, and its over-the-top interiors. In the opening sequence of episode one, Gianni is in his enormous double-king-size bed (sheets in the Versace mansion had to be custom-made to fit) staring up at the clouds on his muraled ceiling, Florida sunshine streaming in through stained-glass windows. He takes his breakfast in a hot-pink dressing gown beside fountains and his swimming pool, which is inlaid with 24-carat-gold tiles imported from Italy, and grabs his house keys from a gold Versace-print plate. One room resembles a shell grotto, the walls lined with tiny pebbles. There are leopard-print sofas, tasselled cushions, gilt mirrors, white orchids in vases. These scenes were filmed in his house, which was built in 1930 to resemble Alcazar de Colon in the Dominican Republic, the house built for Christopher Columbus?s son. It was bought by Versace in 1993 and was where he hosted parties with Madonna, Diana, Princess of Wales, and Elton John. Now it is a hotel, where a night in Versace?s suite costs $1,799, and is the third most photographed home in the world, after the White House and Graceland. Versace had ?the most outrageous taste anybody has ever seen, but the underlying message is absolute freedom?, wrote Cathy Horyn, the Vanity Fair journalist, in 1997 after she spent time in the mansion. If the show is inspiring you to throw off the shackles of restrained good taste and giving you bling envy, you can buy a UK-based Versace-designed home of your own. Aykon London One, one of the towers in the Nine Elms regeneration area next to Battersea, southwest London, is due for completion in 2020 and its interiors have been created by brand Versace. The lobby, amenities and interiors for each apartment are designed and fitted out by Versace Home, as is the gym (with Versace-themed punch bags and towels), indoor swimming pool and spa, roof garden and cinema. Think Greek and Roman mythology and Medusa head logos, gold-plated chandeliers and Jonathan Adler Baxter sofa, �595, Constantine accent table, �5, and Vienna large chandelier, �195 Jonathan Adler Nouvelle console, �850 and Maxime lounge chair in Rialto Charcoal �750 Drummonds showroom featuring pink bath tub and Cole & Son palm-leaf wallpaper by Maurizio Pellizzoni Gold and bold: the Versace look is back Take a leaf out of Gianni and Donatella?s book because luxury decor is all about maximalism, says Laura Whateley marble floors, bathrooms and kitchens. The only sticking point is that a two-bedroom apartment costs �8 million. It would be more affordable to kit your own home out with Versace accessories ? though only just. An Arabesque amber water goblet by Versace costs �6, and a gold and pastel-coloured elaborately painted porcelain sauceboat �2, from Zangheim.com. Fun, irreverent maximalism is big at the moment, say designers, with bright colours, textures, metallics and a hint of art deco Miami retroism replacing sensible greige interiors. Who would not want to have a bath in Drummonds?s new shocking-pink standalone tub, with gold taps, styled in a showroom inspired by Bel Air mansions, designed by Maurizio Pellizzoni, against a feature wall of green palm-leaf print wallpaper by Cole & Son and a shiny black and white tiled floor? Even Ikea has issued advice on how to get Versace?s ?eclectic, opulent? style in your home. Try its Omedelbar leopard-print rug (�); Henrika, bright turquoise, silky striped cushion (�; Dotorp brass-effect chandelier (�); or Tillagd gold-coloured cutlery set (�). Gold is everywhere. Jonathan Adler, the furniture designer whose latest collection includes a Nouvelle console mirrored with gold and blue zigzag patterns, and another decorated with geometric pastel-coloured shapes and gold legs, says he wasn?t always a gold person, ?but then I dipped my toe in and Linwood?s luxury Metropolis fabric collection, from �.30 a metre. Inset above: Edgar Ramirez as Gianni Versace in BBC Two series The Assassination of Gianni Versace now I am a complete addict: all gold everything. The primacy of gold in our culture isn?t random, it?s visceral. Gold makes life more bold, glamorous and memorable. Gold is more than a colour, it?s a feeling.? Carlo Ninchi and Vittorio Locatelli of the interior designer Oneroom specialise in extravagant designs. In their gallery, four-storey warehouse in Shoreditch, east London, they have papered the walls of some rooms gold, mixing in art installations, designer furniture, such as a Tom Dixon Pylon chair, and an original Fracanzano painting of two male wrestlers that they bought from the Gianni Versace estate. ?Our interiors take shape through unexpected alchemies, the result of which is a balanced eclecticism that mixes styles, materials and colours,? Locatelli says. ?Our inspiration finds references from high culture as well as popular culture. Each piece that we propose to our clients is carefully selected after complex research for its uniqueness, beauty and functionality to the project. At the end of the process, order and calm arise from chaos to create an original interior.? Inside Palace View, a luxury housing development next to Lambeth Palace in central London, the designers of one of the show flats ? Stephanie Koball and Hannah Lodge of Hatch Interiors ? went for a ?bold luxe? look, combining distressed brass, satin chrome and gold tones for a ?statement-metallic palette?. They also used monochrome print fabrics, accent cushions and 3D chevron wallpaper. In the bedrooms there is rose-gold wallpaper, an upholstered four-poster bed, and an electric green and gold feature chair, which help to make the bedrooms an ?inviting, lavish escape?. Two-bedroom apartments cost from �195 million. Donatella Versace?s staple luxe leather trousers are being channelled in interiors too ? on walls and floors. Popular with Middle Eastern designers, camel leather, which is stronger than cow leather, is used on camel-coloured kitchen and dining room chairs for the interiors of Paddington Gardens (flats from �5,000). Wealthy clients of Sophie Paterson, an interior designer who has worked at The W1 London in Marylebone, are increasingly requesting dressing rooms with a display area for their Herm鑣 Birkin bags and Jimmy Choo shoes, with lighting to highlight key wardrobe pieces. It?s about going all out for yourself, rather than worrying about a neutral scheme that will appeal to others. ?Separate dressing rooms and bathrooms are almost an essential requirement for our clients now,? Paterson says. ?We have installed fridges, mini kitchens and sitting areas within dressing rooms previously. People are now thinking about how they want to use their space and customising their homes to their specific needs, rather than worrying about how many bedrooms the house has and what impact the changes they make will have on the resale value.? 14 Bricks & Mortar 1G P Friday March 16 2018 | the times LONDON INTERIORS Designer living in Greenwich How to kick your Sophie Ashby, the founder of Studio Ashby, is the interior designer of the moment, in high demand with everyone from wealthy individuals to savvy developers. She has worked on developments such as Battersea Power Station in southwest London and One Crown Place on the edge of the City. Tomorrow the latest of her designs goes on display in Greenwich Peninsula, southeast London. Ashby has designed the interior areas of one of the five blocks of flats that form Upper Riverside. The development will be within the 150-acre docklands site close to the O2 arena that is receiving an �4 billion regeneration by the developer Knight Dragon. The Upper Riverside blocks of flats, designed by Som, the architect agency responsible for the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, are stepped ? with communal and private roof gardens ? towards the river. At the bottom is a landscaped park. A 5km walkway will run alongside the towers. It has been designed by the architect Diller Scofidio + Renfro, which worked on New York?s High Line. The inside areas of each of the five riverside towers have been put together by different interior designers, with the first two blocks designed by Tom Dixon and State of Craft, the London studio that designed the flats in the Shard. Dixon, best known for his lighting designs, has put together the look for the lounge and spa, which will feature a swimming pool, a steam room, two gyms and a communal roof terrace. Ashby?s designs can be seen in the reception, communal areas and apartments of the third block, as well as the showroom, left, where she combines modern takes on retro styles, including rattan chairs and macram�-style light shades. Rather than the usual beige painted walls of new-build flats, Ashby proposes painting some walls in deep greens and blues, although buyers have a choice about this. The flats start at �5,000. The first residents are expected to move into the Upper Riverside neighbourhood this autumn. So far about 1,500 homes have been delivered on Greenwich Peninsula; eventually the area will have 15,000 homes. It is estimated that the project, which began in 2012, could take a further 20 years to complete. Carol Lewis It?s crucial to discover which seasonal colour palette you like best ? then stick to it, says Jessie Hewitson T he interior stylist Sophie Robinson is on a mission to reduce our habit of painting our homes neutral colours. With a strategy resembling the 12-step programme offered by Alcoholics Anonymous, she wants to help us to give up our addiction to painting our walls grey. Her method is colour psychology, a framework for using colour and pattern that is more sensible than it sounds. It takes four ?looks? and groups them into seasons ? spring, summer, winter and autumn ? with each season using different shades and colours to create a distinct style. Once you establish which season you like best, you know which colours, patterns and types of furniture will work with each other. The idea is that you are not overwhelmed by new trends ? you need not be aware of them, even ? because you will be focused on one style. Choosing colours Interior stylist Sophie Robinson. Below, right: autumn colour pots and rug (habitat. co.uk) Where next? Discover Britain?s best places to live in our exclusive 48-page magazine. Out this Sunday. won?t be difficult because the choice will be more narrow. Robinson, who is also a presenter of the BBC One programme DIY SOS, is running colour events at Habitat this month; two-hour masterclasses to teach people how to be bold. A quick glimpse around her home in Brighton, East Sussex, proves that she is not only talking the talk, she?s walking the walk. Her living room wallpaper is a the times | Friday March 16 2018 Bricks & Mortar 15 1G P INTERIORS grey addiction Super sofas V Simon two-seat sofa, Grace Kelly cotton, �0 perchandparrow.com LOL HARRIS/HABITAT W Brix two-seat sofa, acor blue, �5 habitat.co.uk Tastemakers Fran Hickman V Halston velvet two-seat sofa, grey, �9 dunelm.com prism triangle pattern in pink, lilac, purple, blue, yellow, orange and brown hues. A teal-coloured velvet sofa is set off by clashing Liberty-print cushions. On the floor is a red, brown and blue Turkish-style rug. Colour psychology, devised by the psychologist Angela Wright in the 1990s, is the interior design version of Colour Me Beautiful, the 1980s fashion trend that categorised people as autumn, summer, spring or winter. Once you were given a season, you were told which colours suited you best. ?I think this theory empowers people to be confident with colour and patterns,? Robinson says. ?A lot of people worry about cost or can?t choose a colour, so they end up going for grey. There are so many lovely wallpaper products out there, it?s difficult not to get pulled every which way.? With each new season, the big interiors brands try to persuade us to repaint our homes teal, millennial pink, or cactus green with copper accessories, but Robinson thinks we should find a style and stick to it. ?When a trend comes along you might think, that?s not my look, I will leave it behind,? she says. ?While I love Pinterest and Instagram, I am concerned that it?s encouraging us to blindly copy trends.? Arguably, since the 1990s, when interest in the Kelly Hoppen interior design aesthetic peaked, we?ve all been living neutrally. The interior designer Mhairi Coyle says that it?s time to change. ?I love correct or bold use of colour,? Coyle says. ?Colour adds a spot of personality. In London we tend to use less colour as we have smaller spaces, but if you have good light and good proportions, it?s easier to be bold. Colour in hallways is always a brilliant thing. You can go dark or really colourful. If you have a small space with no light, painting it white will just make it cold.? Which season are you? Spring homes have lots of busy prints and light, bright colours, modern design, pale wood furniture and glossy surfaces. The style is upbeat, optimistic, energetic and youthful; think Cath Kidston. Summer homes are English, elegant, V Amabile maxi sofa, plush rose, �249 barkerand stonehouse. co.uk V Grayson two-seat sofa, Gail Bryson Soni Cerulean, �100 sofa.com Winter warmer: hallway painted in Farrow & Ball Babouche (No. 223), estate emulsion finish, � for 2 litres muted and feature subtle colours, with a soft, romantic style and a bit of formality. ?Summer people are attracted to tradition and will look towards the past for inspiration. They will have a love of nature and the overall look is understated,? Robinson says. The designer Rose Uniacke oversaw the design of the Beckhams? home in Holland Park, west London, which is done up in classic summer style. Autumn is Robinson?s season. It?s cosy, homely, intense and uses rich colours, such as teal and mustard yellows. Autumn homeowners will like vintage, upcycling and handmade items. An autumn person loves travelling and will have handpainted furniture from India. ?William Morris is 100 per cent autumn,? says Robinson. Winter is stark with graphics and a cutting edge style (like that of the designer Abigail Ahern). ?A lot of interior designers fall into this category. It?s the best of everything. But you can get polar opposites. The John Paulson minimalism and handleless homes can fall into this category, but you can also find a crazy maximalist home,? Robinson says. Colours are strong and high-impact, and include cobalt blue, mimosa yellow and blacks. 6 Habitat is holding two colour workshops for home improvers at its Tottenham Court Road shop in central London on March 27 and 28 for � (habitat.co.uk) U Onassis sofa, petrol blue, �895 andrew martin.co.uk U Piped classic two-seat sofa, Nordic linen midnight blue, �890 th2studio.co.uk U Hampstead velvet sofa, �400 thewhitecompany.co.uk U Lampert velvet sofa, Verona emerald, �695 uk.jonathanadler.com Compiled by Holly Thomas F ran Hickman, 34, founded her London-based design studio four years ago. She has worked on a range of residential and commercial interiors, including the Emilia Wickstead showroom in Knightsbridge, west London, and Chess Club, a members? club in Mayfair, central London ? the butterfly motifs on the walls were inspired by the Turin apartment of the Italian architect Carlo Mollino. Hickman developed an interest in interior design while at art school. Before establishing her own studio, she worked across the Soho House Group?s properties. She also collaborated with Waldo Works, the architectural and interior design practice. Her favourite room at home is the bathroom. 0 What is your biggest source of design inspiration? Travel and art exhibitions. 0 Chintz or minimalism? Minimalism. 0 What is your design essential? A clear intention. 0 Your favourite interior design ?quick fix?? Careful lighting; light is a powerful tool that can enhance any space. 0 Your prediction for the next big interior design trend? I would like to see greater environmental responsibility built into the way we make things, but it will be probably be a new shade of blue. 0 The design pitfall to avoid? Downlights. They always remind me of gallery spaces when a home should be warm and inviting in contrast. 0 If you could live in anyone?s house whose would it be and why? I would like a house in the sun. John Lautner?s modernist Goldstein House perched in the hills of Beverly Crest, Los Angeles, would do. It is surrounded by lush vegetation, offers stunning views and eliminates the distinction between indoor and outdoor. 0 When decorating what do you splurge on? A good kitchen and bathroom are worth spending money on. 0 What would you save on? This and that, with the help of Ikea. It?s brilliant; Ikea?s Scandi pieces can be easily incorporated into any scheme. 0 The best piece of design advice you have ever received? Be concise. 0 What is your favourite thing about your home? The comfort that it brings ? that, or the working fireplaces. Anna Temkin 18 Bricks & Mortar 1G P Friday March 16 2018 | the times MARKET INTELLIGENCE In Money tomorrow Fix your eye on the northwest Forget Balham. It?s all about Blackburn. Francesca Steele assesses the state of the housing market A question of money: our experts? response to your queries Isas 2018: how to invest your allowance before the deadline Best-buy loans thetimes.co.uk/ money I f you want to make money, head northwest. This is the message to investors as house prices slow across much of the UK, but rise in the northwest of England. In Blackburn, Lancashire, house prices year on year rose 16.4 per cent in January, according to Your Move, an estate agency. What is happening in London? Prices in London fell by 2.6 per cent in the 12 months to January, according to Your Move?s latest report, although there have been increases in boroughs such as Bexley, southeast London (up by 4.5 per cent over the same period) and Waltham CURRENCY SERVICES Buying or selling property abroad? Trust us to take care of your transfer. Forest, northeast London (up by 3.1 per cent). The most expensive boroughs suffered the most: in Wandsworth, southwest London, the average house price tumbled by 14.9 per cent, from �5,460 to �5,568. Other indices show a similar picture. Knight Frank reported that prime London prices were down by an average of 1.6 per cent over the past quarter. Capital Economics, a research consultancy, says: ?London can no longer be characterised as a sellers? market. A shift in attitude among sellers combined with lower buyer numbers has sharply altered the balance of power. ?With few forced sellers, thanks to London?s buoyant labour market, prices are more likely to slide gradually lower than to slump. We have pencilled in a 3 per cent fall this year and a 5 per cent drop in 2019.? What?s going on up north? House prices in the southeast have fallen 0.5 per cent in the past year, according to Your Move, but in the northwest they have risen by 4.6 per cent, and by 0.3 per cent in the past month. Aside from Blackburn streaking ahead, in Warrington prices rose 10.3 per cent, in Greater Manchester prices rose 4.3 per cent and in Merseyside, 8 per cent. Why? It is in large part down to the investor market. Despite tax changes that have dampened the buy-to-let market, many investors have been drawn to the north by the low house prices and growing yields. JLL, a property company, lists Manchester as its No 1 prospect for residential price growth over the next five years. It predicts a rise of 4.2 per cent over that time, compared with an average of 2.4 per cent across the UK. ?Manchester is firmly established as the second most important economic hub in the UK,? says Stephen Hogg, the lead director of regional residential at JLL. This is partly because of the city?s graduate retention rate: half of Manchester?s graduates stay in the city for work. And elsewhere? The northwest is only one of four regions to reach record prices in January, according to Your Move ? the East Midlands, the southwest and Wales have too. Leicester and Nottingham in the East Midlands are also places to watch, the agent says. JLL also tips Birmingham for price appreciation, based in part on employment growth. More young professionals are looking for affordable cities to work in and move to, and Birmingham is set to benefit. Institutional investors have also This seven-bedroom Georgian house in Kidderminster, Worcestershire, is on sale for �25 million through Knight Frank invested heavily in the build-to-rent sector in the city, including Exchange Square, a joint venture of 600 homes between Nikal and LaSalle Investment Management. In South Kensington, southwest London, a two-bedroom flat in a mansion block is on sale for �975 million through Strutt & Parker No transfer fees for private clients Lock in a rate for the future 0207 294 7971 timescurrencyservices.co.uk International money transfer from The Times and The Sunday Times This three-bedroom beachfront apartment in Bracklesham, West Sussex, is on the market for �5,000 through Strutt & Parker Mortgages Residential lending fell in the last quarter of 2017, according to Bank of England data released this week. Mark Harris, the chief executive of SPF Private Clients, a mortgage broker, says: ?This may be down to a traditionally quieter period of the year for the housing market, lack of stock, continued uncertainty over Brexit and fears regarding potential future interest rate rises.? It is important to note that remortgaging rose as interest rates remain low (they are expected to rise twice this year from the present rate of 0.5 per cent) and that the number of first-time buyers has increased. Russell Galley, the managing director at Halifax, says: ?While we expect price growth to remain low, the low mortgage rate environment combined with a shortage of properties for sale should continue to support house prices.? A reversal of fortunes in cities Regional cities are closing in on London in terms of property price growth. House prices in Edinburgh, Birmingham and Manchester are set for a rise of between 20 and 30 per cent over the next four years, according to Hometrack, the data analyst. Since 2009 London has soared ahead of other cities, with an 86 per cent increase in house prices, but growth in the capital is stalling. The average city UK house price grew by 4 per cent last year, and in London by 1.6 per cent. However, in Edinburgh house prices rose by 7.7 per cent. In Birmingham they grew by 7.3 per cent and in Manchester by 6.7 per cent. Cities near London also started to see slowing house price growth, with prices in Oxford and Cambridge, which have soared in recent years, falling to 1.1 per cent and -1.1 per cent respectively.