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The Times Bricks and Mortar 8 September 2017

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Rural revival
pages 8-9
Buy a second home in bitcoin page 11 Raw hide: the best leather chairs page 14
2 Bricks & Mortar
Friday September 8 2017 | the times
A perfect place
to hold court
A member of the Slazenger sports family
once owned this mansion, says Anna Temkin
he buyer of Thorne
Barton Hall could
become the next Andy
Murray or Johanna
Konta. They would be
well placed for sports
stardom with a fine
tennis court to practise
on, put there by a member of the
Slazenger sports dynasty who wanted it
to be fit for a first-class player.
Ralph Chivas Gully Slazenger bought
the elegant Victorian house in Chesham,
Buckinghamshire, shortly after the
Second World War. He lived there with
his wife and children until 1953, when he
sold his stake in the family business and
moved to Ireland.
Situated in the Chiltern Hills, the
property, which came on to the market
this week with Strutt & Parker for
�5 million, has far-reaching views. It
dates back to the 1830s but the present
owner, who has lived there for 40 years
and is looking to downsize, added a
substantial garage wing.
With seven bedrooms, four bathrooms
and two kitchens, there is no shortage
of space for guests; after a gruelling
session on the court they might decide
to cool down in the swimming pool,
or warm up in the sauna after a frosty
winter?s walk. The grounds have been
well maintained and there are several
timber-clad outbuildings that
provide useful storage space for
garden machinery.
Mark Rimell, a partner at Strutt &
Parker?s national country house
department, predicts that Thorne Barton
Hall will attract a buyer with a young
family who wants to move outside
London, ?perhaps to take advantage
of the good schools in Buckinghamshire
and the favourable transport links?.
The property is in the catchment area
for Chesham Grammar School, Dr
Challoner?s Grammar School for boys
in Amersham, and Dr Challoner?s High
School for girls in Little Chalfont. A
direct rail service to London Euston
from Berkhamsted station, which is
about three miles away, takes just over
half an hour.
Thorne Barton
Hall in Chesham,
Buckinghamshire, is
on the market for
�5 million through
Strutt & Parker
Prime properties
Rural retreat
Period apartment
Lower Bryanston, Dorset
Shoreditch, E2
WHAT YOU GET Surrounded by
farmland, this property comprises an
18th-century cottage, 19th-century
schoolhouse and modern extension. It
has limestone and solid-oak flooring, two
wood-burning stoves, lawns, four
bedrooms, three bathrooms, a living
room and a dining room that leads to a
raised kitchen. Its outbuildings include
a home office or occasional bedroom.
WHERE IS IT? Less than two miles from
Blandford Forum, in the Cranborne Chase
area of outstanding natural beauty.
UPSIDE Reception rooms open on to
secluded gardens.
DOWNSIDE The nearest station is
14 miles away, in Poole.
PRICE �5,000
CONTACT The Modern House,
020 3795 5920,
WHAT YOU GET This 1,043 sq ft
duplex is at the rear of a development of
eight homes converted from a children?s
hospital. It has a double-aspect master
bedroom, two further bedrooms and a
bathroom on the first floor, and a living
room with large sash windows and a
stylish kitchen on the ground floor. A
gated off-street parking space is included,
accessed from Laburnum Street.
WHERE IS IT? On Kingsland Road,
which runs between Shoreditch and Stoke
Newington and is known for its nightlife.
It is moments from Regent?s Canal.
UPSIDE Off-street parking is a rarity in
DOWNSIDE The lack of outside space.
PRICE �5,000
CONTACT Fyfe McDade,
020 7613 4044,
the times | Friday September 8 2017
Bricks & Mortar 3
Make the move
to a former forge
Morval, Cornwall
Set in three and a half acres of land, this listed property is in
Morval, a rural hamlet close to the Cornish Orchards cider and apple
juice farm shop, just inland from the fishing port of Looe. It includes
a refurbished four-bedroom house with an adjoining three-bedroom
cottage and a three-bedroom converted forge.
�1 million,
East Sussex
Formerly a forge,
this restored and extended
oak-framed four-bedroom
house has a new roof, wiring
and plumbing, as well as
underfloor heating, an
exposed-beam interior,
stone fireplace, oil-fired
and electric Agas and a
copper roll-top bath.
Milborne Port,
Former farmhouse
Woolley Moor, Derbyshire
WHAT YOU GET Created from a period
farmhouse and adjoining outbuildings, this
stone house has mullion windows, beamed
ceilings, a master bedroom, three further
bedrooms, a bathroom and shower room,
a kitchen, dining room, sitting room,
drawing room, garden room that leads to a
courtyard, and an attached garage. It also
has solar panels. The grounds include large
lawns, and a walled garden with soft fruit.
WHERE IS IT? In a rural spot above
Ogston Reservoir, six miles from Matlock,
which lies close to the Peak District.
UPSIDE Views to the reservoir and hills.
DOWNSIDE Some rooms can only be
reached by walking through others.
PRICE �5,000
CONTACT Savills, 0115 934 8020,
Claire Carponen
Tucked away in the village
of Milborne Port, this
converted 19th-century
forge with three attic
bedrooms has the look of
a mews house. There is
no hallway, but it has a
reception room and a large
enclosed, south-facing
garden, which has a raised
decked terrace at the rear.
Longhoughton, Northumberland
A former 18th-century blacksmith?s cottage, this three-bedroom
house five miles from Alnwick has not lost its original atmosphere.
The single-storey home has exposed stone walls and a beamed sitting
room with a Northumbrian stone hearth and a wood-burning stove.
Claire Carponen
4 Bricks & Mortar
Friday September 8 2017 | the times
How developers can
lead the space race
Anne Ashworth
Property and Personal Finance Editor
ize matters. Of course it
does. Why else would more
and more homeowners be
extending upwards,
outwards and downwards to
boost the dimensions of
their homes? But despite
this race for space, a house
can still be considered too big by
growing families who wish to relocate.
Five or more bedrooms may be seen as
a boon in a country property: townies in
search of a rural address are able to
reconcile themselves to a large stamp
duty bill if they can invite lots of
friends to stay in their new abode.
However, in towns and cities, four
bedrooms are increasingly seen as
sufficient (see page 9).
Sellers of larger properties are being
advised to convert rooms into bathrooms
or walk-in wardrobes, which represent
the kind of space that people perceive
to be extra rather than superfluous.
This new way of seeing a home is closer
to the US model, where you shop for
a property to rent or buy based on its
square footage, rather than its number
of bedrooms.
A number of housebuilders would
likely not welcome the wide-scale
adoption of such buying habits since it
would reveal that their three-bedroom
residences were poky. However, these
companies could use the new size
awareness to their advantage. The latest
financial results of Barratt and other big
names show how Help to Buy has
boosted their profits. These businesses
could lobby for this government scheme
to be extended beyond its planned
expiry date of 2021 by committing to
more generous space standards, or to the
creation of tiny homes where every inch
is ingeniously used.
The demand for the latest set of flats
from the London developer Pocket (the
What to do with extra
space: turn a room
into a bathroom ?
artwork optional
clue is in the name) indicates that small
is seen as beautiful, but only if life in
miniature manages to encapsulate all the
normal requirements.
Statistic of the Week
As you pack away your summer clothes,
are you feeling wistful for long, lazy days
on the beach? Then you will not be
surprised to learn of the prices fetched
for homes where you can enjoy such
delights on a regular basis. Seafront
properties typically attract a premium
of 33 per cent, but in some resorts the
value of such a home can be much
higher. A study from Jackson-Stops, the
estate agency, cites towns such as
Aldeburgh in Suffolk, where the average
house on the seafront, or ?front row?,
costs �0,000 against �4,000 in
the surrounding area. Such is the lure of
the sound of waves on the pebble shore
that a front-row Aldeburgh property
recently fetched much more than its
asking price of �5 million.
At Bricks & Mortar we love the
seaside, but we managed to put those
feelings aside in favour of figures
showing trends in all locations. Barclays
Wealth & Investments says that house
prices are rising faster in Birmingham
and Newcastle than in London. Thanks
to long-term price appreciation in many
regions, one in 79 Britons is now a
millionaire ? our Statistic of the Week.
Most live in London and the southeast,
where 285,000 individuals are worth
seven figures or more, despite a weaker
housing market.
Many of these people climbed on to
the ladder with relative ease in their
twenties. The equity they have built up
allows them to acquire more real estate,
by the sea or in cities.
A decade on from the start of the
financial crisis, equity and cash have
become the ?dominant source of
funding? in all deals, as a separate piece
of research from Savills underlines.
Thanks to the rationing of finance,
homebuyers reliant on a mortgage
account for 43 per cent of transactions.
As a result of these conditions,
today?s twentysomethings can only
dream of becoming future members
of the millionaires? club. This is a
problem that politicians must address
now that they are back from the beach
and sitting at their desks.
6 Bricks & Mortar
Friday September 8 2017 | the times
Move into a flat
in a factory
Aneeqa Khan
neeqa Khan was 26 and
working as a strategy director
at Zoopla, a property website,
when she became so frustrated
by the process of furnishing
her first flat that she founded Eporta, an
online interiors sourcing company for
trade buyers. Three years on, it connects
manufacturers and interior designers
with 1,000 brands globally. Khan lives
in a mews apartment in Kensington,
west London.
Carol Lewis visits a scheme where a developer
known for its compact and affordable homes
is creating apartments on a larger scale
ocket Living, a provider of
affordable small homes,
launched its first flats on
the open market this
week. The two and threebedroom apartments are
a new departure for the
business, which has made
its name with factory-made, containersized homes for first-time buyers.
Also this week, the company
announced it had received �0 million
from the government, the mayor of
London and Lloyds Bank to build more
than 1,000 homes for first-time buyers
in Greater London by 2021. Its regular
one-bedroom homes, at only 38 sq m,
are priced at a discount of at least
20 per cent on local market prices. Prices
are agreed with local councils.
Pocket Living has a waiting list of
more than 35,000 buyers eager to snap
up its compact homes ? Lucian Smithers,
the sales and marketing director, says he
receives 70 to 100 registrations a week.
Purchasers of the affordable homes have
to be first-time buyers who earn less
than �,000 and live or work in the
local area. Owners must not rent the
property out and, when they sell, must
do so to another local resident.
Buyers of the new open-market
homes, branded Pocket Edition, will not
have to meet these criteria. These homes
are larger (70-85 sq m) and built to a
higher specification than the affordable
homes ? with oak panelling, wooden
floors and higher-quality kitchens ?
hence the starting price of �5,000,
rather than �5,000, for the homes in
Wandsworth, southwest London.
The first 36 Pocket Edition apartments
are at the company?s Mapleton Crescent
development, a 27-storey block of 89
homes tucked behind Wandsworth?s
Southside shopping centre. The block,
made up of Pocket?s factory-built units,
will be clad in teal-coloured ceramic tiles
It?s true ?
you should
buy the
house on
the most
made by the artist Loraine Rutt, who
grew up in the area. The ridged tiles are
designed to reflect light off the River
Wandle, which runs beside the building
? Rutt has even made matching mugs
using the distinctive glaze.
The triangular apartment block has an
art deco appearance with its ceramic
tiles and bronze-coloured window
frames ? the building, designed by
Metropolitan Workshop, has won an
architecture award. Inside there will be a
reception area, a residents? lounge, a
communal roof terrace and bicycle
storage facilities. The homes will be
ready to move into by next summer,
although potential buyers can look
around the apartments now using a
virtual reality tool by the 3D specialist
VRPM in the onsite show suite.
Smithers doesn?t expect a shortage
of buyers. ?There?s huge appeal in a
new-build development which will be
fully occupied and feel like a fully
cooked community from day one.
The affordable Pocket flats
will go in an instant.
I think this will attract
buyers to the Pocket
Edition flats ? in the past we
have had downsizers inquire
about our homes ? they are
o here is a conundrum: is it
better to invest in the cheapest
house in the most expensive
street, or the most expensive
property in the cheapest street?
The decision won?t be purely financial
for most people, but analysis by
researchers at Hamptons International
estate agency shows that, in an average
neighbourhood, someone who buys the
cheapest house on the most expensive
street makes an average of �,000 more
? about 65 per cent more in capital
appreciation ? than someone who buys
the most expensive home on the
cheapest street.
On the most prestigious roads in the
most expensive neighbourhoods, buyers
pay a premium for the address. The size
and condition of the home often plays
Apartments in Pocket
Edition Mapleton
Crescent in Wandsworth,
south London, above left,
start at �5,000.
Below: glazed mugs by
Loraine Rutt, who grew
up in the area
second fiddle to the reputation of the
road. In these neighbourhoods the buyer
of the cheapest house on the most
expensive street will make an average of
45 per cent more (equivalent to about
�,000) than the person who chose the
expensive property on a cheaper street.
Cheaper areas often have defined price
ceilings. This makes it more difficult for
cheaper homes to increase in value to
much above the average. In these areas
the buyer of the cheapest home in the
most expensive street makes �,000
more (about 75 per cent) than the buyer
who opted for the expensive home on
the cheap street. Fionnuala Earley, the
residential research director at Hamptons,
says: ?Buying in the best street pays
dividends and now we can put a number
on it. Of homes sold in the last year in
keen to live within a vibrant community.?
The Pocket development sits within
the wider regeneration of Wandsworth
town centre. Across the road from
Mapleton Crescent, London & Quadrant
(L&Q) is building about 200 homes at
its Garratt Place development. At the
end of the road is the former Young?s
Ram Brewery site, which is being
transformed by Greenland Group into
the Ram Quarter. This will have more
than 600 homes, shops, restaurants,
a microbrewery and a brewing museum
that will celebrate the site?s history as
the country?s longest-running brewery.
There are plans to open a walkway along
the River Wandle past the Pocket Living
site, and there is talk of Transport for
London reconfiguring the road layout
through the town to ease traffic
Further Pocket Edition apartments are
being built in developments in Deptford
in southeast London, and Kingston upon
Thames in southwest London.
Smithers says that, in the
short-term, Pocket Living will
concentrate on building affordable
homes in Greater London, although
there has been interest ?from
virtually every city in the UK?.
Is your home too big? Page 9
an average neighbourhood, there was a
�,000 bigger uplift for someone who
bought the cheapest home on the
best street, rather than the most
expensive one on the cheapest street.
?That uplift happens in cheaper
and more expensive neighbourhoods
too. Taking a risk on an
up-and-coming area can pay off in
percentage terms, but not at any cost.
Cheaper areas often have more tightly
defined price ceilings, so spending a
huge amount on refurbishment may
not pay off as much as in an average
neighbourhood. The same is true at the
other end of the spectrum, where it?s the
kudos of the address that brings the
premium, almost regardless of the
condition of the property.?
Carol Lewis
W What is your source of inspiration?
Eporta. I?m in the privileged position of
being able to see cutting-edge design,
which means I?m inspired every day at
work; living the dream.
W Chintz or minimalism? Both. The
best places create small worlds in
different areas of a space, where each
one makes you feel different to the other.
One corner could be high chintz,
another high minimalism, another a
blend of the two.
W What is your design essential? Great
paint. The colour and texture you use on
the walls transforms how a room feels.
I?m obsessed with Farrow & Ball.
W What is your favourite interior
design ?quick fix?? A beautiful
statement rug and the right lighting
will transform any space.
WWhat is your prediction for the next
big interior design trend? In an age of
overwhelming information, people are
craving spaces and designs that are
tranquil and grounding. There is a
demand for more pared-back designs in
a country style, as well as an increased
demand for sustainable products.
WThe design pitfall to avoid? Beige.
Live a little ? it will pay off.
WIf you could live in anyone?s house,
whose would it be and why? The
White House. Maybe not living there
right now, but generally I?d love to be
a fly on the wall.
WWhen decorating, what do you
splurge on? It tends not to be a
specific area or item, but rather when
I see a great product that fits perfectly
with the vision for a room ? and
paint, of course.
WWhat would you save on? I don?t
like overpaying for items, so I?ll try
to be cost-effective on everything by
sourcing a range of products at different
price points and then making a decision.
The bigger the selection you have, the
more cost-effective you can be.
W The best piece of design advice
you have received? If something feels
incomplete, it?s likely that you haven?t
incorporated enough layering. Try
adding a few layers and see how it
transforms the space.
W What is your favourite thing about
your home? It feels like my home when
I walk in.
Anna Temkin
Left: Tom Dixon
chair, listed on Eporta.
Above: Aneeqa Khan
8 Bricks & Mortar
Friday September 8 2017 | the times
A revival in
the countryside
Carol Lewis reports on the townies who are falling back in
love with rural homes, despite the higher stamp duty bills
he market for homes in
the country has been
subdued with property
values rising by only
0.2 per cent in the year
to June, compared with
1 to 1.5 per cent in towns
and cities. Yet this
summer has been surprisingly busy, with
people selling and moving out past the
commuter belt in search of a rural idyll.
Jeremy Campbell Harris, the head
of the country house department at
Humberts, says: ?July and August have
been exceptionally busy, a rarity during
the holidays. We didn?t have such a good
spring because it was hijacked by the
general election, but a lot of money has
exchanged hands in August, which bodes
very well for September.?
Rupert Sweeting, the head of country
house sales at Knight Frank, which
forecasts growth of 1.5 per cent for
prime country house prices this year,
says: ?Stamp duty has meant that a lot
of people have sat on their hands for
the last year or two and prices have
probably not risen by as much as they
could have done. But we have seen a lot
of sales in the past four to five months ?
a clear sign that people have come
to terms with the stamp-duty rises. So
much so that we might see a shortage of
properties in the autumn.?
Peter Hughes, the head
of residential for RH & RW
Clutton, based in West
Sussex, says: ?Cottages are
holding their price, and
demand is steady. The
ones that are sticking tend
to be those that need a lot
of work. There are still
people buying for investment
too ? they will buy two to
three-bedroom houses for up to
�0,000 and get about �100
100 a month
rent. Many of these people are renting
themselves, some of them farmers.
They want to get on to the property
ladder and are tempted by cheap
mortgages, but aren?t ready to live in
the properties yet.?
He adds: ?Some quite big country
houses have been sold ?off market?. Many
people think that they can achieve a
slightly higher price this way. Often they
don?t want people to know that they are
moving or they don?t have anywhere to
move to yet, so we quietly market them.
We have seven or eight on our books like
that at the moment.?
In Scotland rural locations in
Highland, Ayrshire, Argyll and Bute,
Borders, and Dumfries and Galloway
have experienced an increase in sales
that exceeds elsewhere in the country,
according to Savills.
Malcolm Leslie, a partner in Strutt
& Parker?s Edinburgh office, says: ?Rural
family homes located within commuting
distance of towns and cities remain
much in demand. This is enhanced by
proximity to good schools.?
Located in the village of Hurstpierpoint, West Sussex, seven-bedroom Howard Lodge is o
London exodus
In a report on the Scottish property
market, published today, Faisal
Choudhry, the director of research for
Savills Scotland, says: ?Country houses
in Scotland?s regional locations now offer
extraordinary value for money compared
to properties both elsewhere in the UK
and in Edinburgh. Wealthy home-grown
buyers and those from outside Scotland
beginning to take
are beg
advantage of this
affordability, particularly
in areas within easy
reach of the cities. This
is evident in the number
o Savills buyers
from outside
which has
by 82 per cent
with last year.
?As the
t political challenges
in Scotland have eased, London
buyers are also ma
making a comeback ?
this against a backdrop of slowing houseprice growth in London due to increased
levels of stamp duty taxation, mortgage
regulation and the Brexit vote, which
have left the local market more exposed
This six-bedroom home
in Knowl Hill, Berkshire,
is on the market for
�65 million. Inset left:
a four-bedroom property
in Tonbridge, Kent, is
�95 million and comes
with a two-bedroom
cottage. Right: grade II*
listed Ivy House in
Corsham, Wiltshire,
has nine bedrooms and
is for sale at �5 million.
All with Knight Frank
The bungalow gets a
21st-century makeover
to uncertainty,? he adds. ?Value for
money and quality of life are key drivers
for such property buyers, including
super-commuters who retain a London
base close to where they work, but
commute north to the family home in
Scotland at weekends.?
It is a pattern mirrored in the West
Country. Campbell Harris says: ?There is
also high demand in Somerset, Devon
and Dorset from buyers from London. In
Honiton, east Devon, for example, more
than 60 per cent of calls on new
instructions are from London and the
southeast. They are moving mainly for
schools and a change of lifestyle. In the
past 18 months we have seen a big shift
in people moving out to places they
know or have a connection to ? it?s a
very exciting time.?
Country idyll
Above and on the cover: grade II listed Peppercorn Cottage in
Holt, Dorset, has three bedrooms and is with Humberts for �5,000
Lindsay Cuthill, the head of Savills?
country department, says: ?An isolated
country house down a muddy track
doesn?t appeal much to those coming
from an urban marketplace. They want
internet access and proximity to a
boutique coffee shop. And they want
somewhere in great condition. Few want
a project ? they want it and they
want it now.?
Tim Waring, a director at Dacre, Son
& Hartley estate agency in Harrogate,
North Yorkshire, agrees: ?The country
house market is a lot slower than the
markets in towns such as Harrogate and
Ilkley. Families like to be in villages
rather than rural. For instance, Kirkby
Overblow, a village convenient for
Leeds, Harrogate and York, is popular
because it has a school, church, a couple
of pubs and a strong community. Here
�million will buy you a five-bedroom
house with one to two acres of land.?
Sweeting adds: ?The sweet spot for
cottages is �0,000 to �25 million.
It is so cheap to get a mortgage that
people are fixing rates for five years and
grabbing the opportunity to move. Many
buyers are looking for a period property
? ideally a symmetrical rectory ? on
the edge of a village, with from five to 15
acres of land, a barn, some additional
accommodation, within a ten-minute
drive of a station, with access to a good
school ? and good internet connection.?
the times | Friday September 8 2017
Bricks & Mortar 9
Why your house may be too big
a partner at Knight Frank in
Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire.
Victoria Harrison, the editor of the
home renovation and design platform
Houzz recommends creating a yoga
studio or meditation space. A gym could
be a good investment, but the heavy
equipment makes this best-suited to a
ground-floor bedroom.
Camilla Dell, the managing partner
at Black Brick, a buying agency, likes the
idea of incorporating a kitchenette into a
top-floor bedroom to create a contained
area for teenagers. Blake adds: ?We
would also recommend converting a
boxy fifth bedroom into a walk-in
wardrobe with lighting and shelving.
This may be done for less than �000.?
The home-search expert Carol Peett,
at West Wales Property Finders in
Pembrokeshire, has the ultimate solution.
?If your house has five-plus bedrooms
that buyers are put off by, turn this
around by creating a space suitable to let
and sell it as somewhere that can generate
an income from advertising on Airbnb.?
Unable to sell your
home? Did you know
that some families
do not want five or
more bedrooms,
asks Jayne Dowle
on the market for �995 million with Savills
Stamp duty effect
Research by Savills shows that the price
of top-end country houses has dropped
by 5.1 per cent since the stamp duty
changes in 2014, and manor houses by
0.8 per cent. Townhouses have risen in
value by 11.5 per cent, cottages by 8 per
cent, farmhouses by 3.4 per cent and
rectories by 2.3 per cent.
Cuthill says: ?The stamp duty rises
were a further punch in the stomach for
those outside London, who had not seen
property values rise by much since 2007.
And the data shows that prime country
house prices have fallen as a result,
although it doesn?t feel like that on the
ground. Still, if somewhere is keenly
priced and not compromised, there are
more than enough buyers. And the
market for smaller properties at around
�0,000 has remained very robust. ?
The rise in stamp duty has led to an
increase in people wanting to lease out
cottages, outbuildings, garages and land
so that they can benefit from the stamp
duty of 5 per cent for mixed-use properties,
rather than pay the higher tax on
residential properties, according to
Campbell Harris and Sweeting.
Campbell Harris says: ?Stamp duty
has had an effect. Wealth emanates from
central London, but people in London
have been staying put for longer,
preferring to stay and improve. Things
are starting to move again, though, with
people building stamp duty into their
budgets. More people are saying they
want to find their ?for ever house?; they
don?t want to be moving ? and paying
stamp duty again ? in five years? time.?
However, there is no sign that the
extra 3 per cent stamp duty on second
homes has dampened enthusiasm for
holiday homes and investment properties.
Waring says: ?There are second-home
buyers, some with northern money and
some with southern, many looking to
have a house somewhere that they have
family links and others [want] holiday
lets, particularly on the coast ? Whitby,
Scarborough and Filey, for instance.?
eople swoon when you tell
them that you?re selling
a five-bedroom house.
How lovely, they say.
Think of the space for
children, the potential for
guests. However, Britain?s
?ideal home? for buyers
now has just 3.5 bedrooms, according to
the property website Zoopla. With the
market in some areas almost static, sellers
are forced to face a counterintuitive fact:
abundant bedrooms can be a curse.
Would a four-bedroom-plus-study
property sell better than a five-bedroom
family home? Yes, says Anne-Marie
Desborough, of Dexters estate agency in
Richmond upon Thames. ?I would say
that the optimum number of bedrooms
is three or four. Your average Richmond
family has two children, so five or six
bedrooms seems a little wasteful.?
Hugh Blake, an associate partner at
Carter Jonas in Cambridge, says
affordability is a determining factor
nationwide. ?All too often, the vendors of
five and six-bedroom homes are too
ambitious in what they think their
property is worth. In the current market
overpricing is an immediate deterrent to
buyers, who simply aren?t prepared to
overstretch themselves.
?When it comes to larger properties,
the pounds per square foot value is
largely determined by the first 2,500 sq ft.
This is elevated by a good-sized main
reception room, kitchen, and four
generous bedrooms; the fifth and sixth
bedrooms contribute to a fraction of a
property?s overall value.?
There is also the question of
perception. Are buyers really looking for
a certain number of bedrooms ? or
rather a house of particular dimensions?
?Since all the houses now have floor
plans, the gross internal floor area has
become much more important to buyers
than number of bedrooms,? says Giles
Lawton, a partner at Strutt & Parker in
Oxford. ?In the old days buyers would
say they wanted five bedrooms, but what
they meant was they needed three
rooms to sleep in and two studies, or
a house of a certain size.?
So what can you do to present an
?over-bedroomed? home in the best light?
0 Four, five or six?
You must establish what is attractive to
your target buyers. As Martin Bikhit, the
managing director at the estate agency
Kay & Co, points out, prime central
London and grander parts of the home
counties still attract buyers looking for a
large number of bedrooms. Stock is low,
so appeal is enhanced.
He says that fewer than 30 properties
are for sale in W1 with five-plus bedrooms.
?When one does become available it
often gets snapped up quickly as wealthy
individuals seek homes that can
accommodate family members and staff.?
In rural areas too, such as Yorkshire,
the Cotswolds and Cornwall, agents
report that farmhouses and period
properties with five or six bedrooms are
Turn a small bedroom
into an extra bathroom
? the one above is by
Drummonds. Below:
cedar bedroom cupboard
by Plain English, from
?Create a space
suitable to let
that can generate
an income if
advertised on
perennial favourites with professional
families and relocating buyers.
However, in popular ?town? locations,
four bedrooms is optimal, five at the
most. ?Buyers in Oxford tend to want
just one extra bedroom that can be used
as a guest room, rather than lots of extra
rooms,? says William Kirkland, a partner
at Knight Frank in the university city.
?It?s a question of balance, however. They
still want space to grow as they are likely
to be borrowing, paying stamp duty land
tax and therefore won?t want to move for
a long time if they can help it.?
0 Too many bedrooms? Or not
enough bathrooms?
It could be that rather than having too
many bedrooms, you don?t have enough
bathrooms. If there is only one ?family
bathroom? in a five-bedroom house, it
makes sense to turn the smallest bedroom
into an extra bathroom or en suite. For
instance, a small middle bedroom can be
transformed into a super-useful ?Jack
and Jill? bathroom with access from each
adjoining sleeping area.
?Add an actual bath if possible,? says
Rupert Carr, a director at the
Kensington estate agency Milton Stone.
Other suggestions include a study, or
two, as more people work from home.
?A spare room might also convert to
a media or entertainment room, or a
light room can create an excellent art
studio or workshop,? says James Way,
0 Keep overall balance in your home
Open-plan living has blown apart the
old theories on the most desirable ratio
of bedrooms to reception rooms.
However, it?s important to ensure that
the flow and space available for various
functions convinces buyers. To achieve
this Jamie Hope, the managing director
at Maskells, suggests turning an extra
bedroom with decent proportions into
an elegant first-floor drawing room.
Or follow the new-build sector and
consider creating a family room, as Neil
Simpson, the sales and marketing director
at Bewley Homes, suggests: ?Homeowners
[want] to utilise upstairs bedroom space as
dedicated family or play rooms. This is
so much the case that one of our house
types in Witney, Oxfordshire, features a
large first-floor room dressed as a family
room, but it could just as easily be
utilised as a master or twin bedroom.?
Bear in mind the arrangement of rooms.
If you wish to keep a guest room, is it in
the right place? ?Ideally the master needs
to be close to the children?s bedrooms,
with number four as the guest/spare
room,? says Alex Newall, the managing
director at Barnes International.
Even smaller homes can suffer from
bedroom issues, adds Blake. ?If a
three-bedroom house is sticking, it could
be good to combine the second and third
bedrooms into one super space.?
0 Must-haves to maximise appeal
Space and storage are key. ?Beds have
increased in size, so a master bedroom
must now be large enough to
accommodate a superking with ease,?
says Peett. ?Another reason why it can be
better to knock two bedrooms into one.?
Add large wardrobes, bring in a
dressing table and, if an en suite is not
feasible, include a vintage washstand
with sink and cupboard space instead.
0 Indulge at your peril
For the total wow factor it could be
tempting to transform a superfluous
bedroom into an open-plan master suite,
with freestanding bath and lavatory.
This may be the epitome of glamour
in a boutique hotel room, but it will
add nothing to your home?s resale
value, warns James Robinson, of the
London mews specialist agency Lurot
Brand. ?Unless your bedroom is palatial
avoid the bath in bedroom idea ? and
trust me when I say the only time an
open-plan WC is acceptable is in a
prison cell.?
the times | Friday September 8 2017
Bricks & Mortar 11
?Nobody wants a friend who comes for dinner
to say that they have the same dining table?
Michelle Mone tells Anna Temkin about her
bid to conquer Dubai and the world of decor
he desire for a mix of
personal comfort
and style led Baroness
Mone to invent the
Ultimo bra, the most
noted item of underwear
of the Noughties. Her
latest venture, Michelle
Mone Interiors, an interior design
company for hotels and high-net-worth
individuals, also evolved from her own
needs. She has drawn on her experience
of building and designing homes for
herself and her three children.
At her mansion in Thorntonhall,
South Lanarkshire, she converted the
three-car garage into a (predominantly
pink) bar. ?I didn?t like going into the
city centre of Glasgow because I?m a
private person, but I love going to clubs,
so I thought I?ll create one in my house,?
Mone explains.
The company?s residential projects
include a development in Dubai where
the apartments will be priced in bitcoin,
the controversial digital currency that
exists outside any regulatory framework
or central bank support. There is also a
� million estate on the Caribbean
island of St Barts and a � million
mansion in Belgravia, central London.
Lovers of the minimalist aesthetic are
not Mone?s target clientele. This is decor
for people who want glamour, albeit in a
restrained form. The mission statement
is to deliver ?British-inspired elegance?,
with an emphasis on tailor-made
furniture and upholstery. The company
has formed partnerships with a specialist
?I love going to clubs,
so I thought I would
create one in my house?
fireplace supplier and the furniture
provider for the Dorchester hotel, which
will help to produce bespoke products
for clients.
Mone believes that people hire interior
designers because they crave
customisation. ?People want their homes
to be individual and designed, and not
have friends come for dinner who say
they have the same dining table as you.?
This week Mone and her partner,
Michelle Mone?s clientele seek ?restrained? glamour in their designs
Doug Barrowman, launched the
�0 million scheme in Dubai. Although
there has been a handful of sellers who
have accepted payment for their homes
in bitcoin, it is believed to be a first for
a property developer.
Payments in the cryptocurrency
can be made within minutes over the
internet, but concerns have been raised
about the technology behind it, which
enables transactions to be made
Aston Plaza and Residences will
include a shopping mall and two
towers housing 1,133 studio,
one-bedroom and two-bedroom flats,
with views over the Dubai Hills.
?The towers have been designed with
community at their core and to cater
to those looking for style, lifestyle and
convenience,? says Mone, adding that
they expect interest from young
professionals and expats. The flats, she
says, are being built ?to British quality?.
Construction began last year and is
due to finish in September 2019. The
first residents are expected to move in
by the end of that year. A swimming
pool, gym, open-air cinema, children?s
playground, and a pavilion for yoga and
Pilates will be included.
In the UK, a housing operator, the
Collective, which runs rental schemes
in London, accepts deposits in bitcoin.
14 Bricks & Mortar
Friday September 8 2017 | the times
Raw hide
V Vintage chesterfield button
armchair in mocha, �1.50
U Balham
leather chair,
A manor with front and rear gardens in Cowden, Kent, is �6 million (Strutt & Parker)
Prepare your garden
for a beautiful autumn
U Drift occasional chair,
X RetroSit Black Harper armchair with
steel frame, �5
W Urbanville industrial lounge chair,
U Dorigo pleated
brown chair, �372
W Eichholtz Paolo
armchair, �975
X Spencer wing
chair in Sienna
leather, �885
Compiled by
Holly Thomas
X Bastille chair,
n September your garden is probably
as full as it?s going to get: the
perennials are at full height, the shrubs
are fully grown and the branches
bowed low. There may be far less
colour than in high summer and there
may be some fallen leaves on the lawn,
but the overall impression is far from bad.
This is not the moment to sit back,
however, but to ensure that your garden
is as attractive as possible during the
autumn months and in the year ahead.
You should appraise every aspect of your
plot and ask yourself what would improve
it. More space for colourful perennials?
Shrubs less wedged together? Branches
not swinging so low? Start compiling
a list of winter jobs, such as redesigning
borders. This is your checklist for tasks
that need attention now.
It is the perfect time to plant heathers,
the largest of which you can use as a low,
flowering hedge. Give them full light and
a moist but well-drained soil (no clay)
and set them 2-3cm lower than they were
in the pot to encourage surface roots and
stabilise them. Most need acid soil, but
winter-flowering Erica carnea and Erica
x darleyensis will cope with some lime.
There are always shabby bits in the
lawn at this time of year and now is the
time to fix them, while the grass is still
growing but the weather is more cool
and moist. Worn patches can be fixed
by replacing the turf or by
aeration with a fork,
scarifying the surface with
a wire rake, and lightly
overseeding. Broken-down
edges can be peeled back
and fresh soil packed
underneath or, if necessary,
a new bit of turf slotted in.
Did you keep pots of bulbs
from last spring? Time to empty them
out and replant them, either in fresh
compost or in the ground. Second-year
bulbs are never as strong as when you
first bought them, and new ones always
make for a more reliable display. The old
ones can go in the ground, where it is
not so obvious if they are less floriferous.
Colchicum bulbs (autumn crocuses)
are on sale now, potted or dry, often
in flower, and they can be planted in
borders or rough grass. Old clumps are
visible as they pop up to flower, and you
can lift and divide the clumps while they
are in flower. Replant them singly. As
a rule the more expensive the bulb
(eg double, white) the less vigorous it is,
however beautiful, so when buying for
a display in grass go for the cheap ones,
which will thrive and build up there.
Nerines are coming up to flower ?
the brightest of the autumn bulbs, and
early this year. Make sure to get the dead
leaves away first to show them off
properly. If you buy bulbs in flower, plant
them in full sun in the driest soil you have.
An Agapanthus inapertus of the
subspecies pendulus, below, should be
part of your autumn planting
programme. I prefer this elegant species
to all others because it flowers later than
the rest, giving you colour in September
? to the envy of neighbours. Inapertus
means unopen; the tubular flowers do
not ssplay wide into trumpets.
Pendulus speaks for itself ?
the lower tubes hang down.
My favourite varieties are
Graskop, a thrilling
midnight blue; Black
Magic, which is darker
still; and Alba, a vigorous
white form.
teph Anderton
Once the deceased?s estate is
distributed the position is more
complicated. The heirs become the new
landlords from the moment they are
registered as proprietors with the Land
Registry. Strictly speaking, the tenants
are liable to pay rent to them from that
point on. However, section 3 of the
Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 requires a
new landlord to give formal written
notice of his or her name and address
before the next rent day or within two
months. Moreover, a similar but separate
obligation exists under section 48 of the
Landlord and Tenant Act 1987 to provide
the tenants with an address in England
or Wales to which they may serve
notices on the landlord. Failure to
comply with section 3 is a criminal
offence, and failure to give notice under
section 48 of the 1987 act means the rent
is treated as not being due to the
landlord until the notice is given.
The tenants must therefore pay rent to
the personal representatives until you
are registered as the new owner. You can
collect the rent yourself once you have
given formal written notice.
Mark Loveday
The writer is a barrister with Tanfield
Chambers. Email your question to:
I have inherited a property that
is tenanted under an assured
shorthold tenancy agreement.
What is the position with rent?
The starting point is that a tenant must
pay rent to their landlord throughout the
term of the letting. The tenancy does not
end simply because the landlord dies.
On death, the Administration of
Estates Act 1925 provides that a person?s
freehold and leasehold property passes
to his or her personal representatives
(ie the executors appointed under a will,
or the administrators if there is no will).
The procedure is automatic and the
personal representatives do not have to
be registered formally as owners. The
personal representatives may collect or
sue for rent ? whether the rent was due
before or after the landlord?s death.
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