TBS in The Times – Winners and losers in the great space race

When it comes to price per square foot – where can value be found?  Thea Wellband and Harry Gladwin talk to The Times:

When looking at average price of a property in the UK £227,000, purchasers can expect to buy a tiny 167 sq ft in Kensington and Chelsea – the size of four king sized beds. There is however value to be found in certain pockets of K&C, the most expensive borough in the UK. Thea Wellband cites Lots Road and World’s End in Chelsea as a location where savvy purchasers can secure properties for around £1300 per sq ft in comparison to the more prime value areas of Chelsea which can reach anything up to £1800 per sq ft.

High price per square foot values are also being achieved in the Shires. Oxford is one such City which secures comparable prices to London. Harry Gladwin says; “Best in class properties in the most sought after pockets of Central North Oxford are reaching over £1000psf – this is comparable to prime West London. However there is value to be found in the Eastern areas of the City in locations such as Headington and Old Headington. Benefits are that purchasers are close to the M40 for easy access to London and Birmingham and the average price of a home is around £427,000. There are however villages around Oxford and close to the amenities of market towns such as Witney that offer value of around £350 per sq ft – examples include Wolvercote, Crawley, Hailey and Minster Lovell. The key is to discern the difference between a pocket of value and a property that is genuinely compromised.”

To read the full article please click here; https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/bricks-mortar/winners-and-losers-in-the-great-space-race-7kmsfs250

TBS in The London Magazine – Iconic Streets: Westbourne Grove

Thea Wellband, Senior Buying Consultant at The Buying Solution, talks to The London Magazine about destination brunching and premium prices on Notting Hill’s iconic Westbourne Grove.

A favoured address for the fashionable and wealthy, Westbourne Grove over the years has become a go-to destination for high-end shopping and weekend brunching as well as a highly desirable place to call home. With prices reaching over £3,000 per sq. ft. and much of the housing stock consisting of flats over shops, Thea Wellband knows where to buy if you want to secure a spot at the front of the weekend queue at some of the street’s most desirable cafes and brassieres.

Read the full article here: http://www.thelondonmagazine.co.uk/people-places/area-guides/iconic-streets-westbourne-grove.aspx

TBS in The Times: In search of schools and space

Nick Mead, Partner at The Buying Solution, talks to The Times about the allure of the Chilterns for families relocating out of London.

Every year young children bid farewell to their first bedrooms, pack up their toys and climb into the family car as their parents go in search of a home with more space and close to good schools, in a pattern of migration tracked by the Office for National Statistics. Analysis of these migration patterns (between June 2016 and 2017) of families with children under five, carried out by Savills, highlights emerging trends that provide a guide to the direction of the housing market.

Nick Mead explains how the Chiltern District, which includes towns such as Amersham, is appealing to newcomers from London, because of the easy commute back into London (41 minutes on Chiltern Railways or on the Metropolitan Line) and improved lifestyle.

“The price of the average property in the Chilterns is significantly lower than Surrey. High-performing grammar schools such as Dr Challoner’s in Amersham and the Royal Grammar in High Wycombe are particular draws.”

The article also highlights signs of flight from larger cities: not only from London, but also Bristol and Manchester. Families in London increasingly sense that there is a limit to house-price growth and that working from a rural location is much easier than it was. Most families that move are looking for more affordable homes, but also a number are choosing more expensive rural areas, such as Cirencester in Gloucesterhire.

Read the full article here: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/in-search-of-schools-and-space-kn2zmqxc7

TBS in City A.M – Why Holland Park is the connoisseur’s choice

Philip Eastwood talks to City AM about Holland Park and why buyers should be forgetting Notting Hill and looking slightly southwards to its greener, more understated sibling for the bigger properties.

Philip Eastwood, Head of London at The Buying Solution, says; “Holland Park has actually shrunk over the years. Due to the popularity of neighbouring Notting Hill, streets that once considered themselves part of Holland Park are now claimed to be in Notting Hill.

“Once a very fashionable place to live, today’s Monopoly board would show that Notting Hill has taken the crown of the most sought after west London residential area, and it is for this reason that the qualities of Holland Park are often missed.  The architecture, most notably of Thomas Allen of Holland Park, is very much the pinnacle of quality Victorian stock. In a world governed by square footage and price per sq. ft., volume is often overlooked and can sometimes be more important than the size of a room. Many of the apartments and houses of Holland Park have volume in abundance. Close proximity to the park is another jewel that is hugely appreciated in an ever congested central London.”

According to City AM, those in the know, often with the help from a specialist agent, are more likely to snap up an exceptional property in the area.

To read the full article click here; http://www.cityam.com/289024/focus-holland-park-celebrities-flock-spacious-georgian


TBS in The Times – Moving up: return of the piano noble

Entertainment spaces are usually at the top a purchaser’s wish list. Mark Lawson speaks to The Times about why the Piano Nobile, the principle floor of a grand house, is making a come back.

Mark Lawson Partner at The Buying Solution says; “Developers and architects are constantly being challenged to create something out of the ordinary with a nod to tradition and heritage – a neo period design that ‘stands out’. A Piano Nobile level can be both practical and aesthetically pleasing. Nowadays day to day entertainment areas such as  cinemas, bowling alleys, gyms and swimming pools are often positioned on a  lower ground floor . An approach upstairs to a  statement main floor level for the main reception rooms and a master suite can look extremely impressive in a grand residence. The raised level provides longer  views which will further enhance the design and enjoyment of the main areas, which after all are the most used rooms and where the owners like to entertain and impress.”

Although the term ‘Piano Nobile’ might have gone out of fashion, entertaining on the first floor particularly in Georgian style properties is very much in vogue. Developers such as Northacre and Clivedale, who have launched prime schemes in London, have positioned some of their grandest apartments across the Piano Nobile levels. Jane Austen would have been very familiar with this design particularly in Bath and it’s one which is very much here to stay.

To read the article in full please click here; https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/moving-up-return-of-the-piano-nobile-rqgqv2w9b

Property Lottery: How I’d spend my winnings

You’ve won the Euro lottery! Your wealth advisor has recommended how much you should put away to pay for necessary and important elements such as pensions, investments, charitable donations and children’s education. They have allocated €30m of the remaining pot to invest in property. What would you buy?

The first property I’d buy would be a mews house off Eaton Square in Belgravia. My grandparents had a lovely two-bedroom mews house in Eaton Mews North and I have happy memories of staying there as a young boy. I’d love a base in London so that I don’t have to stay in hotels when in town and my children could use it when they’re in their teens. I love the location of these mews houses in particular because they are tucked away and private, yet you can walk to Sloane Square and The Antelope, one of my favourite pubs from when I was in my 20s, in just a few minutes.

For a London pied-a-terre, they are an ideal size, with two bedrooms and two bathrooms, a little sitting room and dining area and they usually come with a garage, too. Eaton Square itself is tree-lined and would be a nice place to walk the dog in the morning.

I’d ask my colleague, Philip Eastwood, to help with the search as I imagine they are rather difficult to find and anticipate that would use up approximately £5m of my budget.

The Buying Solution’s expertise—or specifically, my own—would definitely be needed for the main purchase which would be a small estate with a 10,000 sq ft Georgian manor house, set in between 100 and 300 acres, in the part of Wiltshire which stretches from Marlborough south to Salisbury.

I’m quite clear on what elements it would need to have, and top of the list are a good view and a bit of fishing on one of the lovely chalk streams in Wiltshire. I don’t mind which—it could be the Kennet, Avon, Itchen, Nadder, any would do. I’ve fished ever since great family friends introduced me to the sport when I was aged about 10. It’s my passion and my escape. You usually can’t get phone reception near the river, which is a bonus, and it’s not just about the fishing. It’s about being in a lovely, quiet place and having some time out from the noise of life—as well as the odd snooze on the riverbank without being disturbed.

On the estate, I’d expect there’d be about 50 acres (or more) of woodland where I could organise a really fun shoot. I’d want it to be as far away from a commercial shoot as possible. I’d invite friends for a walked-up day with some duck flighting in the evening but the main focus of the day would be a really good lunch that would take place in a converted barn—my man cave—with a big roaring fire.

Recently refurbished, the main house would have six or seven bedrooms, well-proportioned reception rooms and a large, open-plan kitchen, where my family and I would spend all our time. Outside, there’d be a number of outbuildings which could house my children’s ponies and quad bikes as well as a games room with all the toys–a table tennis table, snooker and darts plus a TV where my son could play on his games console. There would be a cottage to house a couple, who would help run the house and look after the land, and a guest cottage for visiting families to use—which is just a really comfortable arrangement for everybody.

After 20 years of working as a buying agent in this market, I know how rare these houses are. Last year, 72% of the houses that The Buying Solution bought were off market but in the estates market, that figure is closer to 90%. Opportunities to acquire something like this come along once in a lifetime. I’d have to focus a lot of energy and time in tracking it down. I suspect it will cost about £15m to buy.

With the remainder of my Euro lottery windfall, I’d buy a beach house in Salcombe, Devon. It’s where I’ve been on holiday all my life as my great-grandparents had a house there, and I love it. In a perfect world scenario, I’d like to have access to all the fun in the town but not be among the crowds so my perfect house would probably located up the creek towards South Pool or Kingsbridge as privacy is something I cherish. Ideally, it’d have its own private beach and a jetty for a small, wooden fishing boat which I’d use to go and buy the paper and groceries after an early morning fishing trip. There’s nothing more delicious for breakfast than freshly-caught mackerel on the barbecue with a squeeze of lemon and some pepper. There’d be a boathouse where we could store all the toys including windsurfers, a jet ski and small sailing boats for the children.

We’d probably avoid going in August, when the town gets too busy, but use it as a weekend or holiday escape for the rest of the year.

TBS in The Times: The Fixer-upper is fashionable again

Buyers are seeking distinguished but dilapidated properties to make their own according to The Times today. Particularly popular are those needing full refurbishment so purchasers can tailor it entirely to their own lifestyle, tastes and designs. The most promising renovation properties are snapped up immediately.

While there are opportunities to be had, Harry Gladwin, Partner at The Buying Solution, warns not to get carried away with your budget and to factor in obstacles and unknowns. “When you’re preparing to make an offer, you need a full picture of faults and challenges. Key areas of focus will be the ecology of the property, such as whether bats inhabit the main house or outbuildings, and the use of hazardous materials such as asbestos; we were recently able to negotiate £150,000 off a £7 million country manor house because of asbestos.”

Added to this, Harry adds that it’s crucial to have the right team of experts in place from the outset such as lawyers, surveyors, architects and planning consultants to provide expert knowledge and a realistic timeframe – this team will make or break a successful purchase. Another point to consider is the VAT on project management costs and the cost of the works this usually adds another 30-40% on top of the purchase price. When dealing with the Conservation officer and possibly English Heritage remember to set off on the right foot. They will have to understand the benefit to them. Value can certainly be found across the UK on dilapidated country mansions especially those which don’t qualify as mixed use and are liable for the lower stamp duty rate.

Full article: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/bricks-mortar/the-fixer-upper-is-fashionable-again-pp20fw2mq