TBS in Horse & Hound – Diamonds in the rough

With a limited number of equestrian properties on the market getting creative is often the best solution. A number of riders like polo player Aurora Eastwood and event rider Vittoria Panizzon have had to do exactly that. Aurora purchased 80 acres in 2006 but only eight of them had any grass. She’s spent the past 13 years developing them herself and has included holiday lets as part of the mix. Vittoria Panizzon also took on a large project as she bought an old Dairy Farm which needed a total redevelopment to link all of the buildings together.

Bobby Hall says ‘Having the nerve to take on run down equestrian facilities might give you leeway to negotiate on the price in some cases but it’s likely that you will still face stiff competition. It took us about 18 months to find a property for an international event rider whose wife was a dressage rider.” Even though what they wanted was at the super ‘swanky’ end of the scale searching for a few rungs down the ladder can also be difficult as people move so rarely.

Five key things to consider;

  • Planning – You need to find a good contact in the area who can help you make a quick decision as to whether you plans might be viable or not
  • Costs – Aurora’s redevelopment cost her 30% more than she planned. It’s worth investing in good quality at the outset so you don’t have to replace so regularly
  • Terrain – Vittoria says that ‘there are some things you can change and others that you can’t’– she’s lucky enough to be on sandy soil so it drains well
  • Expertise – It’s worth getting in experts to project manage to save time, stress and often money
  • Weather – Avoid doing building work in Winter if you can advises Aurora

To read the full article pick up the latest issue of Horse & Hound

TBS in Country Life – A stone’s throw

The endless traffic on the A303 can be frustrating but there are a few golden villages that make the journey worthwhile.

East of Stonehenge is the golden spot for commuters – the villages surrounding Grateley in the Test Valley are popular with trains into London Waterloo in around 1 hr 20 mins. Stockbridge is also a magnet for the commuters. For those looking for better value and perhaps can ‘flexi commute’ heading further west is a good option. Tisbury is a real hotspot and whilst it might not be for the every day commuter good quality properties are flying off the shelves.

Bobby Hall offers a word of caution though ‘…don’t think that just because you’re adding an hour to your time out of London you’re going to get a bargain because there are always hotspots and a lack of supply.’

There is a huge buzz surrounding Bruton and the villages surrounding the Hauser & Wirth gallery. The area’s fashionable image is set to intensify with the opening of Hadspen House near Castle Cary – a new hotel by boutique hotelier Koos Bekker.

To read the full article pick up a copy of this week’s Country Life

TBS in Country Life – With a little help from my friends

Help To Buy will continue until 2023 but there is a new alternative on the horizon. Thea Carroll outlines her thoughts in this week’s Country Life

Help To Buy was launched in 2013 to help first time buyers get a foot on the property ladder. However last November it was announced that in 2023 it will be scrapped. Data shows that around 365,400 people have got themselves on the property ladder through Help To Buy. The scheme however has been criticised as some people have reportedly exploited the system (they already own a home). There is going to be a new iteration which launches in April 2021 which will be more stringent in favour of first time buyers.

Thea Carroll says that right now the Help To Buy scheme ‘…has a high barrier to entry. It’s not due to eligibility but the small print. Once you realise there is a cap of £600,000 and it’s only for new builds it limits the relevant areas and is often prohibitive in what’s available in central London. As London millennials are already contending with the biggest deficit in earnings it’s unlikely that they will be willing to add a longer to commute to their list of worries. However if you can find a scheme that works for you a new build can be very appealing on paper.”

There’s a new government initiative, Starter Homes which is in the works, offering first time buyers under 40 the opportunity to purchase new build properties at a 20 per cent discount. Properties will be capped at £250,000 outside of London and £450,000 within the capital. Applications are being taken here.

To read more pick up this week’s Country Life

TBS in the FT – Chelsea’s property market slows down

For years, Chelsea has been one of London’s most desirable addresses — for royals and reality TV stars alike. But according to The FT local house prices are sliding.

Sellers are reluctant to put their homes up for sale, says Philip Eastwood, Partner at The Buying Solution. “There’s a shortage of property coming to market,” he says.

There are opportunities to be had given some less salubrious parts of London are seeing higher prices than Chelsea. In 2014, the average price per square foot for a one-bedroom flat sold in Chelsea — once known as “a village of palaces” — was £1,246, according to LonRes data compiled by Knight Frank. Then, the equivalent price in Wapping, a former industrial part of the east London dockland, was £916. Last year, the average price of a one-bedroom flat in Chelsea was £1,002 per sq ft — 22 per cent less than in Wapping.

The prices of those palaces are dropping too. In the first quarter of this year, the average prime price per sq ft — which corresponds to the top 5 per cent of the market by value — was £1,600, according to calculations by Savills. That is 4.9 per cent lower than the same period in 2018, and 21.8 per cent lower than it was five years ago.

This new demand is almost entirely British, say agents. Marsh & Parsons says that “people who were buying in Tooting or Clapham South” have been attracted to Chelsea by the lower prices. “In February, I had three requests for Chelsea, all from a similar demographic. Divorcees.”

Tom Martin, chief executive of Martin’s Properties, one of the principal landowners in Chelsea after the Cadogan Estate, is trying to change things. In collaboration with local stakeholders, he has recently launched The King’s Road Partnership to curate the retail offering, while the Cadogan Estate has invested £500m in the area around Sloane Square.

Read full article here; https://www.ft.com/content/96a4fbd6-730c-11e9-bf5c-6eeb837566c5

TBS interviews John Wyer of Bowles & Wyer ahead of Chelsea Flower Show

As the world famous RHS Chelsea Flower Show, sponsored by M&G Investments, opens it doors to the public this week (it has run every year bar two gaps due to the World Wars, since it started in 1913), our friends at Bowles & Wyer offer some helpful insights and tips.

Jonathan Bramwell caught up with John Wyer who comments as follows:

What do you think will be the big trend for gardens at Chelsea Flower Show this year?

Bold – big and bold without a doubt. There seems to be a confidence and decisiveness in the designs this year (perhaps it is to compensate for a lack of it elsewhere?). From the scorched oak sculpture by Johnny Woodford on Andy sturgeon’s M&G Garden or Sarah Eberle’s use (or re-use) of farmyard steelwork and oversize boulders (Forestry Commission garden), there is an assurance that I haven’t seen for some years at Chelsea. A subtle sub theme that is running through many gardens is that of woodland. Again, perhaps reflective of the times in which we live, woodlands are both a place of restoration and something with a hint of a darker past, but always evocative. Helen Elks-Smith garden for Warner Gin runs interestingly against theme, with a delicate design almost like the parts of a watch.

What’s your best tip for creating and maintaining a fabulous garden?

When you walk through the park, or go out into the garden after a while, what you notice is what’s changed since last time you looked. So try to keep some seasonality, don’t go for all evergreens – allow a little spring blossom and autumn colour into the garden. In practical terms, I can’t over-emphasise the importance of mulch. It keeps weeds down (so reduces your work) helps retain moisture and ultimately adds to soil health.

What is your favourite kind of garden?

That’s a difficult one! I have a voracious appetite for visiting gardens, but most of all I think I like gardens with surprises. Often that means gardens with ‘rooms’, so that you get a serial experience, but sometimes it is just going into a space and finding something you don’t expect.

What new technologies are being introduced into our gardens? (New water systems, robots mowing the lawn, more outdoor heaters for example)

Heating systems have come on a lot. Instead of the wasteful gas burners of a few years ago, there are much more effective infra-red ‘heat-bars’ which can be incorporated on to pergolas or parasols. Outdoor kitchens are still a big theme, with many more on offer now.

Do you have tips for designing a small London garden? (Would be good to ref easy to maintain plants etc)

London Gardens tend to be shady, especially the smaller ones. The difficult areas tend to be the shady parts around the bases of plants. Try shade-tolerant evergreen plants that are good at ground cover likeSoleirolia soleiroliiPachysandra terminalis or Liriope muscari. Also consider trying things that add to the length of the flowering season such as Anemone x hybridus, A. japonica or Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’. Brush the paving regularly to keep it clear of leaves and detritus that will make it slippery and give it a good clean at the beginning of the season.

How is climate change affecting our gardens? (Are we seeing different plants introduced into English gardens for example?)

I think climate chaos is in many ways a more accurate description than climate change. Although the general trend is towards warmer wetter winters and hotter dryer summers, we are likely to see weather that we frequently think of as unseasonal, such as storms with gales in June or temperatures in the high teens in February. I am now growing quinces and apricots in my hilltop garden in Hertfordshire, and we are seeing banana palms surviving in some of our London Gardens. The biggest thing to watch out for is pests and diseases that have come in on the rise of summer temperatures and more humid winters, such as red spider mite, box moth and box blight.

Which gardens / designers are likely to scoop the awards? (Ones to watch)

Always a difficult one to call. I think Mark Gregory’s Welcome to Yorkshire garden will be a difficult one to beat for people’s choice. However, one can never rule out the ‘Royal effect’ that might benefit Adam White, Andree Davis and the Duchess of Cambridge’s garden. For best in show, Andy Sturgeon and Sarah Eberle both have enviable reputations so one would be foolish to ignore them, but there are a lot of good gardens this year.

Website; www.bowleswyer.co.uk

John Wyer

On Twitter: @WyerJohn

Read his blog www.bowleswyer.co.uk/blog

TBS in The Times – The risks of Chelsea Flower Show garden envy

The Chelsea Flower Show marks the moment of peak national aspiration for our gardens. Inspired by visits to the extravaganza and the hours of TV coverage, people with negligible horticultural skills — and little time or patience — suddenly believe that they are destined to create a plot that could win a gold medal at the annual event, which starts on Tuesday. This dream is usually shortlived, but some homebuyers become convinced that their dream property should have a plot to rival a show garden — either formally planted or of the wilderness variety co-designed by the Duchess of Cambridge at this year’s show.

Jonathan Bramwell of the Buying Solution comments: “We were recently involved in the purchase of a country house with an amazing ten-acre garden, but maintaining it required three gardeners with running costs of £100,000.”

When it comes to what makes a great garden there are firm rules about looks, particularly for a trophy house in the country, as Bramwell explains. “This requires a large south-facing terrace with a sheltered alfresco dining area and far-reaching views across lawns towards unspoilt countryside,” he says.

Full article available at The Times online  here: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/the-risks-of-chelsea-flower-show-garden-envy-g3jbsv72m

TBS in Country & Town House – Technopreneurs are flocking to Marylebone

Marylebone is buzzing at the moment. Many of the most recent buyers are wealthy international graduates and tech professionals working at Google, Facebook and Snapchat in Kings Cross and Fitzrovia. The Howard De Walden and Portman Estates are key to the area’s charm – they’ve invested heavily in Marylebone making it one of the most desirable London villages . Restaurants and cafes such as AOK Kitchen, Chiltern Firehouse and Roganic are all destinations in their own right and add to Marylebone’s energy.

Buyers also appreciate the area’s fantastic connections – proximity to the Eurostar and tube at Kings Cross make commuting into the City, West End or internationally a breeze. The schools are also second to none; Weatherby, Francis Holland and Queen’s Park are all within a stone’s throw – the majority of families live locally.

Philip Eastwood says that the most desirable streets for a calm residential vibe are Dorset Street and Manchester Street. The garden squares are also coveted – Montagu Square (home to John Lennon) and Bryanston Square (home to Wallis Simpson) are also extremely popular.

To read the full article:  https://www.countryandtownhouse.co.uk/cth-life/properties/property-marylebone/

TBS in The Sunday Times – How the 0.01% really live

The weekend’s Sunday Times was all about the super rich and luxury property market, with the acclaimed Sunday Times Rich List out this weekend just gone.

In the property market, as in all things, the definition of luxury depends on where you are and whom you ask. As a rough guide, though, you’re looking at what Lucian Cook, director of residential research at Savills estate agency, terms “super-prime” — in other words, property costing more than £5m in London or more than £2m elsewhere.

The more zeros you add, the higher up the luxe ladder you climb; if you’re seeking the ultimate in extravagance, you need to speak to the 0.01%, the ultra-prime purchasers who splashed out on 38 properties in the capital costing more than £20m in 2018 — the highest number of deals at this level in five years, according to Knight Frank.

Tastes are varied, efficiency (of how a property runs) is key, high ceilings and large walls (for art) are important, and sustainability and wellness is rising up the shopping lists of the moneyed class.

Harry Gladwin, Partner at The Buying Solution, talks to The Sunday Times Home supplement about how the wealthy have a new interest in extreme wellness in the home. “There is a lot of investment (in wellness). It’s not unusual for people to install humidity-controlled gyms, hypoxic chambers and hot yoga studios — even in their weekend homes.”

Link to online article here: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/how-the-0-01-really-live-dvpm7mxvt

TBS in Conde Nast Magazines – Uncovering properties with glorious gardens

As summer approaches and with the Chelsea Flower Show later this month, The Buying Solution offers insights to House & Garden, Vogue, GQ and Tatler about what makes a truly spectacular garden.

Every May, the crowds at Chelsea Flower Show are a reminder of the National love affair with horticulture. Little wonder then that a beautiful garden is a strong selling point for a property.

Jonathan Bramwell, Head of The Buying Solution, says “A truly perfect garden is difficult to find. In the Cotswolds, for example, if you’re spending £3m or up, you may see only three houses with a really special garden come to the market every year.”

A fine example (featured in the piece) is Dunsborough Park in Ripley, Surrey, one of those rare houses with spectacular grounds. Laid out in the 18th Century, they are enclosed by a ha-ha, with views of the countryside beyond. The walled gardens are divided into sections, which are resplendent with English roses, mature topiary and a colourful Dutch garden, with box-edged borders brimming with brightly coloured tulips. The rest of the ground are equally charming, with Edwardian Greenhouses, a grotto and stone bridge, topped with a picturesque pavilion.

TBS in Country Life – Rule the School

This week Country Life published its Cotswolds Focus – Jonathan Bramwell, Head of The Buying Solution, discusses his thoughts on one of the key drivers for a move.

Whatever the economic weather one of the key reasons for a move to the Cotswolds is the array of good schools. Jonathan Bramwell says that the local schools provide ‘a constant source of oxygen’ for the property market.

Improvements to connectivity and the fact that some villages have Gigaclear broadband speeds (not found in the Capital) mean that those who may not have considered commuting before are making the move.

Schools that tend to draw the crowds are Kitebrook, The Dragon, St Hugh’s, Beaudesert Park and Cheltenham College Prep. Jonathan mentions that the Dragon’s day pupils can get very caught up in the Oxfordshire traffic but that it does attract the Chipping Norton crowd. The villages of Beckley and Noke on the north eastern edge are two which are worth looking at if a family is looking to quickly ‘nip in and out’. St Hugh’s has also undergone a transformation over the past few years and is seen to be an alternative to The Dragon attracting The London ‘dinner party set’.

In most areas stock remains tight. Jonathan suggests ‘trying before you buy’. He has recently negotiated a long lease of between five and ten years with the clients paying around £15,000 a month. Although it sounds like a lot…’when you consider stamp duty on a large country house some parents prefer to keep their London house and rent’.

To read the full article pick up this week’s Country Life.