Perthshire has more to offer than world class golf at the Ryder Cup

This year’s Ryder Cup tees up on September 23 – but Perthshire has a lot more to offer than world class golf at Gleneagles.

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Average property prices currently stand at £255,378, up a resounding 5.63 per cent in the last year, suggesting that despite the uncertainties that the Scottish referendum has heaped upon the market north of the border buyers are increasingly seduced by Perthshire’s majestic countryside, its mountains and castles.

There is Perth itself, which was granted city status in 2012 to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, as well as its market towns and villages.

Alastair_Houlden_8Families are drawn to Perth because of its excellent schools. Alastair Houlden, of estate agents Rettie & Co, said the most popular area to live is Kinnoull Hill to the west of the city centre. The hill has some fine detached and semi-detached Victorian houses and, as the name suggests, an elevated position which gives houses in the areas great views of the countryside around.

“You can walk down into Perth city centre very easily and there is good walking on Kinnoull Hill itself,” added Mr Houlden.

Average property prices in Perth stand at £182,047, up 7.23 per cent in the last year. In Kinnoull Hill, a four bedroom semi-detached house would cost around £400,000, or you could take on a five bedroom, detached house with a couple of acres of gardens and paddocks for around £800,000.

If you dream of a true highlands home then Robert La Terriere, of estate agents Smiths Gore recommends Aberfeldy, a market town set beside the River Tay with views of the majestic Grampians. “It is a very pretty town somewhere between lively and quaint,” said Mr La Terriere. “It is very beautiful but there are increasing numbers of young entrepreneurs setting up new cafes and shops there.”

Aberfeldy is around 45 minutes to Perth and you can be in Edinburgh in less than two hours. These distances, said Mr La Terriere, keep prices in the area relatively affordable compared to more commutable towns and villages in Scotland. Average prices in Aberfeldy stand at £260,281, up 7.05 per cent in the last year.

A three bedroom Victorian townhouse will cost from around £200,000, or you could opt for a modern – but traditional style – home on the outskirts for around £350,000 to £400,000 for four bedrooms.

To really live the fantasy highland lifestyle a country house with land close to town will cost from £400,000 to £700,000.

If even this seems too hectic, then slow things down a notch in Comrie, one of the most beautiful villages in Scotland.  This historic conservation village on the River Earn, 25 miles west of Perth, is an absolute beauty. Comrie is popular with active retirees, drawn by its strong community spirit, proximity to the Highlands, and its good local facilities which include a primary school, several pubs and cafes, and a post office. The average village property currently costs £272,299, up 7.05 per cent in the last year.

And unsurprisingly Comrie is a goldmine for gorgeous period houses. You could buy a five bedroom, detached Georgian house for around £450,000, a three or four bedroom detached house in the centre of the village for around £250,000 to £300,000, and two bedroom houses for under £200,000.

Jennifer Campbell, of estate agents CKD Galbraith, said the village’s market was strong thanks to its appeal not only to retirees but second home owners from Edinburgh and Glasgow, as well as families attracted by its good school.

It is around an hour to Glasgow and Edinburgh so it is an easy within an easy drive, it is obviously very pretty, and it has got a great little high street and fantastic walking nearby,“ she said. “It is a really close knit community with lots of clubs and societies to join, and you never hear of any crime at all.”

For sale:

1. If you want a romantic Scottish castle they don’t come much more breathtaking than Cloan, a seven bedroom house with spectacular period features and 56 acres. It is on the market for offers over £1,465,000.

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2. Live loch side in a seven bedroom house in an outstanding location, on the market for £1,350,000

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3. Perthshire isn’t all about historic houses. This modern four bedroom house is within walking distance of the Gleneagles Hotel, and is for sale at £525,000.

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4. You get plenty of house for your money in Perthshire, like this five bedroom family home on the outskirts of Blackford, on the market for offers above £379,995.

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5. In Perth itself you could buy a four bedroom period villa, on the market for £249,995.

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6. A pretty and traditional two bedroom terraced cottage in the village of Bridge of Earn is on the market for offers above £137,000.

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September 18, 2014 at 10:54 AM Leave a comment

UPDATED: Mortgage lending beginning to show signs of slowing down, says CML

Mortgage lending fell during August in a further sign that the property market is beginning to slow down, figures showed today.

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A total of £18.6bn was advanced during the month, down from £19.7bn in July, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders.

It was the first monthly drop in mortgage lending since February, when the market was affected by lenders gearing up for the introduction of new regulations under the Mortgage Market Review.

But despite the dip, total advances were still the highest for August since 2008, and 13 per cent up on lending for the same month of 2013.

Bob PannellCML chief economist Bob Pannell said: “The narrative of recovering house purchase and buy-to-let activity continued through August.

“However, it is important to be aware that this picture is being flattered by strong seasonal factors through the summer period.

“A gentle slowing of lending activity may now be in prospect, as a result of the continuing impact of tighter lending rules and a softening of the London market.”

He added that on a seasonally adjusted basis, total lending during July was £17.1bn, little changed from May and June and broadly flat since the beginning of the year, and forward estimates suggest August’s figure will be similar on a seasonally adjusted basis.

The CML’s suggestion that mortgage lending may have reached a plateau is consistent with a report from the Bank of England yesterday, in which agents said housing market activity has stabilised at a lower level than was seen at the start of the year.

Recent data has pointed to a fall in demand from potential buyers as people have become put off by the high prices being demanded by sellers and the prospect of interest rate rises.

At the same time, there has been an increase in the number of homes being put up for sale, helping to ease the mismatch between supply and demand.

Meanwhile, Virgin Money has launched a new six year fixed rate mortgage, undercutting many five year fixed rate deals.

The loan, which is the only six year product available, charges interest of 2.99 per cent to people with a 30 per cent deposit who pay a £995 fee.

The only medium-term deal offering a better rate is a five year fixed rate loan from Yorkshire Building Society at 2.89 per cent, but it requires a 35 per cent deposit and comes with a £975 fee.

Virgin Money said it had launched the deal to give people a “prolonged period of certainty” for the cost of their monthly mortgage repayments.

It added that it expected the product to be very popular, so it was likely to be available for only a limited period.

A flurry of lenders have cut the cost of their five year fixed rate deals in recent weeks in response to falling swap rates, upon which the deals are based.

The average interest rate charged on a five year fixed rate deal has dropped to 4.11 per cent, down from 4.21 per cent in August, according to financial information group Moneyfacts.

Mark HarrisMark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, said: “As we move into autumn, lenders have one eye on their year-end figures and are ramping up their lending volumes to meet them.

“Subsequently, there are some excellent fixed rates available over two and five years so borrowers who are concerned about rate rises should act now to obtain some security.”

 

September 18, 2014 at 10:03 AM Leave a comment

Ten house buyers ‘chasing’ every property for sale

There are nearly 10 buyers chasing every property for sale, despite a jump in the number of homes on the market, research showed today.

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The number of properties listed with estate agents rose by more than 4 per cent in August, compared with the same month of 2013, as homeowners looked to cash in on recent house price gains.

At the same time, the number of potential buyers fell by 5.5 per cent, according to estate agents haart.

The group said the figures suggested the property market was rebalancing following a year of high demand and low supply.

But despite the fall in people looking to buy and the rise in homes for sale, the market remained highly competitive, with 9.5 potential buyers chasing every property.

The increase in supply helped to boost sales levels, with transactions rising by nearly 9 per cent year-on-year.

Paul SmithPaul Smith, chief executive of haart, said: “The property market is currently recalibrating as our data shows, with an easing of demand as new buyer registrations across the UK decrease 5.5 per cent annually, in contrast to the uplift in homeowners looking to sell.

“Despite this influx of stock the market remains competitive with an average 9.5 buyers registering interest in every new home that comes to market, which is the driver behind property price growth.”

He added: “This gradual return to normality should now dispel fears about property bubbles – which we have always dismissed as hype.”

The group said house prices had risen by 8.9 per cent in the year to the end of August, to stand at an average of £206,578.

But the typical price paid by a first time buyer actually dipped slightly during August, dropping to £153,967, 1 per cent lower than in July.

London continued to be the main driver of growth, with prices storming ahead by 23.6 per cent year-on-year in the capital to stand at £494,026.

Competition for property was most intense in London, with 15.7 potential buyers chasing every home on the market, despite a 27 per cent jump in supply.

Meanwhile, the Bank of England reported that housing market activity had stabilised at lower transaction levels, after dipping earlier in the year following the introduction of tougher lending criteria under the Mortgage Market Review.

In its Agents’ Summary of Business Conditions Report, it said the slowdown had been particularly marked in Central London, where the appreciation of sterling had deterred some foreign buyers.

It added that house price growth was also slowing, particularly in areas of the country that had seen significant gains, with estate agents saying this reflected a more balanced market, as supply increased.

The Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee also struck a more dovish tome in its September meeting, with members suggesting Britain’s recovery may slow in the fourth quarter, while risks from the problems in the Eurozone have increased.

Two members continued to vote for a rate hike, but they failed to persuade any other members of the committee that a rise in the official cost of borrowing was necessary.

Most economists expect the Bank Rate to be increased from its record low of 0.5 per cent during the first quarter of 2015.

September 17, 2014 at 11:24 AM Leave a comment

New build of the month: Station Road, Cambridge

If you’re looking for a new build home, try this mix of one, two and three bedroom apartments in commutable Cambridge.

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Where exactly is it? Just to the south west of the city centre, smack beside Cambridge Station, and an easy walk to the lovely Cambridge University Botanic Garden.

Monster housing estate or tiny boutique development? An in-betweener, with 137 one, two and three bedroom flats in three medium rise blocks by developer Hill Residential. It will be ready to move into in 2016.

How much will it cost me? Prices are expected to start at £325,000 for a one bedroom flat.

What is so great about it? High spec modern flats in a fantastically central location and in a city which is really booming right now. Estate agent David Bentley, head of new homes for Bidwells, said the flats are larger than average (from 520 sq ft for the one bedroom flats, and 850 sq ft for the two bedroom homes) and most come with balconies. Some also have underground parking spaces. Vesta is part of a wider development of land beside the station and, when completed in around five years, the site will have cafes, restaurants and shops.

Surely its not completely perfect? That station side location means that there will be some train noise, and other sections have been swooped on by investors so would be owner occupiers are going to have to cope with some competition. Since the homes are being sold off plan there will be a wait before buyers can move in.

Who will my neighbours be? Bentley anticipates that, as well as investors, Vesta will attract young professional couples and London commuters.

What is Cambridge itself like? This university city ticks every box imaginable: a beautiful historic city centre, great shops, bars, restaurants and cafes, fantastic schools, and commutability to London. Local job prospects are also good for scientific types, with a cluster of tech firms in the city, Addenbrooke’s Hospital and, of course, the university. Microsoft recently opened offices in part of the development itself.

Is it any good for kids? It is likely, thinks Bentley, that the majority Vesta’s residents will be young, free and childless.

How are the public transport links? You are right by the station and trains to London’s King’s Cross station take just 50 minutes. All of Cambridge, a famously bike friendly city, is on your doorstep.

Is it up and coming? Cambridge’s market is white hot right now with homes taking, on average, just 27 days to sell – the fastest in Britain. Average prices in the city stand at £368,7017, up 8.99 per cent in the last year. While property in Oxford, its great collegiate rival, is still more expensive at an average £413,651, its annual price growth is considerably slower at 5.10 per cent.

I like the sound of Cambridge what else is on sale there?

1. If you have £2.5m to spend, how about a delightful eight bedroom house on the city’s outskirts. The Grade II listed property in Chesterton, which is due to get a new station in 2016 which is sure to hike prices.

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2. If you prefer a more contemporary feel you could opt for a four bedroom modern townhouse for £1.295,000

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3. Cambridge is blessed with lovely streets of Victorian terraces, like this two bedroom property on the market for £645,000.

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September 17, 2014 at 9:54 AM Leave a comment

Gardening tips to attract September house hunters

It’s autumn – arguably the most beautiful time of year. Leaves are turning golden and many look as if they are on fire with their dramatic red and orange hues. The property market is as vibrant as the colours that we see around us. In fact there are so many properties for sale, just how do people start their search for the perfect home? How do they decide which houses might be suitable and which to ditch without a second glance, asks Caroline Knight.

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It’s worth thinking about the effect that a garden creates during the very first glimpse. The chances are that it’s the photo of the front of the house from the road that first catches people’sattention. They can dismiss or delight in a property with just a single peek. If the property is obscured by gigantic conifers, straggly shrubs and dark shadows they might be a little underwhelmed by its kerb appeal, but if the garden helps to display the home like a sleek carpet or solid wooden floor helps to stage a lounge, its audience is captured within seconds.

Judging a house by its façade might not be wise in every sense, but we all do it. The exterior appearance of a property is frequently the deal maker or breaker when it comes to buying a home. In fact it can take just eight seconds for a potential buyer to decide whether or not to view – and their decision is usually based on their judgement of a mere photograph.

Just imagine the scenario – a flower-filled garden suggesting scented aroma, a cleanly swept path, seating area signifying relaxation, no bins in sight, a clipped lawn looking like a smooth carpet and a clearly defined boundary offering privacy and style. Autumn tree colour will be the icing on the cake – people like to have interest for every season, not just the height of summer. Alternatively, an overgrown patch with brambles, mud and rubbish can only damage that first vital impression and few people are going to want to brave the journey up the front path to the door.

First impressions count immensely. An ugly house can recede into insignificance when clothed with a delightful garden. And the most beautiful home can look daunting if its grounds appear to be ‘high maintenance’.

The good news for sellers is that they can do something about it. A garden tidy-up might be all that is required. The great news for buyers is that they can instruct themselves to see past any outside neglect and might then have an opportunity to buy a property at a knock-down price. Fewer competitors in the buying field means the vendors will be keen to keep their potential buyer’s interest and they could find themselves in a strong bargaining position.

Creating kerb appeal can be simple, but it does take a little thought. The rewards are there to be reaped – why wait until after the photos have been uploaded?

Garden of the month on Zoopla

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Why do I like this property on Zoopla?

  • The curvaceous design of the front garden leads the eye in a welcoming manner to the front door.
  • The paving looks clean and crisp, with well-defined edges – suggesting it is easy to maintain.
  • The boundaries give definition to the space and make the house appear to be large, even though it’s a bungalow.
  • Everything in the photo looks clean and well-cared-for, suggesting that moving into this home would be a pleasure.

Caroline KnightCaroline Knight is a garden designer working at Perfect Plants in East Sussex. This online retailer supplies top quality plants including bedding, perennials, shrubs and trees – many of which are home-grown – together with garden essentials. It has a team of dedicated horticultural experts who endeavour to provide an excellent all-round service to customers.

September 16, 2014 at 3:06 PM Leave a comment

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