Archive for February, 2010

Oldest and newest: Britain’s homes compared

If there’s one thing many of us forget about the housing market, it’s the huge history that many homes can claim, sometimes dating back to the times of William the Conqueror.

Some 20 per cent of properties listed on have historic track records, be they Tudor, Elizabethan, Georgian, Victorian or Edwardian homes – and in total, some 340,000 properties across the UK have Grade I, II*or II listed status.

So given our long experience of being a nation of bricks and mortar, how have our homes changed over the past 860-odd years?

For the first in our new blog series, we track down Britain’s longest continually inhabited home and compare it to one of the newest, from David Wilson Homes, to see how they measure up.

OLDEST: Saltford Manor – built: 1149

After months of research by Country Life magazine it was revealed in 2003 that five-bedroom Saltford Manor in Somerset was Britain’s oldest inhabited address.

According to architectural historian, Dr John Goodall, the property has been a home since before 1150 – narrowly pipping Horton Court in Gloucester (built in 1150) and Hemingford Grey in Cambridgeshire (built in 1160) to the post.

Historic home: the 860 year old Saltford Manor in Somerset

Saltford Manor is a solidly Norman affair and includes a typical ornate window in its main bedroom and an arch etched with diamond markings similar to one found at Hereford Cathedral – built in 1148.

The house was considerably beefed up during the Medieval period but left alone by the Georgians and Victorians although at the moment it is decorated to very contemporary tastes rather than historic ones.

“You get a wonderful sense of history,” says owner James Wynn. “I can look at Norman, Tudor and 17th century architecture before I brush my teeth.”

NEWEST: The Domus development – built: 2009

In stark contrast to Saltford Manor, the 26 designer properties for sale at the Prince of Wales-endorsed Domus development near Upton in Northampton (by new homes developer David Wilson Homes) are some of the newest to be built thus far in Britain’s homes history, and are often quoted as being one of the greenest, along with the BedZED development in Beddington, South London.

A future historic home? The Domus development in Northamptonshire

All the properties within Domus (formerly called Aspect) have been built with today’s eco-aware buyers in mind and include environmentally friendly water drainage systems, heating and hot water supplied by solar panels, built-in three-bin recycling in their kitchens and safe bike stores to encourage cycling.

If living the Vida Moderna is more your bag (and more affordable, given Saltford’s likely £900,000+ price-tag) then there are five properties remaining for sale at Domus, varying in price from £299,000 to £449,000.

For more details visit David Wilson Homes.

February 24, 2010 at 3:28 PM 1 comment

Cheryl and Ashley could lose £302,463 on Hurtmore House

Value chart

Girls Aloud singer, Cheryl Cole, who was recently voted the nations second favourite celebrity neighbour in the annual Celebrity Neighbour Survey, yesterday announced she is separating from her husband, England and Chelsea football player Ashley Cole.

The Girls Aloud singer and X-Factor judge returned to the UK yesterday from a trip to Los Angeles where she had apparently been house hunting in the Hollywood Hills. Perhaps she’s looking to relocate and get away from all the attention?

As part of the separation it is likely that the couple will, at some point, begin the painful process of deciding who gets to keep Hurtmore House, their Surrey mansion.

So, we decided to play nosey neighbour and check out the current value of their Surrey mansion. It turns out that Hurtmore House was bought for £3,550,000 on 19th Oct 2007.

From this data we’re able to work out the current value of this property which we calculate at £3,247,537 meaning that if the Coles sold now, they’d stand to lose a whopping £302,463 on their purchase price.


Detail £ / Value change
Current estimate £3,247,537
Value change one year ago £185,548 (6.1%)
Value change two years ago £315,705 (-8.9%)
Value change three years ago £58,552 (1.8%)
Purchase price (October 2007) £3,550,000


February 24, 2010 at 2:10 PM 1 comment

Guest Blog: 8 reasons to use an estate agent

Recently there has been a lot of online and offline column inches dedicated to privately selling your property. Only last week we saw the OFT come out and suggest consumers consider “private seller platforms”.

We asked Steve Hatch, a director at North London estate agency Castles, who is passionate about this topic, to guest blog for us and give us his reasons on why selling privately online is a bad idea.

Prospective buyers who come to view your property could well be looking at your car, your identity, your family, and your future! Why would you risk all that to avoid paying a fee to an estate agent?

Property Details

Most people have a camera on their phone or own a digital camera these days but that doesn’t make us all professional photographers.

Your local estate agency may well use a professional photographer; or will have trained in the field of residential property photography and use a professional camera and equipment. We do this to ensure that your property – the externals and internals – are well represented and portrayed in a manner that will encourage people to view the property.

Car key theft

Where do we typically leave our car keys…near the front door. Thieves target private sellers deliberately. Professional thieves know that private sellers are easy to distract as they are so pre-occupied with trying, so hard, to sell their home.

Houses with drives are especially vulnerable (for some reason many people feel the photo looks better with their expensive car parked on the drive). An experienced estate agent will spot a bogus buyer a mile off.

Identity theft

Bank statements tend to be left anywhere within the safety of ones own home. An experienced agent will conduct and control the viewing. Private sellers often let people walk around a second time unaccompanied.

An experienced Estate Agent knows how to balance a viewing without letting a buyer out of their sight – the slightest unusual behaviour is instinctively sensed.

Just at the point of exchange…

A private seller is likely to miss all the subtle clues that an experienced agent will pick up on. How many private buyers slap themselves on the back for saving on estate agents fees only to get blackmailed out of thousands, of pounds just before exchange of contracts? What are your options? Reduce drastically, or lose your buyer, plus the home you thought you were about to buy.

You are the weakest link

Add to this the pressure of everyone else in the chain of transactions not being able to move because of your buyer! Very seldom does a seller realise that by going it alone without the experience of an expert behind them, actually makes them a potentially weak link and high risk buyer in the eyes of another vendor, and especially the vendors agent who will have a moral duty to flag this up at the point of an offer.

Personal safety

A private seller will not want to get off to a strained start by asking for extra contact details, work numbers, email addresses, number plates, solicitor details etc. Add to that the sense of excitement at the prospect of the viewing! An experienced agent will not only take care of their own staff safety, but they will also do this automatically for their clients. Part of the filtering process is listening to the response to these questions. An experienced agent will sense any evasiveness.

Negotiations and Re-negotiations

A private seller is rarely polished in the art of negotiating, let alone re-negotiating when it comes to property. Property negotiations are a very different beast to general sales negotiations. An experienced agent will have built up a thorough understanding of their client, their wants, needs and emotions. These are all invaluable tools that the private seller will rarely have at their disposal.

Making the move actually happen

The vast majority of people are ultimately trying to achieve one thing when selling – the ability to move! Of course they want to do well financially, but most people simply want to move to their new home in a calm, confident and reassured fashion. In my experience, most people are prepared to pay a little extra for peace of mind, and the enhanced probability of it actually happening. Realistically this is far more likely to happen in the hands of a local professional. We know what we are doing, and take a pride in what we do, this is where the no sale – no fee comes in!

Written by Steve Hatch

Director at Castles Estate Agents – Harringay Branch

February 23, 2010 at 2:40 PM 13 comments recognised as one of the UK’s smartest businesses

We are delighted to announce that we have been chosen as a winner of’s inaugural ‘Smarta 100’ by a judging panel including BBC’s Dragons Den Deborah Meaden and other leading entrepreneurs such as Bebo Founder Michael Birch.

The Smarta 100 is the ultimate business accolade, recognizing the UK’s smartest entrepreneurial businesses. During the selection process says it:

“…uncovered remarkable companies who have gone the extra mile to differentiate themselves from the market or found clever ways to compete, from their marketing plan to their ethical stance. The result is a fascinating insight into the unique business ideas that are thriving in the current economic climate.”

We’ve had a good run of awards in the last six months being named as the UK’s Best Property Portal at the Daily Mail UK Residential Property Awards in October and more recently we were named Best Real Estate Website of the Year at the Website of the Year awards – Britain’s most important people’s choice award for websites.

Here’s what Deborah Meaden said about the Smarta 100 award:

“Discovering great new businesses is a passion of mine as is encouraging businesses to think and work better. The Smarta 100 does both of these things – and celebrates the best of British business at the same time. I was delighted to see ambitious people saving hard and raising finances to turn their ideas into flourishing businesses.”

For a full list of Smarta 100 winners, click here

February 22, 2010 at 9:48 AM Leave a comment

Five To View: A Lotto Property in Cirencester

Euromillions lottery winners Nigel Page, 43, and his partner Justine Laycock, 41

Hot property: Nigel Page, 43, and his partner Justine Laycock, 41

Last week’s Euromillions result sparked off hypothetical “What would you do with that much money?” conversations across the nation but particularly in Cirencester, the home town of winners Nigel Page and Justine Laycock –  where local agents will no doubt be hoping they buy their post-win home.

So, you lucky couple, don’t up sticks and move to Monaco, Marbella, or some other millionaires’ paradise. There’s plenty to offer buyers with unlimited budgets in and around the town. Here’s five to view.

(Click on pics for more images & full property details)




Price £2,500,000


Price £1,950,000


Price £1,500,000


Price £1,250,000

February 18, 2010 at 6:33 PM 5 comments

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