Archive for October, 2010

To Buy or Not to Buy: Jonny Benarr

This is a legacy post from the blog which is now maintained as an archive within the Zoopla blog. Links have been preserved.

Jonny Benarr used to be a Northampton estate agent before being discovered and landing a job presenting BBC TV’s daytime property show To Buy or Not to Buy. He will be appearing at this month’s First Time Buyer Home Showin London.

Frustrated? Everyone’s frustrated! The lenders are frustrated, the mortgage advisers are frustrated and so too is the government, new home-builders and first-time buyers. And why are they frustrated? Well, for a start, it’s because they are all waiting for some positive news to greet the property market. Moreover, they all know with a bit of honest communication and joined-up thinking the present, as well as the future of the property industry, could be much brighter.

Things have never been so difficult for first-time buyers: there is a very small pool of mortgage products that can only be accessed with deposits upwards (in most cases) of 15%. And with the average house price teetering around the £160,000 mark a quick bit of maths tells you that £24,000 is needed before you put in an offer.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t know many traditional first-time buyers (in their 20s) that have that kind of money squirreled away, or who could afford to save that much, if they are already paying rent. And, unless you have the good fortune to have an account with the bank of Mum and Dad, the chances are you won’t be getting to that figure anytime soon. So what can be done?

Wouldn’t it be a great idea if there were a Government-backed, bank-loaned mortgage designed just for first-time buyers? (We bailed the banks out so I’m sure they’d be only too happy to repay the favour.)  Simple criteria that require buyers to demonstrate they are capable of paying rent on time, month after month, for a period of, say, 12-24 months, should be enough to qualify.

If buyers can afford to pay £600 per month in rent then they can afford to repay the same amount on a mortgage, (it’s the deposit that’s the problem). A discounted interest rate would mean this repayment figure was in excess of the actual mortgage cost and would enable purchasers to save money to ‘buy-back’ the Government deposit, and thus own the property outright.

There are many issues that would need clarifying, of course, but fundamentally, it goes like this: a buyer qualifies through proven track record of paying rent in the private or public sector: Government then subsidizes purchase through a small deposit and a mortgage is provided at discounted rate:  property purchased and the short repayment plan (perhaps 3 years?) ensures that the Government liability to the property is extinguished.

With a bit of communication between the main players: Government, banks and house builders we’ll be on our way to returning to a market where lenders are lending, builders are building, advisers are, well, advising, and the Government can take some credit for a job well done. Now who said something about being frustrated?

October 14, 2010 at 4:20 PM 10 comments

Chef Marcus Wareing puts pad on market for £2.1m

Italian units in the kitchen

Gordon Ramsey’s former protegé chef, Marcus Wareing, has listed his family home for sale through Savills for £2.1m.

Wareing and Ramsay both live in Wandsworth, London (where average property values are £501,892) and publicly fell out. Could this be why Marcus Wareing is selling up? He was recently quoted as saying:

‘If I never speak to that guy again for the rest of my life, it wouldn’t bother me one bit…’

The fully refurbished property is set over five floors and has f ive bedrooms, three reception rooms, three bathrooms and a walled garden and is situated on St Anne’s Crescent – a stones throw away from Wandsworth Common.

We imagine the real money was spent on the kitchen (Gordon Ramsay reportedly spent £40,000 just on his kitchen!!). Wareing’s kitchen has a “contemporary feel to it and a wide range of Italian units with integrated Smeg appliances and light and bright dining area which sit under a partially glazed roof, benefiting from built-in seating and French doors which open on to the garden.”

The full set of property details can be found here.

A perfectly maintained exterior

Retro/ modern living room

Redroom or bedroom?

Walled garden

October 13, 2010 at 3:02 PM Leave a comment

Four Miners Cottages For Sale

With the rescue of the 33 Chilean miners well under way, we got a little curious and used our clever keyword property search tool on Zoopla to see how many properties had the term “miner cottage” in the property details. Here they are:

1. High Far Side Farmhouse, Harrogate, North Yorkshire
£825,000 – 4 bedroom detached house for sale

2.The Causeway, Coalpit Heath, Bristol
£425,000 – 4 bedroom detached house for sale

3. Wendron, Helston, Cornwall
£279,950 – 4 bedroom detached house for sale

4. Waters Road, Bristol
£160,000 – 2 bedroom terraced house for sale

As always, please feel free to share and use this information, all we ask is that you credit the source as and link to either or Thank you

October 13, 2010 at 10:17 AM 2 comments

How to keep warm this winter & save energy too


It’s no newsflash that properties all across the UK are using excess energy with serious financial and environmental consequences. To solve the problem, there are plenty of big ideas about what should be done to change the way we consume energy as a nation for a greener future.

Perhaps the bigger challenge is making every homeowner feel empowered to make small changes in their homes today. For many, the trouble is just knowing where to start.  Here are 3 easy steps to help you get on your way, thanks to our friends at and The Energy Saving Trust.

Step 1 – Identify problem areas

Are you leaking heat?

Any interior designer will tell you that a lick of paint or luxurious wallpaper can make a home feel all warm and cozy inside, but in reality, it’s what’s behind the walls that really makes the difference.

  • Adding cavity wall & loft insulation (270mm) alone could save homeowners over £200 a year on heating bills. Installing insulation is a quick and fairly inexpensive job, taking just a day or two to fit. Experienced insulation specialists can help you pick out suitable materials and get the best rates with their trade discounts.

Often overlooked, floors can be a sieve for heat.

  • It’s easy to mend gaps and cracks around floors and skirting boards. DIY quick fixes can be taken care of using a tube of sealant and a bit of attention to detail.
  • If you think your floors could use a complete overhaul consult a flooring installer for professional advice.

What’s the status with your windows and doors?

  • Check all external access points for leaks.  London builder and sustainability expert, James Christofides recommends you get your window fitter to put construction tape around the window and secure it properly with fabric so it’s airtight.
  • If you don’t already have double glazing, what are you waiting for? According to Energy Saving Trust you could be saving around £130 a year by installing sufficient double glazing. If you’re buying new windows, always check that they’re up to standard. Recent changes to regulations require that all new window installations have an Energy Rating of C or above.

How are you heating your home?

Do you have a high efficiency condensing boiler? If so, well done! Otherwise, it may be time to make a switch. Did you know that most boilers have a maximum lifespan of 12 years? If your boiler is ageing or has a low efficiency rating, it’s worth exploring your options and upgrading. Not only can you save hundreds on your yearly heating bills, you can also add major value to your property.  Whether you’re just looking for advice or you’re ready to supply and fit, make sure you contact a Gas Safe engineer or plumber.

Step 2 – Get a second and third opinion!

Once you have an idea of what you want to do, make sure you seek out plenty of professional advice and get multiple competitive quotes. Whenever comparing quotes it’s important to make sure you’re comparing like for like.  Ask each tradesman for a breakdown so you can assess costs based on materials and labour to get a better idea of value for money. You can find and communicate with recommended builders and tradesmen online using

Step 3 – Put it in writing

Once you decide to forge ahead with your energy saving home improvements and engage a contractor, cover yourself by putting your plans on paper.  Always sign a contract and make sure you get guarantees for any materials.

October 12, 2010 at 11:19 AM 1 comment

The Olympic Effect on London’s homes

This is a legacy post from the blog which is now maintained as an archive within the Zoopla blog. Links have been preserved. featured in London’s Evening Standard earlier this week, quoting our property analyst Nigel Lewis on the ‘Olympic Effect’.

Our research reported on thisismoney reveals that average asking prices near the 2012 Olympic Games in East London, such as Greenwich, Hackney, Newham and Waltham Forrest, have witnessed up to seven per cent increases in the past year compared to other areas of London – which grew by only 1.6 per cent – and the rest of the UK where average asking prices fell 0.3 per cent.

Property prices are rising in and around the Olympic village the closer the Games get but they are still relatively low, with an average of £230,752. If you want to cash in on the regeneration and investment in this area – including new and improved transport links, shopping centres and new apartments as well as the potential to enjoy high rental returns once the Games kick off or simply enjoy it yourself; here’s an apartment in a new development close to the Olympic site in Stratford to whet your appetite:

This two bedroom apartment is in the new development of Halings Wharf Studios and has a large open plan kitchen/living area that would suit those who like to party. It also has a large balcony that spans the width of the property. On the market for £239,995.

October 7, 2010 at 5:22 PM 4 comments

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