The Beckham’s house-hunting activities


The Beckhams are believed to have rented this $16m Malibu mansion whilst in the US

After eight years in self-imposed exile, it looks as though the Beckhams are moving back to the UK. The big clue was in Victoria Beckham’s house-hunting activities, mainly carried out in Richmond, a leafy borough in southwest London.

This elegant choice of home location for the fashion designer speaks volumes of how far VB has come since her 22-acre WAG-tastic Beckingham Palace days. She has so far looked at three properties in the area including one £10 million mock-Tudor home in genteel Petersham, where Zac Goldsmith resides. It is the same home that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie rented last summer. (In his free time Pitt liked to take photographs of the deer in nearby Richmond Park). It has seven bedrooms, four bathrooms and topiary elephants, and neighbours that once included Sandra Bullock, another Hollywood renter for a time.

It all goes to show how super-desirable Richmond has become; a place the A-Listers are choosing over flashier Mayfair or Knightsbridge, despite the noise from planes overhead. There are a number of reasons for this, according to Brendan Wynne, Richmond group director at Featherstone Leigh agency: excellent schools, proximity to the Thames, an 18-minute train journey to Waterloo and the deer-dotted park.

“It’s a lovely area to live in, where buyers get a lot more for their money than in Central London. It’s become increasingly popular among celebrities – Jerry Hall lives here, for example – as it’s private and there are huge homes.”

To be able to afford a family home here it certainly helps to have been married to Mick Jagger: large 4-5-bedroom properties now go for between £1.5 and £3 million. Buyers who are priced out are heading to Teddington, Kew, East Sheen or Twickenham, where prices for family homes can be up to 10% lower.

January 3, 2013 at 12:12 PM 2 comments

Property Market 2012: How was it for you?

Jessie Hewitson speaks to a number of agents across the country and get’s their views on 2012 and what the year ahead may hold.

This year’s property market had a few surprises in store – the central London market showed some signs of vulnerability and Crimewatch presenter Nick Ross made a staggering £34m profit on a property he owned in Notting Hill for 19 years – but for most, it was largely uneventful.

“The market continues to bump along with no sign of the impending collapse economists have been predicting” reports Ed Mead, director of sales at the Chelsea office of Douglas & Gordon. “It seems that some life is returning to the country market, though, and it is conceivable that perhaps we’re getting close to the bottom on prices. Nevertheless, next year is likely to see a rather lacklustre continuation of low volumes and holding prices.”

Some optimism is provided by Williams Wells, residential director of Mullucks Wells agency, which covers Hertfordshire and Essex as well as the Suffolk/Cambridge borders. He suggests that selling in 2013 may be a less frustrating experience: “One reason for this is that the market has actually proved more difficult than expected and the period after the Olympics when we had hoped for the ‘feel good factor’ just did not materialise.”

Andrew Turner, head of residential estate agency at UK-wide agency Smiths Gore, reports a Mexican stand-off happening between buyers and sellers, with “up-and down-sizers baulking at the low volume of available properties at fair prices, and supply cramped by a lack of new development”. He notes that first time buyers are struggling to get on the ladder, despite the historically low interest rates on offer (though mostly to people with lots of equity), and says he can’t see much changing next year.

Renting-wise, it has been the year of the “generation rent” debate, with home ownership down by 6% comparing 2001 to 2011 and renting up by the same figure. James Davis, CEO of online letting agency Upad forsees no let up in competition for the best properties for tenants next year.

Meanwhile William Jordan, managing director of lettings agency Jordan’s, which has eight offices in the north west, reports tenants are staying for longer. “There’s a huge shortage of quality property available to let” he says. “We’re seeing European renting trends taking hold with long term private renting making a comeback with young adults – and that won’t change any time soon”.

December 19, 2012 at 3:11 PM Leave a comment

Why NewBuy could mean goodbye to savings stress in 2013

As any would-be first-time buyer (FTB) knows who has spent five minutes with a calculator working out how much they need to save, affording a home is hard.

So hard, in fact, that the Government stepped in earlier this year March, launching NewBuy, the latest scheme to help people ease their way onto the housing ladder. It aims to lower the amount of money required for a deposit up to the value of £500,000 (if you are buying a newbuild home), achieved by the Government and developers putting a percentage of the property’s value into a mortgage indemnity pot. This frees up lenders to loan more money – as much as 95 per cent of the sale price of the property.

So for a £200,000 property, the minimum deposit required is £10,000, a third less than you’d need if you bought without the Newbuy scheme. Not only that, but according to Adrian MacDiarmid, Barratt Homes’ head of mortgage lender relations, you’ll be able to borrow at a better rate, starting at around 4.5 per cent.

The stated aim of the Government is for 100,000 people to be hiring the removal men by 2015. Barratt Homes, reports it has sold 450 homes this way since March, which represents 10 per cent of its private sales.

So far 30 developers, including Barratt Homes, City & Country, Taylor Wimpey and Persimmon, and six lenders, including Barclays, Nat West and Nationwide (people buying through Newbuy will have to gain an accredited mortgage) are signed up to the scheme, which is available across the country.

It’s not just FTBs moving this way either; other buyers are eligible and there is no salary cap, provided the property they are buying is their main home (rather than a holiday or buy-to-let property) and fully owned (so not shared equity). According to Barratt Homes, some of those signing up to the scheme include people who have recently divorced or separated, those who are moving job to a different part of the country or people who just want a bigger home or to be in a better area.

Homes where the NewBuy scheme is applicable:

2 bedroom new flat for sale £224,995

Cannons Wharf, Medway Wharf Road, Tonbridge TN9

Cannons Wharf

4 bedroom detached new house for sale From £214,995

Grosvenor Park, Dodworth Road, Barnsley S70


Browse other new homes participating in the NewBuy scheme here

December 14, 2012 at 2:08 PM 1 comment

Why Lampard’s home work could earn him £4m

As Chelsea mid-fielder Frank Lampard considers a move to China one thing he will miss while at South-West China-based football club Guizhou Renhe will be his beloved and luxurious south west London home which could make him up to £4m.

While most footballers opt for Tudorbethan confections in the countryside, Lampard has been publicly splashing the cash on a huge six bedroom detached house he bought for just over £8 million in 2005 in a fashionable street not far from the Chelsea ground.

The Regency-era house, which he shares with his girlfriend TV presenter Christine Bleakley and his two daughters from a previous relationship, has been considerably remodeled in recent years so much so neighbours complained to the local council about the disturbance.

Lampard is said to have spent half a million refurbishing it and recently asked celebrity interiors expert Kelly Hoppen in to give it a contemporary feel following the renovations (pictured, below)

Picture: Google Street View

But if Lampard does sell up and move to Guizhou then he will pocket a fortune. An almost identical home next door is currently on the market for £11 million, some £4 million more than he paid for his and an extraordinary leap in value given Lampard’s sold for £2.9 million in 2000. The last property to sell on the street, a dozen or so doors down from Lampard’s, went for £6.3 million in 2009.

But Lampard’s street is not the most expensive locally. The former home of both Chris Evans and before that George Michael fetched £8.5 million several years ago in a neighbouring road and four years ago one of the detached houses on the same street sold for £12.5 million.

November 15, 2012 at 10:08 AM Leave a comment

Interesting properties: what’s that puffing in the garden?

It is not unusual for vendors to offer extra items to buy on top of a property’s sale price including white goods, curtains and even carpets.

But William Heller, who has just sold his large five-bedroom detached house near Bideford in Devon for £875,000 had been offering the most surprising additional item we’ve heard of for a while – a steam railway.

For an extra £150,000 the buyer of his home Amberwynd was able to acquire a working miniature railway in the huge grounds to the rear of the property. The line is no child’s plaything and although the gauge of the rails is narrow, locomotives of up to 3.5 tonnes operate on the line pulling carriages transporting up to 80 people.

The line starts at a station to the side of the property before winding through trees in its landscaped back garden, past the signal box and out through a small wood and into a large field, which it travels around in two large ‘S’ shapes before the line ends.

Mr Heller, whose day job is being a TV cameraman, is a life-long train enthusiast who has taken his love of railways from attic model sets slowly through to his current line.  On running days his trains run to strict schedules and he is joined by a station master and signalman while Mr Heller drives the trains.

November 13, 2012 at 3:54 PM Leave a comment

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