Phil Spencer’s Top Property Tip of the Month: Focus


Focusing on your property search requirements.

If you’re looking to buy a property, there is no point in going out on viewings until you’ve established what it is you’re looking for, where you want to be and what you’re likely to get with the budget you have. Viewing properties before you know what it is you’re looking for can be dangerous and a waste of time for both you and the agent.

You need to know what you’re looking for in order to be confident you’ve found the right place at the end of the day. This comes down to good property research and asking yourself many searching questions.

A successful property search needs focus and direction. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle with three key pieces – budget, space and location. What you can spend is the starting point; the other two pieces need to fit around your budget.

Here are the steps to take to ensure a successful property search:

1. Speak to an IFA or your bank to get an idea of what your budget might be for the property purchase.

2. Make a list of your requirements (number of bedrooms, kitchen size, style, commute time, schools, garden, etc.). Mark each requirement on an importance scale of 1-10 as you’ll likely to have to compromise on something down the line.

3. Use the information on Zoopla to research local property values, sold house prices and area stats such as average price per square foot in the areas you’re interested in.

4. Discuss your requirements with a few local estate agents – good ones will be helpful. You can find a list of local agents in the areas you are interested in here

5. Explore all the options – only by exploring all the options can you eventually make a decision on the right home with confidence and speed.

6. Narrow your search – with every viewing you will find out more about what you want, don’t want and can and can’t afford. Use each viewing as a means to refine your criteria so that you can be more precise in what you are looking for and where.

And finally, listen to your emotions – but don’t let them take over!

Every month, Phil’s top tips will be published on the Zoopla Blog.

Make sure you never miss one and sign up for the Zoopla newletter here

April 18, 2013 at 3:12 PM 6 comments

Liz Hurley’s (@ElizabethHurley) old Fulham home up for sale

Elizabeth Hurley lived in this maisonette in Fulham in the 80's

Elizabeth Hurley lived in this maisonette in Fulham in the 80’s

Back in the late 1980s, in the days BH (Before Hugh), Elizabeth Hurley lived in a modest maisonette in Fulham. This property is currently on the market, now elevated in status because of the celebrity connection, as well as having been renovated recently. Jessie Hewitson takes a peak.

These days it’s a sleek, modern grey-and-white painted property on the two upper floors of a period conversion. Located on Sherbrooke Road, Fulham, London, SW6 (average property value according to Zoopla £768,057) in chi-chi Munster Village, it is on the market for £600,000 through the estate agency John D Wood.


Hurley, now 47, lived in the bijou flat while filming Remando Al Vientro (translation: Rowing in the Wind). It was on the set of this film that she met floppy-haired Grant, now 52, who then, according to neighbours, became a regular visitor.


Much like Hurley herself,  the 810 sq ft two-bedroom, two-bathroom flat has gentrified considerably over time. In 2009 it was also on the market – though back then it was a one-bed; it has since been refurbished and extended, with a bedroom and bathroom being added in the attic space.

Bedroom 3

Hurley now has far bigger property fish to fry: she and her new fiance, cricketer Shane Warne, have combined their millions to buy a £6m country estate in Herefordshire, and Hurley also owns a 400-acre farm in the Cotswolds.


Hugh Grant, meanwhile, stayed local and now owns a substantial home in Chelsea. Last year he also bought a £1.175m terraced house in Fulham for the mother of his two children, 32 year-old actress Tinglan Hong.

April 11, 2013 at 3:49 PM Leave a comment

Vowel play – street names starting with U have highest av. property values #zooplafacts


Forget streets with the X-factor, living on a street with a name beginning with the letter ‘U’ could mean your property is worth a lot more, according to research.

We analysed average house prices on more than three-quarters of a million streets in the UK. The most expensive street beginning with ‘U’ is Upper Phillimore Gardens where the average home is worth £5,740,496.

Average property prices on streets that start with a ‘U’ currently stand at £251,307 – the highest of any letter in the alphabet – and £25,503 more than the current average UK property value of £225,804.

At the other end of the scale, streets beginning with the letter ‘Z’ have the lowest property values, with the average property worth just £180,046 – 20% less than the UK average. One particular example is Zeus Lane in Waterlooville, Hampshire. Despite being named after a Greek god, property values on the street are far from Olympian. The average property value on the street is just £141,278, 37% lower than the national average of £225,804.

Streets beginning with the letters T (£248,008) and O (£244,450) came in second and third respectively in terms of the highest average property values, while those starting with the letters J (£190,802) and A (£211,744) record the second and third lowest property prices.

And vowels beat consonants hands down when it comes to house prices. The average property on a street beginning with a vowel is worth £6,306 (3%) more than a street beginning with a consonant. Street names beginning with a consonant have an average property value of £222,789, compared to £229,095 for those with a vowel.

So, it seems that there may be more to a street name than meets the eye. With a £70,000 difference between the average property price on streets starting with the letters U and Z, and a £6,000 difference on average on streets beginning with vowels and consonants, it is advisable to select your street wisely!

The A-Z (or U-Z!) of property values

Starting Letter No. of UK Streets Avg. Property Value
U 3,565 £251,307
T 44,927 £248,008
O 16,358 £244,450
H 53,223 £234,045
C 77,769 £233,873
P 36,065 £233,550
W 50,979 £231,145
F 25,835 £228,489
L 39,563 £228,400
S 71,304 £228,237
B 71,884 £227,105
Q 3,826 £226,824
N 18,475 £225,911
R 31,154 £223,241
M 51,216 £221,498
K 16,728 £221,106
G 33,335 £219,248
I 4,316 £219,125
E 19,216 £218,849
D 25,395 £218,643
Y 2,751 £218,367
V 7,752 £217,240
A 31,333 £211,744
J 5,565 £190,802
Z 180 £180,046

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

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April 5, 2013 at 11:44 AM Leave a comment

Sneak preview: Lee Westwood’s £2.5m country estate


As Lee Westwood reflects on his performance in the Shell Houston Open in the US, it’s likely he’s going to start to turn his thoughts to his property. Jessie Hewitson takes a look around.

He earned £137,000 in the Shell Houston competition, but he’s likely to bag a bigger win when he sells his Nottinghamshire home – something in the region of £1.3m, assuming he gets his asking price.

Westwood, 39, the country’s most successful golfer, has already packed up his golf clubs and has moved them, with his family, to Miami, relocating from the UK for good.


The only thing that remains to do is to sell his Nottinghamshire country pile: the Grade-II listed Harness Grove, about to go on the market with Chesterton Humberts for £2.5million and we’ve been given a sneak preview (we’ll add the link to Zoopla when it goes live). Befitting of a man who is used to winning, the estate has been a lucrative investment for the golfer, who bought it for £1.2m in 2000.


The main property, which dates back to the 17th century and measures just under 8,000 sq ft, has seven bedrooms, five living rooms, mullioned windows, shutters, a wood-panelled living room and large open fireplaces. There is also a gym and pool within a cottage found in the 50 acres of grounds – where there is a lake, paddocks and woodland – as well as a two further four bed houses (both measuring over 2,000 sq ft), stables, garages that can fit up to six cars, house keeper’s cottage and walled gardens.


It is a traditional, grand home with a cosy kitchen containing huge red Aga and an empty magnum of Champagne standing on the counter, possibly drunk to toast Westwood’s considerable success on the fairways.


“It’s a sizeable yet homely country estate – and not that many of this size come to the market each year,” says says selling agent Dan Bennett, director of the Nottingham office of Chesterton Humberts of the sale. He also points it’s just one hour and 40 minutes to Kings Cross from the local train station, Retford.


Champagne makes another feature in the swimming pool room, where there is a bottle chilling in an ice bucket somewhere on a beach within the hand-painted mural on the wall. Lloyd Grossman, in his Through the Keyhole days, would no doubt have a lot to say about that….


April 4, 2013 at 9:30 AM Leave a comment

The house that chocolate really did build #happyeaster

Trying to link property and chocolate in a convincing way is not an easy task.

We could have taken the easy route via our current values section on Zoopla and searched our streets data base for the term ‘Easter’. We did this anyway and as it happens there are only two. One up north near Berwick-upon-Tweed (no chance of chocolate melting up there), and the other down south in Barnstaple (slighty more chance of melting).

However one of our wonderful colleagues stumbled across this fabulous (tons of potential) property. Not only does it have a solid chocolate link, but it has Easter egg heritage too.

This 9 bedroom cottage, in Dulverton, West Somerset which has not been on the market in over 40 years and sadly is in need of some love, was built in the 1800’s for the Fry family of chocolate fame (Fry’s chocolate cream to name but one brand of theirs).

Not only were they once the largest commercial producer of chocolate in Britain, but they are also famed for creating the UK’s first ever solid chocolate Easter egg in 1873! It is also rumoured that the property featured on the lids of their chocolate boxes.

As the pictures show, sadly the property fallen into disrepair and requires renovation. It is not listed however and many wonderful original features still remain including the turreted gable end with family crest, with a large drawing room and master bedroom suite above.

Original floorboards are to be found in the majority of the rooms, along with the original internal window shutters.

So, if you’re searching for property on over the weekend and fancy more than just a bit of DIY, this sweet, true chocolate box property could be the one for you.

Further details and internal pictures here.

March 28, 2013 at 4:42 PM Leave a comment

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