Is this the best panorama money can buy?

view from the penthouse apartment at Bridges Wharf on Thames Embankment

Worth £2.5 million? The view from the penthouse at Bridge's Wharf on the Battersea embankment of the Thames.

After being given an exclusive peek at the completed ‘presidential suite’ of the Bridge’s Wharf development on London’s Battersea embankment we think the spectacular vistas of the nation’s Capital to be seen from its balconies make it the nation’s best view for sale. Do you?

The 11th floor, two-bedroom, two bathroom apartment on the Thames embankment is for sale at £2.5 million, has a large lounge-cum-diner and a huge 700 sq ft terrace from which you can see 300-degree views of London’s cityscape including Chelsea and Fulham. Next door is the Battersea Heliport, which celebrities (and in particular Harrods owner Mohamed Al Fayed) use regularly to flit in and out of London (at £500 a pop).

Whoever buys this trophy pad will be able to watch as the choppers take off below but anyone worried that Elton, Madonna or Mr Cowell might be peering in needn’t – developer Weston Homes has included tinted windows all the way around.

Bob Weston, managing director of Weston Homes, told us how he is chuffed that Bridge’s Wharf offers a degree of meritocracy in the building, which isn’t all marketed at millionaires. “Prices here start at £360,000 so you could be passing someone in the lift who has paid £800,000 for a similar if not larger apartment but higher up with better views,” he says.

The area is also home to several well known names, the most intriguing being the Bhuttos, until recently Pakistan’s most powerful political clan, who own several floors of neighbouring Falcon Wharf – a similarly lofty apartment block also overlooking Battersea Heliport.

And if you think the Bridge’s Wharf apartment is pricey then consider the top, three-storey penthouse apartment at Battersea Reach half a mile up river next to Wandsworth Bridge, which has just been sold to a Russian buyer for £6.5 million.

April 7, 2010 at 8:27 AM 6 comments

Housing market confidence hits two and a half year high

Our latest Zoopla.co.uk Housing Market Sentiment Survey reveals that four out of five (81%) UK homeowners think that property prices will continue to climb over the next six months.

Optimism around the housing market outlook has significantly improved from one year ago, when less than one-third of homeowners (30%) expected house prices to rise.

With the bad weather behind us and the recent stamp duty relief introduced for first-time buyers, confidence in the property market has bounced back well. Despite the optimism, significant concerns remain around the supply of mortgages and whilst affordability levels are now higher than at any time in the past few years the lack of mortgage funding, especially for first-time buyers, remains the single biggest threat to a full housing market recovery.

Key points:

- Housing market confidence hits two and a half-year high

- Strong concerns remain over the availability of mortgage financing

- 81% of homeowners believe UK property values will rise over next six months

- Homeowners predict that average house prices will increase 5.7% by Autumn

- Only one in five potential buyers say that mortgage availability is improving

- Scots are most confident about property market recovery, N Irish far less so

The survey also reveals only 9% of homeowners believe that property values will fall over the next six months whilst a further 10% expect prices to remain flat. The average growth predicted by those surveyed is for house prices to rise by 5.7% by October.

The current level of optimism bodes well for market activity, with transaction volumes expected to rise significantly over the coming months given the historically high correlation between the confidence level in the Zoopla.co.uk Survey and market activity approximately three months later.

However, the availability of mortgage financing remains the main obstacle to a sustained improvement in the housing market with four out of five (78%) of those surveyed saying that it is now no easier to obtain a mortgage than it was three months ago.

When considering the election almost a quarter (23%) of those surveyed stated that they will wait to assess the outcome of the election before making any property-related decisions.

Across the UK, the Scots are most upbeat over the prospects for the local property market, with 86% expecting house prices in their area to rise over the next six months, compared to 80% in England and 76% in Wales. The picture is somewhat less optimistic in Northern Ireland, with only 62% predicting house prices will rise over the next six months.

Please feel free to share and use these findings, all we ask is that you credit the source as the Zoopla.co.uk Housing Market Sentiment Survey and link to Zoopla.co.uk.

April 7, 2010 at 7:37 AM 2 comments

Forget the Boat Race, what about the Oxford & Cambridge property race?

There’s been clear water between Oxford and Cambridge in the Boat Race in recent years, but we’ve begun to see a reversal of fortunes in the property market. Cambridge property values have outperformed the city’s longstanding rival, thanks principally to Silicon Fen. The rapid growth of high-tech businesses in the area – many of which have links with the University – has transformed Cambridge into one of Europe’s most important technology centres. Increased investment and the boost to the local jobs market has led to a surge in demand for property in Cambridge.

Over the past decade the University of Oxford has left its Cambridge rival trailing in the University Boat Race with Oxford crossing the line seven times ahead of the Cambridge crew. However, if we take a look at the property race between the two Cities, it’s an entirely different story – Cambridge is streets ahead in the property race.

Average property values in Cambridge have grown 106% since March 2000, quite a few strokes (sorry!) ahead of Oxford, where values have risen 95% in the same period. In the past year, Cambridge property values have also bounced back strongest from the housing market slump, growing 9.7% compared to only a 4.1% rise in Oxford.

Despite the strong recent performance of the Cambridge housing market, average property values are still higher in Oxford. The average Oxford home is currently worth £318,149 compared to £282,948 in Cambridge.

Oxford v Cambridge – the property perspective

Oxford Cambridge
71,816 Number of homes 102,241
£22.9 billion Current total value all residences £29.2 billion

-
£318,149 Avg. home value (Mar 2010) £282,948
£314,660 Avg. price paid (12 months) £271,977
12,144 Number of property sales (5 yrs) 19,492
4.12% Value change % (12 months) 9.71%
£12,598 Value change £ (12 months) £25,045
£162,826 Avg. home value (Mar 2000) £137,276
95.39% Value change % (10 yrs) 106.12%
£155,323 Value change £ (10 yrs) £145,672

Source: Zoopla.co.uk

April 2, 2010 at 11:16 AM Leave a comment

Guest Blog: Quiz – How to work with an Estate Agent

Tracy Kellett  (pictured above) has moved 26 (!) times in her life so far and was an Estate Agent before setting up BDI Homefinders. You can also find her on twitter.

With her valuable wealth of experience we asked her to blog for us and share her wisdom and advice.

Rather than write a list or top tips, she has created a quiz for us. This is what she had to say:

If you are going to pay someone in the region of 1.5% of your major asset, you really need to know how best to work with them. Buying and selling houses is all about people and relationships – I should know. How you handle those relationships is the key to a stress-free moving experience. Well, let’s be honest, it will never be stress-free but you can minimise the accumulation of grey hairs.

Remember why you have instructed your Estate Agent. It should be for these main reasons:

Marketing – a great marketing reach, so your home gets to as many potential buyers as possible. Maximising your market means maximizing your price.

Negotiation skills – you rarely buy or sell a house. An Estate Agent will have sold hundreds. A good one will have the experience to negotiate a much better price for you than you can.

Management of the sales process – having an agent liaising between solicitors, mortgage companies, chains and buyer should make the process far more watertight. The more watertight the deal, the less worries you will have along the way.

So, onto our quiz and we are focusing on Graham, a rather good Estate Agent. You like him, you trust him, you have instructed him. If you don’t like and trust him, stop reading now and go and get a different one.

Graham and you discuss the asking price. Do you?

A. Look carefully at his comparable evidence (as well as having done your own research on Zoopla.co.uk) showing homes just like yours and what they sold for. Reach an asking price that you are both comfortable with.

B. Point out forcefully that you spent £12,000 on the stone-cladding, so yours is worth more.

C. Kick him out with a flea in his ear for insulting you.

Graham suggests a quick once over with a lick of paint. Do you?

A. Spend a couple of weeks sprucing it up so it’s clean and tidy?

B. Tell him people will just have to look through the junk and dirt to find the hidden gem.

C. Ask what the he’s on about – keeping chickens in the kitchen makes your house stand out from the crowd.

Graham wants to put a sale board up. Do you?

A. Listen to the statistics of how many more people may be aware of your property as a result.

B. Tell him no, because the neighbours are so nosey.

C. Have a hissy fit because your house is far too posh for one of them.

Graham wants a set of keys. Do you?

A. Have assurance they will be kept safely and get them to him sharpish.

B. Refuse to let him as you will ALWAYS be in.

C. Peer at him suspiciously, say ‘I know your game mate. You’ll be having parties here’. Refuse point-blank.

Graham calls and wants to do a 9am Saturday viewing. Do you?

A. Have an early night and clear off out.

B. Leave the kids in bed and the take-away all over the kitchen.

C. Say no, because you’ve got a really ‘heavy’ Friday night.

Graham is coming around at 12. Do you?

A. Pop out with the dog and wait until he’s finished

B. Leave the dog loose…he’s great with strangers.

C. Stay in and closely follow Graham and the viewers around the house.

Hurrah! Graham has an offer. Do you?

A. Consider the buyers position, the price offered and discuss whether he thinks he can get you more?

B. Loftily dismiss it out of hand, saying ‘there will always be another one’.

C. Berate him and the buyers for daring to insult you with such a derisory offer.

Graham has sealed the deal. Great buyers and good price. The buyers want to bring the in-laws around. Do you?

A. Use it as an opportunity to develop a friendly relationship with your buyers.

B. Refuse, until they exchange. ‘You can’t trust anyone these days. I want to see the colour of their money’.

C. Use it as an opportunity to tell your buyers about the hideous racket the neighbours make.

Graham rings to tell you that the survey has come back with ‘a few things’. Do you?

A. Consider the points carefully, if necessary have your own specialists look at the issues, then reach a grown-up compromise with the buyers.

B. Metaphorically throw your toys out of the pram and tell the buyers to put up or shut up.

C. Tell Graham, to tell the Buyers that all Surveyors are rubbish.

Graham rings to say that as you are near to exchange and the buyer wants to set a completion date. Do you?

A. Ask when the buyer wants and try your best to make it work

B. Tell them the date you insist on is non-negotiable due to your nephews up-coming Birthday

C. Tell Graham to tell buyers you couldn’t care less if they are getting married the week you chose. ‘It’s my way, or the Highway’

It’s human nature to take any criticism of your home personally. Do try to put the ego away and look at the end goal which is a move to a nicer place. And as stress-free a move as possible. Sensible compromise, without of course being taken for a mug, is the way to achieve that.

By the way, if you haven’t worked out that you should have ticked all the A boxes then I shall bow out gracefully….whilst hitting my head against the stone-clad wall.

April 1, 2010 at 10:51 AM 7 comments

Houses with History: Properties famous for producing Cider

Two issues seem to have dominated this week’s budget: the scrapping of stamp duty for properties under £250k, and the ten per cent tax hike on cider.

Well, we’d be here forever if we were to pick just five of the former, so we thought we’d plump for cider houses instead.

Several regions in England are famed for the production of this fine tipple, most notably the West Country and Herefordshire, which are home to two of the world’s cider-making giants, The Gaymer Company and Bulmers, respectively.

Many of the homes around these areas have had connections with the long-standing tradition of cider making, whether it be growing the apples, fermenting the liquid, or simply serving up the finished product.

Here are five properties with current or prior cider house credentials:

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

1. CIDER HOUSE RULES

£1,185,000

2. WHITE LIGHTNING

£1,400,000

3. CIDER WITH ROSIE

£699,950

4. THATCHERS CIDER

£695,000

5. RED ROCK

£645,000

March 26, 2010 at 8:14 PM 1 comment

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