The house that shined after Gary Barlow left

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

Take That frontman Gary Barlow might wish he’d had a bit more Patience before selling his old Cheshire digs.

Barlow sold the impressive Delamere Manor Estate, in the village of Cuddington close to where he grew up in Frodsham, about five years ago for a reported £4.7 million, after buying it in 1995 for £1 million. Now, the estate, comprising manor, lodge, 117 acres of gardens and an obelisk is on the market for an eye watering £7.25m.

Now, as Barlow splits his time between touring with his Take That bandmates and preparing to be the “new Simon” on X Factor, his old six bedroom, four-reception room home is turning heads, even for Cheshire – one of north England’s most celeb friendly enclaves.

The home was in pretty good condition when Barlow lived there. He famously installed a custom-built recording studio where he worked with Charlotte Church, Delta Goodrem and Atomic Kitten. But the savvy folk who purchased it from Barlow added even more value by transforming it into a home any rock’n’roll type would be proud of, even by Barlow’s now firmly family-friendly pop standards.

Tony Morris-Eyton, from Savills Telford office says he’s getting lots of interest in the property, which even has its own helipad.

“It’s immaculate, the height of good taste in the house, it’s been beautifully refurbished by my client,” Morris-Eyton says. “Bits of what it was like when Gary Barlow were there remain, but it’s been completely refurbished to a very high sophisticated standard.

“You’ve got a balance of some very large areas for entertaining, a wonderful state of the art kitchen, drawing room, dining room, big party room and the lawns tumble down to this wonderful lake where you see nothing but a backlot of trees so it’s very private.”

Morris-Eyton says there’s been a lot of interest in the home especially from those who value their privacy. “It’s one of the few houses in England where you will not see another house, you have complete and utter privacy and look out a long long way over a wooded backlot.”

All this has made wonder whether Barlow might want the property back for good?

Afterall, it’s now got its very own night club complete with Saturday Night Fever checkerboard floor for those evenings when he fancies cutting loose with his new X Factor friends, a gym and games room so he can have Mark, Jason, Howard and Robbie round, a gym to keep in shape for all those demanding dance routines and a cinema room to snuggle down with the wife and kids for some family time.

There’s also a tennis court, pavilion, pump house and of course, a full equestrian centre complete with stable yard, stable block, indoor school, outdoor arena and cross country course.

On the other hand, maybe Gary’s accepted that Everything Changes. We know we have.

June 9, 2011 at 4:44 PM 1 comment

Average first-time buyer spends £81,321 on rent before they buy

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

Have you noticed how many of your friends, colleagues and family members now rent their homes?  FindaProperty has seen it too and also taken note of the fact that difficulties getting a mortgage and saving for a deposit mean renters tend to stay renters for longer.  All this  made us wonder how the long-term cost of renting was diminishing our bank balances in the long run.

With that in mind, decided to do some investigation into how much the average first-time buyer around the country spends on rent before they’re in a position to buy.

The National Housing Federation has calculated the average age of a first-time buyer around the country. The  national figure is 37, while in London it’s an eye watering 52 and in the north east it’s a still substantial 35. We then worked out how much an average wannabe first-time buyer spent on rent before they reached the age at which they could buy.

And, as you might guess, it’s a hefty wodge of cash . An unassisted first-time buyer in England will typically spend £81,321 over a period of 16 years on rent by the time they buy their first home at the age of 37.

The property game is changing – we’re renting for longer and spending more on rent than ever before

The analysis shows that even those lucky enough to receive financial support when buying their first home – for example from ‘the bank of Mum and Dad’ – will still be renting for an average of nine years and spend £36,413 on rent in the process. This is £44,908 less than the average lifetime rental spend of an unassisted buyer, who doesn’t get a financial leg up from their parents.

And there’s a regional picture here too with those in the south paying substantially more over a longer period of time before they are able to buy their first home.

It’s no surprise that London has the country’s highest rental costs, and today’s unassisted first-time buyers in the capital will spend an average 31 years renting before they are able to buy their first property at the age of 52, spending more in the process than they would on their first property.

The picture isn’t quite as shocking further north where buyers can expect to pay a lot less on their rental costs, due to lower rents and less time spent saving for a deposit. An unassisted first-time buyer in the North East can expect to spend £32,181 renting in their lifetime, almost a tenth of that spent by their counterparts in the capital, while in the East Midlands, the life time rental spend is £32, 850 over 14 years before the average first-time buyer can afford to buy their first home at the age of 35.

Unassisted first-time buyers in Yorkshire and Humberside spend 15 years and £33,402 on rent before buying their first home; while those in the North West spend 14 years and £34,703 and those in the West Midlands spend £44,261 over 17 years.

In the south of the country it’s more expensive. A typical unassisted first-time buyer in the East of England rents for 22 years and spends £66,175 before buying their first home at the age of 43; those in the South West spend 27 years and £88,473; while those in the South East spend 24 years and £110,079 before they buy their first home at the age of 45.

We’ve traditionally considered money spent on rent as money down the drain. But now, growing numbers of us, are coming around to the idea of being lifetime renters. We’re choosing to focus instead on the upsides of renting, for example the greater freedom that comes with not being tied to a mortgage for years, not to mention the benefits of having someone to turn to when the boiler breaks down.

What do you think about these figures? And are we turning into a nation of renters?

June 8, 2011 at 9:25 AM 2 comments

The homes that brought down a Tory peer

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

At the beginning of this month, Tory peer Lord Taylor of Warwick was jailed for 12 months for expenses fraud and it was two properties that contributed to the downfall of this former barrister and first black member of the House of Lords.

Much has been written about this money and the behaviour of those involved, but what about the properties?

Lord Taylor outside his Ealing home

The first property is in Ealing, West London, where he lived. The second in Oxford, where he purported to live but had only visited twice. This ‘claimed’ address enabled Taylor to claw back the living expenses offered to peers who reside outside the capital, netting him just over £11,000.

Lord Taylor’s Ealing home is not where you might expect to find a peer of the realm: close to the fume-choked Hanger Lane gyratory, it’s on Lynwood Road, which is for the most part 1930s, mock-Tudor, semi-detached family homes with driveways. “Not particularly attractive,” says local agent Narendra Gandhi, franchisee of the Ealing branch of Winkworth, “but it’s good for schools and access to the M4.”

Gandhi suggests Lord Taylor’s home is worth around £800,000 to £850,000, but would have been a lot more affordable when he first arrived there, back in 1995. Overall prices in this solid family area start at the £550,000 mark for a three-bedroom house and go up to £750,000-plus for a five-bedroom home.

Next, there’s the house Lord Taylor never spent a night in, but claimed as his main residence: a two-bedroom terraced house in Henley Road, in east Oxford. It’s an attractive street with a semi-rural feel and a decent pub, The Fox. On the day paid a visit, a street party was in full swing.

The Oxford home Lord Taylor claimed as his main residence

It is lined with mainly Victorian and 1930s-built homes and the ‘Taylor’ property, bought for an undisclosed amount in 1991, according to Land Registry records, is owned by university academic Tristram Wyatt. Wyatt, who lives there with his partner – the peer’s step-nephew, Robert Taylor – was unaware that the address had been designated Lord Taylor’s principal home.

A two-bedroom house on the road is currently for sale for £250,000, three-bedroom homes on the street start at £350,000 and four-bedroom detached examples at £570,000, according to the Oxford branch of Hamptons International.

Second only to scandals concerning sex, property is one of the next most likely sources of bother for a politician. Peter Mandelson was forced to resign his position as trade secretary in Tony Blair’s first cabinet after accepting a £373,000 loan from the paymaster general to buy a property in Notting Hill. Tony Blair himself became embroiled in scandal after seeking the help of a convicted fraudster to buy a flat in Bristol, while Tessa Jowell’s career-threateningly complex mortgage arrangements had alleged links to a Silvio Berlusconi scandal.

The recent expenses scandal has shown the importance of houses to members of both Houses – taxpayer-funded or not, parliamentarians will always need homes. As the dust settles on duck houses, clean moats and trimmed wisteria, with four MPs in jail and a second peer knocking at the prison gates, it’s obvious that property will be a hot topic in parliament for some time to come.

Reporting and words: Jessie Hewitson

June 7, 2011 at 10:56 AM Leave a comment

Rental blog: What it’s like to rent in London, by Jeannie

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

Ah, a  home of one’s own. For many of us this isn’t a reality and I’m one of the three million private renters in the UK who have to deal with landlords, letting agents and in my case housemates.

Meet Jeannie: The author of our diary of a renter

My name’s Jeannie and I live in a rented house in south west London with five others from around the world. It’s a property managed by an agent and owned by a private landlord. It’s not my first time renting (and no doubt it won’t be the last). And like most tenants I have a few tales to tell, some good, some bad. (How do you deal with a burst pipe but your landlords have gone AWOL in Morocco? What happens when your housemate brings home a dog – and a baby?)

Despite these stories, my renting experience has been and still is enlightening. I’ve learned things about myself (I have issues about how a dishwasher should be stacked), about others (some people don’t have issues about what goes in the dishwasher), about the law (yes landlord, I am in a towel, but you do have to give us notice about doing maintenance work), about DIY (GU10 halogen lightbulbs – how do those work?).

Yes, renting is so much more than signing a contract to have a roof over your head and making sure the rent’s paid on time, so follow me on this blog as I share what I’ve learned about life as a tenant.

Check back next Tuesday for my latest blog. Next week:  dealing with a crisis – no internet!

June 7, 2011 at 9:43 AM 4 comments

Why Generation Rent isn’t in a happy place

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

If you fresh eyed and ready to roll at 6.30am on Saturday then you may have seen analyst Nigel Lewis with BBC Breakfast News anchor Sussanah Reid discussing the weekend’s hot topic – ‘generation rent’.

The energetic debate around this subject had been kicked off last week when housing and homelessness charity Shelter issued a report on the impact of high housing costs on Britain’s 18-36 year olds, revealing among many things how 22% of them have been forced to remain living with, or move back in with, their parents by the high cost of renting or buying a home.

This echoes’s recent Rental Index figures which revealed how for over a year now demand for properties to rent has been outstripping supply in many of Britain’s towns and cities. And consequently rents are up by five per cent year on year or, in the case of London, prices rising by over £100 a month recently.

As the BBC programme (along with pieces by the Daily Mail, Guardian, Telegraph and the Financial Times) pointed out, there is extraordinary financial and economic pressure on the younger generation to not buy – and hence the ‘generation rent’ tag that’s being pinned on them. And the numbers are worrying – some 100,000 to 130,000 wannable first time buyers are currently being kept in rental accommodation by a range of challenges.

This includes the ever- shrinking number of new or affordable homes being built. New builds are at their lowest level (102,000) for 70 years, extraordinary given that Britain needs to have 200,00-plus built every year to keep up with demand. Mortgage lending to first time buyers is sluggish but showing some signs of improvement, but overall their waiting longer – much longer. Research by reveals that the average age of becoming a first time buyer for today’s 21 year olds is set to hit 40 nationally and 50 in London.

This, of course, is not a happy place. But one thing worth remembering is that while interest rates remain low, buying remains cheaper than renting – so if you can scrape the deposit together then month-on-month you’ll probably be better off.

June 6, 2011 at 12:37 PM 2 comments

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