Five to View: Property in Witney

As David Cameron takes up residency in Downing Street, we take a look at the housing market in his constituency of Witney.

Before Dave, the Oxfordshire town’s main claim to fame was the high quality woollen blankets it has produced for several hundred years.

Now, however, its name will be forever wrapped up with that of the UK’s latest prime minister – only time will tell whether this new association will prove to be quite so cosy and long-lasting as Grantham’s was with Margaret Thatcher.

Here’s our pick of properties in Witney:

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

1. Cabinets minister

Witney house for sale at £1,750,000 (Savills 0843 2810 956)

2. This red has to go!

Witney house for sale at £1,500,000 (Knight Frank 0843 2811 227)

3. White house

Witney house for sale at £975,000 (Savills 0843 2821 775)

4. True blue

Witney house for sale at £795,000 (Savills 0843 2821 775)

5. Ivy league, UK style

Witney house for sale at £540,000 (House Network 0843 3635 806)

May 13, 2010 at 11:54 AM 3 comments

CONFIRMATION: HIPs to be scrapped



The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have released a ‘Coalition Agreement’ document setting out the what has been reached between the two parties on a range of issues. In the document the following is buried towards the end under the Environment section pt 6 – a confirmation that Home Information Packs (HIPs) are to be scrapped and Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) retained.

We have taken these screen shots from the BBC News website, but a full version of the document is available here.

HIPs are one of the first casualties of the new coalition government and this is positive news for the housing market. Sellers see them as an annoyance, buyers don’t ask to see them and solicitors often refuse to rely on the information they contain. In an environment where property transactions are still far too low, any additional expense that makes sellers think twice about putting their homes on the market is not welcome. The introduction of HIPs was full of good intentions – designed to speed up the home-buying process and prevent people pulling out of purchases further down the line. However, the packs were ultimately diluted to the point where buyers and mortgage lenders did not have the vital information they needed – such as a structural survey – and they’ve been on borrowed time ever since.

The retention of Energy Performance Certificates is an environmentally positive move, but it is possibly more about complying with EU directives on reducing carbon emissions, clearly a positive move, than helping home buyers and sellers. The new government should now consider replacing HIPs with a simple pre-sales pack to include local searches and a draft contract for sale only.

We’d like to hear your thoughts on how this might effect the market, speed up the sales process or simply have no benefit at all.

Leave a comment below or come and find us on Twitter.

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May 12, 2010 at 4:00 PM 63 comments

Leo Sayer’s last UK home for sale

Singer Leo Sayer's former home near Amersham, Buckinghamshire

If you think 61-year-old Leo Sayer is a strange but compelling ditty singer famous mainly for his late-career but controversial Celebrity Big Brother appearance in 2007 then think again.

Sayer is one of those pop stars who, after immense fame and success in the 1970s and early 1980s, has managed to keep his show on the road.  And the luxurious lifestyle he once enjoyed at Amersham Common House, until 2004 his Buckinghamshire home,  is there to see now that it’s come up for sale again for £2.65 million.

The indoor pool within singer Leo Sayer's former home near Amersham in Buckinghamshire

Sayer sold the house in 2004 for £925,000 and moved to Australia to live and work but, he recently revealed, he now rents rather than owns a home there.  Sydney is apparently too expensive for him.

Which begs the questions, why isn’t he rolling in it? As well as two UK No.1 singles, seven further top ten hits, a dozen albums and a US No.1, he has written hits for other artists including Roger Daltrey and film scores too. But a divorce and a manager who frittered away much of his fortune have left him less well off than you might expect.

The organgery within singer Leo Sayer's former home near Amersham in Buckinghamshire

Leo probably wouldn’t recognise his former home now, though. Amersham Common House has been extended and substantially enlarged since he left shipped out and it now has seven bedrooms rather than five plus a swimming pool, an expanded and flashy kitchen and lounge plus a leisure complex and plenty of green features including a ground source heat pump. Also, there’s now a cinema with Dolby surround sound, which might make you feel like dancing.

May 8, 2010 at 3:27 PM Leave a comment

Britain’s oldest and newest homes #3: Wales

Moving on in our series and we continue our look at the oldest inhabited home in Wales, compared with one of the newest from developer Barratt Homes.

OLDEST: Hafod-Y-Garreg – built: 1402

There’s a powerful atmosphere surrounding Hafod-Y-Garreg in Powys – Wales’ oldest home. Steeped in original features like its magnificent ornate medieval cruck frame and a glorious inglenook fireplace (added around 1550) which dominates the living room; you are left in no doubt as to the age of the place.

Inside Wales's oldest home

Inside Hafod-Y-Garreg, Wales' oldest home

This Grade II listed medieval house began its life as a hunting lodge for royalty, miraculously surviving the turbulent times at the turn of the 13th century which resulted in the destruction of all the neighbouring properties.

Built in the popular medieval ‘hall house’ style consisting of two main sections: the buttery (for storing and preparing food) and the parlour (or ‘conversation room’) you can imagine the minstrels playing their fiddles as the fire crackled and the smell of a hog roast filled the room.

These days Hafod Y Garreg is no longer the hunting lodge it once was, but instead is now a warm and welcoming guest house, allowing city slickers the chance to get away from it all and enjoy the fresh air of the countryside.

The rich fabrics, suitably old oak furniture and dripping wax candles adorning the interior work together to bring out the age of this property, which history lovers will adore.

NEWEST: Burrium Gate & Chase development – built: 2009

If living firmly in the 21st century is more your cup of tea, then Burrium Gate & Chase in South Wales could be for you. Built by developer Barratt Homes, Burrium Gate is located a convenient distance from the hustle and bustle of the big city, in the heart of the Usk Valley.

Picture of Barratt's Burrium Gate & Chase development in Wales

Developer Barratt's Burrium Gate & Chase development in Wales

Modern building techniques abound in these properties, which benefit from double glazing and energy efficient heating systems, as well as a 10 year warranty from the National House-Building Council (NHBC).

The irregular proportions of some historic homes can be cramped and difficullt to find furniture that fit in;  not a problem encountered within these new homes in South Wales which are spacious and sympathetic to the demands of modern living. In fact, most of the 28 luxurious home styles include at least one en-suite bathroom.

The development also has also the endorsement of Channel 4’s resident property expert, Phil Spencer, who as on hand to advise potential buyers at the development recently. He explained that Usk – one of the most expensive areas in Wales – was in demand because people were attracted by the picturesque settings and good shops, pubs, restaurants and schools.

For further details on property for sale at this development, or other developments in Wales visit the Barratt Homes website.

May 7, 2010 at 3:17 PM Leave a comment

Downing Street property price: How the other UK Downing Streets compare

We recently put a value on the Official Downing Street digs of £4.5m and worked out that, since Gordon Brown took up residence, the value has dropped by £462,420 during his occupancy. We also worked out that under the tenures of Brown and Major the value  reduced versus growth under Blair and Thatcher.

We then became a little curious, as we’re prone to, and searched for any other Downing Streets in the UK. Our search produced 13 other Downing Streets. So here’s how 10 of them stack up, in terms of average values, against the official digs on Downing Street (SW1A).

The nearest, in terms of value, is Downing Street in Farnham (£255,611), however average values are still some £4,244,389 off that of Downing Street, London, SW1A.

Average property values in Downing Streets across Britain

Location Average Value (Apr ’10)
Official DigsDowning Street, London, SW1A £4,500,000
Downing Street, Farnham, GU9 £255,611
Downing Street, Chippenham, SN14 £144,845
Downing Street, Halesowen, B63 £113,052
Downing Street, Ashton-Under-Lyne, OL7 £94,159
Downing Street, Llanelli, SA15 £86,612
Downing Street, Alfreton, DE55 £87,104
Downing Street, Newport, NP19 £78,565
Downing Street, Nottingham, NG6 £77,384
Downing Street, Preston, PR1 £62,409
Downing Street, Sutton-In-Ashfield, NG17 £50,853


April 26, 2010 at 1:36 PM Leave a comment

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