Frederick Forsyth’s farmland retreat

I live in a city now but I grew up in a quiet area surrounded by fields, so I can understand why so many urbanites are attracted to a rural life,  away from typical city issues such as noise, crime and pollution.

One famous former London dweller who swapped the capital for the countryside is The Day of the Jackal author, Frederick Forsyth, who bought East End Green farm in 1988 and has lived there ever since.

Until now, that is. Aged 71, Forsyth has conceded that the 130 acres of farmland he owns is too much work so he and his wife are downsizing to a converted barn with a more manageable four acres.

Frederick Forsyth’s house, East End Green,  is now on the market and will appeal to anyone who relishes such a physical – and financial – challenge: the asking price is £3.7 million.

In addition to 130 acres, you’ll be buying the farmhouse – a listed period property with four bedrooms and three receptions rooms, several outbuildings including stabling, an outdoor swimming pool and livestock including sheep, lambs and chickens.

There are also two cottages which are currently used to accommodate farm staff, and a former dairy which has been converted into four apartments.

And it’s in one of  these flats where Forsyth has written all his books since the late 80s, includng his most recent novel, The Cobra, which will be out next month.

East End Green is on the market with Knight Frank, Country Houses Department (0843 2829 424). Asking price: £3.7 million.

July 16, 2010 at 1:52 PM 3 comments

Model House

Series six of Britain’s Next Top Model with new host Elle Macpherson has started on TV, and once again, the models’ house is every bit as stunning as the contestants themselves.

The latest episode showed the girls as they first entered the property and, judging by the squeals, they seemed delighted with their temporary new home.

And no wonder, thanks to London company, Belle Interiors, who provided many of the eye-catching pieces which adorn this year’s house.

From the plush Renaissance style bedroom furniture to the funky hairdressing tables decorated with Marvel comic images, these beautiful designs are a perfect match for the beauties who’ll be using them.

And with the show’s winner set to pick up a cool £1 million contract with Models 1 agency, Belle Interiors may soon have a brand new model house to decorate.

July 15, 2010 at 5:25 PM Leave a comment

The Credit Crunch Effects: House Prices recover by 50%

We have reached an important point in a market seeking direction and despite the most recent 16 months of gains, only half of the value lost in the prior 16 months has been recouped.

This juncture  may well determine the direction of house prices for the months to come. Our data show us  that we have come through two periods of equal length and opposing directions. UK house prices have risen steadily for the past 16 months, bouncing off their lows of March 2009 and recovering half of the value lost during the prior 16 month period of price declines from the November 2007 market peak.

It is entirely possible that we may now have a similar length period of time where the market hovers without a clear direction.

The average UK home is now worth £218,705, up £21,667 (11.02%) since March 2009. However this figure remains more than £20,000 below the November 2007 peak, when average house prices reached £239,063, showing that, despite the rebound over the last 16 months, only half the ground lost over the prior 16-month period has been made up.

England – prices have recovered more ground than elsewhere, having climbed 11.46% since March 2009, with the average home in England now worth £226,342, but still well below the level reached in November 2007 of £246,714.

Wales – prices have been much slower to rebound, up only 7.07% since March 2009 to a current average value of £154,521, a long way short of the £173,388 peak in November 2007.

Scotlandproperty values have climbed 9.12% on average to £156,217 over the past 16 months, having fallen 18.1% in the prior 16-month period when they reached a high of £174,805.

Whilst the dramatic fall in house prices during the 16 months from the November 2007 high to the March 2009 low affected all areas of the country, the rebound in the 16 months since has been far more selective.

South East – property prices have bounced back strongly and have regained most of the value lost during the downturn. House prices in the South East, which peaked at £291,120 in November 2007 had fallen sharply by 18.24% to £238,017 by March 2009, and have since risen by 17.57% to £279,848.

North East – in contrast the North East saw average house prices drop 16.11% from £182,390 in November 2007 to £153,002 in March 2009, and have since only managed to regain 4.98%, standing today at £160,627.

London –  the market has seen the most dramatic turnaround, with average house prices today at new highs and above the levels seen in November 2007. Having fallen by 16.06% from a high of £410,577 in November 2007 to a low of £344,635 in March 2009, London house prices have made up all the ground lost in the downturn and now stand at £418,802. London house prices have risen by a remarkable 21.52% over the past 16 months.

Looking at property type…

The rebound in house prices since March 2009 has been strongest for semi-detached properties, which have risen by 12.83% over the past 16 months. The average semi is now worth £191,019. At the other end of the scale, flats across the UK have been much slower to rebound and have only gained 7.78% in value over the past 16 months, having fallen by 17.34% in the prior 16-month period. The average flat in Britain is now worth £199,573, down from a peak of £224,021 in Nov 2007.

Average house prices by Country

Country Jul 2010 Mar 2009 Last 16 months Nov 2007 Prior 16 months
England £226,342 £203,077 +11.46% £246,714 -17.69%
Scotland £156,217 £143,166 +9.12% £174,805 -18.10%
Wales £154,521 £144,315 +7.07% £173,388 -16.77%

Source: Zoopla.co.uk

Average house prices by Region

Region Jul 2010 Mar 2009 Last 16 months Nov 2007 Prior 16 months
London £418,802 £344,635 +21.52% £410,577 -16.06%
SE England £279,848 £238,017 +17.57% £291,120 -18.24%
E England £233,776 £208,322 +12.22% £259,967 -19.87%
SW England £225,773 £194,662 +15.98% £238,044 -18.22%
W Midlands £174,269 £165,332 +5.41% £202,139 -18.21%
E Midlands £161,919 £153,204 +5.69% £184,474 -16.95%
NE England £160,627 £153,002 +4.98% £182,390 -16.11%
NW England £160,071 £142,532 +12.31% £170,199 -16.26%
Yorks & Humber £145,783 £134,758 +8.18% £164,654 -18.16%

Source: Zoopla.co.uk

Average house prices by Property Type

Property type Jul 2010 Mar 2009 Last 16 months Nov 2007 Prior 16 months
Detached £317,957 £291,125 +9.22% £349,528 -16.71%
Semi-detached £191,019 £169,304 +12.83% £204,522 -17.22%
Terraced £171,637 £153,566 +11.77% £186,032 -17.45%
Flats £199,573 £185,170 +7.78% £224,021 -17.34%

Source: Zoopla.co.uk

July 15, 2010 at 9:29 AM Leave a comment

Housing market confidence dips as mortgage concerns remain

Our latest Zoopla.co.uk Housing Sentiment Survey reveals whilst 78% of homeowners think that property prices will rise by 5.5% from current levels over the next six months, this figure has fallen from 81% three months ago as concerns grow around the availability of mortgage finance persist.

Confidence amongst homeowners remains high for the time being, but the dip does signal a directional shift and that concerns are building again around the outlook for the property market. The fear remains that the revival in the housing market will be derailed unless the banks make a concerted effort to increase lending. With job cuts looming in the public sector and interest rate hikes expected at some point, the new government has its work cut out for it to ensure that home ownership remains affordable and attainable for most people.

Key points:

  • Number of homeowners expecting house prices to rise drops from 81% to 78%
  • 77% surveyed say mortgage funding is no easier to get now than 3 months ago
  • Worry about job losses and interest rate hikes hangs over the property market

However, although confidence remains relatively high, concerns remain around mortgage availability with one in three (34%) of those surveyed citing this as the biggest continued threat to the health of the property market and more respondents (27%) saying it is now harder to get a mortgage than 3 months ago than those saying it is easier (23%). Other key concerns to a continued recovery in the housing market were a potential rise in interest rates for 25% of respondents and the impact of job losses in the public sector for 21%.

The Scots appear the most upbeat over the prospects for their local property market, with 84% expecting house prices in their area to rise over the next six months, compared to 79% in England and 73% in Wales. Residents in Northern Ireland are least optimistic, with only 67% 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.

July 7, 2010 at 9:55 AM 3 comments

Where’s my home? With the shopping, dear

Supermarket giant Tesco has launched a range of DIY flat-pack, self-build houses starting at £10,000.

Manufactured by Finnlife, the Helsinki cabin has five rooms and a “handy upstairs storage area” and costs £9,999 – earning customers 19,998 Clubcard points in the process.

PHOTO BY: Finnlife / Solent News / Rex Features

Tesco says the building “readily adapts to serve a number of uses from home office and gym to lounging area and playroom”.

The cabin is made from Scandinavian whitewood and is constructed using 44mm thick tongue and groove boards.

The 32ft by 16ft 10ins structure has eight double-glazed windows, French doors, a felt shingle roof and a terraced decking area. It can also be upgraded to include a guttering kit, laminate flooring and even underfloor heating.

The Helsinki cabin is only available from the Tesco website as it is too bulky to pick up in store – so shoppers will incur a five pounds delivery charge.

And the supermarket advises: “Prior to purchase check whether planning permission and building regulations approval may be required.”

PHOTO BY: Finnlife / Solent News / Rex Features

The cabin comes with plans and step-by-step building instructions plus a list of tools required including a ladder, saw, screwdriver, mallet and tape measure.

The manual states: “No specialist skills are required. Anyone can build a Finnlife log cabin although some tasks may require more than one pair of hands.

“Construction times will vary depending on your skills and the number of people helping you.”

Buyers are also advised that the building needs a quality timber treatment after assembly, and that it should be built on foundations of concrete or compressed gravel.

Delivery of the flat-pack cabins is only available to mainland UK customers and usually takes a maximum of 21 days, according to Tesco.

July 6, 2010 at 5:24 PM 7 comments

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