New Bungalow Developments aim to renovate the traditional view

Derided by the young, scoffed at by architects and used by comedians to raise a laugh; the bungalow has endured years of abuse despite promising beginnings as a chic but affordable ‘country home’.

The bungalow concept, imported in the late 19th century from India by ex-colonialists seeking an alternative to the drab brick of industrialised Blighty, was originally supposed to be a light, airy but single-storey dwelling.

A typical 1930s bunglow in Britain's seaside retirement capital, Eastbourne

A typical 1930s bungalow in Britain's seaside retirement capital, Eastbourne

The idea caught on. Soon whole bungalow villages and towns were being built along Britain’s coastline – the best-known being Shoreham-by-Sea in Sussex. And literary praise followed – in 1906, War of the Words author HG Wells described bungalows as “a fashion with a certain Bohemian-spirited class”.

But attitudes are very different now. Mostly regarded as a favoured home of the retired or those with little taste – John Major was sniped at for being raised in one – many comedians also now use them to score an easy laugh.

Examples include Peter Kay’s 2003 Mum Wants a Bungalow tour, the long-running Dick and Dom in Da Bungalow routine on TV and John Hegley’s derogatory Luton Bungalow song.

But a developer in Cheshire is making a last-ditch attempt – and some might say a brave one – to haul the badgered bungalow out of the fashion-free gloom and into the bright lights of architectural chic.

Hillcrest Homes is building a £1.75 million example in Alderley Edge – Cheshire’s jewel in the ‘Golden Triangle’ crown – called Chantreys.

Everything but gold taps have been added in a bid to throw off the ‘boring bungalow’ image including a luxury indoor swimming pool, a two-storey ‘wing’, Villeroy and Boch bathrooms, an upmarket Poggenpohl kitchen, sauna, as well as four bedrooms and a study.

A sizeable bill for a bungalow - Hillcrest Homes's £1.75m Alderley Edge newbuild

A sizeable bill for a bungalow - Hillcrest Homes's £1.75m Alderley Edge newbuild

“Chantreys draws more parallels with the Australian or American intepretations of ‘bungalow’ than the British,” says Mike Kennedy of Hillcrest. “It is glamorous, innovative and very stylish.”

January 5, 2010 at 3:13 PM 1 comment

FindaProperty flies off with a gong

It is normally the chunky click of a mouse that determines which websites can claim to be at the top of the online leagues, rather than X-Factor style votes.

For it is these clicks, driven by the millions of people who visit websites every day across a huge spectrum of online activity – from anagram solvers to xylophone sales – that create the juicy data needed by number crunchers to rank websites with.

logo_woty1So it makes a change when sites are instead sized up by their users and here at FindaProperty.com we’re proud to have won the UK’s favourite property portal gong following a vote by 850,000 people for the 2009 Website of the Year awards.

And we are in illustrious company too. Other winners include ITV.com, Arsenal.com, BBC.co.uk and Topgear.com.

For a full list of the winners go to: www.bit.ly/82Rum2

January 4, 2010 at 7:00 PM 1 comment

Graph Of The Week: Winners & Losers In 2009

January 4th already?! Yikes, where does the time go?

To mark the passing of the year, we thought it would be interesting to take a look at the property market’s winners and losers in 2009.

And this being January, we’re serving up two graphs for the price of one … the regional risers and fallers and the best and worst of ten major cities.

The most obvious trend in the data is the stark North/South divide: London and the South East did best at regional level; and coastal powerhouses Brighton and Southampton did best at city level.

And the worst city and region? Sorry, homeowners in Greater Manchester and Scotland (but rejoice first-time buyers!), prices dipped by 10.1 per cent and 12.2 per cent respectively.

2009regions

2009cities

January 4, 2010 at 5:35 PM 2 comments

Graph Of The Week: Market Confidence Improves

This week’s graph comes from our research team, whose MyHomeLife survey regularly polls our visitors to find out how they see the housing market.

Back in May – just as prices were beginning to pick up again – they were pretty downbeat. Only 11 per cent thought prices were recovering while 23 per cent expected them to keep falling.

By August – no doubt in response to several months of positive reports – 18.7 per cent felt prices were on the rise while 17.9 per cent expected them to keep falling.

The most recent wave of research was carried out in November and found that 30 per cent thought prices were rising while just 12.8 per cent thought they would keep falling.

Looking further ahead, 45.5 per cent expect the market to stabilise over the next six months.

This is somewhat at odds with the gloomier predictions for 2010, but it does accurately reflect the surprising recovery this year.

Can it continue? Our users seem to think it can, but only if there’s more money available at the bottom end: 84 per cent think a full recovery will depend on greater mortgage availability to first-time buyers.

With this in mind, it’s worth noting that lending levels, while still low, have risen significantly over the year (from a low of 27,294 in November 2008 to 57,345 in October 2009).

The latter half of 2009 surprised us all; if this lending trend continues, could 2010 also prove to be a better year than many pundits are predicting? Your thoughts, please!

December 21, 2009 at 5:34 PM Leave a comment

What’s my overseas home worth now?

For over three decades now we’ve been a nation gripped by house price ups and downs, famously keen to discuss the subject at dinner parties, bars and work.

And quite right too. There are half a dozen UK house price indices available these days – including our own one – each offering a snapshot of the market. And happily for home owners they answer a simple question – ‘how much is my property worth’?

Spain's gorgeous Mediterranean coast: but how much are homes there really worth?

Spain's gorgeous Mediterranean coast: but how much are homes there really worth?

But buy abroad and it’s much harder to find this out. The official index in Spain, for example, has been heavily criticised. Spanish property expert Martin Dell of Kyero.com is sceptical of its accuracy,  referring recently to the “garbage that the Spanish government continues to produce”.

While most agents on Spain’s Mediterranean coast admit prices have dropped by 20 per cent from their 2007 peak,  official figures show a drop of just six per cent – which big guns including Reuters, the International Monetary Fund and several Spanish banks have cast doubt on.

A report by a leading consultancy showed a drop of nine percent on the Costas over the past 12 months alone – so how can the official Spanish figures be so far from the what most people on the ground say is the truth?

But the lack of information is nothing compared to some other popular overseas buying hotspots – if you own a property in any of the East European states (particularly Bulgaria), Cape Verde, Brazil – I could go on – then house price data is non-existent or difficult to find.

All I can say is this: if you ever feel the need to scoff  at indices and some people’s obssession with house prices, then pause to consider how lucky we are to have so much information.

Dull though it may seem sometimes, it enables buyers in the UK to make informed decisions in a more transparent market – unlike the Spanish.

December 21, 2009 at 4:35 PM Leave a comment

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