Top 10 kitchens chosen by you

With well over 450 stunning kitchens now pinned we thought it was time to share the top 10 most popular. From sleek and shiny to rustic and rural there’s something for everyone. Pin your own favourite on our Kitchen Heaven Pinterest board.

1. A beautiful country kitchen to match a stunning country house.
772 pins


2. Barn conversion with authentic beams.
132 pins


3. Classic clean look show home kitchen.
102 pins


4. A close 4th with only 1 pin in the difference this stunning new build offers a very sleek kitchen.
101 pins


5. Just look at all that space, what’s not to love?
88 pins


6. We love this indoor outdoor style kitchen diner.
73 pins


7. A beautifully bright, no fuss kitchen.
67 pins


8. There is a real escape to the country feel about this home and the kitchen accentuate the theme.
62 pins


9. High gloss modern finish, a nice change to the popular country kitchen theme.
53 pins


10. We love this mix of rustic wooden beams with stately chandeliers, matches the country abode very well.
51 pins


Send us a link via Twitter to your #propertyoftheweek on Zoopla and our favourites will feature on the blog every Friday.


April 17, 2014 at 10:29 AM Leave a comment

UPDATED: Mortgage advances up a third as market continues to recover

Total mortgage advances have soared by a third during March as the market continues to recover, figures showed today.


A total of £15.4bn was advanced during the month, 4 per cent more than in February and 33 per cent above the level seen in March 2013, the Council of Mortgage Lenders said.

Lending during the first quarter was also significantly ahead of a year earlier, with an estimated £46.3bn advanced in the three months to the end of March, 37 per cent upon the same period of 2013.

But the figure was 10 per cent below advances for the fourth quarter of last year, when lending levels were particularly high.

Bob PannellBob Pannell, chief economist at the CML, said: “Alongside benign developments in the wider UK economy and the labour market, housing market sentiment continues to strengthen.”

But he added that while the trend for strong year-on-year growth was continuing, the underlying profile appeared to be a “little gentler than in recent months”.

Signs of a slight slowdown in lending levels are likely to calm speculation that a bubble could be developing in the property market.

Strong gains in house prices have left the average home in England costing £259,745, according to Zoopla.

The Office for National Statistics also recently reported that house prices in the UK had reached a new record high, with growth in London soaring by 17.7 per cent during the year to the end of February, while across the UK as a whole prices rose by 9.1 per cent.

But Bank of England figures showed the number of mortgages approved for house purchase actually dipped slightly during February, suggesting demand for property may be easing slightly.

Meanwhile, the CML said lenders appeared to be ready for the implementation of new lending rules on April 26, which will see tougher affordability criteria applied to borrowers.

Mr Pannell said: “There are currently no signs of significant market disruption, arising from the imminent application of new lending rules associated with the Mortgage Market Review.

“While some mortgage lending indicators have eased back gently, this is from the very high levels of recent months.”

But he added that glitches could not be ruled out and some lenders may suffer from demand running ahead of their ability to process applicants in the short term.

Mark HarrisMark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, said: “The lending market continues to strengthen as a result of the combination of cheap finance and lenders with a real appetite to lend.

“With the economic recovery continuing apace – unemployment falling, wages rising and inflation edging off further – the markets are anticipating an early interest rate rise.”

But he added that Bank of England Governor Mark Carney had repeatedly played down expectations of an early rate rise, and any hike in the official cost of borrowing could be delayed until next year or after the General Election.


April 17, 2014 at 9:58 AM Leave a comment

Alesha Dixon the ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ judge sees former home for sale

With its detached gym, decked terrace with hot tub and a Hollywood style vanity area in the bedroom, this spruced up bungalow is fitting of anyone in the entertainment industry.

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The three bedroom property is understood to have once been the home of singer and television personality Alesha Dixon, who lived there for two years.

In the popular location of Welwyn Garden City – where Alesha grew up – the house is now on the market for £1.150,000

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Dixon reappeared on our screens last weekend as a judge on Britain’s Got Talent, alongside Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden and David Walliams.

She first found fame as part of the all-female band Mis-Teeq, before later appearing as a contestant – and then judge – on Strictly Come Dancing.

The Hertfordshire property is named Rosewood and has been extensively refurbished, boasting high gloss white cabinets with stricking glass splash backs, an inset television overlooking a sunken style bath and a Japanese garden.

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April 16, 2014 at 10:45 AM Leave a comment

LATEST: Boost to housing market as unemployment falls

The number of people out of work continued to fall during the first part of the year, providing a further boost to the housing market.

House prices 2

Unemployment dropped by 77,000 during the three months to the end of February, compared with the previous quarter, as the UK’s economy continued to recover.

There was also a 1.7 per cent jump in pay and bonuses during the three months, compared with a year earlier, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The rise marked the first time that pay growth has outstripped Consumer Price Inflation since the three months to April 2010, meaning wages are once again rising in real terms.

The figures are good news for the property market, with house prices traditionally rising during periods of high employment, as people feel confident about moving up the property ladder.

High levels of employment also mean people are less likely to be forced to sell their homes or have them repossessed because they are struggling to pay their mortgage after losing their job.

Overall, the ONS said a total of 30.39 million people were employed in the three months to February 2014, 691,000 more than during the same period a year earlier.

There was also an increase in the total of weekly hours worked, with this measure rising to 973 million during the three months.

The number of people who were unemployed dropped to 2.24 million, 77,000 lower than in the previous quarter and 320,000 below the figure for a year earlier.

The fall pushed the unemployment rate down to 6.9 per cent of the labour force, compared with 7.9 per cent a year earlier, but still above the level of 5.2 per cent seen in late 2007/early 2008.

Rising employment and lower inflation helped households’ optimism about their financial situation reach a record high during April.

The Markit Household Finance Index climbed to its highest level during the month since the survey was first launched in February 2009.

The group’s workplace activity measure and job security index were also both at or close to record highs, while household spending increased for the second month running, as consumers felt increasingly confident.

Jack Kennedy, senior economist at Markit, said: “Falling inflation delivered a boost to UK households in April, resulting in the best sentiment towards their financial situation since the start of the survey over five years ago.

“A long-awaited return to rising real wages is likely to boost consumer spending as we move through 2014, adding another piece to the jigsaw of the UK’s economic recovery.”

Today’s figures come the day after the ONS reported average UK house price had hit a new record high.

The typical cost of a home had soared by 9.1 per cent during the year to the end of February, to stand at £253,000 – a £20,000 gain during the past year.

The London property market continued to power ahead, with prices in the capital surging by 17.7 per cent during the year to stand at £458,000.



April 16, 2014 at 10:27 AM Leave a comment

Smallholdings offer families the chance to obtain ‘The Good Life’

Ever since the start of the recession estate agents have noted an uptick in demand for smallholdings. City dwellers, it seems, are fed up of congestion and pollution. Thoroughly freaked out by endless food safety scandals and economic ructions what they want to do is go back to the land.

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A smallholding is defined as a country property with enough land – usually between five and 50 acres – to grow food and rear livestock.

Some smallholders simply want to supplement their diet with home-grown produce others are also hoping to earn an income.

Rupert SweetingRupert Sweeting, head of the country department at Knight Frank believes years of food scares – most recently the “horse burger” scandal – are driving people to consider growing their own.

“There is more interest in smallholdings because more people want to know what they are eating, where it comes from and where it is sourced,” he said.

“These people are looking for the rural idyll – they want to live the good life,” added Richard Liddiard, head of rural agency at Carter Jonas. “It is very much a lifestyle purchase though – realistically you cannot make a living out of this much land.”

This means that many smallholders are either early retirees with enough funds to subsidise their hobby farm, or families in which at least one person has a regular day job to help subsidise the good life.

And although buyers are unlikely to be able to earn a full salary they may well be able to earn pin money from anything from raising rare breed cattle, to breeding alpaca for their wool, or keeping honey bees. As climate change takes a hold it may also be that small scale vineyards become more popular.

The cost of buying this sort of property varies dramatically.

Sweeting estimates that a four or five bedroom house with 10 acres of land would cost from around £1m to £1.5m in the Home Counties, dropping down to around £250,000 in rural Scotland.

Liddiard_R 0039But whatever you pay for a smallholding, Liddiard is confident that it will be a good investment. “Land values are going only upwards,” he said. “In 2005 we thought that £3,000 to £3,500 per acre was a good price – now the average is about £10,000 per acre. Land has proved to be one of the safest and most secure assets you can have.”

There are also other potential financial benefits to taking on a small agricultural holding.

If you earn an income, even if it is small, from the land then your land and property may be exempt or partially exempt from inheritance tax – although, of course, all cases are different and advice from a suitably qualified tax expert will be needed.

Renting a smallholding is a trickier situation in part because, says Sweeting, there are very few small farms available to let in the first place.

Even if you do find one Liddiard warns that renting as a long term plan can end in heartache. “What if you spend three or four years setting it all up and then the landlord gives you notice to quit and the dream is shattered?” he asked.

Sweeting says most people rent smallholdings as a sensible short term experiment to test whether they enjoy the lifestyle before taking the plunge. “And why wouldn’t they,” he said. “It is a wonderful way of life.”

Properties for sale and to let:

1. Get away from it all in a lovely five bedroom farmhouse in Market Rasen, Lincolnshire, on the market for £1,475 per month. The property has four acres of paddocks, perfect for small scale livestock breeding or horses.

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2. Keep a herd of alpacas at this four bedroom cottage in Kilcot, Newent, on the market for £1,650 per month. The property comes with three acres of land.

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3. Smallholdings don’t have to be quaint. The current owners of eco-friendly Huf House in Andover, Hampshire, on the market for £2.75m, keep  poultry, sheep and pigs.

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4. Historic house in Matlock, Derbyshire, for £985,000, with 20 acres ripe for a hobby farmer.

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April 16, 2014 at 9:38 AM Leave a comment

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The Zoopla property blog is maintained and edited by the Web Content Editor @ Zoopla Property Group Ltd Myra Butterworth.


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