Here’s March 2014’s most viewed properties on Zoopla

Which are the most popular properties in March so far? Valued from £325,000 to £90m and located in a variety of places – from London to Taunton – here are the most viewed properties on Zoopla.

1. What do you get for £90m in London? It may be just a terrace house, but there are an impressive 21 bedrooms and a garage large enough for four limousines. And, of course, it is in an exclusive street in Mayfair.

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2. What would you pay for a five bedroom flat? If you are seeking one of the apartments at London’s iconic One Hyde Park, you will need £68m. The accommodation spans an entire floor and boasts views of both Knightsbridge and Hyde Park.

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3. A three bedroom house in Taunton is a new entry in the most popular properties chart. It is a classic 1930s detached home, with a price tag of £325,000, General improvement is required.

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4. Sometimes a house comes along that makes you feel you would always be fine no matter how bad life gets. And this five bedroom terrrace in London’s Holland Park is one of those properties. After 30 years and four children, the current owner has decide it is time for someone else to make their mark. It has a £7m asking price.

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5. A nine bedroom detached house in London’s prestigious confines of Kensington is being offered (POA) with full planning permission to extend the property to include a separate cottage, tennis court and garden pavilion.

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6. Have you ever wondered what the interior of the house belonging to celebrity designer Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen looks like? Now is your chance as he is selling his six bedroom Cotswold for £1,750,000.

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7. You may recognize this former water works in Derbyshire as its renovation featured on the popular television series Grand Designs in 2002. It comes with four bedrooms and five acres of land, and has a guide price of £700,000.

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8. The Bishops Avenue in London never seems to be out of the property headlines, having been dubbed Billionaires’ Row. This nine bedroom detached home is set behind high electric gates and costs £38m.

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9. This Gloucestershire property was completely renovated 16 years ago by a well known local builder and now provides a beautiful home with a gated driveway, an indoor heated swimming pool and beautiful views.

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10. This nine bedroom mansion may look like it is set in the countryside, but it is in fact set in the heart of the London borough of Richmond. It is brand new and enjoys views of the River Thames and Petersham Meadows. (POA)

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March 28, 2014 at 2:15 AM Leave a comment

[Reader competition - winner announced] How to buy a property bargain at auction

Have you ever thought about buying property at auction, but you didn’t quite know how? Well, that may be about to change with the publication of How to Buy Property at Auction by Samantha Collett.

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Samantha is a self-confessed auction addict having been buying property at auction for more than a decade, and Zoopla is offering a chance to win a copy of her latest book about buying at auction.

Starting with just £15,000, she has amassed a nationwide property portfolio – 94 per cent of which was astonishingly bought at auction.


For a chance to win a copy of Sam’s book, leave your answer to the following question in the comments box below, making sure you leave a valid email:

Q. How much money did Sam start out with at the beginning of her auction adventure?

Congratulations to winner Rachel Roodhardt – announced on April 3, 2014


Sam’s other credentials include being an award winning landlord (NLA), a multi-award winning blogger, writing a column for the Evening Standard and, starting and selling a property management business.

How to Buy Property at Auction is a step-by-step guide which walks readers through the entire auction process from start to finish. From how you find auction property to how to research, raise finance and calculate your bid price, all the way through to the auction day – and your winning or losing bid.

It has also got a comprehensive directory of all auction houses in the UK, which is like gold-dust for any auction buyer.

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The guide is packed full of expert tips, practical guidance, case studies plus insights and anecdotes from auctioneers and solicitors.

Buying property at auction isn’t without its pitfalls and Samantha is upfront about the risks involved. Doing your homework, or as she says ‘being a detective’ and always asking ‘why is this property being sold at auction?’ are top of her agenda.

Some of the tips may raise your eyebrows, such as rifling through the post and ‘smelling’ a property to work out how long it’s been empty, but it’s plain to see this has been written by someone in the trade. The tips aren’t always obvious and there are some great gems that only those in the know would know.

How to Buy Property at Auction is published by Constable & Robinson.

March 27, 2014 at 5:03 PM 8 comments

West Bromwich Building Society to increase mortgage rates for landlords

Borrowers affected by a leading lender’s decision to increase the mortgage rates on their buy-to-let deals have signed up to protest as part of a group action. More than 400 mortgages have joined the legal fight, with almost £500,000 raised to help fight the case.


Image via Flickr user Tony Hisgett


West Bromwich Building Society announced its decision last year to increase tracker mortgages by two percentage points.

Landlords say the lender has no legal grounds to make the move and have launched a group action to protect. Those interested in taking part have until the end of tomorrow to sign up.

The group had initially sought 250 mortgage cases to be part of the action but this target has already been passed with 295 mortgage cases signed up.

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Ray Boulger, of mortgage brokers John Charcol, said: “By only targeting BTL borrowers with more than two mortgages West Brom appears to be adopting the cynical approach that the courts will take the view the mortgages affected are commercial and hence borrowers can not rely on the Unfair Consumer Terms legislation. This implies it accepts what it is doing is unfair, which rather seems to go against one of the things which most mutuals claim sets them apart from the banks.”

Borrowers affected will be charged a fee of £1,509 per mortgage represented and must sign up using the Property 118 website by 5pm on Friday, March 28.


March 27, 2014 at 3:46 PM 5 comments

House prices will ‘jump by a third’, says OBR boss

House prices are set to jump by nearly a third during the coming five years as the supply of homes fails to keep pace with demand, the Treasury’s chief watchdog predicted.

The average cost of a home is expected to increase by 30 per cent between now and 2018, according the Office for Budget Responsibility.

Robert Chote, head of the OBR, said house prices were being pushed up by a combination of a lack of supply and rising demand, driven by increased confidence, higher mortgage lending and government schemes, such as Help to Buy.

A 30 per cent increase would add £77,000 to the cost of the typical home in England, which currently stands at 258,837, according to Zoopla.

But despite investors causing sharp house price increases in some areas of the country, Mr Chote does not think a property market bubble is building up.

Instead he expects house price growth to slow naturally, with gains easing from 8.5 per cent this year to 3.7 per cent in 2017 and 2018.

“With very rapid house price increases in some parts of the country you might see bubbly activity where people are willing to buy stuff off plan or not intend to live in it,” Mr Chote told the Treasury Select Committee.

But he added: “You can explain the increase in house prices by fundamentals without having to resort to saying there is a bubble going on.”

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Stewart Baseley of the House Builders Federation is calling for a sustained increase in house building

Steve Nickell, an economist for the OBR agreed. He told MPs: “A bubble arises when demand is being driven by people wanting to get in because of expectations of price growth rather than for somewhere to live.

“The house price to income ratio has been growing for the last 40 years but that cannot go on forever because everything you consume would become housing and there would be nothing else left.”

The comments come as the Home Builders Federation warned that the housing shortage in England had hit one million homes – the equivalent to the number of properties in Birmingham and the surrounding area.

Ten years ago, the Barker Review of Housing Supply warned that at least 210,000 private homes needed to be built each year in England to avert a housing crisis.

But the HBF said an average of just 115,000 homes had been built annually during the past decade, leaving a shortfall of one million properties.

Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of HBF, said: “The Barker Review was a seminal report for housing and starkly illustrated the scale of the emerging crisis. Since then successive Governments have failed to pay heed and develop policies to deliver the homes the country needs.

“As we approach a general election, we now need to see all parties committing to policies that lead to a sustained increase in house-building.”

The HBF said 260,000 new homes needed to be built each year if the Barker Review’s objective of gradually pricing households back into the market was to be achieved.

But 320,000 private sector homes would need to be built annually if the more ambitious aim of improving the housing market was to be met.

The group warned that this was three times the number of properties completed in 2013 and a level that had been achieved in just four years since World War II.

It added that even achieving the least ambitious of Barker’s three objectives – to slow down the rate at which households are priced out of the market – would require more than 200,000 private starts per year, a figure last achieved in 1973.

March 27, 2014 at 2:44 PM Leave a comment

Will April’s mortgage ‘stress test’ make it harder to get a home loan?

Tough new rules on mortgage lending are not expected to dampen the housing market recovery, industry experts insisted today.

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The tighter regulations, which come into force on April 26, require banks and building societies to carry out a detailed assessment of borrowers’ ability to keep up with their loan before advancing them money.

Lenders will be able to ask applicants for evidence on how much they spend on everything from food to childcare to debt repayments if they are concerned about affordability.

They will also carry out an interest rate ‘stress test’, to ensure borrowers can continue to meet their mortgage repayments even if the cost of borrowing rises.

The Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) said the changes, known as the Mortgage Market Review, are the biggest shake-up to lending in a decade.

But despite the introduction of the tougher lending criteria, the group does not expect the new rules to lead to a fall in mortgage advances, which could in turn impact the housing market.

The CML expects total mortgage lending to reach £195 billion during 2014, the highest level since 2008, with lending levels rising to £206 billion in 2015.

It said many lenders had been following the spirit of the new rules for some time already, and it did not expect the “brakes to slam on” from April 26.

Sue Anderson

Sue Anderson, of the Council of Mortgage Lenders

But Sue Anderson, head of member and external relations at the CML, added: “What we don’t know is if we will see short-term impacts around the time of implementation, if lenders aren’t as ready as they think they are.”

Matthew Pointon, property economist at Capital Economics, agreed that the new rules should not have a negative impact on the housing market.

He said: “The weight of evidence suggests that most mortgage lenders are already implementing the Mortgage Market Review regulations, so we doubt mortgage lending will see a sharp drop come April 26.

“But the interest rate stress test should at least prevent mortgage lending from running out of control.”

Peter Williams, executive director of the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association, expects there to be a short-term drop in mortgage lending as the new rules bed in.

He said: “There now seems to be a growing consensus that the new regulations will have at least an initial dampening effect.

“In the short term, we are facing a likely drop in mortgage approvals as new practices are set in stone and while any remaining gremlins in new IT systems and processes are ironed out.”

The changes are being introduced to increase consumer protection, and are being overseen by industry regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority.

Under the new regime, a clear distinction will be made between when borrowers are being offered advice on a mortgage, and when they are taking out a home loan on an execution-only basis.

Firms that do offer advice to potential borrowers will need to ask more questions to make sure a product is suitable, meaning mortgage interviews are likely to take longer and may even be split across two sessions.

Borrowers will still be able to opt for an interest-only mortgage, but they will have to show how they plan to repay the loan at the end of the term.

March 26, 2014 at 5:32 PM Leave a comment

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