Kerry Katona moves into £3,000 a month mansion

Pregnant Kerry Katona has allegedly moved into a £3,000 a month mansion despite being declared bankrupt for a second time.

Kerry Katona

The singer is understood to be living in the five bedroom country home in Oxfordshire with her fiancé George Kay and her four children.

The gated property reportedly boasts five bathrooms and four reception rooms.

The Big Reunion star, who was previously married to Brian McFadden and Mark Croft – was first declared bankrupt in 2008.

She told the Telegraph last year: “Money’s an issue for me. I’m really weird around money. I feel like I have to pay and bought my husband [Mark Croft] whatever he wanted: he had a Ferrari, a Lamborghini, an Aston Martin, a Porsche.

“He kept changing them, but we always had a few cars at one time.”

Other country homes to rent in Oxfordshire:

25.02.14 Oxford 1

Five bedroom detached house for £3,200 a month

25.02.14 Oxford 2

Five bedroom house to rent for £4,250 a month

25.02.14 Oxford 3

Five bedroom property to rent for £5,500 a month

February 25, 2014 at 2:18 PM Leave a comment

Give your house ‘kerb appeal’ & maximise selling potential

It might be rather damp and chilly outside, but February can be the perfect month to don coats and wellies in order to start sprucing up the appearance of a property, writes Caroline Knight and Karin Hawkes.

19.02.14 Kerb Appeal 3

Before a makeover

19.02.14 Kerb Appeal 2

After: Brighten up the entrance to your home this February with the addition of some seasonal containers

The excess rainfall we have endured so far this year will have washed debris into gutters, so clearing those should be a priority.

Next – provided it is ice-free – you could jet wash your paths and driveway. There’s certainly no danger of a hosepipe ban. You might be pleasantly surprised just how much difference a clean-up makes – but check the pointing as any loose stones or mortar will inevitably become dislodged during this rather harsh process. Mossy paths, uneven surfaces and slimy decking can present a very real ‘trip and slip’ hazard – and while sweet Auntie Mabel wouldn’t dream of suing you if she fell and broke her arm, cantankerous Kevin next door might grasp the opportunity of compensation as he happens to know that you have a duty of care towards visitors to your home.

An even greater risk of slipping applies if and when we are blessed with snow.

First, we should be thankful that we don’t reside in countries such as Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands where there is a legal obligation to keep pavements cleared. In the UK, during snowy times we might witness householders rushing outdoors ready for action, but they are more likely to build snowmen than shovel away the snow.

Under the Occupiers Liability Act 1984 our duty extends only to visitors on our property. If you think you are being kind by clearing snow from the pavement and someone subsequently slips over you might find you are held liable.

Most homes are looking pretty glum this month, so if yours is on the market make sure it stands out from the dowdy crowd. Wash the paintwork, clean the windows and clear leaves, twigs and last year’s dead undergrowth from the front garden.

Consider pots, window boxes and containers to inject a burst of much needed colour into the garden and around the front door. There are plenty of flowering plants looking their best this month, including pansies, violas, primroses, heathers, hellebores, daffodils and early tulips.

Potty tips:

• Select pots with care. Avoid small containers and ensure your pot has plenty of drainage holes – you can hardly have enough

• Consider putting a plastic pot inside a clay pot so that you get the benefit of better moisture retention together with pleasant appearance

• Add crocks to the bottom, just like granny used to do. Crocks stop roots from blocking the drainage holes, they also encourage air to stay in the compost and they prevent plants from drowning in too much moisture. You can use broken pieces of terracotta, gravel, or light bulky matter such as polystyrene

• Use soil-free compost which is fluffy and light, but buy the best you can afford as it will have more nutrients and better growth potential. Fill your container to around two thirds full.

• Make a hole, loosen the roots of your colourful flowers and pop them in

• Fill your pots with compost to within 3cm of the top

• Gently firm down the compost, then water gently. Top up with compost and water again

Zoopla garden of the month

19.02.14 Kerb Appeal 1

Why do we approve of this front garden at a six bedroom detached in Kent, which is currently on the market for £595,000?

• It’s neat, clean and tidy, with enough greenery to provide interest but no dead or slimy plants to remind us that it is still winter

• There’s just enough height to provide a little variation and we like the way that the clean driveway has been framed with evergreen planting so it doesn’t give the impression of a wide, barren space

• The heather bed in the centre divides the space discreetly and encourages people not to park too close to the front door

Caroline Knight and Karin Hawkes are passionate about the beneficial impact that outdoor space can have on a property. An effective garden, courtyard or even parking space can not only provide considerable charm but also offer enormous benefits for occupants of homes of all sizes – from the tiniest, diminutive dwelling to the most expansive country estate. This is why it is essential to make the most of your outside space before putting your property on the market.

Caroline and Karin, who met while studying for a BA (Hons) in garden design, feel that front gardens represent a vastly neglected area. Their design and maintenance service, Kerb Appeal South East, seeks to correct this imbalance, thereby forming a missing link in the house sales process within Kent,Sussex and Surrey. They are on a mission to enable sellers to enhance their properties with the minimum of fuss and upheaval, thereby maximising the selling potential of any home.

February 25, 2014 at 8:00 AM Leave a comment

Phil Spencer’s property tip of the month – Don’t overlook the costs associated with buying a home


The associated costs of buying a home are often overlooked in favour of the major expense, the house itself. It’s easy to come unstuck if you fail to budget along the way for these often hidden, one off costs.

Costs range from search fees to mortgage arrangement fees and can add up to thousands of pounds with many first-time buyers, in particular, getting caught out by the extra fees they will have to pay.

Here are some of the main costs associated with buying:

Stamp Duty

One of the largest chunks of money goes on Stamp Duty, which is charged at 3 per cent for properties valued at between £250,000 and £500,000. It compares to just 1 per cent for properties valued at between £125,000 and £250,000.

Solicitor’s fees

Fees on average tend to cost around £1,000 depending on the services you require for the purchase. Make sure that you get a quote upfront before the solicitor does any work as some will charge by the hour, while others will do the job for a set fee.

Lender related fees

There are then smaller costs that may need paying depending on what deal you have struck with your lender. These include valuation fees paid to a lender for checking the property is worth the amount they are lending and a booking fee for selecting a mortgage deal. A larger cost is likely to be a mortgage arrangement fee, which can run into several thousand pounds. However, a lender may offer some or all of these charges for free depending on the mortgage deal you have agreed and so it is worth checking on the details and shopping around.


You will also need to budget for a survey of the property and for searches for anything unusual about property. Searches are conducted via the Local Authorities and are designed to check whether there are any issues such as planning permissions or planned roadworks that are in motion that may effect the property.  These tend to cost around £500 each, but it again depends on the scope of the survey required.

Removal fees

And don’t forget the all-important removal fees as these can also run into several thousand pounds depending on the services your require.

More information about buying a home can be found on the Zoopla website.

February 24, 2014 at 2:23 PM Leave a comment

Top 10 Indoor Swimming Pools

Our pick of top 10 Indoor Swimming Pools that will keep you going till the summer.

1. Best of both worlds…an indoor and outdoor pool in one.
8 bed in The Bishops Avenue, London, £16M – Bargets


2. The perfect escape…this pool is surrounded with giant screens so you can choose your surroundings.
5 bed in Belgravia, London, £12,250,000 – Knight Frank


3. The chandelier says it all.
11 bed in Cheshire, POA – Jackson-Stops & Staff


4. This ski chalet pool has a distinct party feel about it…and who doesn’t love a good pool party?
7 bed in Rhone Alpes, France £9.8M – Athena Advisors


5. We just love the ceiling over this pool.
7 bed in Loughborough, POA – Alexanders


6. The floor to ceiling glass makes this indoor pool feel like it’s outdoors.
5 bed in Liverpool, £2M – Savills


7. Fancy a pool party…then this pool is ideal complete with a bar in the water.
6 bed in Hatfield, £4,750,000 – Savills


8. This uniquely shaped pool is a nice change from the usual.
7 bed in Chelsea, £84,500 pcm – Prestige Capital Properties


9. A welcome surprise to find a pool underneath the floor of this 2 bed flat in London.
2 bed in Crouch End, £795,000 – Foxtons


10. How elegant – a welcome change from the typical pool.
9 bed in Surrey, £15M – Hamptons


Send us a link via Twitter to your #propertyoftheweek on Zoopla and our pick of the Top 10 will feature on the blog every Friday.

February 21, 2014 at 11:38 AM 1 comment

Buying at property auctions offers property bargains

House hunting during the spring auction season is a time-honoured way of hooking a property bargain.

13.02.14 Auction 1

Traditionally, auction prices can be anything up to 20 per cent cheaper than buying on the mainstream market and auctions tend to be the best value during downturns.

This is partly because if mortgage finance is difficult there will be less competition in the sale room. And professional developers are also less likely to snap up all the best flats and houses because, without rising prices behind them, the profit margin in doing up a run down property (and auction properties are almost routinely in need of renovation) might not be worth their while.

Which begs the question: in a reviving market – and particularly one where shortage of stock has been identified as the key problem afflicting buyers in 2014 – is it still possible to get a good deal at auction?

The bad news is that competition in the sale room is increasing. “The new year has brought vast improvements in the availability of finance, with more bidders likely to take the plunge and buy,” says Gemma Jacques, auction sales administrator at Hunters Estate Agents.

Rory Daly, principal auctioneer at Birmingham-based CP Bigwood Auctions, adds that with interest rates low more people with money in the bank will be considering a bricks and mortar investment and small scale developers are also staging a comeback.

As a result, he says empty homes (without the complication of a sitting tenant) tend to sell strongly. “The prices that are being achieved at the moment are better than they have been in the last few years.”

The good news is that auctions tend to reveal a property’s true market value so while you may not get a bargain you won’t pay over the odds either. “Auctions deliver what the market is prepared to pay,” said Rory. “What people pay is the true value of a property and not a price which is actually £30,000 too much.”

Chris Coleman-Smith, head of Savills’ auction team, points out that the prospect of a bargain is not the only benefit of auction buying – you also save time and if yours is the winning bid on the day there is no risk of the owner changing their minds, collapsing chains, or gazumpers getting in the way.

“The main attraction is that you can buy the property on the day without the lag times experienced by the private treaty market,” he says.

And, of course, there is still a chance you will strike lucky with a cracking good deal.

“There is always one property on the catalogue that we think is going to sell really well that doesn’t get many bids,” says Rory. “Who knows why? It might be that other prospective bidders have sprained their ankle or have something else to do on sale day, and so it only goes just above the reserve. Our advice would always be to do your research and put the time in. You may find something at your first auction or you might have to wait until your tenth.”
Auction gems:

13.02.14 Auction 2

Two bedroom terraced house in Greater Manchester with an auction guide price of £140,000

Top tips for buying at auction:

- Auction properties are usually dooer uppers. Never buy without viewing a property so you can see its state for yourself.

- Taking a surveyor along to get an idea of the cost of the work is the gold plated option, but the costs will obviously mount up if you consider several properties. The budget option is to get a local builder to come along with you.

- Ask a local estate agent to value how much the property could be worth once renovated. Then subtract the estimated costs of the work. The sum you are left with is the absolute maximum you should bid. Don’t get over excited in the sale room and go above it in the heat of the moment.

- When you buy at auction you will need to put down a 10 per cent deposit on the spot. You will then usually be given 28 days to pay for the property. You can – and should – agree a mortgage in principle advance. If you can’t raise the money you may forfeit your deposit. 

February 19, 2014 at 8:00 AM Leave a comment

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