Housing market

How not to conduct a house viewing

The lady standing on the doorstep did not need to tell me what she thought of my house, because the look on her face said it all. I was still fussing over the minor details of how the place looked while the builder boyfriend waited for me in the car, engine running, because we get out of the way for viewings. Plumping cushions, sweeping dog hair off sofas, I suddenly noticed that the viewing had arrived and was standing crossly waiting, her back to me. She turned and looked through the half open door: ‘Are you the agent?’ She was fuming, you could see that. I said I was the

Inside the new commuter belt: from Oxfordshire to Essex

The rise of hybrid working has meant buyers are willing to endure a longer commute so they can have a bigger house. London’s newly expanded commuter belt now includes many locations within a 90-minute ride, which have become hot spots in the ‘race for space’. But access to the capital is still important for part-time commuters – so which areas tick both boxes? For the hybrid workforce, being able to drive 10-15 minutes to a station with regular trains into the capital is key, along with easy access to a motorway or trunk road. Savills analysed 439 commuting stations and found that for those which had a travel time of

The Mayfair mansion that was once the home of Gucci

Minimalists, look away now. With its magnificent 20ft-high ornately plastered ceilings, lashings of gold leaf, bookcases topped by busts of Alexander the Great, Caesar Augustus and Marcus Aurelius – and its role as the global HQ of one of the world’s most glamorous fashion empires – this 14,000 sq ft Mayfair mansion is in need of an owner with a budget as big as their lust for luxe. For sale with a price tag of £55 million, through beauchampestates.com, the palatial Grade I listed Neoclassical Grafton Street house was built over seven storeys between 1769 and 1772 to a design by architect Sir Robert Taylor, whose pupils included John Nash. While

Where to invest on Italy’s islands

A world away from TV dating reality shows, raucous party boats and the VIP areas of nightclubs in the Balearics, the Italian islands are hard to beat when it comes to understated chic. Harder to reach too, and generally more arduous places to purchase a home in, the islands can offer property hunters something special. TV and film producers know this well: picture the Baroque palazzos of Inspector Montelbano’s Sicily, the private beach of Ischia or the winding cobbled streets of neighbouring Procida used in The Talented Mr Ripley. For wild empty beaches, secret coves and quaint fishermen’s houses lining ancient quaysides, the islands in the Gulf of Naples are

The Spanish islands worth investing in – from Mallorca to Ibiza

Another summer starts, and so another series of the irrepressible reality show, Love Island. Attention is focused on a rustic six-bedroom Mallorcan farmhouse being blinged up with ‘bright colours and neon signs’ for this year’s fame-hungry contestants. Its exact location is a closely guarded secret. An appetite for privacy and rural isolation on the Balearic Island has been strong trend since the pandemic started, with property hunters decamping from cities or the Spanish mainland. Whilst Spanish home sales in the first quarter of 2022 were the highest since the boom year of 2007, according to the Spanish Association of Notaries, the property markets of the Spanish islands have been outperforming

Where to buy along the Elizabeth Line

Finally, on 24 May, CrossRail will open. Named The Elizabeth Line, the stats are extraordinary and impressive. An £18.7 billion infrastructure project for a 62-mile-long railway line with stations stretching from Reading in the west to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east. It has taken 20 years to bring the project to fruition with the inevitable overspend running into billions. Once open, it will increase the London rail network’s capacity by ten per cent. Now, if you’re expecting the whole line to open all at once, you’d be mistaken. The central section will open offering a train service between Paddington and Abbey Wood. The Bond Street stop won’t open for another

Generation Rent is moving abroad

As a born-and-bred Londoner, the thought of living elsewhere has always repulsed me. And yet now I feel an ever-increasing desire to run for the hills. Thankfully I’m not alone in feeling restless and dissatisfied. And while my reluctance to live a plane ride away from my parents is keeping me in the country (for now at least), it seems many have no such qualms about abandoning ship. According to research commissioned by immigration law firm Reiss Edwards, Google searches for ‘moving abroad’ were up 1,000 per cent in April, with my generation – the much maligned millennial – apparently leading the charge. It’s hardly news that millennials – who are currently

The coastal boltholes that rival Cornwall

May Day is behind us, the summer season approaching, and already the tensions between second homeowners and locals in Cornish seaside towns have been gleefully reported by the tabloid press. Visit Cornwall is considering a register of second homes while councils are proposing a tax on empty properties. House prices have gone up by an average of 28 per cent across Cornwall since the pandemic began, according to the Land Registry, so is it time to look elsewhere for a coastal bolt hole? The British coastline is at least 1,200km long so there are some great alternatives, although the perennial favourites can get just as ‘overrun’ as the likes of St

The Bridgerton effect: a guide to buying Georgian homes

With its high society intrigue, gossipy plotlines, raunchy love scenes and gravity defying hair do’s, all set against the backdrop of spectacularly sumptuous homes, Netflix series Bridgerton has rewritten the rules for small-screen period drama. The Shonda Rhimes exec-produced series gained 193 million hours of viewing time for its second series in the first three days – the highest for any English-language Netflix series in this time frame. Whether you love it or hate it – or love to hate it – its impact is undeniable, offering an irresistible twist on classic 19th-century tales of the upper classes, imbued with a modern sensibility. It has also reignited our passion for all things

The dos and don’ts of buying land

You’d be forgiven for thinking that buying land is just the same as buying a house. But, other than the form of contract and the stamp duty you pay, the two transactions have almost nothing in common. When you buy a house, even if it comes with land attached, what you’re really buying is a physical structure with infrastructure (pipes, energy, drainage, and access) and most importantly the permission for that building to be where it is. And it’s that permission that holds the real value. Very often with land you’re either buying hope value or opportunity, an existing income stream and sometimes it’s a financial responsibility. Land may also

The secret to buying in Italy

The best recent advert for the bella vita is surely actor Stanley Tucci sampling regional cuisines in CNN’s Searching for Italy exclaiming ‘oh my god’ at least four times an episode as he swoons over risotto Milanese or Sicilian pasta alla Norma. It’s these sun-soaked visions of a foodie paradise that persuade scores of Northern Europeans and Americans to buy a home there. Around 30,000 Britons have moved there – mostly to Lombardy, Lazio or Tuscany – but a raft of incentives is helping draw many buyers to southern Italy, where rural properties are more affordable. During 2021, the most popular regions in Italy for searches during 2021 were Tuscany, Sicily,

Why millennials love midcentury modern

I’ve recently become betrothed, so naturally I’ve started playing the fantasy house game; scrolling through property sites on my phone, highest price first, before I go to sleep at night. I thought I knew what I was looking for; a Georgian townhouse, solid stone steps leading up to a grand front door, basement kitchen, you know the drill… but then I saw it, my dream house. The main living area is a vast open plan, multi-levelled space with a sweeping wall of windows; white limestone floors contrast against its naked brick body and slatted wooden ceiling; everything is bathed in brilliant natural light, the lines between inside and outside gloriously

The social cost of Cornwall’s second home boom

Cornwall has a boast this week and it has nothing to do with ice-cream or tides: we have made more than 2000 offers to house Ukrainian refugees. I am not surprised. The duchy is filled with second homes, and they are very often empty. Harboursides are dark in winter and the old town in St Ives is no more than a monied ghetto now. Cornwall is now more of a business than a place, with an owner and a servant class Since the war began it is often said that it is easier to offer refuge to those closest to you. The Polish don’t want Syrians, for instance, but they

Why second-homers are buying in Portugal

In recent years Portugal’s been pulling away from its image as a place for golf-playing retirees. Now it’s a fashionable and increasingly upmarket destination for home buyers who are drawn by its tax benefits coupled with its unspoilt coastlines and low-octane lifestyle. As of December 2021, there were 42,071 Britons resident in Portugal, according to the SEF, the Immigration and Border Service, the second largest group of foreigners behind the Brazilians. It is extraordinary that although the figure has fallen a little since 2020 – the pandemic has played its part – prior to Brexit, Britons made up only the sixth largest group of foreign residents in Portugal. But the Portuguese

Is the house price boom about to end?

Will the housing market crash? We have been asking the question for two decades now are prices climbed to ever higher multiples of earnings. But apart from a few months in 2008 and early 2009, when prices did slide appreciably, it never seems to happen. Stock market corrections come and go but nothing will seem to dislodge housing from its inflated heights. Having just gone through the most unlikely property boom in history, however – in which prices have surged throughout a pandemic – it is worth asking again. If we really have reached the end of the age of ultra-low interest rates that would remove the engine that has

Inside the Henley town house with connections to Henry VIII

Being Henry VIII’s confessor must have been a nerve-racking job, but it’s one John Longland – who also held the titles Dean of Salisbury and Bishop of Lincoln, and was thus a major ecclesiastical figure of the Tudor era – held with aplomb. Although he was closely associated with influential men (and bigger names) such as Sir Thomas More and Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, his role in one of the most turbulent chapters in British history has secured his legacy, and given him a walk-on part in Shakespeare’s Henry VIII, as well as many a modern-day small screen bodice-ripper. As the famous story goes, when the athletic, handsome Henry became infatuated

How to invest your way to a house deposit

Back in the day, saving for your first home used to be a bit of a doddle. Find a nice savings account paying 5 or 6 per cent, stick away as much as you can every month, and, within a few years, head for the estate agents.  Talk of a ten-year slog to get on the housing ladder and using the stock market to build up your deposit was unheard of. But that was then. Kirstie Allsopp provoked controversy earlier this week by saying she felt ‘enraged’ when young people claimed they couldn’t afford their first home because ‘there are loads of people who can do but don’t.’ But is it

Why Wiltshire trumps the Cotswolds in the race for rural homes

Wiltshire’s property prices have been given a shot in the arm during the pandemic. It’s one of those desirable rural locations that has suddenly became even more popular as we have veered from daily commuting towards flexible working. Historic towns such as Salisbury, Marlborough and Warminster have been perennial favourites but are attracting buyers looking for more bedrooms (and larger gardens) for their buck, with the low-key villages of bucolic areas such as the Vale of Pewsey and Nadder Valley in demand. ‘Buyers who previously might have been looking in Oxfordshire and Hampshire are now looking at Wiltshire where prices are typically 25-30 per cent less,’ says Mark Lawson of

The rise of the ‘secret’ property market – and how to break in

All the best houses can be found on Rightmove, right? Well, actually no. Increasing numbers of properties are being sold ‘off-market’ in an environment where there’s very little supply and a range of motivated buyers. How can you access these properties if you’re looking to move and how can you avoid getting stung? There are some interesting misconceptions about the way the property market, particularly the residential market, in the UK works. Understanding the competing forces is wise in such a competitive market. Many forget that the role of an estate agent is to look after the interests of the seller, not the buyer. When you see a property online or via

The London property hotspots most likely to gain value

The preponderance of publicity over the last 24 months exhorting Londoners to abandon ship has left some areas of the capital looking like relative bargains or at least lagging behind widely hyped price rises elsewhere in the UK. Indeed, the average property price in Cambridge is now higher than that of the capital. Anecdotally, the stress of moving under duress has meant a significant number of those recently ‘lost’ have now returned to areas like Wandsworth, Hammersmith and Fulham. Many buyers have rented for a time in order to attempt a rural purchase before deciding to return. According to data from propertymark, there were an average of 29 buyers for every available