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Buyers reveal their regrets about panic buying their home

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The property market has been red hot in recent months as buyers rushed to complete their purchases ahead of the stamp duty holiday deadline at the end of last month.

It generated a market where some homes were being snapped up within hours of going on the market by buyers hungry to get the tax saving or simply secure a property.

But new research suggests that this panic-buying has led to some regrets among new homeowners.

Indeed, it claims that half of homebuyers who bought during the coronavirus pandemic regret how much they paid.

New research suggests that panic-buying has led to some regrets among new homeowners

New research suggests that panic-buying has led to some regrets among new homeowners

Among other regrets were repairs costing more than expected, among 14 per cent of buyers, furniture or fittings covering up faultys at 13 per cent, a tatty appearance or need for decoration at 12 per cent and poor insulation at 10 per cent.

The research by insurer Aviva was based on 2,200 homeowners – including 500 people who have agreed a sale since the start of the pandemic. 

The study found that more than two-thirds of homebuyers – at 68 per cent – felt under pressure to buy quickly when purchasing their latest property, rising to 94 per cent who agreed sales during the pandemic.

In most cases, people made their decision to buy after looking at their prospective home for less than an hour.

The research claimed people spent just 40 minutes viewing their property before opting to buy – although this figure was slightly higher for those buying during the pandemic, typically taking around 46 minutes.

Perhaps most alarmingly, 15 per cent of viewers felt confident of their decision to buy the property after less than 20 minutes.

We came close to a big mistake 

Lucy Stewart and husband James Cissel moved out of their London flat in March

Lucy Stewart and husband James Cissel moved out of their London flat in March

Lucy Stewart, 31, and husband James Cissel, 38, moved out of their London flat in March, ready to move into the home they had purchased in South Oxfordshire. 

Unfortunately their seller pulled out at the last minute. 

The couple have been living with Lucy’s parents for the last few months while they renewed they search.

They soon became concerned that they may end up spending more than they intended to – and more than the home may be worth in the future. 

They also discovered there is a lot of pressure from agents to act quickly or risk losing out. 

They have just had an offer accepted on a home, but it hasn’t been an easy route.

Lucy said: ‘It was a terrible market to be buying in and there was loads of pressure from estate agents. We kept seeing houses disappear from online sites in 24 hours, so put a lot of pressure on ourselves to move quickly. 

‘There were definitely occasions we came close to making a big mistake. We put a rush offer into one house in particular due to this. It just wouldn’t have been right for us at all but we did it because we felt that moving super-fast was what we needed to do. Fortunately the offer was rejected.’

Time pressures

The Aviva study also claimed that one in four buyers – at 26 per cent – felt one viewing was sufficient, although on the whole people usually viewed a property twice before making an offer. This was the case for 44 per cent of buyers.

Those who bought quickly did so for a number of reasons. A total of 34 per cent of people buying during lockdown did so due to the stamp duty holiday, although 32 per cent said they didn’t want to miss out because properties were selling so quickly.

At the same time, 30 per cent said they had lost out on other properties because they hadn’t made an offer quickly enough.  

Buyers were most likely to feel the need to make a quick purchase in London, where 85 per cent of buyers said they felt under pressure.

It compares with only 52 per cent of people in the north east who said the same.

Did more than half of buyers really not view homes in person? 

The study also revealed that more than half of pandemic buyers claim not to have seen their new home ‘in real life’ before deciding they should buy it.

When quizzed on this survey claim, Aviva said that it asked: ‘How did you view your property before you purchased it?’ 

With respondents given a number of boxes and asked to ‘tick all that apply’.

Astonishingly, just 42 per cent said they viewed it in person from these options for the period between March 2020 and June 2021.

Of the other options that chose video viewings at 33 per cent, photos at 36 per cent and written information at 36 per cent.

That dramatic shift to choosing to buy without an in-person visit follows the housing market being temporarily closed at the beginning of the lockdown from late March 2020, with virtual viewings being heavily promoted thereafter. Online tours became a way of viewings taking place more safely.

Despite this shift during the pandemic, the Aviva study suggested that the number of people seeing properties for sale in person was already beginning to fall. 

PERCENTAGE OF PEOPLE WHO VIEWED HOME FOR SALE IN PERSON
Date when sale was agreed Percentage of people who viewed their home in person
2020 March – June 2021 42%
March 2019 – February 2020 42%
March 2018 – February 2019 56%
March 2017 – February 2018 63%
March 2007 – February 2017 83%
March 1997 – February 2007 84%
February 1997 or before 87%
Source: Aviva 

 

Homebuyer regrets

Half of those who agreed a sale between March 2020 and June this year say they regret how much they paid for their properties.

It compares to only 12 per cent of buyers who purchased their property before February 2017.

At the same time, 23 per cent who bought since March last year said that they agreed a figure above the asking price. It compares to only 8 per cent in the 12 months prior to March 2020.

In addition to financial regrets, seven out of 10 buyers found issues with their property that they didn’t notice during their viewing. For those who bought during the pandemic, the figure rises to 92 per cent of buyers.

For example, 10 per cent found evidence of possible subsidence and a further 10 per cent had problems with insects or vermin.

People said they had to typically spend almost £10,000 to put right the problems they discovered after moving in – specifically £9,548 to the nearest pound on average. It increases to more than £20,000 for one buyer in 10.

Owen Morris, of Aviva, said: ‘The housing market is moving at an incredible pace, with multiple buyers for properties in many parts of the country. This is inevitably influencing how much people are paying for their homes and how quickly they are making decisions.

‘But our research reveals many people are finding problems with their properties only when it’s too late. These range from more minor irritations, such as the need to decorate, to more worrying problems such as crumbling brickwork or a risk of flooding.

‘It can be easy to fall in love with a home on first viewing, but we’d urge people to do their homework and proceed with caution when making one of the biggest financial decisions of their lives.’

REVEALED: THE MOST COMMON DISAPPOINTMENTS AMONG BUYERS 
Property problem discovered after purchase Percentage of all home-buyers finding this problem Percentage of home-buyers during pandemic finding this problem
Repairs costing more than expected 11% 14%
Furniture / fittings had covered up faults 11% 13%
Tatty appearance / in need of decoration 10% 12%
Poorly insulated home 10% 10%
Poor plumbing 10% 9%
Poor electrics 9% 8%
Damp / mould 9% 10%
Leaky / draughty windows or doors 9% 8%
Noisy neighbours 8% 11%
Busy traffic 7% 11%
Source: Aviva     

Separate research by property website OnTheMarket has revealed that the end of the stamp duty holiday has done little to dampen the enthusiasm of buyers. 

In particular, it found that found that 75.5 per cent of buyers were confident that they would purchase a property within the next three months.

It also claimed that 84 per cent of sellers were confident that they would sell their property within the next three months.

And a total of 28.5 per cent of properties were Sold Subject to Contract within 30 days of first being advertised for sale, compared with 8 per cent in June 2020. The research was based on questions asked via its website.

Jason Tebb, of property website OnTheMarket, said: ‘We believe that this ongoing momentum is the result of a perfect storm of long-term pent-up demand stemming from the lead up to the 2019 General Election and Brexit in early 2020, which due to the start of the Covid-19 pandemic last spring never had a chance to unwind as it would in a normally functioning market.

‘This dynamic, together with the ‘race for space’ that we’ve observed as a direct result of successive lockdowns together with the market stimulus from the stamp duty holiday and record low mortgage rates, means that while the window for any major savings closed at the end of the month, buyer appetite hasn’t as yet dissipated, with all signs pointing to the fact that the market will continue in the same direction of travel over the summer.’

Estate agents report that many of their properties have gone to 'best and final' bids

Estate agents report that many of their properties have gone to ‘best and final’ bids

Trevor Abrahmsohn, of estate agents Glentree International in London, said: ‘Buyers have been shrugging aside the state of the economy and budget deficit over the last few months and have continued to transact unabated in the Capital, across almost all price ranges. 

‘The end of the stamp duty savings window in June did nothing to dampen their enthusiasm. We received a raft of new applicants throughout the month, particularly in the £800,000 to £4million price bracket.’

And Mark Proctor, of estate agents Knight Frank in Devon, said: ‘We’ve seen a huge amount of activity across the South West region in June, particularly in the price bracket up to £1million, which is understandable as this is where the stamp duty saving has had the most impact. 

‘Despite the fact that buyers registering over the last month have known that they wouldn’t benefit from the main savings available as they wouldn’t complete in time to meet the deadline, we’ve still had a significant volume of new applicants. 

‘This, together with the very limited amount of supply, has meant that many of our properties have gone to ‘best and final’ bids. What’s been particularly interesting is seeing a few properties that were listed last year but didn’t sell at the time that have now been successfully remarketed and sold in excess of asking price.’

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Florist finalise their colourful displays at the Chelsea Flower Show as it returns

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Celebrities turned out in force for the Chelsea Flower Show preview day today as the event prepares to launch its first ever autumn edition after the traditional spring event was delayed due to Covid.   

The show, which usually takes place in May, was postponed to autumn for the first time in its 109-year history due to the coronavirus pandemic, and will run from Tuesday 21 to Sunday 26 September in a special one-off event. 

Stars including Dame Judi Dench, Guy Ritchie and Call The Midwife’s Helen George turned out in force for today’s preview, which is also open to the press.  

The Queen, who attends the event every year, is set to skip it this year for the first time since 2005 as she remains in Balmoral, where she is expected to stay until October. It will be only the tenth time she has missed the Flower Show.

Instead, the Earl and Countess of Wessex, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, Prince and of Kent, and Princess Alexandra will represent to Royal Family at the event.

Celebrities are flocking to the Chelsea Flower Show ahead of the opening of its first ever autumn edition today including Gemma Collins (pictured)

Celebrities are flocking to the Chelsea Flower Show ahead of the opening of its first ever autumn edition today including Gemma Collins (pictured) 

Ben Fogle and his wife Marina were in attendance at the big event

Ben Fogle and his wife Marina were in attendance at the big event, as well as producer Guy Ritchie and his wife Jacqui Ainsley (pictured)

Ben Fogle and his wife Marina were in attendance at the big event (left), as well as producer Guy Ritchie and his wife Jacqui Ainsley (right) 

Presenter Alexa Chung donned a black knitted jacket and short co-ord for the occasion in London earlier today (pictured)

Presenter Alexa Chung donned a black knitted jacket and short co-ord for the occasion in London earlier today (pictured) 

A suspend egg made of wood and surrounded by brushes and wild flowers welcomed visitors at the Yeo Valley Organic garden today

A suspend egg made of wood and surrounded by brushes and wild flowers welcomed visitors at the Yeo Valley Organic garden today

Wildflowers and literary quotes carved in a wooden wall awaiting visitors at the very pretty Florence Nightingale garden today

Wildflowers and literary quotes carved in a wooden wall awaiting visitors at the very pretty Florence Nightingale garden today 

Guy Ritchie, 53, was joined by his wife Jacqui Ainsley as they unveiled his £50,000 luxury BBQ on the first day of the Chelsea Flower Show

Guy Ritchie, 53, was joined by his wife Jacqui Ainsley as they unveiled his £50,000 luxury BBQ on the first day of the Chelsea Flower Show  

Celebrities including actresses Dame Judi Dench, 86, Sally Phillips and Helen George, as well as fashion designer Paul Smith were among the first stars to tour the show.

ITV presenter Charlotte Hawkins, wearing a floral day dress, was also among the people in attendance.

They got to admired the beautiful Parsley Box Garden, which was designed by Alan Williams and delighted visitors with a table set with Parsley inspired tableware and small pumpkins. 

Meanwhile, the Psalm 23 garden wowed with its pond and zen fountain, offering a autumn-inspired oasis within the show.

Established in 1913, the flower show has become one of the world’s biggest showcases for horticultural excellence, attracting visitors and exhibitors from across the globe. 

It has grown from 244 exhibitors in 1913 to more than 500 today, including gardens, nurseries, floristry, educational displays and trade stands. The show attracts 168,000 visitors. 

Celebrities are flocking to the Chelsea Flower Show ahead of the opening of its first ever autumn edition today. Dame Judi Dench, 86, stole the show as she attended

Celebrities are flocking to the Chelsea Flower Show ahead of the opening of its first ever autumn edition today. Dame Judi Dench, 86, stole the show as she attended 

Helen George showed off her blooming baby bump today

Pregnant Call The Midwife's star Helen George showed off her baby bump in a floral dress as she toured the show this morning

Pregnant Call The Midwife’s star Helen George showed off her baby bump in a floral dress as she toured The Chelsea Flower Show preview day on Monday. The event, which takes place in autumn for the first time, opens to the public tomorrow

A show-stopper! Gemma's yellow cape had a train which elegantly swooped the floor as she walked around the flower show today

A show-stopper! Gemma’s yellow cape had a train which elegantly swooped the floor as she walked around the flower show today

Pictured, a performer entertaining guests at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this afternoon in central London

Pictured, a performer entertaining guests at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this afternoon in central London

Feeling peckish? A carved pumpkin, tomatoes, yellow courgettes, carrots, turnips and more were used in this artful display celebrating our five a day

Feeling peckish? A carved pumpkin, tomatoes, yellow courgettes, carrots, turnips and more were used in this artful display celebrating our five a day

Designers created beautiful butterflies out of flowers for some of the displays on show at this year's Chelsea Flower Show today

Designers created beautiful butterflies out of flowers for some of the displays on show at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show today 

Careful where you put your hands! A selection of small cacti in all shapes and colours was also on display at the event today, pictured

Careful where you put your hands! A selection of small cacti in all shapes and colours was also on display at the event today, pictured

Single flowers, branches and twigs suspended mid-air in vials of water made up one of the show's most delicate displays, pictured: Charlotte Smithson, Great Oaks from little Acorns grow, 2021, Commissioned by The Oak Project

Single flowers, branches and twigs suspended mid-air in vials of water made up one of the show’s most delicate displays, pictured: Charlotte Smithson, Great Oaks from little Acorns grow, 2021, Commissioned by The Oak Project

Dame Judi Dench made friends with Chelsea, a 18-weeks-old Golden Retriever who is training to be a guide dog and was named after the show

Dame Judi Dench made friends with Chelsea, a 18-weeks-old Golden Retriever who is training to be a guide dog and was named after the show 

The actress could not get enough of the adorable pup, which was at the Artisan Garden alongside other guide dogs in training

The actress could not get enough of the adorable pup, which was at the Artisan Garden alongside other guide dogs in training 

A model dressed in forest green commanded the stage in the Bodmin Jail 50 degree East - A garden between continents also on show at the exhibition

A model dressed in forest green commanded the stage in the Bodmin Jail 50 degree East – A garden between continents also on show at the exhibition 

One fruit and veg aficionado in attendance today wore a tomato tie for the event as nature fans put their best fashion forward

One fruit and veg aficionado in attendance today wore a tomato tie for the event as nature fans put their best fashion forward 

Dinner is served! A woman was seen adjusting a beautiful floral centrepiece with matching tableware and glasses during the show

Dinner is served! A woman was seen adjusting a beautiful floral centrepiece with matching tableware and glasses during the show

Models wore traditional Himalayan dresses at the Trailfinders 50th anniversary garden, pictured, which celebrated Asian culture

Models wore traditional Himalayan dresses at the Trailfinders 50th anniversary garden, pictured, which celebrated Asian culture 

The reality star appeared in high spirits as she chatted with passersby

The reality star appeared in high spirits as she entered the event wearing a vibrant yellow gown

Gemma Collins appeared in high spirits as she chatted with passersby before entering the event wearing a vibrant yellow gown 

Actress Sally Phillips couldn't hide her excitement as she toured the Psalm 23 garden, which incudes a pond and a fountain, at the show today

Actress Sally Phillips couldn’t hide her excitement as she toured the Psalm 23 garden, which incudes a pond and a fountain, at the show today

The ITV presenter gave an enthusiastic smile as she prepared to wander around the beautiful displays at this years Chelsea Flower Show

The ITV presenter gave an enthusiastic smile as she prepared to wander around the beautiful displays at this years Chelsea Flower Show 

Presenter Nick Grimshaw looked relaxed in a leather jacket  with a floral shirt underneath

Phone and coffee in end, comedian Lee Mack sttop by the event in central London today

Presenter Nick Grinshaw looked relaxed in a leather jacket, while comedian and presenter Lee Mack stopped by the show with a coffee in hand 

Dame Judi Dench, 86,  seemed delighted to be attending this year's event today

The actress smelled on of the flowers on display when she arrived at the show in Chelsea

No wallflower! Dame Judi Dench seemed delighted to be attending the show and stopped to smell some of the flowers when she arrived, wearing a linen jacket

Take your pick! Tantalising cherry tomatoes were beautifully displayed into round bushes at the show/s press day ahead of its opening tomorrow

Take your pick! Tantalising cherry tomatoes were beautifully displayed into round bushes at the show/s press day ahead of its opening tomorrow 

Some of the designers who put forward displays for this year's Chelsea Flower Show wowed visitors with the pretty Alliums they used, pictured

Some of the designers who put forward displays for this year’s Chelsea Flower Show wowed visitors with the pretty Alliums they used, pictured

Curtains of pink, yellow and red Chrysanthemums were also used abundantly at the show which celebrates horticulture, pictured

Curtains of pink, yellow and red Chrysanthemums were also used abundantly at the show which celebrates horticulture, pictured

Autumn and its vegetables and fruit are the guests of honour this year, because the show usually takes place in May, but was postponed due to coronavirus

Autumn and its vegetables and fruit are the guests of honour this year, because the show usually takes place in May, but was postponed due to coronavirus

Florists put the finishing touches to their displays, making sure each detail was sorted ahead of the show's first day tomorrow, pictured

Florists put the finishing touches to their displays, making sure each detail was sorted ahead of the show’s first day tomorrow, pictured

Actor and writer Reece Shearsmith looked smart in a black suit, crips white shirt and red and black tie as he stayed in the Dobbies garden

Actor and writer Reece Shearsmith looked smart in a black suit, crips white shirt and red and black tie as he stayed in the Dobbies garden

Ronan Keating, Alex Jones, wearing a beautiful floral number and Jermaine Jenas opened the BBC One Show and RHS Garden of Hope today

Ronan Keating, Alex Jones, wearing a beautiful floral number and Jermaine Jenas opened the BBC One Show and RHS Garden of Hope today

The three BBC presenters opened the garden with Arit Anderson, pictured right, who designed it for the BBC on the show's occasion

The three BBC presenters opened the garden with Arit Anderson, pictured right, who designed it for the BBC on the show’s occasion

Sporting a bouncy blow-dry, Alex Jones, who welcomed a baby daughter on August 21, looked beautiful in the light blue day dress

Sporting a bouncy blow-dry, Alex Jones, who welcomed a baby daughter on August 21, looked beautiful in the light blue day dress

Guy Ritchie, who is exhibiting his very own barbecue at this year's edition of the Chelsea Flower show, looked relaxed with wife Jacqui Ainsley

Guy Ritchie, who is exhibiting his very own barbecue at this year’s edition of the Chelsea Flower show, looked relaxed with wife Jacqui Ainsley

Anthea Turner wore a beautiful see-through floral blouse and white jeans for today's event

Ballroom dancer Anton Du Beke, wearing a smart blue blazer looked enthusiastic during the event

Anthea Turner, wearing a beautiful floral blouse and white jeans, and ballroom dancer Anton Du Beke looked happy to attend today’s event 

In excellent spirits, Dame Judi put on an animated display at the show as she posed with Chelsea pensioners in uniforms with whom she held a big flower garland

In excellent spirits, Dame Judi put on an animated display at the show as she posed with Chelsea pensioners in uniforms with whom she held a big flower garland 

Dame Judi exuded elegance as she posed with Chelsea pensioners on the RHS Queen's Green Canopy Garden at the event this afternoon

Dame Judi exuded elegance as she posed with Chelsea pensioners on the RHS Queen’s Green Canopy Garden at the event this afternoon

Judi appeared in high spirits as she attended the event this afternoon

The iconic actress appeared to be deep in conversation with one of the Chelsea pensioners at the event this afternoon

The iconic actress appeared to be deep in conversation with one of the Chelsea pensioners at the event this afternoon 

Presenter Nick Knowles was among the celebrities who stopped by the Chelsea Flower Show's autumn edition today, pictured

Presenter Nick Knowles was among the celebrities who stopped by the Chelsea Flower Show’s autumn edition today, pictured 

Singer Alexander Burke stunned in a striped white and blue co-ord suit at the Italian Piazza, Villagio Verde Garden

BBC presenter Fiona Bruce headed to the Parsley Box Garden in a long white jacket

Singer Alexandra Burke inside the It looked stylish in a stripy suit at the Italian Piazza, Villaggio Verde Garden designed by Jason Hales, while Fiona Bruce headed to The Parsley Box Garden

Judi Dench was caught in deep conversation with Allan Williams, who designed the Parsley Box Garden for this year's show, pictured

Judi Dench was caught in deep conversation with Allan Williams, who designed the Parsley Box Garden for this year’s show, pictured

Dame Maggie Smith was spotted admiring the several displays at the show, wearing a coral jacket over a navy ensemble, pictured

Dame Maggie Smith was spotted admiring the several displays at the show, wearing a coral jacket over a navy ensemble, pictured

DJ Trevor Nelson played it cool with sunglasses and a hat as he explored the Dobbie garden

X Factor judge Louis Walsh seemed in great spirits as he toured the show today

DJ and presenter Trevor Nelson put his sunglasses on and took his hat off as he explored s Dobbies’ garden while X Factor judge Louis Walsh seemed in great spirits  

The show is organised by the Royal Horticultural Society, of which the Queen is patron, and traditionally takes place mid-May.

However this year it was blighted by Covid, and The Royal Horticultural Society announced in January that the show, in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, would be moved from May 18-23 to September 21-26.

Last year the event had to be scrapped completely because of coronavirus, with a virtual show staged online.

As many as 140,000 are expected to attend the event, which will ensure planned safety measures, included spreading the show over an extra day and reducing visitor numbers.

Dame Judi Dench and her daughter Finty Williams seemed the best of friends as they took a break from touring the several displays available at the show

Dame Judi Dench and her daughter Finty Williams seemed the best of friends as they took a break from touring the several displays available at the show 

Presenter Mel Giedroyc donned a pretty pink blouse, navy 7/8 trousers and white sneakers as she explored Dobbies' garden today

Presenter Mel Giedroyc donned a pretty pink blouse, navy 7/8 trousers and white sneakers as she explored Dobbies’ garden today

Dancer Anton Du Beke and Hannah Summers held hands as they walked around the event during a surprisingly sunny September day

Dancer Anton Du Beke and Hannah Summers held hands as they walked around the event during a surprisingly sunny September day 

Charlotte Hawkins, Alexandra Burke, a friend and Zo' Ball guest showed off their stylish outfits at the Italian Piazza, Villaggio Verde Garden

Charlotte Hawkins, Alexandra Burke, a friend and Zo’ Ball guest showed off their stylish outfits at the Italian Piazza, Villaggio Verde Garden

Anthea Turner, Zo' Ball, and Alexandra Burke playfully posed with a giant pumpkin which was grown by Ben White, centre, at the Italian Piazza, Villaggio Verde Garden

Anthea Turner, Zo’ Ball, and Alexandra Burke playfully posed with a giant pumpkin which was grown by Ben White, centre, at the Italian Piazza, Villaggio Verde Garden

A judge inspected on the displays during today's press day. A the end of the week, one display will take home the best in show title

A judge inspected on the displays during today’s press day. A the end of the week, one display will take home the best in show title 

Guy Ritchie and wife Jacqui Ainsley appeared in high spirits today as they stepped out to attend the RHS Chelsea Flower Show

The director donned a pair of orange trousers, plaid shirt and casual coat while his wife was stylish in a white shirt and fashionable sunglasses

Guy Ritchie and wife Jacqui Ainsley appeared in high spirits today as they stepped out to attend the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. The director donned a pair of orange trousers, plaid shirt and casual coat while his wife was stylish in a white shirt and fashionable sunglasses 

Ben and Marina Fogle visited the RHS Chelsea Flower Show COP26 Garden, a feature garden, designed by Marie-Louise Agius

Ben and Marina Fogle visited the RHS Chelsea Flower Show COP26 Garden, a feature garden, designed by Marie-Louise Agius 

Model Alexa Chung put on a fashionable display in a black romper and tights paired with an oversized grey coat and black leather heels

Model Alexa Chung put on a fashionable display in a black romper and tights paired with an oversized grey coat and black leather heels

Model Alexa Chung put on a fashionable display in a black romper and tights paired with an oversized grey coat and black leather heels 

A model showcases the delicate detail of her flower collar, which incorporates dried and fresh flowers in neutral tones, with touches of yellow, orange and green

A model showcases the delicate detail of her flower collar, which incorporates dried and fresh flowers in neutral tones, with touches of yellow, orange and green

A woman took the time to sit *on one of the ricks and reflect by the fountain by the pond of the Bible Society: The Psalm 23 Garden

A woman took the time to sit *on one of the ricks and reflect by the fountain by the pond of the Bible Society: The Psalm 23 Garden

Reality star Gemma Collins put on a very elaborate display as she stepped out for the The Chelsea Flower show in London this afternoon

Reality star Gemma Collins put on a very elaborate display as she stepped out for the The Chelsea Flower show in London this afternoon

Gemma, 40, donned a floor-length yellow gown decorated with gem stones paired with a pink bedazzled dress and matching metallic trainers

Gemma, 40, donned a floor-length yellow gown decorated with gem stones paired with a pink bedazzled dress and matching metallic trainers

Gemma, 40, donned a floor-length yellow gown decorated with gem stones paired with a pink bedazzled dress and matching metallic trainers 

Gemma made sure she put on a show in her yellow cape as she took a break from her tour to enjoy a glass of Prosecco, pictured

Gemma made sure she put on a show in her yellow cape as she took a break from her tour to enjoy a glass of Prosecco, pictured

Dave Myers, who is one half of the Hairy Bikers - who were beloved by the late Prince Philip - attended with his wife Liliana Orzac who wowed in a pretty dress

Dave Myers, who is one half of the Hairy Bikers – who were beloved by the late Prince Philip – attended with his wife Liliana Orzac who wowed in a pretty dress

Excited children posed with resident act Daisy the Drag Queen Garner and other models during the press day ahead of the show

Excited children posed with resident act Daisy the Drag Queen Garner and other models during the press day ahead of the show

Interior designer  Matthew Williamson looked stylish as he explored Dobbies' garden

Chris O'Dowd cut a casual silhouette in pair of jeans and tan jacket as he enjoyed a drink at the show

Interior designer Matthew Williamson looked stylish as he explored Dobbies’ garden while Chris O’Dowd, right, cut a casual silhouette in pair of jeans and tan jacket as he enjoyed a drink at the show

A royal event! Weather queen Carol Kirkwood, wearing a floral dress under a navy blazer, met Drag Queen Daisy the Gardner during the show

A royal event! Weather queen Carol Kirkwood, wearing a floral dress under a navy blazer, met Drag Queen Daisy the Gardner during the show

Television presenters Johnny Ball and his daughter Zoe Ball were seen posing together at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this afternoon

Television presenters Johnny Ball and his daughter Zoe Ball were seen posing together at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this afternoon

Director Guy Ritchie was spotted at the event with wife Jacqui Ainsley who looked casually chic in a camel coat and pair of green trousers

Alexa Chung arrived in a practical purple raincoat, black tights and patent pumps

Director Guy Ritchie was spotted at the event with wife Jacqui Ainsley who looked casually chic in a camel coat and pair of green trousers (left). Alexa Chung arrived in a practical purple raincoat, black tights and patent pumps

Chelsea Pensioners in uniform wave from the top of a repurposed double-decker bus in the Bowdens garden hosting bamboo shoots and ferns

Chelsea Pensioners in uniform wave from the top of a repurposed double-decker bus in the Bowdens garden hosting bamboo shoots and ferns 

Florists Tara and Valerie Pain, pictured, wore beautiful flower collars in the Parsley box garden during the show's press day today

Florists Tara and Valerie Pain, pictured, wore beautiful flower collars in the Parsley box garden during the show’s press day today 

The Chelsea Flower Show is readying to open its doors to the public as it returns following the coronavirus pandemic. The show, which traditionally takes place in May, was postponed to September for the first time in its 109-year long history, and will go on from tomorrow to Sunday 26 September. Visitors in matching hats, pictured, toured the show for a sneak preview today

The Chelsea Flower Show is readying to open its doors to the public as it returns following the coronavirus pandemic. The show, which traditionally takes place in May, was postponed to September for the first time in its 109-year long history, and will go on from tomorrow to Sunday 26 September. Visitors in matching hats, pictured, toured the show for a sneak preview today

Narture meets disco! During the show's press day, a drag queen made sure the party started early, with models wearing futuristic gear danced next to a pink barbecue set

Narture meets disco! During the show’s press day, a drag queen made sure the party started early, with models wearing futuristic gear danced next to a pink barbecue set 

Presenter Nicki Chapman looked beautiful in a pink dress as she walked among the grandiose flower displays around the event

Television presenter Nicki Chapman appeared in high spirits as she stepped out in a summery pink dress at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this afternoon

Presenter Nicki Chapman looked beautiful in a pink dress as she walked among the grandiose flower displays around the event 

In 2019, the Duchess of Cambridge designed one of the gardens and gave the Queen a guided tour.

The RHS said the September show will ‘celebrate the best of autumn horticulture’ and at this year’s event, the Royal Family contingent will see displays including the RHS Queen’s Green Canopy Garden.

The garden runs alongside Her Majesty’s unique tree planting initiative created to mark the monarch’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022.

Lisa Snowdon was a vision in brown boots and a vibrant animal print gown as she attended the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this afternoon

Lisa Snowdon was a vision in brown boots and a vibrant animal print gown as she attended the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this afternoon

Sally Phillips, wearing a floral dress, stood in the middle of the Psalm 23 garden's pond

The actress put her balance to the test during the press day of the Chelsea Flower Show

Sally Phillips put her balance to the test as she stood on a rock in the middle of the pond, wearing heels, while touring the show’s Psalm 23 garden

The Bridget Jones star added a chic pink coat to her stylish floral dress as she posed for a picture at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show

The Bridget Jones star added a chic pink coat to her stylish floral dress as she posed for a picture at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show

The Bridget Jones star added a chic pink coat to her stylish floral dress as she posed for a picture at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show

Model Valerie Pain showed off a beautiful autumn-inspired flower colour at the show this morning Due to the change in dates, this Year's flower show with celebrate Autumn-trends rather than Spring

Model Valerie Pain showed off a beautiful autumn-inspired flower colour at the show this morning Due to the change in dates, this Year’s flower show with celebrate Autumn-trends rather than Spring

Alan Williams, designer of The Parsley Box Garden, proudly posed in front of his confection

Designer Paul Smith was one of the first to visit the Parsley Garden at The Parsley Box Garden Chelsea Flower

Alan Williams, left, who designed the Parsley Box Garden, proudly posed in front of his creation as celebrities like the designer Paul Smith, right, flocked to the show 

A pregnant Helen George showed her baby bump as she stood with nurses in the Florence Nightingale garden at the show, pictured

A pregnant Helen George showed her baby bump as she stood with nurses in the Florence Nightingale garden at the show, pictured

The effort got underway in secret in March – the end of the official planting season – when the monarch and the Prince of Wales, who is patron of the initiative, met at Windsor Castle to plant an inaugural ‘Verdun Oak’ .

Everyone from individuals to Scout and Girlguiding groups, villages, cities, counties, schools and companies, will be encouraged to plant trees from October 2021, when the tree planting season begins, through to the end of the Jubilee year in 2022.

From October, details of contributions can be uploaded onto an interactive map on the new QGC website, so people can see the canopy’s development.

A table laid with little pumpkins and autumn-inspired sets awaits visitors who venture in the Parsley Box garden, which was designed by Alan Williams, pictured

A table laid with little pumpkins and autumn-inspired sets awaits visitors who venture in the Parsley Box garden, which was designed by Alan Williams, pictured

Models Valerie, left and Tara Pain were the belles of the ball with their amazing flower collars and white dresses at the show today

Models Valerie, left and Tara Pain were the belles of the ball with their amazing flower collars and white dresses at the show today

Models Valerie and Tara Pain appeared in high spirits as they attended the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in elaborate collars made from dried flowers

Models Valerie and Tara Pain appeared in high spirits as they attended the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in elaborate collars made from dried flowers 

The Woodland Trust, the largest woodland conservation charity in the United Kingdom, has committed three million free saplings to schools and communities across the UK as part of the QGC initiative.

Trees can be planted either singularly or in copses by individuals, schools, community groups or businesses on private land, or even as a new Platinum Jubilee Avenue of medium-sized or large trees – ideal for cities, large estates, housing developments and parishes.

The project is not-for-profit and is being funded by private donors and supporters including Royal Mail, Coutts, The John Lewis Partnership, Coupa and Rentokil Initial plc.

While the QGC has not received government funding, it is also being supported by DEFRA.

Neon lights and hot pink accessories offered a stark contrast with the peaceful set-up of the Show's display as a drag queen Djed at the show

Neon lights and hot pink accessories offered a stark contrast with the peaceful set-up of the Show’s display as a drag queen Djed at the show 

Charlotte Hawkins showed summer is not over just yet in her floral dress and sandals

Everything is coming up roses! Charlotte and other celebrities picked floral fabrics to attend the show today

Everything coming up roses! Good Morning Britain’s presenter Charlotte Hawkins donned a floral day dress to the event today

Charlotte wore her blonde tresses curled and loose around her shoulders while opting for a pale pink manicure and light make-up look

Charlotte wore her blonde tresses curled and loose around her shoulders while opting for a pale pink manicure and light make-up look

Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs George Eustice was pictured attending the Chelsea Flower Show today

Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs George Eustice was pictured attending the Chelsea Flower Show today

A fitting guest! Actress Dixie Egerickx, who started in the recent remake of the Secret Garden, looked darling in a floral babydoll dress

A fitting guest! Actress Dixie Egerickx, who started in the recent remake of the Secret Garden, looked darling in a floral babydoll dress

Helen George, who is expecting her second child this year, put on an animated display as she talked to fellow visitors and members of the press at the show today

Helen George, who is expecting her second child this year, put on an animated display as she talked to fellow visitors and members of the press at the show today

The Call the Midwife actress beamed as she cradled her baby bump with her hands during her visit of the show today, pictured

The Call the Midwife actress beamed as she cradled her baby bump with her hands during her visit of the show today, pictured

Helen chatted with some of the models working around the show and bringing the displays to life, who was wearing a pilgrim outfit

Helen chatted with some of the models working around the show and bringing the displays to life, who was wearing a pilgrim outfit 

The performer is pictured acting in front of a stunning garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, a garden show held by the Royal Horticultural Society

The performer is pictured acting in front of a stunning garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, a garden show held by the Royal Horticultural Society

Mel Reynard put on a fashionable display at the Landform Balcony Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this afternoon

Landform Balcony Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this afternoon

Mel Reynard put on a fashionable display in a mask and gown at the Landform Balcony Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this afternoon

Making an impression with her outfit, Gemma posed as she arrived at the Chelsea Flower Show in London this afternoon

Making an impression with her outfit, Gemma posed as she arrived at the Chelsea Flower Show in London this afternoon

A gust is pictured admiring a stunning floral display at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in London this afternoon

A gust is pictured admiring a stunning floral display at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in London this afternoon

One guest grinned in front of the plants as she donned a tomato-themed headdress and gown at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in London this afternoon

One guest grinned in front of the plants as she donned a tomato-themed headdress and gown at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in London this afternoon

Designer Martha Krempel is pictured discussing her Arcadia balcony garden with visitors at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this afternoon

Designer Martha Krempel is pictured discussing her Arcadia balcony garden with visitors at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this afternoon

Dame Judi Dench and her daughter walked arm in arm as they toured the different displays of the show today, pictured

Dame Judi Dench and her daughter walked arm in arm as they toured the different displays of the show today, pictured

Alexandra Burke took a moment to sit down in a beautiful wicker chair as she visited Dobbies Garden at today's event, pictured

Alexandra Burke took a moment to sit down in a beautiful wicker chair as she visited Dobbies Garden at today’s event, pictured

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Fraser to attend Oireachtas committee on Zappone controversy

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The State’s highest ranking civil servant will appear before an Oireachtas committee to explain the circumstances around the now-scrapped appointment of Katherine Zappone as special envoy.

The secretary general of the Department of Taoiseach Martin Fraser will appear before the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs next week.

Members of the committee are expected to ask Mr Fraser to explain in detail when precisely Ms Zappone’s name was communicated to the Department of the Taoiseach.

Controversy erupted in late July over an attempt by Minister of Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney to appoint Ms Zappone as a special envoy for freedom of expression and LGBTQ+ rights.

On Monday, former minister Zappone turned down an invitation to appear before the committee to discuss the matter.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin was not aware of plans to appoint her before they came before Cabinet just before the summer recess.

Moreover, Fianna Fáil has disputed a claim from Tánaiste Leo Varadkar’s that Ms Zappone was named as a UN special envoy in a memo sent to the Taoiseach’s office the day before the Cabinet discussed the proposed appointment.

“The memo with the name of Katherine Zappone was in the Taoiseach’s office, the day before the Cabinet meeting,” Mr Varadkar said earlier this month.

“Notwithstanding that, Simon Coveney and I had a responsibility to flag that to him as a Minister, me as a leader in Government, there should be good faith and no surprises, and I’ve spoken the Taoiseach about that, and apologised.”

Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath disputed this and said that an “under the arm memo” sent to the office of the Taoiseach the day before the Cabinet meeting on July 27th did not mention Ms Zappone.

Mr Fraser’s decision to appear before the committee means the controversy will continue into another week.

Mr Fraser, who has been secretary general at the Department of the Taoiseach for a decade, is to move from Government Buildings late next year to become the Irish ambassador in London.

In mid-September, the Dáil voted confidence in Mr Coveney by 92 votes to 59.

Separately, Mr Varadkar has now sought to downplay reports of a “sting” operation arising from the Zappone affair, whereby a junior minister reportedly gave false information to a senior minister during a phone call, which then made its way to a journalist.

The Tánaiste said he had spoken with Patrick O’Donovan, reportedly the junior minister involved, but said he had not been shown text messages arising from the “sting” and that “there have been no confrontations” about it.

“He’s shown me no text messages or anything like that. This is an internal matter that will be dealt with within Fine Gael,” Mr Varadkar said. “I’m aware of what’s been reported and I’ve spoken to all the Fine Gael cabinet Ministers about this.”

Asked whether Ms Zappone should attend or otherwise respond to written questions from the Oireachtas committee, Mr Varadkar said it was a matter for her and the committee, arguing the Government had “moved on”.

Speaking in New York on Monday, the Taoiseach also sought to draw a line under the controversy, saying Ms Zappone was a “private citizen”. Mr Martin said: “As far as I’m concerned we’ve had enough debate about it now.”

“This was in effect, an under the arm memo which means it is brought to Cabinet on the morning of the Cabinet meeting itself and that was the first time that the name Katherine Zappone was with the Taoiseach and with all of the other Cabinet colleagues so that is certainly the case.”

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How much it costs to buy near new Nine Elms and Battersea tube stations

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Two new Underground stations opened this week – Nine Elms and Battersea Power Station.

But while the areas feature lots of new housing for London, people looking to move to there and jump on the Tube’s extended Northern Line will pay a hefty price tag.

The average price of a house in Nine Elms is £726,131, according to Zoopla, but they have got cheaper. This is a drop of more than 6 per cent on a year ago, the equivalent of £50,000. 

But that average price doubles to £1,501,091 once you narrow a buyer’s search area from the wider Nine Elms area to just the Nine Elms development site, which is the new housing just south of the River Thames. 

And there’s the opportunity to spend much more – among the three homes we found below in the location was a flat in Battersea Power Station for £16million.

A luxury penthouse high up on the eleventh and twelfth floors of Battersea Power Station is for sale for £16million with estate agent Copperstones - see more details below

A luxury penthouse high up on the eleventh and twelfth floors of Battersea Power Station is for sale for £16million with estate agent Copperstones – see more details below

Two new Underground stations have opened this week: One at Nine Elms and the other at Battersea Power Station

Two new Underground stations have opened this week: One at Nine Elms and the other at Battersea Power Station

Buyers looking at the Nine Elms development will need a typical budget of £1.5m, according to property website Zoopla

Buyers looking at the Nine Elms development will need a typical budget of £1.5m, according to property website Zoopla

Billions of pounds of investment have been pumped into the area in recent years, including through the redevelopment of Battersea Power Station.

The decommissioned coal-fired power station is now luxury flats and penthouses – while there has also been the building of a new US Embassy in Nine Elms.

Despite the recent falls in average house prices near the stations, property experts suggest that values will rise, at least in the surrounding areas.

Billions of pounds of investment have been pumped into the Nine Elms area in recent years, including through the redevelopment of Battersea Power Station

Billions of pounds of investment have been pumped into the Nine Elms area in recent years, including through the redevelopment of Battersea Power Station

Buying agent Henry Pryor said: ‘While some might expect the new stations to be full of people fleeing the Nightmare on Nine Elms Street, these new infrastructure nodes are really going to give the area a genuine lift.

‘Lower Chelsea and the area around Battersea Park may well see prices bumped up by as much as 10 per cent, even if many buyers in SW11 thought that they were high enough.’

We take a look at three properties for sale at Battersea Power Station and Nine Elms 

1. Two-bed flat, Battersea Power Station, £1.15m

This luxury flat is close to the Battersea Power Station Underground station, which opened this week in London

This luxury flat is close to the Battersea Power Station Underground station, which opened this week in London

The modern property is on the market for £1.15million and is being sold via estate agents Martin & Co

The modern property is on the market for £1.15million and is being sold via estate agents Martin & Co

Inside, there is an open-plan living area with a fully-fitted kitchen, while outside there is a covered and tiled private balcony

Inside, there is an open-plan living area with a fully-fitted kitchen, while outside there is a covered and tiled private balcony

There are two bedrooms, including the main one boasting an en-suite shower room and room for a baby's cot

There are two bedrooms, including the main one boasting an en-suite shower room and room for a baby’s cot

There is also a smaller balcony at the rear of the flat that overlooks the railway tracks that carries commuters in and out of central London

There is also a smaller balcony at the rear of the flat that overlooks the railway tracks that carries commuters in and out of central London

This luxury two-bedroom flat is in the redeveloped Battersea Power Station and has an asking price of £1.15m.

It has an open-plan living area with a fully-fitted kitchen and a large private balcony.

Residents have access to a library, private cinema, communal gardens, a gym, swimming pool and a concierge service. The flat is being sold via estate agents Martin & Co.

2. Six-bed penthouse, Battersea Power Station, £16m

The modern interiors include designer crittall-style doors and walls, which are made from many panes of glass

The modern interiors include designer crittall-style doors and walls, which are made from many panes of glass

The property has six bedrooms, seven bathrooms - including this one with a cooper bath -, a roof terrace and two parking spaces

The property has six bedrooms, seven bathrooms – including this one with a cooper bath -, a roof terrace and two parking spaces

The penthouse boasts far-reaching views from the private balcony across the River Thames and towards the city

The penthouse boasts far-reaching views from the private balcony across the River Thames and towards the city

The London penthouse has a hefty price tag and is being sold via estate agents Copperstones for £16million

The London penthouse has a hefty price tag and is being sold via estate agents Copperstones for £16million

This luxury penthouse is on the eleventh and twelfth floors of Battersea Power Station, with views across the River Thames and the capital.

It has six bedrooms, seven bathrooms, a roof terrace and two parking spaces.

You’ll need deep pockets to buy it due to its £16million price tag. It is being sold by estate agents Copperstones.

3. Three-bedroom flat, Nine Elms, £3.95m

The three-bedroom flat is in the Ambassador Building in Nine Elms and has a light interior with walnut parquet flooring

The three-bedroom flat is in the Ambassador Building in Nine Elms and has a light interior with walnut parquet flooring

The luxury home has floor to ceiling windows and is being sold via estate agents Johns & Co with an asking price of £3.95m

The luxury home has floor to ceiling windows and is being sold via estate agents Johns & Co with an asking price of £3.95m 

The famous Sky Pool floats 10 storeys up between two skyscrapers at the Embassy Gardens development in London

The famous Sky Pool floats 10 storeys up between two skyscrapers at the Embassy Gardens development in London

This flat is in the Ambassador Building in Nine Elms at the Embassy Gardens development – home to the Sky Pool.

It is three bedrooms, walnut parquet flooring, marble work surfaces and floor to ceiling windows.

It has an asking price of £3.95m and is being sold via estate agents Johns & Co.

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