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Wealthy buyers want bigger homes, better wifi and a local pub

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The race for space among buyers of luxury homes shows no signs of slowing down despite the looming stamp duty holiday deadline, new research suggests.

Estate agent Savills said the desire for more room and land has driven the luxury homes market during the past year of the pandemic and that this looks set to continue.

This is despite a majority of buyers expecting to miss the looming stamp duty holiday deadline on June 30, it said.

This seven-bedroom detached house in Cornwall's Bude is for sale for £2.25million via Colwills estate agents

This seven-bedroom detached house in Cornwall’s Bude is for sale for £2.25million via Colwills estate agents

This five-bedroom detached house on St George's Hill in Surrey is for sale for £14.5million via estate agents Savills

This five-bedroom detached house on St George’s Hill in Surrey is for sale for £14.5million via estate agents Savills

Among buyers with the necessary financial security, the strong desire for larger homes with bigger gardens or in greener locations that are closer to family will continue to underpin demand in the coming months, Savills said.

More than two-thirds – at 71 per cent – of those currently in the middle of purchasing a property have no expectation of completing ahead of the deadline.

It means that a potential stamp duty saving was not factored into their decision-making process, according to the latest survey of around 750 Savills buyers and sellers conducted between June 4 and June 8.

The break on the first £500,000 of a home’s purchase price delivers a maximum £15,000 tax saving on properties costing at least that much.

A vast majority – at 85 per cent – of those still hoping to complete in time said that failure to do so would not affect their transaction in any way, rising to 90 per cent among those buying homes costing more than £1million.

One in 10 said they will look to renegotiate on price if they miss the deadline, perhaps splitting the difference with the seller, while only 5 per cent said they might choose not to progress with their transaction.

At the £2million-plus end of the market, all respondents said they expected to proceed as planned.

This six-bedroom detached house in Bournemouth, Dorset, is for sale for £1.65million via Mays estate agents

This six-bedroom detached house in Bournemouth, Dorset, is for sale for £1.65million via Mays estate agents

Frances Clacy, of Savills, said: ‘Lifestyle choices made during lockdown, or brought forward as a result of the experience of lockdown have almost totally dominated decision-making in the prime market over the past year and look set to do so over coming months.

‘Buyer and seller commitment to moving over the coming year remains strong although slightly lower than in June 2020 when the market reopened after the first lockdown.

‘The stamp duty holiday was announced in July, and while it may have brought forward some transactions, this survey tells us that it has not been the major motivator among equity rich home movers in the prime market.’

What buyers want: bigger homes, better wifi and a local pub

Lifestyle needs continue to dominate buyers’ wish lists, according to the estate agent.

It asked buyers to rank their top two ‘must haves’ in their new home, with more than half – at 54 per cent – of respondents naming extra living space, 40 per cent a larger garden, and 33 per cent an extra bedroom.

This desire for space remains at its most intense in London, with 59 per cent naming extra living space, 46 per cent a larger garden and 40 per cent an extra bedroom in their top two.

Home working looks set to continue to form part of people’s working week, with 41 per cent naming a separate working-from-home space in their top two.

And a net balance of 55 per cent said that quality wifi had become more important during the past year, with 35 per cent saying it was now significantly more important.

This seven-bedroom detached house in Kew, Surrey, is on the market for £8.5million via estate agents Antony Roberts-Kew

This seven-bedroom detached house in Kew, Surrey, is on the market for £8.5million via estate agents Antony Roberts-Kew

Ms Clacy added: ‘The pandemic has made people re-evaluate what they want from their homes and their leisure time, with many prioritising a better work-life balance.

‘In a light-hearted illustration of this, 15 per cent of respondents want their new home to be located close to a pub or restaurant, trumping proximity to work at just 12 per cent.’

Stamp duty holiday 

The stamp duty holiday applies to properties worth up to £500,000 until June 30.

After June, the stamp duty-free threshold drops to £250,000 until the end of September. 

She added: ‘In London, however, it’s a slightly different picture, and there’s evidence of buyers starting to prioritise a return to the office in their choice of home.

‘Being close to public transport is a key consideration for home buyers again, second now only to proximity to a park. 

‘Over four in ten – at 43 per cent – in the capital now wish to live close to a station, compared to just 19 per cent across the prime regional markets, and up from 39 per cent in March.

‘But even though it’s rare for Londoners not to have a pub or restaurant within close walking distance, proximity to a pub – a top two essential for 11 per cent of respondents – still trumps proximity to work at just 9 per cent.’

‘More widely, while demand remains strong, realistic pricing from the offset is important to secure a sale and will become even more so once the stamp duty holiday ends particularly if, as we expect, stock constraints begin to ease over coming months as those reluctant to sell while social distancing rules have been in place bring their homes to market.’

The survey was based on attitudes in the luxury homes market, defined as broadly the top 5 per cent by value.

This nine-bedroom detached house in Sculthorpe, Norfolk, is for sale for £1.8million via Fine & Country estate agents

This nine-bedroom detached house in Sculthorpe, Norfolk, is for sale for £1.8million via Fine & Country estate agents

Mortgage experts explained how stamp duty isn’t a priority for buyers at the moment – although it is an attractive saving. 

Tomer Aboody, of property lender MT Finance, said: ‘With house prices increasing at levels not seen in years, even if buyers miss the deadline and have to pay stamp duty, the increase in value of the property going forward could well outweigh this outlay.

‘Given the lack of property for sale, we are finding many buyers are simply grateful to find a suitable home to buy. Stamp duty isn’t the priority but the saving is a bonus. 

‘Buyers’ desires have changed, from wanting and needing to be near the city in order to get into work, towards a more flexible outlook which enables them to work from home. This shift has had a huge impact on buyers wanting space, both internally and externally, with gardens and home offices at the top of the list.

‘In a best-case scenario, buyers will push through their purchase before the end of the month. But if that doesn’t happen they may be able to agree to split the difference with the seller.’

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Godwin submits plans for Dorset mixed-use development (GB)

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Godwin Developments has submitted a planning application for Woodbury Park, a brand-new commercial development located at a prominent 4.85-acre site in Bere Regis, Dorset. Proposals include four purpose-built drive thru and drive to roadside retail units, with renowned restaurant brands PopeyesStarbucks and McDonald’s already lined up to take space, which has been designed to their specifications.

 

The scheme will also feature a 12,000ft² block of up to eight units, with associated parking and turning facilities. The units will be two storeys high, with the flexibility to combine into larger floorplates, if required by potential tenants. The block will be built speculatively and will target BREEAM Very Good, including features such as air source heat pumps, low energy lighting and highly efficient building fabric, to name a few.

 

Situated off the Townsend Roundabout at the northern entry point of Bere Regis, the site benefits from a high passing traffic flow of over 27,000 daily vehicles. It occupies a key location at the intersection of the A31 and A35 alongside the main arterial route connecting Poole and Bournemouth to Dorchester.

 

The Woodbury Park scheme will further Godwin’s commitment to local regeneration and job creation by enabling up to 250 new employment opportunities. Roles are anticipated to be primarily in retail, distribution and logistics, as well as services, manufacturing, technology and the creative industries. Local people will also benefit from the inclusion of several EV charging points, the first in the area.

 

Claudine Tracey, Development Manager at Godwin Developments, said: “The site’s high traffic flow, lack of similar offering close by, and proximity to existing Shell garage and trade park make Woodbury Park a sought-after location for a range of occupiers – including coffee and quick service restaurant brands. We are also delighted to be delivering the UK’s first Popeyes drive thru as the company expands its footprint in this country. In addition, our development will deliver a variety of local employment opportunities for Bere Regis through the provision of flexible industrial and logistics space suitable for new and existing businesses. The scheme at Bere Regis showcases Godwin’s unique capability to successfully combine industrial and roadside retail to maximise a site’s potential through complementary uses.”

 

Stuart Pratt, Director at Godwin Developments, commented: “The recent boom in takeaway food consumption and hyper-local convenience shopping is bringing ever more exciting brands to the roadside retail sector. At the same time, demand for industrial and logistics space is continuing to grow with units of varied sizes – including trade parks – experiencing a substantial lack of supply. For these reasons interest from investors into both sectors has been very strong in the past year; and we expect the trend to continue throughout 2022 on the back of strong consumer fundamentals.”

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Barings and HBD secure planning for London logistics scheme (GB)

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Barings and HBD have secured detailed planning for a strategic logistics scheme in Rainham, London, transforming a 20-acre brownfield site. The new development, Momentum London, is being delivered by Barings and HBD in a joint venture partnership. It will create 381,814ft² of new logistics and industrial space across four units ranging from 41,000 -171,000ft².

 

The scheme will target Net Zero Carbon, BREEAM “Excellent” and an EPC “A+” rating. This is being achieved by dynamic design, careful consideration of materials, zero use of fossil fuels, maximizing photovoltaic solar panels, battery storage and intelligent building systems. The units will be 100% EV ready, including passive fleet charging to the yards.

 

The logistics park will be set in landscaped environment with picnic and public areas, as well as direct access onto the Thames Cycle Path, so that it brings further social benefits to the area. Positioned on the River Thames, with potential for jetty access, Momentum will offer an easy stepping stone into Central London and out via the A13, just minutes away.

 

Darren Hutchinson, Head of UK Real Estate Transactions and Managing Director at Barings, said: Momentum London will be a strategically located logistics scheme with strong environmental and social credentials, beneficial both to future occupiers and the communities around it. Logistics is one of Barings’ preferred investment sectors and Momentum London exemplifies the kind of developments we’re seeking, with a keen interest in exploring joint ventures like this one with HBD.”

 

Simon Quine, Senior Development Surveyor at HBD, said: “Industrial and logistics space remains in very limited supply across London, particularly larger distribution units. Momentum will plug that gap within the M25 and provide modern, sustainable logistics and distribution space to serve London and the wider South East market. Landscaping and wellness have been thoroughly considered, with careful design considerations and enhancements to the Thames Foot and Cycle path, which we hope will help occupiers to attract and retain staff.”

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Mirrored furniture trend can create the illusion of space in your home

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Mirrored furniture provokes strong emotions. Some see it as the epitome of bad taste, flashy and bling. Others know that mirrors have magic powers.

A mirrored table or cabinet makes a room or a hallway appear more swish and spacious. It’s a trick that bars and restaurants employ to ensure their establishments appear roomier and more inviting — and they can add lustre to your home, too.

Choosing a piece of mirrored furniture also sends out a sign that you are aware of one of the year’s trends — the return of Art Deco, the influential style that emerged in the 1920s. 

Reflections: A mirrored bedside table. The power of the mirror to create an impression has been recognised for centuries

Reflections: A mirrored bedside table. The power of the mirror to create an impression has been recognised for centuries

It blended forms that celebrated modern machinery with decorative elements drawn from Greco-Roman culture and nature. 

The mirror was a favourite material, used on the surfaces of furniture and walls to supply a shimmering silver and gold effect.

Probably the most famous piece of Art Deco architecture is New York’s Chrysler Building. Completed in 1930, its sunburst-patterned stainless steel spire remains one of the key elements of the Manhattan skyline.

Art Deco console tables, drinks trolleys and other items from the era of the building’s construction sell for thousands on auction sites such as 1stdibs underlining the growing appeal of this aesthetic. 

Jamie Watkins, the co-founder of fabric and wallpaper company Divine Savages, explains Art Deco’s allure for a new audience.

‘Art Deco, with its bold geometrical patterns was such an iconic period for design: it’s synonymous with glamour and luxury.’

The resurgent popularity of Art Deco is also based on its practicality: a mirrored piece works with almost any interior, adding interest and depth.

The power of the mirror to create a wow impression has been recognised for centuries. 

Examples of this technique include the round mirror on the wall behind the bride and groom in Jan van Eyck’s 1434 Arnolfini Portrait in the National Gallery. It sends out the message that the couple are discerning — and wealthy.

Cheers: B&M's £25 oval drinks trolley with two mirrored shelves

Cheers: B&M’s £25 oval drinks trolley with two mirrored shelves

The hall of mirrors in the palace of Versailles was designed to be a place of beauty, but also to display the financial resources of Louis XIV, the Sun King. Mirrors were a luxury item until an inexpensive manufacturing process was invented in the 1830s.

In 2022, it is possible to pick up mirrored pieces for under £100. B&M has a £25 oval drinks trolley with two mirrored shelves that would lend an air of Thirties elegance to any gathering. The £94.99 Ellison serving cart (a U.S. term for drinks trolley) from Wayfair has a similar vibe.

If you believe that the right mirrored trolley would save you money on trips to bars, the larger £144.95 gold oval mirrored trolley from Melody Maison could be the thing.

A mirrored cocktail cabinet will dazzle guests. The £1,200 Primrose & Plum champagne and gold cabinet has a Jazz-Age feel.

The £299 Venetian sideboard from Furniture Market, meanwhile, is a more modestly priced way to conjure up the party spirit of the Roaring Twenties.

The show flats of apartment blocks are often equipped with mirrored cocktail cabinets containing bottles of spirits and crystal glasses. This makes buyers dream of dinner parties, with a prelude of aperitifs, but also serves to make the apartment appear even roomier.

A console table in the hall also creates an illusion of space which can be amplified by the addition of a lamp. HomesDirect365 has a range in the style of almost every era including Art Deco, Regency, the 1960s and the 1970s. Prices start at £233.

The bedroom is often the most cramped room in either a house or flat which is why this can be the best place to experiment with mirrored furniture. 

The desire to preserve family harmony is another reason. The other members of your household may prefer the kitchen and living room to be slick and understated, seeing anything mirrored as excessive.

In the bedroom, however, you can indulge your decor fantasies. Habitat has the one-drawer Hepburn bedside table for £76.

Next offers the antique effect Fleur bedside table which costs £225 for the one-drawer version and £275 for the two-drawer version. 

The Fleur is also available as a six-drawer chest for £599 or a £1,150 double wardrobe if you seek to waft around your bedroom channelling your inner 1930s Hollywood screen siren. 

Dunelm’s Venetian mirrored dressing table also offers a chance to live out your dream of silver screen stardom (£449).

If mirrored furniture has brought out your party animal, kindling a passion for Art Deco in every guise, Divine Savages offers Deco Martini wallpaper whose design is based on the geometric forms, with a hidden Martini glass within the print (£150 per roll).

Some of your guests may not be too busy checking out their reflections on the doors of the mirrored cabinet to notice this subtle and witty detail in the wallpaper.

Savings of the week! water jugs… Up to 52% off 

The Sandvig hammered-glass jug from made.com is half-price at £22

The Sandvig hammered-glass jug from made.com is half-price at £22

Sitting outside on a sunny afternoon is already delightful. But it is even more enjoyable if you are sipping on a cool drink or an iced coffee from a generously sized jug, or maybe even a Pimm’s. The arrival of the July sales means bargains abound.

If you prioritise practicality, Ocado’s textured lustre plastic picnic jug has 33 per cent off at £8.

The price of the pleasingly geometric plastic smoky-grey Prism jug from Wayfair is 16 per cent off at £10.10. 

If you would like to feel as if you are in the south of France, John Lewis has the plain glass Arles wicker-wrapped jug. It is reduced from £25 to £12, down 52 per cent.

Wanting something more elegant that you can also use for flowers? The Sandvig hammered-glass jug from made.com is also half-price at £22.

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