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Window shopping: Stained glass or acoustic? Solid wood or plastic?

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Your front door isn’t there to keep people out, it’s there to welcome them in.

Along with the windows — those peep-holes into your life — the style and colour tell friends and strangers alike who you are and what they can expect when they set foot inside your home.

‘Windows can make or break a space,’ says luxury interior designer Katharine Pooley. ‘They often don’t quite receive the attention they should, which is a shame as with the right ironmongery and a beautiful finish they instantly upgrade the overall aesthetic.’

Inviting: Stained glass windows add colour and personality to a home and tell friends and strangers alike what they can expect when they set foot inside

Inviting: Stained glass windows add colour and personality to a home and tell friends and strangers alike what they can expect when they set foot inside

And yet we spend twice as long selecting a kitchen worktop than we do choosing windows for our house.

So what options do you have to make them pretty as well as practical?

Plastic fantastic?

First off, don’t go for those horrid brilliant white, smooth plastic frames for windows. They often look ugly.

If you have to get uPVC because you’re on a tight budget, then at least get them in off-white with a woodgrain effect — some brands are pretty convincing nowadays.

KJM does a good line — for a double-glazed casement in woodgrain-effect measuring 1,200mm x 630mm, the price is about £275 supply-only.

Heavy metal

The sleek, hip-kid-on-the-block, aluminium-framed windows look up-to-the minute.

And because metal is stronger than wood or uPVC, the frame will be much slimmer, so there’s a larger area for glass.

We’re used to a cool grey colour, but you can have the frames made in any hue you like. So you can have them in forest green, midnight blue or flame red.

The same windows as above in aluminium would be £515.

Colours: You can have window frames made in any shade you like, though grey is popular

Colours: You can have window frames made in any shade you like, though grey is popular

Picture windows

Oh, the fun you can have with stained glass. Coloured designs are usually banished to little fan-lights at the top of doors in late Victorian houses.

But why not have coloured or picture panels in your front windows. You can have a nautical theme if you live by the sea; or an abstract whirl of shapes and colours.

A window with a bespoke design from Cheam Leaded Lights of about 1,200mm x 630mm will cost in the region of £2,500 to £3,000 supply-only.

Modernist style

Crittall windows or doors feature a sharp Art Deco design with slim black steel frames divided into squares. 

They have had a style renaissance over the past few years, somehow looking both up-to-date and classic at the same time.

While the Crittall company still manufactures the official items, you can get them in the same style from a host of other firms.

Crittall’s windows range from £500 to £850 per square metre, including installation.

Upgrade your glass

You can get all sorts of special glass these days. If you live by a busy road, acoustic glass will do better for you than standard double glazing.

Double glazing has two panes of glass with a void between them, whereas acoustic glass has two panes sandwiched together with a thin plastic layer in the middle to filter out more sound waves. 

Polarised glass keeps out the sun’s rays on hot days. And reflective glass turns windows into a one-way mirror so you can look out but passers-by can’t look in. 

Roseview’s Ultimate Rose windows are made from uPVC, but almost indistinguishable from wood.

A 1,200mm x 630mm acoustic glass window costs about £900 supply-only.

Choose wisely: The right windows can make or break a space, according to interiors experts

Choose wisely: The right windows can make or break a space, according to interiors experts

Solid wood

Wooden windows are becoming harder to find as vinyl and fibreglass take over, but they’re durable and can be a charming addition to a home.

Wooden Windows make bespoke timber windows and doors. It’s worth matching the two; after all, there’s nothing quite like the feel of a solid wood front door thudding into place.

It says that your castle is now secure against all onslaught. They do take some maintaining, though — you will have to repaint every four or five years, and there’s the chance of warping, which could make it more difficult to close or lock.

Old English Doors do a good line in hand-made Georgian-style, six-panelled solid oak doors from £4,320 supply-only.

Savings of the week! Rugs 

Temperatures may still be soaring. But the predicted higher fuel bills in the autumn means finding ways to make your home more cosy should start now.

A rug pulls all the elements in a room together. It also provides a layer of insulation, trapping cold air underneath.

Faded: La Redoute’s version in red and blue, pictured, is reduced by 25%, from £59 to £230 (laredoute.co.uk)

Faded: La Redoute’s version in red and blue, pictured, is reduced by 25%, from £59 to £230 (laredoute.co.uk)

Some heartwarming bargains of as much as 50 per cent off are available which, with care, should keep you snug for years. 

The abstract pattern Kista from West Elm in pale grey, blue and yellow would suit a stripped-down decor. It now costs from £112.95 to £519.95 (depending on size) down from £449 to £1,039 (westelm.com). 

The Pollo from The Rug Shop UK is in the same style. It costs from £71 to £224, reduced from £79 to £249 (therug shopuk.co.uk). At Loaf, the Tufty in cream and white is down 50 per cent from £345 to £175 (loaf.com).

The Habitat Byron in dark and pale grey, orange and teal would add zing to neutral interiors; it’s down by one-third to £119.99 (argos.co.uk).

Faded antique-style rugs continue to be fashionable. La Redoute’s version in red and blue, pictured, is reduced by 25 per cent; from £59 to £230 (laredoute.co.uk).

Anne Ashworth

 

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Barings provides €72m loan for social housing portfolio (GB)

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Barings has provided a €71.9m (£62.9m), 15-year loan to finance the acquisition of a social housing portfolio in England by Domus Social Housing Ltd (Domus). Provided under its separate account with investor Phoenix Group, the UK’s largest long-term savings and retirement business, it is Barings’ first real estate debt exposure to affordable housing in Europe. 

 

Domus and Fiera Infrastructure Inc, were advised by Excellion Capital on the milestone transaction in which Domus acquired the portfolio, consisting of 54 properties in London, the midlands and the northwest of England with more than 850 beds in the underlying units. The assets are let to UK housing providers that specialise in managing homes for residents with a range of needs, including those experiencing homelessness and domestic abuse. There are over 320,000 people estimated to be sleeping rough, in homeless shelters or in other temporary housing in the UK, according to analysis from Shelter in 2018.

 

Chris Bates, Head of Europe Real Estate Debt Origination at Barings, said: “Having been actively lending against UK and European residential property for some time now, we were keen to explore opportunities in the affordable housing sector and believe this portfolio is a substantially attractive one to launch us into the market. We are increasingly seeking out opportunities to invest in residential property, given that it provides a long-duration, reliable income that hedges against rising inflation, and are interested in a range of asset classes such as affordable housing, student accommodation, build-to-rent and the private rental sector.”

 

Sam Mellor, Managing Director and Head of Europe & Asia – Pacific Real Estate Debt at Barings, said: “Increasing our exposure in affordable housing is the right thing to do from both a social impact and a financial investment perspective, reflecting both Barings’ values as a company and our investors’ priorities. With a housing crisis in the UK, as across much of the world, the social case is crystal clear. Barings has significant expertise and experience in the affordable housing sector in the U.S., upon which we’ve drawn for this investment, and we’re eager to continue to combine our global research capabilities with our on-the-ground knowledge to seek to secure returns for our investors.”

 

Prabjot Mann, Head of Property at Phoenix Group, said: “Phoenix is delighted to have provided €71.9m (£62.9m) for Barings’ first loan supporting affordable housing projects in Europe. Phoenix Group is committed to investments that have a clear social benefit and this loan forms part of our growing portfolio of investments in affordable, supported and social housing. This funding will provide housing to those most in need, and is fully aligned with our approach to responsible investment.”

 

Alina Osorio, President of Fiera Infrastructure, said: “Domus is a new social infrastructure platform focused on providing critical shelter and support to the most vulnerable members of the community. The investment addresses the social housing supply imbalance in the UK by providing quality accommodations in the areas most at need. We plan to grow our footprint through additional acquisitions, which have been identified and secured in areas experiencing housing supply shortages. We are pleased to have worked with Barings on this milestone financing and look forward to witnessing its significant and measurable social impact on the individuals and communities in which Domus operates.”

 

Gareth Taylor, Director at Excellion Capital, said: “We are delighted to support Domus Social Housing with its acquisition by working with Barings to provide funding of socially responsible and much needed supported housing across the UK. These properties give the unhoused and most vulnerable individuals in our society the accommodation and the specialist care they require.”

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How to sell your home in 2023: Ten top tips

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Energy price worries, double-digit inflation, strikes, war and a new government — there’s a lot going on right now, and it’s all beginning to sap the confidence of sellers and buyers.

The market is still robust, with Halifax this month reporting that house prices are 11.5 per cent higher than a year ago, and the typical home now costs a record £294,260. 

But some potential sellers aren’t convinced and believe it’s better to wait until spring to see if buyer confidence returns.

Holding off: The housing market remains robust, but some potential sellers aren't convinced, and believe it's better to wait until spring to see if buyer confidence returns

Holding off: The housing market remains robust, but some potential sellers aren’t convinced, and believe it’s better to wait until spring to see if buyer confidence returns

Of course, the cuts to stamp duty that Prime Minister Liz Truss and Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng have announced may change a few minds.

But research by savings website VoucherCodes suggests that rising costs have forced 11 per cent of all potential buyers to delay by at least a year.

And a separate study by Nationwide Building Society says seven in ten would-be first-time buyers are putting their plans on ice for some months at least.

So if you’re looking to sell and prevent your home from languishing on the market for months on end, it may be best to spend the next six months getting into pole position for the market in 2023. 

Here are our ten top tips…

1. Take top-quality photos

Choose your estate agent now and make sure they take photographs of your home as soon as possible, while the weather is still relatively good. 

Then it will look its best regardless of when you decide to list it — and you can choose to start marketing at short notice if the conditions are right.

2. Help your buyer

‘Create a pack including everything you can to reassure buyers and cut delays,’ says Clare Coode, an agent with Stacks Property Search, a buying agency.

‘This should include, for example, a certificate for your wood burner, up-to-date electrical certificates, planning permissions, building regulation sign-offs, information about ownership of boundary walls and documents related to access and rights of way.’

3. Fix a mortgage deal

With interest rates rising, and likely to increase for another 18 months according to commentators, securing a competitive multi-year, fixed-rate mortgage in principle now makes sense. 

But many of these deals have to be acted upon within a few months, so ensure you’re in a position to buy before the deadline expires.

4. Boost energy efficiency

This is a key issue for buyers, even after Liz Truss introduced a financial package to ease the burden of increased energy costs.

‘Double glazing, improved insulation or a new boiler could be achieved in a few months, and would likely boost both the appeal and asking price of your home,’ says Location, Location, Location star Phil Spencer. 

‘There are also solar panels, but these won’t add enough value to recover their cost in the short term.’

5. Update the kitchen

Consumer group the HomeOwners Alliance says the kitchen is worth more per square foot than any other room in the house, so it’s worth making it look tip-top.

Spend autumn and winter refacing the cabinets and smartening up the walls and floor. 

But don’t fit a new kitchen — you won’t recover the cost if you sell soon and an installation hitch could derail plans.

6. Be competitive

Try not to pay too much attention to any one house price index, but look at the overall trend and be prepared to set a competitive asking price in the New Year.

Many estate agents say an asking price at the lower end of your expectations will encourage rival buyers to bid against each other — good news for any seller. 

And an overly ambitious price may see the home stuck on the market, especially during a cost of living crisis.

7. Try a neutral restyle

Declutter, of course — but do more than that. ‘If your interior is looking a little dated in style, then redecorate in line with current trends,’ says Alex Lyle, director of estate agency Antony Roberts, based in West London.

‘But try not to be too ‘out there’ as this may put off some potential buyers. Likewise, if carpets are looking a little tired, think about replacing them or switching to wooden flooring.’

8. Spruce up the garden

‘Assess how badly the garden suffered from the drought,’ says Josephine Ashby of John Bray Estates, an estate agent based in North Cornwall.

‘Something planted in the autumn should be thriving by spring. Outside space is important, so doing anything to spruce it up will be rewarded. 

Fresh gravel, a trellis to hide eyesores, dramatic pots and cleaned-up furniture with pretty cushions are all easy fixes.’

9. Remember the lights

‘Swap old halogen lights for LED fittings,’ says Emma Barkes of Stacks Property Search. ‘These use 80 per cent less energy to produce the same amount of light.

‘Make the change early so you can demonstrate lower winter bills and also to give you time to paint the ceilings, as the fittings will almost certainly be a different size.’

10. Finish old projects 

There’s no excuse for outstanding repairs if you have six months to deal with them, but remember that it can take longer than you think to get a tradesman in.

Maintenance firm HelpmeFix says it typically takes four weeks to get a bricklayer or roofer, and at least a week to get a plumber to do a routine boiler check.

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CBRE IM acquires two logistics assets in Madrid (ES)

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CBRE Investment Management has acquired two new logistics assets in Madrid, Spain, owned by DWS, with a total gross lettable area of 67,859m².

 

The first asset, located in Meco, was completed in Q2 2020 and offers 51,969m² of gross lettable space with a LEED Silver rating. The second, in Torrejon, was completed in Q4 2019 and provides 15,890m² of gross lettable space with a LEED Gold rating. Both properties are already leased under triple net leases to leading tenants including a German automotive component manufacturer, a national kitchen equipment distributor and an international sustainable energy company. They both also have EPC ratings of A.

 

Both assets boast excellent locations with easy access to the A-2 and R-2 highways, and good connection with the M-50, Madrid’s outermost ring road. A driving distance of just 30 minutes to Madrid’s city centre means the assets are well positioned to accommodate, amongst others, tenants with a last-mile approach. The assets have been delivered to high technical and environmental specifications, and also benefit from the increased penetration of e-commerce in Spain and the lack of grade A logistics properties in the area.

 

Antonio Roncero, Head of Transactions for Iberia at CBRE Investment Management, said: “This acquisition was a rare opportunity to secure an income-producing grade A logistics portfolio through an off-market process. The Madrid logistics sector is attractive due to the potential growth of occupier demand versus an acute shortage of supply. Despite current economic headwinds, well located, high-quality and sustainable assets such as these are well placed to take advantage of ongoing rental growth in the logistics sector.”

 

Manuel Ibanez, Head of Real Estate Iberia at DWS, pointed out: “In 2017 at DWS we bet on the logistics sector and structured a forward purchase agreement with ICC, which culminated in the purchase of the two newly developed warehouses in 2019 and 2020. Following the leasing of both assets, we decided to divest, closing the circle of this deal, which will be profitable for our investors and is part of DWS’s value add strategy. We will continue working to find investment opportunities in key locations and strategic sectors such as logistics, residential and offices, strengthening our presence in Spain”.

 

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