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We pick four mini country estate renovation projects for sale

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Renovation projects are proving to be one of the stars of the show for the housing market during the pandemic.

Some are currently fetching seven figure sums despite often needing substantial amounts of cash spent on them just to make them habitable.

A leading estate agent reported dozens of viewings being booked on such a property within hours of it going on the market, due to its appealing countryside settings in Devon.

A renovation project in Totnes, Devon: Moore Farm is for sale for £1,025,000 and comes with several outbuildings, one of which has planning consent to turn into two five-bedroom homes

A renovation project in Totnes, Devon: Moore Farm is for sale for £1,025,000 and comes with several outbuildings, one of which has planning consent to turn into two five-bedroom homes

People are often attracted to renovation projects because they allow buyers to put their own stamp on them from the beginning.

And of course, there is the potential to make a profit – most look for around at least 20 per cent – through capital gain. And additional income could be generated by turning outbuildings into holiday lets, for example.

Renovation projects also tend to offer plenty of space, a highly desirable commodity amid the pandemic. Such properties with outbuildings mean there can be thousands of square feet of floor space on offer, as well as acres of land surrounding them.

Ultimately, whether a project works comes down to a buyer’s unique circumstances, their budget and the time they have to invest in it. As such, it is important to do plenty of research before embarking on such a venture.

We speak to Richard Speedy, who heads up the Exeter branch of estate agents Strutt & Parker, for his views on taking on a small country estate renovation project. 

We then go on to list four such renovation projects around the country with price tags of between £500,000 and more than £1million.

Why do people take on renovations projects?

Mr Speedy said: ‘Buyers are attracted to renovation projects because they like to have a blank canvas that they are able to put their own stamp on.

‘They don’t necessarily want to pay for someone else’s renovation in the past that might not be to their taste – a blank canvass enables a buyer to be more creative and pick the fixtures and fittings they want.

‘Building projects tend to attract people who are looking at a longer-term project for themselves or those who might want to make a profit when it comes to resell – normally they look for a 20 per cent profit.’

He added: ‘A farmhouse in the countryside is simply the most desirable property for many at the moment due to the pandemic and the popularity of space.

‘With Moore Farm – a renovation project in Devon – we have had a variety of buyers including those who want to keep the farmhouse for themselves and convert the barns that already have planning permission for income – either as holiday lets or long-term rental properties.’

What sort of features are people looking for the most?

Mr Speedy suggested that for renovation projects, people tend to prefer Georgian or Victorian period homes that still maintain original features and some character that comes with an older home.

‘People can look past dated bathrooms and kitchens should a home have high ceilings and inglenook fireplaces,’ he said.

‘That said, we do however see buyers who are interested in renovating all types of homes. Even a nondescript 1970s bungalow can be turned into a home worthy of Grand Designs with a little creativity and a good architect,’ he added.

What might have changed in the past 18 months due to Covid?

One of the main challenges to the property market off the back of the pandemic is a lack of stock, according to Mr Speedy.

‘This is especially true in the hottest markets, as it is here in the South West,’ he said.

‘The knock-on effect is that people who might once have been a bit more reluctant to a renovation are now considering them in droves. 

‘They would rather take on the work with a property that is in the right location and has the right features now more than ever. 

‘A property like Moore Farm might have been on the market prior to Covid for a few months, but within two days of bringing it to market we had booked in more than 60 viewings and it will be going to best and final offers in a couple of weeks.’

What are the potential pitfalls to look out for?

Mr Speedy said: ‘When it comes to buying any property, getting a thorough survey done is the best starting point. This is especially important considering that some of these renovation projects have been standing for 100, 200 or even 300 years. 

‘A survey will uncover problems that could cause a headache further down the line such as subsidence or even if the roof is about to cave in. 

‘For more substantial building projects, it is also worth bearing in mind that the cost of materials and labour has increased in the past 18 months and could continue, therefore its best to build extra allowances into a budget for this and to get a builder lined up as soon as you can. It’s not unheard of for buyers to bring builders along to second viewings to get an opinion.’

How long do renovations projects take?

Renovation projects such as the farmhouse at Moore Farm can normally be completed within four to six months, Mr Speedy suggested.

‘This, however, depends on the work the buyer wants to be carried out – but with this home the buyers can live in the home while it is being renovated should they choose to,’ he said.

‘Building a home from the ground up does naturally take considerably longer – I would say that normally this should take between a year and 18 months, and a big part of this is laying the groundwork and foundations to be able to build upon it. As the stone barns at Moore Farm already have permission, the buyer can really hit the ground running and get the building project underway.’

Here are Mr Speedy’s top renovation projects for sale around the country, available via Strutt & Parker

1. Five-bed Farmhouse, Totnes, Devon, £1,025,000 

This five-bedroom farmhouse in Devon's Totnes is on the market for £1,025,000, with best and final offers by midday on Monday August 2

This five-bedroom farmhouse in Devon’s Totnes is on the market for £1,025,000, with best and final offers by midday on Monday August 2

The property includes several outbuildings, one of which has planning consent to turn into two five-bedroom houses

The property includes several outbuildings, one of which has planning consent to turn into two five-bedroom houses

The outbuildings could be turned into holiday lets as the South Hams has access to some of the country's best beaches

The outbuildings could be turned into holiday lets as the South Hams has access to some of the country’s best beaches

Updating required: The main house includes exposed beams and brickwork on the walls, including in the kitchen

Updating required: The main house includes exposed beams and brickwork on the walls, including in the kitchen

Moore Farm dates back to the 1800s and requires updating, but has scope for an annexe.

There are exposed beams, windows seats and fireplaces, including an inglenook in the drawing room with an original bread oven.

It comes with several outbuildings, one of which has planning consent to turn into two five-bedroom houses.

Mr Speedy said: ‘Moore Farm offers a rare opportunity in a great location with a range of options with what people can do. We have had interest from families who have moved into the area and are currently renting, local people who want to upsize and those who want to retire in the countryside with the option of a home that can provide an income for them.

‘The South Hams with it’s rolling hills and access to some of the country’s best beaches provides many with a lifestyle they can only dream of. As such the property here has really been flying off the shelves here since the property market reopened last year. Moore Farm is a prime example of how a property can generate interest extremely quickly and will sell fast with best and final offers.’

2. Five-bed house in Shocklach, Cheshire, £980,000

The property is accessed a private driveway leading to a part-cobbled courtyard with a range of outbuildings that include seven barns.

The property is accessed a private driveway leading to a part-cobbled courtyard with a range of outbuildings that include seven barns.

The outbuildings are includes with this five-bedroom Georgian property in Shocklach, Cheshire, which is on the market for £980,000

The outbuildings are includes with this five-bedroom Georgian property in Shocklach, Cheshire, which is on the market for £980,000

There are several outbuildings that could be converted into additional accommodation subject to planning consents

There are several outbuildings that could be converted into additional accommodation subject to planning consents

The interior includes some dated features - such as the fireplace surround - that can be updated to create a modern family home

The interior includes some dated features – such as the fireplace surround – that can be updated to create a modern family home

This five-bed Georgian property in Cheshire includes a main house covering more than 3,000 square feet and outbuildings extending to more than 7,000 square feet.

While the main house needs updating, it has the potential to become a welcoming family home. 

The property is accessed via a five-bar gate and a private driveway leading to a part-cobbled courtyard with a range of outbuildings that include seven barns. Planning permission for the barns is for two three to four bedroom properties.

3. Barn conversion, Baconsthorpe, Norfolk, £900,000

Pitt Farm Barns is in Norfolk and includes an extensive range of traditional barns that made up a cattle yard and grain store

Pitt Farm Barns is in Norfolk and includes an extensive range of traditional barns that made up a cattle yard and grain store

The property is being sold with a price tag of £900,000, with the seller retaining one of the barns on the development site

The property is being sold with a price tag of £900,000, with the seller retaining one of the barns on the development site

Access to the seaside: The property is in Baconsthorpe, which is about four miles from the north Norfolk coastline

Access to the seaside: The property is in Baconsthorpe, which is about four miles from the north Norfolk coastline

Pitt Farm Barns is an extensive range of traditional barns that made up a cattle yard and grain store.

It has planning permission to convert the barns into five homes. The planning permission is for six barns but the seller is retaining one of them.

The property is about four miles from the north Norfolk coastline, which offers sailing walking and other leisure facilities.

4. Six bed house, Rhiwbryfdir, Wales, £500,000

This six-bedroom house in Wales was original converted from two properties, and once again needs to be renovated

This six-bedroom house in Wales was original converted from two properties, and once again needs to be renovated

The interior needs extensive updating, including the kitchen - but it could be transformed into a beautiful family home

The interior needs extensive updating, including the kitchen – but it could be transformed into a beautiful family home 

The property is the cheapest in our list, with a price tag of £500,000, despite enjoying spectacular views across the Snowdonia countryside

The property is the cheapest in our list, with a price tag of £500,000, despite enjoying spectacular views across the Snowdonia countryside

The property extends across 2,400 square feet and comes with an impressive 22 acres of land and a river frontage

The property extends across 2,400 square feet and comes with an impressive 22 acres of land and a river frontage

This six-bedroom house in Wales was original converted from two properties. It now needs renovating once again to become a family home.  

It extends across 2,400 square feet and comes with an impressive 22 acres of land and a river frontage. 

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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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