Archive for November, 2010

Ok, it’s cold as all hell and snowy with it, so today we thought something from the sunny Med would provide a welcome escape from the British winter.

This extraordinary house is the Villa Agave, a sinuous masterpiece designed by the acclaimed Italian architect Michele Busiri-Vici.

Villa Agave

Busiri-Vici began in the modernist movement but if this doesn’t look typically modernist – there isn’t a right angle to be seen – that’s because his style later evolved to incorporate an eclectic mix of influences: north African architecture, Gaudi’s curvy organicism, and Italian Arts & Crafts.

He became famous for developing this very personal Mediterranean style – soft lines, round shapes, whitewashed walls and bright green or blue shutters – in the area between Sabaudia and San Felice Circeo.

Rustic, handmade and homely, Busiri-Vici’s work is a lot more cheerful and sun-kissed that the austere modernism of northern Europe.

It has a quaint, fairytale quality, with echoes of the Trulli houses in Puglia, and it puts a smile on our face on a cold November afternoon.

St Peter, Sotheby’s International Realty, £2,792,789

Villa Agave

Villa Agave

Villa Agave

Villa Agave

Villa Agave

Villa Agave

Villa Agave

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The average value of English farmland increased only fractionally in the third quarter of 2010 to £5,816/acre, according to the Knight Frank Farmland Index.

This slowdown brings to an end the bull run that saw prices rise by 24% between the beginning of 2009 and the middle of this year.

However, despite this slowdown, farmland is still outperforming the prime and country residential markets.

Farmland vs other asset classes: source, Knight Frank

Why so strong? Because, says Knight Frank, “there is still a shortage of land for sale, with fewer acres being put up for sale in England so far this year than in the same period in 2009.

“Good-sized blocks of easily farmed arable land are in particularly short supply.  A number of pension funds and investors are actively looking for this kind of farmland and good farms coming to the market will still attract a lot of interest, despite the prevailing economic uncertainty.”

However, it’s not just corporations who are investing in land: farmers remain the most active purchasers, accounting for 52% of the market followed by ‘lifestyle’buyers (27%) and investors (11%).

Looking ahead, Knight Frank expect farm land to remain a strong market:

“The fact that farmland prices still remain at record highs and continue to outperform many other asset classes shows how resilient the market is.

“We believe that the flattening seen in the past three months is a slowdown rather than the beginning of a significant decline.”

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The Planet salutes the Big Property List for unearthing the truth about the price Sarah Beeny paid for Rise Hall.

Benny and her husband bought the property in 2001 but apparently there is no online record of it.

However, the Big Property List shelled out £4 to get a copy of the registration documents and can reveal that Beeny’s husband, Graham Swift paid £441,101 for the property on 16th February 2001.

Sarah Beeny's Restoration Nightmare

Which is not a bad price for a Georgian mansion with 97 rooms.

Given Beeny’s whole shtick on Property Ladder – rolling her eyes and telling some hapless developer that they are spending far too much and getting too emotionally involved – the real question, of course, is whether she kept to her own principles.

According to an interview with C4, she seems to have done remarkably well on the budgeting front:

We didn’t have the money – a project like this, you would expect to cost at least 10 or 20 times the amount, if you just got a building company to do it.

So our mission was ‘Can you turn this into a proper stately home without it costing the National Trust figure?’ The National Trust would have spent probably £20 million on it. We spent about half a million.

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Yesterday’s report from the Office of Budgetary Responsibility predicted that house prices would end 2010 6.7% up on last year, but said it expects values to fall by 3.1% next year.

This downgrades market expectations from the 1.6% increase the OBR forecast earlier in the year.

It expects house prices to rise  by 1.1% in 2012, by 3.7% in 2013 and by 4.3% in both 2014 and 2015 but these increases are also lower that previous expectations.

OBR house price forecast

In a related comment on the relationship between the housing market and tax receipts the report notes that:

The change in the judgments on both residential property prices and transactions in the November forecast have had a marked effect on the stamp duty land tax (SDLT) forecast.

The SDLT forecast is around £2 billion below the OBR’s June projection by 2015-16.

With the median of independent forecasts suggesting a modest decline in house prices in the year to the final quarter of 2011, the house price level is around 8 per cent lower than previously assumed by the end of the forecast.

This takes around £1 billion off the SDLT projection by 2015-16.

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Oh dear God in heaven … what else is there to say to the news that someone has paid $635,000 in REAL money for a virtual space station in the Entropia Universe online game.

Club Neverdie

Jon Jacobs (aka Neverdie) bought the ‘land’ around Club Neverdie five years ago for $100,000 after mortgaging his real house and has since been busy transforming it into one of the hottest spots in the virtual universe.

It has a mall, a night club and several bio-domes that sell virtual goods and services to other players for real cash.

Clearly he knew what he was doing – he’s just sold the place on, making half a million dollars in the process.

Fascinating article about Jon Jacobs on Forbes.

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So you’re bored at work but your evil boss has blocked access to Facebook and eBay.

Well worry not, because you can probably still log onto Sheryl Crow Auction and start bidding on the singer’s 5-bed house close to Nashville.

Sheryl Crow auction

It comes with:

  • 150+ acres
  • Six-car attached garage
  • Gated entry with security system
  • Media room and recording studio.
  • Private In-Law or Nanny Quarters – featuring full kitchen, bedroom, den, bath
  • Three-bedroom, 2-bath guest house
  • Saltwater pool and spa with pergola
  • Fully functional “Solar Farm” generating over 40% reduction in electric costs.
  • Modern 14-stall barn, large pond
  • Indoor riding arena

Apparently, it was on the market last year for $7.5 million but failed to sell. The current bid price is $1,175,000, but the reserve has not been reached.

Bidding ends at 6 p.m. CST today so don’t be shy now … a change would do you good.

Here’s a video tour of the manor, with fiddle music, to whet your appetite:

Via: Zillow

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We like a nice windmill conversion, and this one, though lacking the iconic sails, is particularly good.

There are great living spaces in the original tower that very cleverly incorporate the machinery and workings, and a new barn-like addition linked to the windmill via a glazed walkway.

£949,950, Carter Jonas (Tel: 01787 882881)

Converted windmill

Converted windmill

Converted windmill

Converted windmill

Converted windmill

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Second life#2 … converted pub

Second life#1 … country house ballroom

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