Archive for February, 2011

This converted tower dates back to 1307 and was originally used as a sawmill by the Monks of Maugersbury.

It’s POA and in the Cotswolds so I’m guessing that you’d need to saw an awful lot of timber to afford it now … though I do know a few chippies who might be able to stump up the necessary.

Millway Tower

Millway Tower

Millway Tower



Second life#7 … BBC Studios

Second life#6 … converted chapel

Second life#5 … The organ factory

Second life#4 … The old lighthouse

Second life#3 … Grade II listed windmill

Second life#2 … Converted pub

Second life … Country house ballroom


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What? “A dilapidated former public house with mixed use planning consent,” according to the details. My local looks worse for wear after a Friday night …

The permission is for retail on the basement and ground floor, 3 x 1 bedroom flats, 3 x 2 bedroom flats and 2 x 2 bedroom penthouses with terraces. So a developer’s project, really.

Where? London SE1

How Much? £1,850,000

Pub, SE1

Pub, SE1

Pub, SE1

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Oh lordy, I do believe it is … or maybe it’s a mouse. It’s a rather small picture and I can’t claim expertise in the identification of rodents.

Rightmove picture (pic 9 in gallery)

What I can tell you is that it’s one of the pictures used to advertise a 5-bed house in Newcastle – a pretty nice looking Georgian townhouse, as it happens.

The picture-with-rodent appears on Rightmove and can still be seen… but curiously, on the agent’s site it’s minus the mouse… it looks like the picture has been cropped to remove the wee beastie.

Sadly, the Internet is an unforgiving place, and the whiskery one can still be seen in the thumbnail photograph on the agent’s site.

In fairness to the agent, I should add the caveat: the rodent may be a toy for the cat to play with … and one never knows for sure with these things whether someone has been playing silly buggers with Photoshop … graphic designers: feel free to pitch in and tell us if it’s a fake!

Cropped picture on agent's site .. note chairs cut .. and mouse!

Thumbnail pic on agent's site ... uncropped, by the look of it

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News reaches us that Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, son of the beleaguered Libyan leader, has his London house on the market with a rental value of £9,750 per week.

It’s in upmarket Hampstead Garden Suburb and is rather tasty, though some of the interior details are a tad OTT: cinema room, acoustically lined in padded suede, anyone? !

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi's London house

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi's London house

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi's London house

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi's London house

Via: The Telegraph

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I’ve been reading today about rankdesk, a new property analysis website which assesses the investment potential of properties on the market.

It works like this: you submit the URL of a central London property for sale and the site will send you a report (£60) outlining its investment potential within 24 hours.

Rankdesk sample report

How do they assess the properties?

Their methodology has two elements: one looks at the property in terms of variables like proximity to transport, schools, and derelict land, room size, outside space, parking, aspect, energy efficiency etc.

The other uses anticipated rental income, sale price, expenses, and so on to calculate a net operating income and gross and net yields.

They also provide an RQI score which compares the combined 5 year capital growth, net yield and quality performance of a property with an average benchmark RQI score value of 300 central London properties analysed in January 2011.

It’s a neat idea, but I do have reservations – my main one being that the inexperienced will see this as a handy off-the-shelf package that they can use to direct them towards the most lucrative buy-to-let investments.

Rankdesk (not so sure about that name, guys) make clear that their reports “should not be considered as investment,valuation or any other form of advice,” but the risk remains.

One of their partner agents, Martin Bikhit, of Kay & Co, says: “rankdesk is an innovative and original idea which has been welcomed by all of the property investors we have spoken to, particularly those unfamiliar with the London market.”

Which begs the question: should you really be investing in a market you are unfamiliar with?

I have other reservations, which are as follows:

Data vs Knowledge

A lot of the property and area data they sell is readily available elsewhere and I’m not sure that it’s worth paying for it.

What’s not included (as far as I can see – correct me if I’m wrong, rankdesk) is the sort of local information that investors really need to get a handle on, such as:

What’s the rental demand like in the area, who will your tenants be, what do these tenants expect, how much rental stock is there in the place to compete with, how easy will it be to sell the thing if you need to or want to etc – stuff you can really only get to grips with through on-the-ground graft, conversations with agents and real-time familiarity with the place.

In a nutshell, the rankdesk report provides useful data and information, but that’s no substitute for real local knowledge (or, for that matter, investment experience).

Generalities  vs Specifics

The calculations on the financial side are based on assumed figures for things like price, mortgage interest rate, deposit, expenses, rent etc.

Nothing wrong with that, per se, but you’d be bonkers to buy a property based on these. You really need to do your own calculations – because once you change the variables for individual situations the numbers will change too.

For example, among the assumptions in rankdesk’s calculations, are:

  • The returns are based on the asking price and the rental income from the property
  • Median rents are derived from the asking prices of properties in a specific area.  We collect asking prices of rental property from estate agent websites on a block or street basis to determine a value for achieved rent. Based on interviews with partner estate agents we discounted the asking price by 10% to get an assumed rental value
  • We assign a uniform 5 year capital appreciation to all central London properties irrespective of location or condition
  • Rental growth rates are based on the government’s long term inflation rate that is fixed at 2% pa and on market outlooks by partner agents.
  • The sample report assumes a deposit of £400,000 on a £545,000 property. Doesn’t that seem rather high?

Now these are all reasonable assumptions in an exercise like this – and one thing rankdesk should be commended for is making clear how much initial work should be carried out by investors.

But these reports, I’d argue,  should only be regarded as a starting point, and nothing more, and will need to be adjusted according to individual circumstance.

I’m sure rankdesk would agree with these caveats – I just hope people using the reports understand their limitations.

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Ok, this week we’re off to Hampshire to lust over this rather lovely six bedroom house on the banks of the Beaulieu river.

The house itself is grand enough, but it’s the location – on the edge of the river with gorgeous views over the Solent – that really makes us dribble over our keyboard.

Knight Frank, Guide Price of £2,650,000.

Gins Old Farmhouse

Gins Old Farmhouse

Gins Old Farmhouse

Gins Old Farmhouse

Gins Old Farmhouse

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