An audience with estate agent Tom Tangney of Knight Frank

29 Aug

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Tom Tangney, of estate agent Knight Frank in Kensington, talks to Cheryl Markosky about how dinner in Sally Clarke’s eponymous restaurant and an evening with Santana could round off his perfect day.

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Name: Tom Tangney

Company name: Knight Frank

Twitter handle: @kensington_W8

Which area do you cover? I cover all of Kensington and Holland Park, including anything south of Holland Park Avenue, east of Holland Road and south down to Cromwell Road.

How did you start out as an estate agent? I started working for Alan Rivers, a local property entrepreneur. I was his in-house property manager looking after his Notting Hill and Chelsea portfolio.

What would you do if you weren’t an estate agent? With my knowledge of London, I’d be a taxi driver. I know all the roads and shortcuts. I even tracked a taxi once across the city – and arrived before he did.

What was the first property you sold in your area, when did you sell it and for how much? What’s it worth now? The first Knight Frank property I ever sold back in May 2000 was a house in Bedford Gardens for £1.5m. Recently, we sold an unmodernised house there for £4.8m. When done up, it will be worth about £5.5m.

If money was no object, which house or street would you most like to live in on your patch? I’d prefer a double-fronted house on Addison Road instead of a big house on Holland Park. I’d be able to drive through the front gates (and close them behind me) and have my own decent-sized garden. Houses on Addison Road aren’t too big, and they’re central and quiet. One in tip-top condition would cost approximately £50m to £60m.

Any streets or zones on your patch that are particularly hot at the moment? Any hidden gems? The area off Marloes Road, just south of Kensington High Street, is pretty active. And an individual gem is a five bedroom house we’re selling in Blithfield Street, off Stratford Road. Two houses have been combined into one, offering great lateral space. There’s a great village-y atmosphere in this district.

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What are your top tips for buying, selling or letting property in the area?

Buying: Do your financial research in advance, as it’s getting harder to borrow money from lenders these days. Also, consider using a broker. This might sound like a plug, but Knight Frank Finance just sorted out a terrific deal for me at 1.5 per cent over the Bank Rate.

Selling: De-clutter and don’t over-egg the asking price. Be brave and put your property on at a price that will attract competition. You never know, rival buyers might even bid up the price.

Letting: Be as flexible as you can to tenants’ requests. And keep decoration neutral so your home appeals to a broad church.

How would you spend the perfect day off in your area? I’d kick off with a breakfast of scrambled eggs, smoked salmon and latte at Patisserie Valerie in Kensington Church Street. Then, I’d go to ‘hidden museums’ in the area, such as 18 Stafford Terrace, a late Victorian townhouse that was home to the Sambourne family. Most of the original fixtures and fittings are still intact. And I’d check out Leighton House Museum, where we held our wedding reception. Lunch would have to be at Kensington Place, which specialises in the most amazing, fresh fish. In the evening I’d grab a concert at the Royal Albert Hall. I’ve seen an eclectic mix of performances there – anything from Supertramp and Cirque du Soleil, to Santana and the Last Night of the Proms.

What’s your favourite place for dinner in your area? I’d book at table at Clarke’s, a special, small restaurant run by Sally Clarke. There’s a set menu and an incredible wine list.

If you could change one thing to make your working life better what would it be? My father was a doctor and had a ‘doctor on call’ notice on the windscreen of his car. I’d like a similar permit that says ‘agent on call’. It would give me 10 to 15 minutes grace when showing people around property. As I promote the area as an agent, why not? And speaking of parking, you can pay to park in Westminster by phone – but you can’t in Kensington. Hello, Kensington & Chelsea?

What will dominate the news in your market in 2014? The upcoming General Election in 2015. Another big issue is the uncertainty about property taxes.

What’s your motto for being a successful agent? Smile and listen.

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Battersea penthouse reaches the height of luxury

28 Aug

A £7.5m penthouse in Richard Roger’s iconic Montevetro is a new high, says Cheryl Markosky.

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Tall buildings are all the rage in the capital, with 236 edifices of more than 20 storeys proposed, or already under construction, according to New London Architecture.

And with luxury housing in London costing about £3,500 a square foot – nearly £1,000 more than in New York, says a Savill’s survey – living the high life could turn into a highly lucrative business.

No one knows more about the pleasures gained from dwelling in a penthouse than fund manager and ice hockey player Zoran Kozic, who’s been enjoying his groovy glass home in the sky with his sons Alexander, 13, and Ryan, 9.

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Originally designed for Richard Rogers himself, the Battersea riverside penthouse has all the signature marks of one of the towering geniuses of our time: glass walkways, large red and yellow tiles, brushed steel staircases and triple-height spaces.

All the other homeowners in the building on the Thames have forsaken their triple aspects, instead adding more floors. Yet, Kozic hasn’t altered the original template.

“I could have installed another level, making the apartment more traditional. But I prefer to have less floor space, but unbelievable ceiling heights.”

Less floor space isn’t as bad as it sounds. It means nearly 3,000 sq ft, which is plenty of room for most people.

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Another plus is the location of the three bedroom penthouse spreading over the seventh and eighth floors, and a ‘secret’ mezzanine floor with its own adjacent balcony thrown in for good measure.

Kozic believes his is the best spot at Montevetro. “I’m not too high or low, or too close to the street. I still get the feeling that I’m connected to the water and St Mary’s Church.”

The young Kovics think they’re living in a James Bond pad. It’s easy to see where they got this idea. There’s a ‘secret entrance’ flush with the surrounding metal, a Q-style coded entry and panic alarm system, and an unbelievably cool open-plan living, kitchen, dining room with a long balcony running along the river.

The master bedroom suite one floor below also copies the frontage onto the river and opens onto its own balcony. Two more bedrooms at the back aren’t short-changed, as they’re equipped with en suites and access to balconies as well.

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Selling agent Fran Moynihan from Savills Waterfront says the facilities at the Montevetro are top notch, including a 24-hour concierge service, residents’ gym and tennis court and underground parking. There are two allocated spaces for the penthouse’s vehicles.

“Penthouses here rarely come onto the market, even though you get a lot more space for your money than you would north of the river,” she suggests.

Once regarded as a bit of a hinterland, Battersea’s now practically considered part of prime central London, Moynihan argues. “The new American Embassy’s put it on the map, as well as Battersea Square where Gordon Ramsay just opened his latest restaurant.”

Life at the top isn’t cheap, however.

Those balking at paying £7.5m for Kozic’s penthouse could lower their sights for one of his other purchases at the Montevetro – a one bedroom apartment at £750,000, or a three bedroom apartment priced at £1.8m. The three bedroom unit’s temporarily off the market while Kozic does some work to it. If it reflects the funky, modern design of the penthouse it’s worth keeping an eye out for this high-end space.

Private Greek island paradise with 13 acres & its own bar is for sale

22 Aug

A private Greek island boasting 13 acres and its own bar has been put on the market for £12m.

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Trinity Island in the Gulf of Evia also features 350 olive trees, its own church, a seventeenth century watchtower, and a four bedroom property.

And there’s a boat house that fits up to three small speed boats.

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There are three sandy beaches on the island along with what can be described as plenty of ‘fun fishing’, meaning an unlimited supply of crabs, whitebait, mussels, calms and shrimps.

The estate agents handling the sale Demeures de Grece described Trinity Island as “ideal for fishing, water-skiing and sailing and serves as a nature-friendly, beautiful and idyllic relaxation spot”.

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The island is one and a half hours from Athens and can be accessed by boat or helicopter.

It is the shape of a guitar and covers an area of 12 acres, with three main roads – the main road running across the island and being 650 metres long and three metres wide.

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Vendor spotlight: A much loved Victorian terrace just off Queen’s Park

22 Aug

William Morris would approve of this beautiful and practical London house, says Cheryl Markosky

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Name: David Furlong

Occupation: David, 52, is a City hedge fund manager. After being educated in America and France, he’s lived in a number of places, including Japan, France – and now the UK.

Property description: A four bedroom, semi-detached, Victorian house in marvelous condition in ultra-cool Queen’s Park. The globetrotter owner’s scrupulously spruced up this north-west London property to accommodate all the antiques and exceptional pieces he’s accumulated from around the world. A big plus is an unusually large garden for these parts. And for even more green space, you’re only five doors away from the eponymous 30 acre park, an ideal setting for dog walkers like David, families and budding Mo Farahs that fancy a run.

Asking price: £2,590,000

Estate agent: Bella Tellwright, Crayson, 10 Lambton Place, London, W11 2SH

Area statistics: The average price for a semi-detached house is £1,735,379 (£864 per sq ft).

Fun facts: The highest value streets in the district are Alvanley Gardens (£3,420, 658), Brondesbury Park (£2,895, 431) and Kingswood Avenue (£2,779, 773). The top three highest turnover streets are West End Lane (50 per cent), Kingsgate Place (46.6 per cent) and Smyrna Road (42.3 per cent).

Why are you moving? I’m both downsizing and upsizing. I’ve bought an old vigneron (winemaker’s house) in the Languedoc, southwest France. Another grand projet – quite possibly my last. I’m also hunting for a small flat in Paris, and one in London with some outdoor space.

Have you found somewhere to move to? I already have my property in the south of France, but have yet to find something in Paris and London.

What do you like most about the property? The house is just off Queen’s Park:extremely well kept, but relatively unknown grounds brilliantly maintained by the City of London Corporation. After years of work and planning, my own gardens are an exotic, private oasis. When in them, you certainly wouldn’t know you’re in central London. The property reflects my own personal journey, melded with the house’s own 120 year history. Visitors respond to their own aesthetic – French shabby-chic meets Indochine, meets Asian boutique hotel, meets London Victoriana. And the house is functional too – it’s energy efficient and has convenient storage.

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What’s your happiest memory of the property and when did it happen? There have been so many, most of them involving sharing the space with friends and family from all corners of the earth. Even when the house is full of guests, you’re not tripping over each other. Everyone can still find a private space to enjoy quiet moments of solitude, and then come together again both indoors and outdoors.

When did you buy the property and how much was it worth? I bought the house in 1999 for £315,000 from a family that lived here for about 40 years. I was attracted to the near derelict house, because of the size of the gardens for my dog Theo, who has since passed away. The house required complete rewiring and re-plumbing, as well as the gas connected, new central heating system and water mains. Major works were carried out to the roof, floors, walls, ceilings and gardens. I really had no idea at the time about the extent of the works, which have easily succeeded £675,000.

Do you know your neighbours? I travel a lot, so I don’t know as many as I would like. But our patch is made up of young professionals and families, mainly working in the media or the City. My neighbours are quite international, coming from France, Germany, Switzerland, Egypt and America.

22.08.14 David 10What do you like about the local schools? I don’t have any children – just my beloved Hungarian Vizsla dogs, Ivan and Vilma, so I’m not a great expert. But I understand there are several good educational establishments nearby, including Queen’s Park Community and Primary Schools, and The Beehive Montessori nursery on Chevening Road. However, I can tell you all the best places for dog walking.

What’s traffic and transport like? We’re spoilt for choice here with Queen’s Park Tube (Bakerloo Line), and Queen’s Park and Brondesbury Park Overground and rail stations. There are numerous buses heading into town too to Oxford Circus, Victoria, Sloane Square, Westfield and the City. Residents’ parking is plentiful on Harvist Road and surrounding streets.

What are your favourite eateries in the area? Either the small Indian, Bawarchi, down the road, Sacro Cuoro for stone-baked pizza, Minkies Deli for coffee, Gail’s for French bread, cakes and croissants; or the Salusbury Deli on Salusbury Road for salads.

How would you spend the perfect day off in your area? Every day starts with dog walking. Then, I would swing by the High Street to pick up newspapers, coffee and croissants for a leisurely morning in the garden. I’d spend the afternoon in the park with the dogs and then stroll through the local farmers market at Salusbury Road Primary School or around the antique stalls at Portobello Market. In the evening, I’d have a barbecue with friends in the back garden. Heaven!

What local secret do you know that would take a new resident awhile to discover? Just north of Queen’s Park and only a five-minute walk away, there’s a second, ‘secret’ park called Tiverton Green. It’s great for running the dogs off their leads. There’s also a jogging circuit, children’s play areas and a brand new outdoor gym.

If you could change one thing about the house what would it be? I’ve done everything I could think of…and then some. Short of digging a basement and popping in a swimming pool, I’ve indulged myself with this space entirely.

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What items are included in the sale? All fixed appliances, fittings, floor coverings and bespoke cabinetry. I’m also happy to negotiate with anyone who wants to buy some of the furniture and furnishings that were sourced around the world specifically for this place.

Who would be your ideal buyer? Someone who needs a bit of elbow room and appreciates an indoor outdoor lifestyle. With the new French Lycee opening in nearby Wembley, French school in Swiss Cottage and American school in St Johns Wood, I suspect this would be ideal for a young, active family – hopefully with a nice dog.

What do you most fear about the selling process? Probably my biggest issue is the ‘letting go’ of this amazing, calming space and finding a buyer who will love it as much as I have. This house has been my passion and I’m not sure what it will be like to no longer own it. It’s been a long journey and I didn’t do it up to just ‘flip it’ quickly. I’ve brought many memories and items to the house from other places and it’s very much a part of me. It’s a very different house and it’s quite an emotive thing selling it.

Agents advice:

22.08.14 David 6Bella Tellwright of Crayson says: “Everyone has different objectives when selling property. There’s so much talk about investment buying, rising values and pounds per square foot, that sometimes it’s difficult to remember that for many people owning a property’s still about having somewhere to live that’s a home.

“As agents, we completely understand different vendors’ priorities. Sometimes a quick sale’s crucial; sometimes the best possible price is more important than speed. And for others, selling to a buyer who empathises with the property is of significant consequence.

“Vendors should find an agent that appreciates that all sellers are different. They should make their main concerns clear at an early stage. A good agent will market the property in a way that’s appropriate to the objectives. We understand the conflicting emotions David’s dealing with and are doing everything we can to market the house in a way that attracts buyers who appreciate the aesthetics, and to make the selling process as easy for him as possible.”


If you are selling your home and would like to be featured in this column, please email Zoopla content editor Myra Butterworth at myra.butterworth@zoopla.co.uk


 

Historic mansion bought for £1 goes back on the market for £2.3m

21 Aug

A historic mansion that was bought as a wreck more than three decades ago for £1, has gone back on the market for £2.3m.

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Grade I listed Barlaston Hall in Staffordshire is seen as one of the most significant renovation stories in English heritage.

It was preserved by SAVE Britain’s Heritage and purchased for just £1 in 1981.

The eight bedroom property boasts a library and a saloon, and sits within 4.5 acres of land that includes several outbuildings and a kitchen garden.

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The property fell into disrepair amid concerns for its safety due to subsidence caused by coal mining operations and being on a geological fault that led to severe cracks.

SAVE Britain’s Heritage, which championed the cause of decaying country houses, bought the property, before grants and loans were secured to complete the renovation works in the 1990s.

In 1992, it was bought by its current owners James and Carol Hall, who restored the interior as it was conceived by the property’s architect Sir Robert Taylor.

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George Dennis, of estate agent Knight Frank, which is handling the sale, said: “This house is a one-off in that Grade-I listed buildings don’t come on the market very often. The building is a fine piece of architecture and the current owners have put a lot of money into the restoration.

“’The reason why the owners are selling is because they are looking to move back to Scotland. It has been a home to them and this building is best suited for that purpose.”

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The ‘Chanel of the property world’ shows it has the ‘wow’ factor

20 Aug

Brand leader Octagon has homes for all seasons. Just like Chanel has cultivated a well recognised and admired brand, so has upper-end housebuilder Octagon, discovers Cheryl Markosky.

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Chanel might be famous for its clothing, shoes and perfume, while Octagon Developments does what it does best: roomy, detached houses and townhouses in South East England’s preeminent postcodes.

Home Counties Octagon ‘groupies’ even look out for the latest houses to come to the market, similar to ‘it’ girls queuing to snaffle the hottest, newfangled handbags.

We now take the Grand Designs approach of traditional Downtown Abbey on the outside of a property, combined with cutting-edge, Borgen-style insides for granted. But Octagon practically invented the whole new-meets-old look.

Octagon’s head of group marketing David Smith points out that a typical Octagon home in various guises and prices comes with the company’s trademark neo-classical exteriors and contemporary interiors.

“Purchasers want a quintessential English property, but one that takes you into the modern world when you step over the threshold,” he explains.

Octagon’s formula has served the firm well for the past 34 years. Smith says another key ingredient in the recipe is buying the right piece of land on the right road.

“Just like jewelry, you can get some lookalikes for less, but the quality and attention to detail will never be the same.”

Smith adds that Octagon has to keep an eye on what’s coming up with regards to fashionable interior design and that the company is ‘dressing’ its homes a good deal more these days to help them sell.

“We’ll spend about £150,000 to £200,000 on furniture and fittings for a home costing £5m plus,” he says. Kitting out the major zones, such as the kitchen, drawing room, master suite and a games room for kids can make all the difference to viewers.

Octagon’s even employed Russian interior designer, the NR Group, to deck out Saddle Stones, a 7,500 sq ft mini-mansion on the swanky St George’s Hill estate, near Weybridge.

“It might look like a waste of money, but experience shows it helps give a sense of size and grandeur to a property if you display it at its finest,” suggests Smith.

Here’s a guide to some of the smartest Octagon homes currently for sale:

1. What could be more luxurious than £17.5m Crossacres, a 15,000 sq ft house on a 2.3-acre plot on the star-studded Wentworth Estate?

Selling agent James Crawford from Knight Frank’s country department says Octagon’s excelled at placing Crossacres at one of the best addresses at Wentworth.

“The layout’s good, there’s plenty of accommodation space and the pool’s fantastic. In addition, Crossacre’s gardens are outstanding. And technically, the house passes ‘the Granny test’: if your Granny was in charge she could work out how to use everything,” Crawford declares.

And if there’s any bafflement over how to operate the lights, video or music systems, you can email a technical manager who will help.

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2. Another beauty is elegant, £9.5m Saddle Stones “with feminine and tasteful design by the NR Group. You don’t feel like you’re stuck in a mausoleum. This is a house that has a heart,” notes selling agent Simon Ashwell from Savills Weybridge.

Other pluses, he says, include “a lovely turned staircase that makes you feel connected wherever you are in the house, a bespoke glass lift and an outdoor pool with two pop-up fountains. Rather than appear as a dark space when not being used, in the evening the pool cleverly turns into a water feature.”

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3. Forget gloomy, and think dazzling at Long Furrow, a south-facing Wentworth house with a glass atrium spreading over three stories at the rear of the property.

“The atrium lights up the whole house,” comments Paul Cockerham of Knight Frank Virginia Water. He’s marketing Long Furrow at a guide price of £5.5m.

As well as the much appreciated brightness, Cockerham also admires the staff annex over the garage, the semi open-plan layout (“there’s glass paneling to enclose the dining room, but it still feels open”) and a generous master suite that shares a large balcony with a nearby guest bedroom.

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4. For those preferring a townhouse, if you hurry you can still pick up one at Long Walk Villas in Windsor, one of south-east England’s hottest commuter towns.

Three of the Octagon townhouses, right opposite Windsor Great Park and only a 10-minute walk from the station, have sold. But, don’t despair. There are five more available from £2.75m.

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Boomerang generation struggles to buy their own homes & makes the move back permanent

19 Aug

With the boomerang generation zooming back home, Cheryl Markosky finds places for multi-family living.

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Your beloved son loads his books, climbing equipment and student beanbags into a van and finally flies from the family nest.

But just when you think you’re got the house all to yourself and start eyeing up his bedroom as your new study, he glides back again.

One in four under 30s still live with their parents, according to a new study from the Institute of Fiscal Studies.

And record numbers of young people will continue abiding with Mum and Dad, as members of the boomerang generation struggle to buy their own homes.

Research from the Ideal Home Show points out that 4 per cent of the British population (728,000 families) has three generations dwelling under one roof.

However, more than one generation existing side-by-side might not be as bad as it sounds.

Di Woodhouse and her builder husband seem to have it sorted on their secluded, Norfolk estate, Lady’s Wood, in Melton Constable.

Here, Di and hubby reside in a four bedroom, Georgian house with their boys, aged three and five, next to a contemporary, three bedroom brick and flint barn-style property accommodating her parents.

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“The beauty of our set-up is that my parents are close enough so we can socialise and they can see their grandchildren, but at the end of the day we can go back to our own house,” explains Di.

With Di’s parents getting older and the Woodhouses also owning a house in Australia, the 73 acre estate is now surplus to requirements and is on the market at £2,750,000.

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Selling agent Tim Hayward, of Jackson-Stops & Staff, says: “Multi-generational living’s becoming increasingly popular, but can prove taxing on family relationships. A degree of physical separation between parents and children is preferable, whether this is a defined annex, or an adjacent property on the same plot of land. This means you aren’t on top of each other and helps maintain a good dynamic.”

LR3_TIM_HAYWARD.JPGHe believes there are tax advantages to dwelling side-by-side as well.

“If the parents gift the house to their children and live for more than seven years, there’s no inheritance tax to pay. They can continue living in the property,and may be subject to a ‘gift with reservation’ tax, but this is nowhere near the 40 per cent level of IHT.”

Other benefits include savings on childcare for grandchildren and the sentimental value of grandparents being able to watch them grow up, adds Hayward.

It’s important, however, to lay down ground rules for the boomerang generation from the start, believes Guy Meacock from Prime Purchase.

“There’s something to be said for children paying their parents rent. They don’t have to scrape together a deposit or worry about the landlord kicking them out, but it gets them into the habit of contributing each month, rather than living for free,” he argues.

Meacock favours converting a basement into a self-contained flat, so children and parents can come and go as they please. Self-contained accommodation could also be created on an upper floor, though this is less desirable, as there isn’t separate access.

“It’s worth bearing in mind that the resale of the property can be tricky if you’ve divided it into two units, unless it can be easily converted back into one dwelling. So, think ahead past the current arrangement,” notes Meacock.

If you’re still feeling intrepid enough to bunk up with numerous family members, here are some more multi-age band homes for sale:

1. Flexible layout is the key at Bellway Homes’ Claremont at Sunninghill, Ascot. Teenagers or grandparents can live independently on the third floor of a four to five bedroom townhouse (from £1,314,995), but they’re still within the family residence.

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2. One lot can live in the five bedroom manor house and the other lot in the five bedroom converted barn on the Denne Manor Estate near Canterbury, Kent. But to ensure peace reigns supreme in the family,

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3. This Arts & Crafts house near Milford Haven in Pembrokeshire is on the market with Savills. There’s the main Arts & Crafts house for a young family, a one bedroom apartment for granny or an older child returning after university, and an old coach house with planning permission for a three bedroom house – a home for the next generation.

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4. A roomy, rambling family house in the village of Shere, near Guildford in Surrey could easily be split into two dwelling spaces. Currently, there are five bedrooms, but the layout could be reconfigured according to the group’s needs.

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5. Rural bliss can be found in the hamlet of West Ogwell, near Newton Abbot in Devon. Marchand Petit is selling a five bedroom house that comes with a two bedroom bungalow, all set in two acres. Forking out £935,000 to preserve family harmony might be money well spent in the long run.

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