Is this Scottish lodge the perfect place to spot the Loch Ness monster?

17 Oct

Can’t find the Loch Ness monster? Buy Loch Ness Lodge instead, advises Cheryl Markosky.

17.10.14 Ness 2

Tracking down the world’s most elusive creature, the Loch Ness monster, can be a bit of a business.

Many people who thought they’d spotted a giraffe-like neck or two humps peeking above the water have never managed to prove the existence of the shy beast.

Those despairing adventurers would be better off checking out the white-washed lodge, currently run as a luxury bed and breakfast venture and for sale through Strutt & Parker in Inverness at £1,860,000.

The lodge itself has a splendid reception hall, seven en-suite bedrooms, a therapy room and spa with hot tub and sauna. In splendid condition, its interiors draw on Scottish nature, with a palette of soft lichens, autumn russets, natural stones and purple heather hues.

17.10.14 Ness 5

17.10.14 Ness 3

17.10.14 Ness 4

Alongside the secluded lodge, with superb views over Loch Ness, sits five separate cottages. One functions currently as a three bedroom apartment with an office, while three have one bedroom each, as well as fully equipped kitchens and utility rooms. Cottage number five has two bedrooms.

17.10.14 Ness 6Selling agent Kevin Maley, of Strutt & Parker in Inverness, says the local council is likely to grant permission for change of use to turn the luxury inn back into solely residential premises.

Would it be a shame, however, to alter what appears to be a well built-up business?

“It does run well, with owner’s accommodation one end and the holiday cottages dotted along the hillside above the loch,” he points out. “But ultimately, it could become a terrific family house too. There are lots of options for a buyer.”

Maley argues that Loch Ness Lodge is a very rare commodity, particularly as it sits in such a quiet and protected position. “There are very few properties overlooking Loch Ness – the views are stunning.”

It’s also in terrific condition. “An Edinburgh-based designer advised the current owners on furniture and décor,” adds Maley.

17.10.14 Ness 1

The asking price covers all the buildings. Yet, the sale is divided into two lots – the first comprised of the lodge, Lodge and Ness-side Cottages; with the remaining three cottages in the second lot.

Maley would prefer to see all the buildings sell as one package though. He says the cottages would sell tomorrow if they were put individually on the market. “But I don’t want to sell them off if it means we won’t be able to shift the largest asset.”

His instincts appear to be correct, as interest so far is to keep Loch Ness Lodge and all its component parts whole.

Another plus for fans of Nessie, the mysterious monster, is that there’s a chance to purchase a precious three-acre development site south-west of the lodge and only 100 metres from the shoreline.

There’s also planning consent included in the sale for a boating facility. Anyone up for a paddle to find that elusive monster? Or, for those unbelievers among you, how about a relaxing soak in the hot tub?

Guide to letting your property

15 Oct

Top 10 tips on renting from new landlady Cheryl Markosky

Renting

  1. Be prepared
  • Browse online. This will give you a sense of the rough worth of your rentals property. Also, you can discover your local estate agents.
  • Pop into a few agents’ offices and see if you’d enjoy doing business with them. Ask them who your target tenants might be and what kind of property they’re hunting for.
  • Draw up a shortlist of three agents.

 

  1. Beauty parade
  • Ask your potential agents how they find tenants, where do they advertise, what services do they offer in-house and what do they contract outside.
  • What rent do they think your rentals home might fetch and ask how they arrived at that figure.
  • How much do the agents charge and what’s included (for instance, marketing or photography). Remember, you can negotiate on a commission fee.

 

  1. Managing the situation
  • Decide whether you will manage the property yourself, or employ someone else to do it.
  • You need to react quickly if your tenant alerts you to a problem and someone needs to be on-call 24/7 in case of emergencies.
  • Some landlords favour employing an agent so they don’t have to dash out to supervise the boiler being repaired at an inconvenient time.
  • Do ask the agent what he charges for property management. You might choose to do a ‘selfie management’ to save money.

 

  1. Kerb appeal
  • It’s worth investing time and money into sprucing up your rentals property before wannabe tenants come round. Get windows cleaned, shampoo carpets, jet wash paving and terraces, touch up paint and sort out the garden.

* Ensure everything works from the boiler, cooker and televison, through to lighting, alarm and locks.

* Check your insurance (including public liability), carry out gas safety checks (and electrical, to play it safe) and get an energy performance certificate.

 

  1. Furnishing: to be or not to be
  • Decide whether your property will be let furnished or unfurnished. You might want to be flexible and say it could be either – or even a halfway house (some furniture, but not all of it).
  • Remove anything personal or precious – if you’d be desperately upset if something was damaged or lost then remove it.
  • Make sure a detailed inventory is drawn up. Check it carefully before you sign it (mine said the cooker, dishwasher and lighting system didn’t work – which was incorrect).

 

  1. Target tenants
  • Luring in the right people is vital. Ask the agent who’s most likely to rent your property and how is he going to contact them.
  • Ask the agent what his marketing strategy is. Will he advertise your property and who will pay for it? Think about digital as well as print.
  • Also, this is the time to voice what you don’t want. Are you refusing anyone with pets or smokers, for example.

 

  1. Accepting an offer
  • Choosing a tenant isn’t all about money. When an offer’s made, find out how long he wants to stay, whether he wants the property furnished and any other requests.
  • You can negotiate over matters raised by a potential tenant. It’s good to be flexible – but equally, you can say no if you don’t like the sound of a demand.
  • Your agent will check the tenant’s references. I would advise not going ahead until you can see some testimonials.

 

  1. Signing a contract
  • Your agent will draw up a contract for you and your tenant to sign. Ensure your agent includes any extra clauses from either side.
  • Read the contract thoroughly before you sign. And take advice from the agent or your solicitor if you’re uncertain about anything.
  • A standard deposit is usually the equivalent of six weeks rent. It is held with a tenancy deposit scheme or a separate account managed by the agent.

 

  1. Keep your tenant happy
  • You will need to handle any calls from the tenant if there are problems with the property. Responding quickly to calls is advisable to keep the tenant on side. Also, a leak can turn into a flood if it isn’t dealt with quickly.
  • If your tenant is making unreasonable requests (you aren’t required to go round and change a light bulb, for instance) you need to point out what you will – and what you won’t do.
  • If you feel you cannot manage the property adequately, do talk to the agent who will take responsibility for managing the property – for a fee, of course, so you need to factor in the extra cost.

 

  1. When it’s all over
  • Usually, two months before the end of the contract you will need to work out the terms of the next contract (if indeed you’re extending it). Will the price go up or down, depending on market conditions, and do you want to amend any terms in the contract?
  • If it’s time to find a new tenant talk to the agent about how he’s going to search for one.
  • When your tenant departs this is the time to think about carrying out any maintenance required. The inventory clerk will check the state of the property and get your keys back from the exiting tenant.

Ski chalets for sale in some of the world’s most exclusive resorts

14 Oct

If you google ‘the world’s best ski chalet’, you’ll find a selection of properties in luxury resorts such as Verbier that are available to rent for hundreds of thousands of pounds. But that’s not for the whole season – it is for a single week during Christmas or during half term in February.

14.10.14 Ski 1

Some of these luxury properties are also for sale. But with prices tags north of 30m euros, it is unlikely to be anyone but the world’s ultra high net worth individuals who will seek a viewing.

“These chalets will attract global billionaires, who already own iconic properties elsewhere in the world, such as One Hyde Park in London,” explains Jeremy Rollason of Savills Alpine Homes. “They become trophy homes that they aspire to own.”

The properties include all the luxuries you would expect, from an outdoor Jacuzzi and cinema room to a mini ice rink in the garden.

But for those looking for a more typical three bedroom property in a ski resort, what can you expect to pay and what are the most popular items on buyers’ wish lists?

Most buyers are seeking properties that are within an hour or two of the airport and are within close proximity to the centre of their chosen ski resort – preferably with a ski in ski out location, explains Rollason.

He suggests they’ll be looking at properties worth between €1m to €5m.

A luxury apartment at a new development currently being built in Courchevel has prices starting from €1.5m.

The development of 44 apartments is called One Courchevel and includes 10 penthouses, all with fabulous views of the mountains.

With France offering some of the best skiing in the world, the development has facilities to match, including a spa, 24 hour concierge, private car parking, storage and ski rooms. The scheme launches in December.

14.10.14 Ski 2

Courchevel is ranked as one of the world’s most exclusive resorts with six Michelin starred restaurants – one for every 100km of piste.

The resort is also ranked in the top three locations on the Savills Kakao Index, which lists the price of a hot chocolate on the slopes.

Top of the index is Gstaad, while the bottom three includes Morzine.

Savills Kakao Index

 

Buying property overseas in Croatia

14 Oct

Croatia is becoming more popular with people looking to move abroad. With its stunning coastlines, rich history and low cost of living, overseas property and finance expert Simon Conn is receiving more enquiries than ever before.

14.10.14 Croatia 1

With its slower pace of life and value for money, Croatia is a good place to consider for a new life or a second home. Located in the Balkans, a large part of the country stretches along the coastline on one side, with neighbouring countries including Slovenia, Hungary and Serbia.

Croatia became an independent sovereign state in the early 1990s, when Yugoslavia disbanded, and there is currently a population of just under 4.5 million.It is considered to be a welcoming location for ex-pats and if you’re looking to get more for your money, the cost of living there is much lower than many other countries in Europe.

The currency is the Kuna and the main language is Croatian, although English is one of the most common second languages.

14.10.14 Croatia 2Much of inland Croatia is mountainous and hilly and the country is home to an impressive eight national parks, as well as lakes and mountains. The country has an interesting cultural heritage and one of the oldest town halls in Europe. If you’re a fan of architecture, many of the churches, museums and galleries are on the UNESCO World Heritage list, and the palace built by the Roman Emperor Diocletian is worth visiting too.

Although Croatia has a more relaxed and slower pace of life than the UK, there are still plenty of activities for the more active and adventurous to try. Popular pastimes include sailing, diving, cycling and mountain climbing.

If you’re emigrating, but not ready to retire, you may want to settle in or nearthe capital, Zagreb, which is home to many businesses, education centres, arts and culture. Shipbuilding is also a big industry and popular exports include food, wine and lavender.

Croatian beachfront properties are good value and considered to be some of the best in Europe. A well-known region is the Dalmatian Coast, which has warm summers and mild winters. There are in excess of 1,000 islands on this coast, with Brac being particularly popular.

Istria is also a great place to settle and has been compared to Italy because of its towns nestled in the hills, seaside villages and wonderful beaches.

If you want to live in Croatia, you will need a visa and the three categories are short term, temporary or permanent stay.

There is no minimum mortgage or purchase price in Croatia. The maximum size of the mortgage and the purchase price are determined by the regular monthly personal income which the client discloses in the mortgage application process.

The maximum loan to value is 70 per cent and interest rates are available at 5 per cent. Non status and self-certified mortgages – offered by lenders where proof of income is not required – and buy to let are not available in Croatia.

14.10.14 Croatia 3

 

An Audience with Nick Karamanlis of Stirling Ackroyd estate agents

13 Oct

an-audience-with

Nick Karamanlis, of estate agents Stirling Ackroyd speaks to Harriet Meyer about the perfect day in his Shoreditch patch.

13.10.14 Nick 1

Name: Nick Karamanlis

Company: Stirling Ackroyd 

Twitter handle: @stirling_london

Area covered: Shoreditch, East London

How did you start out as an estate agent? I worked in investment banking for five years, but found it a little monotonous. I wanted an occupation where I could interact more with people, and ideally one where every day could be different. This job definitely ticks these boxes.

What would you do if you weren’t an estate agent? It’s difficult to say as I hadn’t planned on becoming one in the first place! At university my ideal profession would have been advertising which I suppose isn’t entirely different.

What was the first property you sold in your area, when did you sell it and for how much? What’s it worth now? We sold a home on Buttesland Road, N1 for just under £450,000 in 2005. We just sold a similar house down the road recently for close to £1,200,000.

If money was no object, which house or street would you most like to live in on your patch? A lovely loft with high ceilings and canal views around Shepherdess Walk would be nice.

Any streets or zones on your patch that are particularly hot at the moment? Any hidden gems? Anywhere around the “Silicon Roundabout” (Old Street) In fact, the house we just sold around the corner on Buttesland Road had more than 10 people offering the asking price. You can still manage to bag a bargain in the patch between Whitechapel and Bethnal Green. We just sold a stunning church conversion, Steeple Court in Coventry Road. With the impending Crossrail and general investment in the area, it’s certainly one to watch in the future.

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

Buying: Make sure you are ready with your finances in place and offer early on the property you like with the premise the vendor takes the property off the market if possible. While it’s difficult to time the sale and the purchase to compete with chain free buyers, if in a chain you must have your sale progressed as much as possible.

Selling: It’s important to keep your property as clutter free as possible. Changing kitchens and bathrooms can be a waste of time and money as most buyers like to do things to their own tastes anyway. Fixing noticeable problems such as leaks or rotten windows is far more valuable.

Letting: Shoreditch tenants expect high quality stock so it’s important to finish your property to a really good standard, as there is a lot of competition in the area.

How would you spend the perfect day off in your area? It would be mainly food related, so breakfast at the Breakfast Club followed by a bike ride along Regent’s Canal. I’d have lunch on the rooftop of The Boundary followed by a stroll around the shops of Brick Lane and Spitalfields.

What’s your favourite place for dinner in your area? For an all round experience there aren’t many better places than the Boundary’s rooftop restaurant. On a summer’s day, a steak there is as good as it gets. Even in the winter, the log fire makes the mulled wine taste all the better.

If you could change one thing to make your working life better what would it be? My working life would certainly be easier if lenders were a little less stringent towards properties where people will live and work. A large proportion of properties we sell in Shoreditch have a live/work element to the lease.

What will dominate the news in your market in the next six months? The fact that the market has stabilised recently after a whirlwind last year.

What’s your motto for being a successful agent? Make yourself available whenever possible and return calls and emails within a couple of hours at the very latest. More importantly though – and I know this may sound strange coming from an agent – being honest, transparent and down to earth sets you apart.

13.10.14 Nick 2

 

Mansion Tax fears prompt drop in house prices

10 Oct

Concerns about the introduction of a Mansion Tax have led to a drop in the rate of house price growth for luxury homes, it has been revealed today.

10.10.14 Mansion 1

Values for prime property increased by 0.3 per cent during the past three months, according to estate agents Knight Frank. It is the slowest rate of growth for almost two years.

The drop in values has yet to translate into a reduction in sales as the total number of properties sold this year is 8.4 per cent higher than the same period a year ago.

But Knight Frank warns momentum is easing as the number of prospective buyers registering their interest in buying prime country homes fell 9 per cent.

It blamed concerns about a possible Mansion Tax on properties worth more than £2m after next May’s General Election.

A further property tax would be in addition to Stamp Duty – a large chunk of which is paid by luxury home owners.

Figures for the last tax year suggest £1bn of the total £6.4bn tax take for Stamp Duty revenue was collected from the £2m plus price bracket.

Rupert Sweeting, head of Knight Frank Country, said: “As the statistics show there has been an increase in activity year on year which is indicative of the continuing low interest rates, prospering economy and general feel good factor.

“Early September saw a brief lull reflective of the Referendum outcome and discussions on Mansion Tax but activity has returned signalling increased confidence and the fact buyers realise the Mansion tax proposals have not been thought through.”

A luxury home in North London is proving a star attraction

9 Oct

A luxury home in North London is proving a star attraction on the PrimeLocation Facebook page.

09.10.14 Swim 1

The stunning six bedroom and seven bathroom property in Radlett extends to more than 13,000 sq ft and boasts a large garden, six reception rooms and an indoor swimming pool, as well as a gym and off-street parking.

Preston Bennett in association with Hamptons International, the agent handling the sale, described the property as “stunning”.

And those visiting the PrimeLocation Facebook page agreed, with Natalie Torres describing the house as “a dream” and David Fayers saying: “I would love that! Better get saving!”

Sue Sawyer added: “This is how I would like my house to look one day.”

The Facebook posting of the property has more than 400 likes and more than 50 shares.

09.10.14 Swim 2

09.10.14 Swim 3

09.10.14 Swim 4

09.10.14 Swim 5

09.10.14 Swim 6

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 26,088 other followers