Coco Chanel’s former French villa is on the market

17 Apr

The former home of fashion designer Coco Chanel is suitably dressed, but perhaps not in the way you would expect.

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As it is not so much the interior of the property – although this is impressive – but the what lies beyond the walls of the Mediterranean villa and in its past that is likely to stop you in your tracks.

The seven bedroom and six bathroom property boosts panoramic views of the French Riveria, with miles of stunning coastline on offer.

It also has a colourful history, with Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali and – more recently – Sir Winston Churchill all having stayed as guests.

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Its romantic setting in the hills of Roquebrune Cap Martin is emphasized by ancient olive groves, which are believed to have been planted for the former princes of Monaco.

The main villa has four large reception rooms and is set in 6.42 acres. There is also extensive secondary accommodation.

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Bag a property bargain with these multi-million pound pads requiring updating

16 Apr

If you have a multi-million pound budget to buy a home, you may be led to believe that you can afford to select the property of your desires. But recent house price rises – particularly in London – means such a budget will not stretch as far as it once did. One option to make your money stretch further is to consider properties that require updating.

Here are some £1m plus properties that need modernizing:

1. End of terrace house, with five bedrooms, in London’s Upper Cheyne Row for £6,650,000.

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2. Five bedroom detached house in London’s Willesden Lane for £2,750,000

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3. Three bedroom detached house in Wimbledon Village for £1.975,000

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4. Six bedroom property in arguably one of the best roads in St John’s Wood, London, for £5,950,000.

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5. Five bedroom terrace house in London’s Brook Green for£2,850,000

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A shiny new-build home overseas or older characterful? The choice is yours…

15 Apr

Choosing between a shiny new-build or older characterful overseas property can be baffling. Cheryl Markosky seeks advice from the experts.

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Some people are diehard fans of brand spanking new homes where you can march in and not worry about doing a thing. Others wouldn’t want to be caught dead in a new home, preferring period property with personality.

But is a period home a black hole for cash, with the maintenance you have to lavish on it simply to keep it upright? And what of bland new homes that are cookie-cutter boxes modelled on a computer plan provided by a developer?

Although he can see the merits of old and new, Roddy Aris, of Winkworth International, is generally on the side of older re-sales.

He points out that Britons have an idea of quality that’s not necessarily replicated by an overseas developer. “To make the house builder realise your dream is unrealistic. At best, you’ll only get about 80 per cent of what you desire.”

Whereas with a re-sale, if you don’t like it you can quickly knock a few walls down, paint and install a pool to create your vision, Aris says.

Also, Aris believes that it’s harder to find high-end new homes in prime locations in the Balearics or on the Riviera. “Good spots have already been built on, so most new developments end up in B areas. If you want an A-list spot, you’re more likely to find older homes.”

As long as you’re buying from a reputable builder you can take comfort in a new home purchase, suggests Michael Cunnington from MJC Associates in Mallorca.

“I tell people buying from a trusted developer, such as the Bendinat Group, means they won’t need a lawyer to check anything. But I wouldn’t say this with a private seller or some other house builders,” he explains.

A big plus in buying new is the 10-year guarantee against structural defects that comes with the property, similar to NHBC’s home construction warranty in the UK. “If your property’s second-hand and the 10-year guarantee hasn’t run out you’ll still be covered,” notes Cunnington.

Equally, he argues that if you bought off-plan at the beginning of construction, generally your asset will have increased in value by the time it’s completed. As there’s a shortage of sites where house builders can build now in Mallorca, a new-build property is bound to climb in value.

When purchasing a re-sale home, Cunnington advises employing a good lawyer who will carry out due diligence to ensure the property was built where it was meant to be and there have been no illegal add-ons.

“It’s not usual practice to have surveys carried out here. I can recommend builders who can take a look at a property, but of course this is no guarantee,” he says.Cunnington reassures purchasers by noting that old Spanish fincas have been on the island for more than 200 years and are still standing.

However, he cautions buyers searching for homes in blocks that are about 25 years old to find out the age of the plumbing and when it was last renewed. “The plumbing in your apartment might look okay, but sometimes pipes running through the building to it aren’t in great shape.”

Ray Withers, chief executive of Property Frontiers, comments on new build projects, such as Bacolet Bay on Grenada in the Caribbean. “Generally, buying new-build provides more security, providing it’s been built well and to international standards. This is not the case with older properties, but a survey can offer some certainty.”

He cautions buyers that many properties outside of Europe weren’t built to last. In the Caribbean, building technology is improving all the time.“Brand-new buildings will have the highest hurricane rating. The Caribbean climate and salt air can age materials quickly and new buildings use technology to cope with this.”

In Italy, old and new hold appeal for different buyers in equal measure. Paul Belcher, MD of Ultissimo, says it’s down to individual taste – there’s no right or wrong.

“Turn-key convenience, the attraction of shared facilities and maintenance costs are all drivers for new homes. Downsides are higher purchase taxes, including a 10 per cent IVA payment (Italian VAT) and no kitchen – it’s regarded as moveable furniture rather than part of the fittings,” he comments.

Meanwhile, those wanting the charm and authenticity of an older property might have to carry out significant work to bring it back to life. But this is where greater value’s to be found, Belcher argues.

Something old, something new – properties for sale:

The best of both worlds – a villa in Puerto Andratx, Mallorca, for £4,900,750. Built in 1986, it has been renovated with modern under-floor heating, air-conditioning and a modern pool and gym installed.

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Dating back to the 1890’s, this restored Liberty Villa is in Barga, Tuscany, Italy, is on the market for £1,894,407. It has original vaulted ceilings, a formal dining room and grand main staircase.

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Three-bedroom, three-bathroom updated 1968 house in Vero Beach, Florida, USA. It is on the market for £432,913 and boosts views of pool, dock and water.

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Grade II listed ‘pink palace’ in London’s prestigious Chelsea has asking price reduced by £2m

14 Apr

A Grade II listed property in London’s exclusive Chelsea seems to have escaped the capital’s property boom after being dubbed ‘the pink palace’ and reduced by £2m.

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The nickname was acquired after its owner – socialite Amanda Eliasch – redesigned the property with various shades of the colour, including a pink ceiling and padded pink armchairs.

The asking price has been reduced by £2m after first being listed in August last year for £9,250,000.

Many would now see the five bedroom house as a bargain with similarly sized properties in the area being sold for more than £12m.

The luxury home has views over the River Thames and Albert Bridge, and boasts a 58 ft private rear garden.

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Eliasch is a grand-daughter of the St Trinian’s film director Sidney Gilliat, and has forged a recent career as a photographer having originally trained as an actress at Rada.

She caused controversy in 2001 when she staged an exhibition of her art called Peep, which featured explicit photographs of naked women. Residents close to the London gallery complained that children were viewing the images on the way to school.

She has now asked Gary Hersham, who features in the new BBC series ‘Under Offer’, to sell the house for £7,950,000 through his agency, Beauchamp Estates.

The house will feature in the next episode, with Hersham describing the property as ‘glamorous, spacious and in a triple A location’.

He said: “This is one of the finest houses on the Chelsea embankment.

“With its outstanding Chelsea address and superb location overlooking the River Thames, the site has an illustrious history.

“It has been a home to nobility dating back to King Henry VIII and has now been modernised to provide a super-luxurious residence ideal for 21st century living.

“‘It is one of the finest Thameside homes in Chelsea and is perfect for someone wanting to buy a trophy house of immense quality, provenance and luxury.”

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An audience with Henley-on-Thames estate agent Nicholas Brown

14 Apr


Nicholas Brown, of estate agents Mishon Mackay, speaks to Cheryl Markosky about the perfect day in his Henley-on-Thames patch.

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Name: Nicholas Brown

Company name: Knight Frank

Twitter handle:  @henley_property

Which area do you cover? The Henley-on-Thames area extending into South Oxfordshire and South Buckinghamshire.

How did you start out as an estate agent? Back in 1984, I fell into estate agency work quite by chance. The late great Richard Moser gave me my first job as a trainee at an old Henley-based firm, Giddy and Giddy. Then I joined Savills in 1988. After seven years, I moved to Knight Frank. Twenty years on, I’m a partner of the firm and run the Henley office.

What would you do if you weren’t an estate agent? I really wish I’d become a barrister. I had a great law teacher, Anne Good, at college who was superb fun. Or, maybe I’d have gone into the media. I clearly have a hankering to be in the public eye.

What was the first property you sold in your area, when did you sell it and for how much? What’s it worth now? Crikey! That was ages ago. I first sold a tiny, two-bedroom cottage in Greys Road in 1984 for £35,000. At my Giddy and Giddy starting salary of £3,500 a year I wouldn’t have been able to afford it. I expect it’s worth well over £400,000 now.

If money was no object, which house or street would you most like to live in on your patch? That’s easy. The house I adore that used to belong to my parents-in-law – Pyrton Heath House near Watlington, Oxfordshire. It’s a stunning, listed farmhouse set in about five acres with a pool and tennis court in the middle of rolling countryside. It is, of course, the place where I first met my long-suffering wife, so I have fond memories of the place. It’s worth about £4m now.

Any streets or zones on your patch that are particularly hot at the moment? Any hidden gems? The Hambleden Valley, the first ‘proper’ countryside west of London that’s unspoilt with lovely villages and a good social scene. I sold Bacres House in Hambleden last year for just under £7m, as well as the Hambleden Estate.

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

Buying: You can never pay too much for the right house. Don’t be cute and think you can do a deal. If you like the property, chances are someone else does too, so just bite the bullet and go for it.

Selling: First and last impressions are important. And don’t make every room look the same (and like everyone else’s) in a property version of Groundhog Day. It can put people off.

How would you spend the perfect day off in your area? I’d tinker with Mable the Land Rover. I’m still trying to get her fuel gauge to work, as it’s tricky sorting out different coloured wires with my well-used black-and-white Haynes manual. Then I’d go for a walk with the missus and dog round our village, which is about half an hour from Henley. If forced to go out I’d head to The Lord Nelson at Brightwell Baldwin – a very pretty spot with good food and beer.

What’s your favourite place for dinner in your area? The Crooked Billet in Stoke Row, where Kate Winslet got married. There’s really, really good food. I usually want everything on the menu, including dishes such as slow roast crispy duck with ginger and spring onions, Moroccan spiced lamb rump and lemon tart with raspberry coulis. The wine would have to be red. I do like a good Malbec or Rioja.

If you could change one thing to make your working life better what would it be? Burn the Blackberry and incinerate the iPhone. We were much more productive when we didn’t have email. If you were out, you were out. And you called back when you returned to the office. When you needed to talk to someone, you picked up the phone and spoke. Email’s killing off the art of communication.

What will dominate the news in your market in 2014? Flooding’s bound to have an impact in the short-term. The recent rainfalls adversely affected a number of areas around Henley. Clearly, there will be issues with flood insurance and mortgage companies anxious about lending on ‘at risk’ properties. That said, I’m confident we’ll see buyers from London eager to sell their homes that have performed well in the capital, to secure homes here with good access, good schools and in pretty locations. The impact of Crossrail coming to Maidenhead will certainly increase the number of purchasers who work in the City, but who want to enjoy living in a ‘prime location’.

What’s your motto for being a successful agent? Be prepared – I’m a boy scout at heart. And get life in perspective.

PrimeLocation’s blog award winners share their key to success

11 Apr

Congratulations to the winners and runners up in this year’s PrimeLocation Blog Awards. Here, some of the blog authors share their thoughts on how they got started and what they attribute their success to.


Best Garden Blog – Alternative Eden

Mark Domingo, of Alternative Eden said: “We started blogging in 2010, mostly to share our garden with friends and family, we didn’t expect the sites readership to grow so fast – more than 40,000 hits last month alone. We now have a readership from all over the world and have even hosted visits from fellow bloggers from the US.
“Our gardening blog is slightly unusual for the UK as it concentrates on exotic plants, whereas the majority of gardening blogs tend to be more vegetable based or have a more traditional style of gardening. There’s not that many of us growing exotics in a suburban back garden.”

Best Blog Post – Thomas Morris/estate agents have a heart by Andrea Morgan

Simon Bradbury, of Thomas Morris estate agents, said: “I would attribute our success for this award to the actual content of the item – estate agents are so often seen as ‘takers’ and not ‘givers’. When Andrea Morgan (who guest blogged for us in this item) did her research, she discovered that estate agents up and down the country actually do a lot of work for their local charities, something that is not widely recognised. I think that this resonated with our readers.

“We started our weekly news and blog items about two years ago and have learnt in that time that content really is king. We also use social media, predominantly Twitter, to promote our blogs.”

Best Eco Blog – Moral Fibres

wendy moral fibresWendy Graham, of Moral Fibres, said: “I started Moral Fibres in February 2013 to help show how easy and affordable it is to live a greener life, without compromising your sense of style. I’ve worked in the field of environmental education for quite some time, helping people to live greener lives. Throughout my career I have heard just about every conceivable misconception of environment lovers. ‘Lentil-eating sandal-wearers’ was perhaps one of the least inoffensive offerings from some of the people I spoke to.

“Spurred on by these common misconceptions, I began writing the blog to show that sustainable living can be part of everyone’s daily life, even if you wouldn’t call yourself an environmentalist.”

Best Newcomer – Plentific

PlentificCem Savas, Plentific co-founder, said: “Plentific was created out of our shared motivation to simplify the property buying process and breakdown the big financial decisions that come with it. We recognised the need for better online property buying tools and services, and have developed a series of features for buyers to understand their budget and purchase the right property to suit their affordability and needs.

“We have a clear and far-reaching vision for the future of Plentific and plan to expand our reach to include all homebuyers, investors, landlords, tenants and vendors. We see Plentific as a marketplace, appealing to a range of people and providing users with the simplest path to the right property decisions.”

How to build a home in Hackney for £400K & sell it for £2.25m

10 Apr

A derelict wasteland has been transformed with a Grand Design and put on the market for £2.25m – more than five times the cost of building it.

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Architect Marcus Lee is understood to have bought the piece of land for £70,000 and spent a further £400,000 building the five bedroom home, which featured on the TV show Grand Designs.

The award-winning property is in Hackney, where average property prices have soared by more than 35 per cent in the past five years.

Mr Lee, who previously worked on Heathrow’s Terminal is understood to be moving onto another project.

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