And now for the good news...
SO WHAT’S positive about the market at the moment? Quite a lot, say some North London agents. There is still demand for Georgian houses in every price bracket, according to Stanmore agent Preston Bennett. It is not just authentic homes of the period that are appealing to modern buyers either. Neo-Georgian is just as popular. These more modern properties, inspired by 18th-century architecture, are modelled on the period’s pure classical lines, symmetrical exteriors, wellproportioned rooms, high ceilings and imposing columned entrances.
“Georgian homes are very popular. We have seen a definite increase in Georgian style properties,” says Sam Keen of Preston Bennett. “They offer spacious accommodation that is ideal for families. Typically double-fronted, they have larger windows or more windows, as well as higher ceilings to reflect the period style, which give them a lighter, airier feel.”
Preston Bennett has a number of Georgian and mock-Georgian homes available at the moment. For example, a Georgian style five-bedroom double fronted house is on the market for £750,000. In sought-after Gordon Avenue, Stanmore, the property has a 21ft lounge, TV room, dining room and kitchen/breakfast room with integrated appliances. The master bedroom suite is particularly impressive, with fitted wardrobes and en-suite bathroom. The entrance is classically styled with a pillared porch and there is a double-length garage.
Also available in Stanmore, there is a Georgian-style detached property in Rees Drive, with classical front porch and impressive 10ft-high ceilings to the ground floor. At 26ft long, the kitchen/ family room is certainly the heart of this home, equipped with integrated fridge, dishwasher and microwave. The first floor offers five bedrooms and three bathrooms and the master bedroom has an en-suite bathroom and a dressing area. Price is £1.15 million.
In Edgware, a neo-Georgian fivebedroom, two-bathroom house is now available for £950,000. A family home, it has three light and spacious reception rooms, utility, kitchen and separate breakfast room. The master suite has en-suite bathroom and dressing room, while each of the remaining bedrooms feature fitted wardrobes.
If you want the original Georgian, it is going to cost you a lot more. Preston Bennett has one example on its books for £7 million. In three acres of landscaped grounds on Stanmore Hill, the grade II listed Rookery combines period interiors with modern luxuries. As well as an indoor swimming pool with whirlpool spa bath, there is a sauna, squash court, games area and floodlit tennis court. Period features include sash windows, wall mouldings and trompe l’oeuil ceiling décor.
Much of the property story is one of gloom at the moment. Russell Hunt runs Property Hunter, a property-search agency. The son of the late Sir Peter Hunt, former chairman and managing director of Britain’s largest property company, Land Securities, he sums up feelings with force. “The London property market is a precarious place,” he says. “The average estate agency is currently trying to offload 64 properties, compared to 54 last year, and a lot of them are overpriced and in poor locations.”
But even Mr Hunt can find a positive message. “It is a fact of economic history that over long periods of time, London house prices rise by more than inflation,” he says. “Average asking prices in the capital have jumped by more than three per cent in the last month and demand is still outstripping supply in prime locations. In the right parts of London, property prices will remain constant and the market will stay strong throughout the year, but you just need to know where to look.”
And Tim Gerrard of Preston Bennett says that the outlook is bright. “In contrast to recent negative media coverage, overall it has been a good start to 2008,” he says. “The market is realistically going to be harder this year, however, early signs are that conditions are stabilising. Prices are not as fragile as some would have us believe. Some properties are getting more attention than they were six months ago and property prices are maintaining their levels in and around London.
“There are certainly buyers out there. Three- and four-bedroom family homes, in particular, are selling well as there is a shortage of these coming to the market in the Metropolitan area. Interestingly, the higher end of the market is also as buoyant, which will increase confidence and in turn filter down to all levels. Indeed, we have many interested buyers around the £1 million plus mark, so I remain optimistic about the spring market.” Entries are invited for the 2008 Georgian Group Architectural Awards, sponsored by estate agent Savills. The Georgian Group Awards, covering the UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man, are now well established as an annual event that recognises excellence in the restoration of Georgian buildings. Awards are also given to the best new classical building and to the best new building in a Georgian setting. The deadline for entries for the award is July 18, 2008. Visit www.georgiangroup.org.uk or www.savills.co.uk for further details
Georgian-style home in Gordon Ave, Stanmore. Agent: Preston Bennett