Nice house, all right, but it’s the name that counts…

Get the ad­dress of your prop­erty just right and watch would-be buy­ers flock to your door. Fact or flight of fancy? Anna Tyzack re­ports

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Cottages & Kings -

If I were to change my house’s name, it could fetch a higher price – or so I’m told. My tiny base­ment’s of­fi­cial ad­dress is the busy Chelsea Em­bank­ment, even though its front door is on the much more de­sir­able Tite Street, for­merly home to Os­car Wilde and John Singer Sergeant.

“The Em­bank­ment is a busy road so it might be good to plug Tite Street,” says Paul Grans­bury, of Knight Frank, Sloane Av­enue.

Agents ad­vise clients to change house names reg­u­larly. Not to some­thing ob­scure and quirky but, ac­cord­ing to Keith Allen, of John D Wood, Lyming­ton, to some­thing “round, es­tab­lished and English”. Mr Allen has lived for the past 20 years in Gar­den Cot­tage, al­though it is of­fi­cially reg­is­tered as 3/4 The Gar­dens. In a re­cent re­search of Land Reg­istry fig­ures by Mouseprice.com, The Cot­tage ranked as Bri­tain’s most pop­u­lar house name, with the Old Rec­tory lead­ing the over-£800,000 cat­e­gory and the Coach House top­ping the £350,000 to £800,000 bracket. The Barn, The Sta­bles, The Gra­nary and The Old Vicarage fol­low closely be­hind.

Names are all about as­so­ci­a­tions, says Crispin Hol­borow, head of Sav­ills coun­try de­part­ment. “The Old Rec­tory sums up the Ge­or­gian or Vic­to­rian ideal of sum­mer af­ter­noons, fetes, vil­lage life. It is about the lifestyle. The Cot­tage is the most English name. It is an en­cap­su­la­tion of the out­side of the house and the inside.”

Mean­while, The Coach House con­jures up images of high ceil­ings, ex­posed brick work and in­ter­est­ing shaped win­dows and doors.

Name changes can raise the profile of a prop­erty. “There are lots of sin­gle­named prop­er­ties and a name change helps to de­fine them and make them ap­pear pres­ti­gious,” says Mr Hol­borow. Sav­ills is cur­rently sell­ing Manor Barn in Laytham, North York­shire, a five-bed­room barn con­ver­sion, pre­vi­ously called Wil­lowfind. “Manor Barn seemed more ap­pro­pri­ate, with Manor Farm next door,” says owner Deb­o­rah Plater. “I felt we were putting in­tegrity back into the prop­erty.”

Names such as The Cot­tage can ap­pear far­ci­cal when ap­plied to new homes, so de­vel­op­ers tend to use the names of fa­mous ar­chi­tects or aris­to­crats for new builds. In the same sur­vey, Went­worth House was re­vealed as the high­est­val­ued new-build prop­erty, with an av­er­age worth of £1,393,367. “Went­worth is a well known name in­ter­na­tion­ally,” says Mr Hol­borow. The orig­i­nal Went­worth House was the seat of Earl Fitzwillia­m, whose roots date back to the Bat­tle of Hast­ings.

Ahouse’s name can speak vol­umes about its oc­cu­pant. “An ad­dress can de­fine your po­si­tion in so­ci­ety, or on the rich list – ev­ery­one knows Ea­ton Square or Cado­gan Square,” says Mr Grans­bury. “A buyer might be put off if the as­so­ci­a­tions sur­round­ing a prop­erty’s name are wrong.”

Name-chang­ing is not to be taken lightly. “I think that it is bad luck, like chang­ing the name of an an­i­mal, un­less there is a very good rea­son,” says Jeremy Mus­son, ar­chi­tec­tural ed­i­tor of Coun­try Life.

It is also dif­fi­cult to say how much value a name change will add. “It is still the same prop­erty when peo­ple go to see it,” says Mr Grans­bury.

Char­lie Well­belove, of Hamp­tons In­ter­na­tional, is adamant that a name can only add to a home’s de­sir­abil­ity, not to the ac­tual value. “Call­ing a house some­thing it isn’t is not go­ing to help it,” he says.

A new name can even work against a sale. “Some­times adding ‘Manor’ de­tracts from a prop­erty as peo­ple imag­ine some­thing grander and larger than they see,” says Mr Hol­borow.

As peo­ple clam­our to change their house’s name, or push it from the cor­ner of one street to the end of an­other, agents ad­vise them to get friendly with their lo­cal postmaster. Once a prop­erty has been is­sued a num­ber, it will al­ways form part of the ad­dress. But a name can be added or changed by ap­ply­ing to the lo­cal coun­cil; only names likely to cause of­fence, or al­ready in use or for­bid­den by a re­stricted covenant, will be re­fused.

Mean­while, would-be buy­ers can avoid dis­ap­point­ment by in­vest­ing in an Ord­nance Sur­vey map and A to Z be­fore dash­ing off to view cas­tles in the air – or base­ments on Chelsea Em­bank­ment.

For in­for­ma­tion about chang­ing the name of your prop­erty, con­tact your lo­cal coun­cil.

Named and framed: (clock­wise from above) The Cot­tage, The Old Coach House and The Old Rec­tory (see right)

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