The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Front Page - RE­PORT BY BRIANGEAVI­S

The “Bank of Mum and Dad’’ has had quite a hand to play in Bri­tain’s 11-year-old prop­erty boom. It be­ing near im­pos­si­ble for an or­di­nary per­son on an or­di­nary salary to get a foothold on the prop­erty lad­der, first-time buy­ers are in­creas­ingly driven to go cap-in-hand to their par­ents to ask them for a hefty de­posit.

But how did Mum and Dad them­selves af­ford their own home? A lot more eas­ily than to­day’s buy­ers. In 1977, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tion­wide, the av­er­age Bri­tish home cost £12,800, against to­day’s av­er­age of £181,584. That fig­ure needs to be put into per­spec­tive. Over the past 30 years, us­ing the Of­fice for Na­tional Sta­tis­tics’s longterm in­di­ca­tor of prices, gen­eral in­fla­tion has slightly more than quadru­pled. In to­day’s prices, the av­er­age house in 1977 cost £52,700. In other words, house prices over the past 30 years have more than tre­bled in real terms — hence the dif­fi­cul­ties in which to­day’s buy­ers find them­selves.

Some of the in­fla­tion is un­doubt­edly due to prop­erty short­ages cre­ated by low lev­els of house-build­ing. But above all it has been caused by a com­bi­na­tion of lower in­ter­est rates and a much more com­pet­i­tive mort­gage mar­ket. In the 1970s, bor­row­ers had vir­tu­ally to beg for a home loan, lenders stuck to a rigid rule of ad­vanc­ing no more than three times a bor­rower’s salary and banks and build­ing so­ci­eties op­er­ated an ef­fec­tive car­tel, mean­ing there was lit­tle point in shop­ping around for a bet­ter deal. Nowa­days, some lenders will lend five or more times a bor­rower’s salary.

As some of the sto­ries be­low demon­strate, in the 1970s many house-buy­ers were re­luc­tant to bor­row money at all. While the easy avail­abil­ity of mort­gages may seem to have made buy­ing a home eas­ier, the house-price in­fla­tion which has re­sulted has ul­ti­mately achieved the op­po­site. Many frus­trated buy­ers will sob to learn what buy­ers used to pay for a roof above their heads. 55 Palace Gar­den­sTer­race, Kens­ing­ton 1983: £200,000 (lease­hold and di­vided into flats) 1986: £450,000 (lease­hold and di­vided into flats) 1986: £675,000 (still di­vided into flats, but with free­hold) 1990: £1.15 mil­lion (a sin­gle build­ing) 2007: mar­keted for £5.5 mil­lion (now un­der of­fer) by John D Wood. When Peter Young of John D Wood moved into Palace Gar­dens Ter­race in Kens­ing­ton in 1984, he had to rub shoul­ders with a lady of the night. Most of the stucco vil­las were di­vided into cheap flats and it was a busy bus route. Over the years, Mr Young has seen the street grad­u­ally turn into a very ex­pen­sive en­clave for wealthy bankers and busi­ness­men. He has also seen the val­ues of the houses mul­ti­ply.

Thirty years ago no 55 housed a num­ber of flats, while the ground floor was a doc­tor’s surgery. The build­ing was held on a short lease, due to ex­pire in 2006, with the free­hold held by the Church Com­mis­sion­ers. The street re­ally be­gan to go up in the world in the mid-1980s when the church sold many of the free­holds. In a few months in 1986 no 55 was sold twice: lease­hold for £450,000 and then free­hold for £675,000. Be­tween times, how­ever, the owner had to buy out the sit­ting ten­ant in the base­ment for £20,000. The new own­ers spent £350,000 re­fur­bish­ing the build­ing, re-con­vert­ing it to a sin­gle dwelling. When they sold in 1990, the next own­ers tore ev­ery­thing out and re­fur­bished it again to a higher stan­dard. In the process they also cre­ated an ex­tra room in the at­tic. The value of houses in the street was en­hanced when Palace Gar­dens Ter­race ceased to be a bus route in the early 1990s. “The res­i­dents per­suaded the coun­cil to al­low them to re­place the ugly mod­ern street lamps with Vic­to­rian ones, which the res­i­dents paid for at £1,500 each,” says Mr Young. “The re­sult was that the street be­came too dark for buses. We held a meet­ing be­fore the street lamps were changed, at which some­one ob­jected on the grounds that res­i­dents might be mugged if the lamps were re­placed. An el­derly lady at the back said: ‘If I am go­ing to be at­tacked I would much rather it was un­der a pretty Vic­to­rian street­light than un­der a hor­ri­ble con­crete one.’ And with that, the plan was passed.” Hin­ton Manor, Hin­ton Parva, Wilt­shire 1970: £25,000 2007: on mar­ket for £1.8 mil­lion (Carter Jonas, 01672 514545) In 1970, ad­ver­tis­ing ex­ec­u­tive Michael Tal­botPon­sonby had no de­sire to take out a mort­gage, says his daugh­ter Caro­line Pilkington: “Peo­ple just didn’t in those days.”

Nev­er­the­less, thanks to an in­her­i­tance and the sale of the small £6,000 cot­tage in which he then lived with his wife Judy and four daugh­ters, he was able to scrape to­gether enough to buy Hin­ton Manor, an eight-bed­room 6,000 sq ft manor house in 22 acres, for £25,000.

“We were in South Africa at the time, so my fa­ther had the sur­veyor’s re­port sent to his mother,” says Caro­line, who was then 11. “She read it and thought he was com­pletely mad to be spend­ing so much money on a house which had

damp. We were very ex­cited, though. The house had sta­bles and was sur­rounded with woods and fields. We used to pack some sand­wiches and go rid­ing up on the downs all day.”

Un­like nowa­days, when it has be­come cus­tom­ary to re­fur­bish a coun­try house top-to-bot­tom, the Tal­bot-Pon­son­bys didn’t do a lot to the house. But they did get round to scrap­ing off the yel­low paint with which the pre­vi­ous owner had cov­ered the fire­place in the draw­ing room. “When my sis­ters and I were in our 20s, we used to bring peo­ple down for the week­end and fill the house,” says Caro­line. “They had to work, muck­ing out the hens and so on, but then my fa­ther used to take ev­ery­one down the pub and drink them un­der the ta­ble. The house ex­pands: last sum­mer we man­aged to ac­com­mo­date us and our 13 grand­chil­dren.”

Sadly, there will be no more fam­ily gath­er­ings at Hin­ton Manor. Judy died in the 1980s and Michael in March of this year, leav­ing Caro­line and her sis­ters Lotty, Lucy and Spud (real name Catherine) to sell the prop­erty. Clarke’s Cot­tage, Rimp­ton, near Sher­borne, Dorset 1954: £3,500 1986: £60,000 2007: £595,000, through Jack­sonS­tops & Staff (01935 810141) Re­turn­ing to Bri­tain to re­tire af­ter a ca­reer work­ing with the Bri­tish Coun­cil, William Brook and his wife Dorothy paid £60,000 for Clarke’s Cot­tage, a four-bed­room dwelling formed from three 17th-cen­tury agri­cul­tural work­ers’ cot­tages. They then spent £30,000 re­fur­bish­ing the cot­tage, which in­cluded re­pair­ing the roof and shoring up the walls. If it seemed a lot to spend at the time, it was a big step up on the £3,500 which had been paid for the cot­tage in 1954. Now wid­owed, Dorothy is sell­ing up to be nearer her son, Peter, who lives in Kent. Oak Cot­tage, Holy­well, Cam­bridgeshir­e 1959: £4,600 (plus £300 for the field be­hind the house) 1974: val­ued at £35,000 2007: £615,000 (with­out the field. The field has al­ready been sold in parts for £340,000) When Adrian Quin­ney, a char­tered sur­veyor with the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture, and his wife Louise re­lo­cated with his job from Wolver­hamp­ton to Cam­bridgeshir­e in 1959, he had be­come some­thing of an ex­pert at buy­ing and sell­ing prop­erty: Oak Cot­tage was the fifth prop­erty he had owned. Nev­er­the­less, the es­tate agent who sold it to him felt it nec­es­sary to give him some friendly ad­vice. “Be­hind the house was a field which I in­sisted on buy­ing with the prop­erty for £300,” says Mr Quin­ney, 87. “He took me aside and said, as a char­tered sur­veyor to a char­tered sur­veyor, I should be aware I was mov­ing to a cheaper part of the coun­try and that I was pay­ing a ridicu­lous price for the field. I said, ‘Well, you’ve found your lu­natic.’ I have since sold off the field to neigh­bour­ing prop­er­ties for a to­tal of £340,000.”

To­day’s civil ser­vants, many of whom can only dream of own­ing a £600,000 house, may won­der whether they would have been bet­ter off be­ing born a cou­ple of gen­er­a­tions ear­lier. In 1959 Mr Quin­ney was earn­ing £2,000 a year (£30,000 in to­day’s money). And yet he af­forded £4,600 with­out tak­ing out a mort­gage. “I don’t be­lieve in them,” he says.

Now Mr Quin­ney and his wife have de­cided to down­size to a bun­ga­low in the lo­cal area and are sell­ing Oak Cot­tage through Carter Jonas for £615,000. Any­one mov­ing from Wolver­hamp­ton nowa­days will not find the prop­erty cheap: Holy­well, 15 miles from Cam­bridge, has come up in the world, thanks to the clus­ter of tech­no­log­i­cal busi­nesses in the area and the easy com­mute to Lon­don. South Lodge, Mark Cross, near Wad­hurst, East Sus­sex 1971: £7,000 2007: £435,000 (through Hum­berts 01892 782424) South Lodge was built in the 1930s to house work­ers from the Hound­sell Es­tate. When the es­tate was bro­ken up in the early 1970s, the three-bed­room prop­erty made a good home for Adrian and Sheila Beetle­stone and their two daugh­ters. Pre­vi­ously, they had lived in a semi-de­tached new house in Had­low, Kent, which they had bought four years ear­lier for £4,000. The pro­ceeds from the sale of this just about cov­ered the pur­chase of South Lodge. Now aged 69 and 67, Mr and Mrs Beetle­stone have de­cided to move to Tun­bridge Wells. “We never imag­ined in 1971 that we would be sell­ing our home for £435,000, but sadly, of course, we still need to live some­where, and we are buy­ing in Tun­bridge Wells, one of the most ex­pen­sive towns in the coun­try.”

From £4,600 to £615,000: Oak Cot­tage, Holy­well. Be­low: South Lodge in East Sus­sex, which has risen from £7,000 to £435,000

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