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MAY 2014

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FIRST-TIME BUYING

GUIDE

PART TWO

BOOMTOWN BULLETIN

PROPERTY NEWS TURN OVER FOR

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WELCOME

WELCOME TO

PROPERTY EDITION

’m always impressed with the sheer variety of properties available in Cambridge, from traditional Victorian family homes to quirky cottages – I once came across a converted church which turned out to be the former Spitting Image HQ, where the puppets were made. Alongside all this history there’s also the new homes, with their cutting–edge architecture and eco-conscious installations. This month we’ve found a super modern property in Barrington, currently owned by the F1 driver Mark Blundell. The focus is on light, open-plan accommodation with touches of luxury throughout: there’s also a huge lawned garden. Read more on page 8.

See also the guest house on the market on Newmarket Road, which could be kept as a business or converted for solely residential use. And Jonathan Creek fans will love the extensive Mill Farm in Coton which comes with, among other buildings and commercial interests, its own windmill. The historic main house itself has spectacular views over Cambridge, and the grounds total approximately 14 acres – as such you’ll be looking at parting with over £3,000,000 for this particular pad. Further on, read about the charitable work of one of Cambridge’s oldest estate agencies, and news from the buy-to-let sector which looks set to make things a whole lot easier.

JENNIFER SHELTON, FEATURES EDITOR

jennifershelton@bright-publishing.com 01223 499463

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COVER IMAGE The property on this month’s cover, located in Six Mile Bottom, offers six bedrooms, a magnificent reception hall and staircase, large gardens and a paddock. It’s for sale with a guide price of £1.75 million. For more details, contact Jackson-Stops & Staff on 01638 662231. www.jackson-stops.co.uk

For commercial enquiries relating to Property Edition, contact Claire McGrath on 01223 499450.

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PROPERTY WORDS JENNIFER SHELTON

PROPERTY NEWS

Edition takes a look at the latest happenings in the buzzing local property market

LIFE IN THE FAST LANE A versatile and spacious modern home is on the market, currently owned by Formula One legend Mark Blundell. It’s situated in Orwell Road, Barrington, and offers an excellent opportunity to put your own stamp on the property. Inside, the accommodation is spacious, with plenty of natural light. Central to the ground floor is the open-plan living, dining and kitchen area, with large screen doors opening onto the garden. There is also a separate drawing room and two ground-floor bedrooms. Four further bedrooms can be found upstairs, with an en suite to the master. A double garage is also provided, and the garden comprises a patio and large lawn. Barrington is a quintessentially English village, with a large village green and a high street flanked by pretty period houses. There is also a pub, a shop with a post office and a reputed primary school. Offers over £1,600,000 are invited. Contact Strutt & Parker on 01223 459503. www.struttandparker.com

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A PLACE IN THE COUNTRY A rather fabulous property has come up for sale in the pretty village of Coton, close to Cambridge. Its position is second to none: set at the edge of the village, Mill Farm commends spectacular views of the Cambridge skyline, including the King’s College Chapel. The property comprises a cluster of buildings, including a dance studio, annexe/ office, three additional cottages and stables with paddock. The main house is thought to date back over 500 years, and has been sympathetically extended to make a highly attractive home. There are four bedrooms, an en suite, large living room, dining room and kitchen, plus an impressive reception hall. In total, the property comprises approximately 14 acres and has a guide price of £3,250,000. For further details or to view, contact Fine & Country on 01223 363700. www.cambridge.fineandcountry.co.uk

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STRUTT 1ST BIRTHDAY & LETTINGS

It is one year since Strutt & Parker opened their big, red door on Regent Street, and the team has plenty of cause to celebrate. They are celebrating 12 months of growth and great sales, plus staff numbers have risen from 12 to 25 working in the estate agency, land management, farming, commercial and planning and development departments. Based on this success, Strutt & Parker Cambridge will open a residential letting department on 1 May, 2014. As a branch of one of the UK’s most established estate agents and land management firms, properties marketed have generated in excess of £1 billion worth of offers, with houses in central Cambridge selling at an average of 119 per cent of their guide price. Head of Strutt & Parker’s Cambridge estate agency department, Cameron Ewer says: “The last 12 months have proved very successful. To have had so many properties pass through our books and sold as well as to have expanded so quickly bodes very well for our office. It is also a reflection of a strengthening market, particularly in Cambridge. “We are pleased that so soon after opening our office we are to branch out into the lettings side of residential property. This is a very successful side of our business in many other towns and I am sure this will be replicated in Cambridge where there is a strong demand for houses and flats to rent.” Will Gemmill, head of the office and Eastern Region, added: “Establishing an office in central Cambridge was an exciting challenge and one we have enjoyed immensely. Hard work has been rewarded with strong growth and it has been especially rewarding to be able to be involved in the community, for example with the Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust.” www.struttandparker.com

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FINE & COUNTRY It’s widely recognised that selling your home is a stress-laden experience. A good relationship with your estate agent can make all the difference however, as Gavin Human from Fine & Country Cambridge knows all too well. Selling or buying property involves a substantial financial investment and a lot of paperwork – as anyone who’s been through the process will know. If you were looking at a legal question of the same value, you would hire a solicitor. If it were a tax problem, you would hire a chartered accountant. Similarly, for a property sale, you need the professional assistance of an estate agent. Not just any agent will do. This is someone you will be working closely with to ensure your sale or purchase is successful and hassle free. You need an agent who will work with you, sitting in your corner, ready to offer practical advice and local market knowledge to maximise this significant life event. A good estate agent will have connections in the market that benefit both the buyer and seller. Agents work with all of the incendiary services in the real estate transaction process, and can refer you to these contacts when necessary. If you have a problem or need a service, your agent is there to help. Agents also apply experience in price negotiations, assist in evaluating the pros and cons of an offer and help with the legal paperwork required. Particularly when selling a property, you want local knowledge and experience matched with relevant skills and the best available tools to sell your property, be it regionally, nationally or internationally: someone who has your best interest at heart, and not only has a suite of high quality marketing materials at their disposal, but also knows the most effective way of using them. Throughout the sale process, your agent will be by your side, offering advice, strategies and tools to ensure that you find your buyer. If you don’t trust your agent, this process is likely to be a difficult one, fraught with difficult decisions. So what should you look for? Firstly, seek an agent that can prove themselves – both the quality of their service, and the range of marketing tools at their fingertips to deliver a sale. Training and accreditation is important in ensuring your agent has up-todate knowledge of property laws and processes. Make sure also that your agent knows your market – local knowledge is invaluable. An agent can give informed opinions about a property’s value, the neighbourhood and similar properties. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, trust your instincts. Go with someone you feel comfortable with, develop a good working relationship, and let them guide you through the selling process. It can be that simple. www.fineandcountry.com

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BOOST FOR BUY TO LET MARKET A groundbreaking new buy-to-let finance product is turning heads in the lettings market and opening the eyes of landlords to exciting new possibilities. Says Sarah Cox of Accent Property: “The product is so innovative that at Accent we believe it could be a significant game-changer for many landlords, enabling them to dramatically boost their rental yields and expand their portfolios. “This is a unique and exciting product which enables landlords to borrow more without having to remortgage and without having to make any monthly payments during the term of the loan.” It is an equity loan – so instead of paying interest and capital repayments, the lender takes a share in the capital appreciation of the property at the end of the loan period. If the property hasn’t increased in value at the end of the term or when it is sold, all that is owed is the amount originally borrowed. If the property goes up in value then the lender takes a share in the capital gains. “We have teamed up with independent mortgage firm, All Types of Mortgages (AToM), to make sure landlords are aware of the product and help them utilise it in the best way possible for their investment,” Sarah explains. The equity loan was launched by Castle Trust in November 2013 and has captured the imagination of landlords. It enables them to use the equity in their existing property to raise money to buy more properties without affecting their cash flow. It may also be used to refurbish or

make improvements to enhance the rental performance of their property or portfolio. With this loan you can borrow up to 20 per cent of the property value – up to a maximum combined loan-to-value (LTV) of 85 per cent with no monthly payments, no principal and no interest to pay. The loan is repaid on the sale of that property, voluntary redemption, or maturity of the loan, whichever comes first. Instead of the lender receiving conventional interest, they receive an agreed share of any increase in the property's value during the term of the loan. The product is ideal for landlords wanting to increase their monthly income, by reducing their mortgage repayment each month and therefore maximising the yield. It is also a clever option for those who are looking to free up capital to expand their portfolio. Sarah adds: “The best way to do this is to invest in areas where the yield is excellent but the capital growth is not as good, therefore boosting the yield but

handing over less of a profit share to the lender when the property is sold.” The equity loan can be taken out over one to ten years with no monthly repayments during the term. There is no debt service stress test and no minimum income requirement, although the selfemployed and employed must be able to prove their income. Concludes Sarah: “A product like this, with its flexible terms, is extremely welcome in the buy-to-let lending market, which has seen little innovation in recent years. The lettings market is booming and this product will enable investors to capitalise on the many opportunities available. We are pleased to be able to give impartial advice on whether this product will help enhance their investment, and if so, exactly how best to utilise it.” For more information call in to Accent’s Cambridge branch on Hills Road or visit the website: www.leaders.co.uk/mortgages

BE OUR GUEST This well-presented property in Newmarket Road offers something a little different – and could be perfect for someone looking for a new business as well as a new home. Conveniently situated en route to the city centre, the property is currently trading as a guest house, offering seven suites plus a living room, kitchen and residents’ dining room, with owners’ suite and living room in addition. There is a triple garage, together with a garden to the rear with a paved terrace and sitting area as well as lawn, and parking available at the front of the property. It also has the potential to be turned back into a single family home or into a home of multiple occupancy (HMO). It’s on the market with a guide price of £735,000. For more information, call Bradshaws on 01223 472011. www.bradshawsresidential.co.uk

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BIDWELLS’ BIRTHDAY

PAST MEETS PRESENT

A guide price of £985,000 is being asked for this beautiful and substantial cottage in Cow Lane, Fulbourn. Dating back to the 17th century, this charming thatched property has been extended in recent years to create modern, spacious accommodation. On the ground floor there is a contemporary kitchen/ breakfast room, dining room, smart sitting room with feature beams, a utility and family room with doors to the garden. Upstairs, there are three bedrooms and two bathrooms. The property also comes with an additional annexe, with one bedroom, a kitchen, cloakroom and living room, and the large lawned garden is another excellent feature. Offering an attractive mix of old and new, and conveniently located just five miles from Cambridge, this property is on the market with Carter Jonas. Contact 01223 368771 to arrange a viewing. www.carterjonas.co.uk

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The Cambridge office of Bidwells, one of the UK’s oldest property firms, has selected East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) as the focal point of its celebratory 175th year. Established in Ely in 1839, by two members of the Bidwell family, Bidwells employs nearly 500 staff in 12 offices, covering residential, commercial, rural and lettings. The Cambridge office will be fundraising for Milton’s EACH hospice, and will be using their volunteering days to help local charities. EACH supports children, young people and their families to address the challenges having a lifethreatening condition brings. Services are provided either in the family home, the community or at one of the charity’s hospices. Says Camilla Haycock of EACH: “We are delighted that Bidwells has chosen EACH to support in their 175th anniversary year. We see the partnership as a great way to engage their staff in fundraising initiatives whilst helping them to celebrate their anniversary in a meaningful way. “Many of the Bidwells offices, including their headquarters, are based in East Anglia and their fundraising will help EACH to continue with its work to support and care for children and young people with a life-threatening condition, as well as their families." “The work that EACH does is absolutely critical to every community it serves because it steps in when parents, families and children are at their most vulnerable and in greatest need for support and guidance,” adds Richard Pilsworth, head of Bidwells in Cambridge. “Having personally visited the EACH hospice in Milton, I am twice as determined to help them with the great work that they do. Please help us make a difference." www.bidwells.co.uk

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WORDS CHARLOTTE PHILLIPS

FIRST-TIME BUYING GUIDE There is so much a first-time buyer needs to know as they step on the first rung on the property ladder, so calling in the professionals should be near the top of the list ith ever-increasing competition for property in our area, life has become increasingly tough for first-time buyers. Part one of our guide looked at how immaculate record keeping, a squeaky clean credit rating and a healthy nest egg in the bank can all help maximise your appeal to vendors. In our second instalment, we look at the property hunt itself – finding and funding the perfect home and planning for life after completion – your new life as a homeowner.

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WHICH PROPERTY? WHEN TO TAKE THE PLUNGE AND WHEN TO DRAW BACK FROM THE EDGE With homes in such short supply, it’s all too easy to be sucked into a panic purchase once you’ve found a place that’s at least fit for purpose, even if it’s a million miles away from what you want – and requires a far greater financial outlay. “My advice would be that the worst house on the best street can be improved and would always be the better investment

long term,” says Cameron Ewer at Strutt and Parker. “The best house on the worst street is always going to be dragged down by the perception of the surrounding area. That said, in this market I would favour getting on the ladder rather than waiting as it’s all looking promising in Cambridge and that task is only going to get harder for the first-time buyer.” John Lorimer, partner at Saint Andrews Bureau, urges caution. While buying just to avoid missing out is tempting, don’t make

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PROPERTY

unnecessary compromises just to get on the ladder, particularly if it involves opting for a second or third choice location – or overstretching yourself. “Try not to get too emotionally attached and think with your head, not your heart. Affordability is the key,” he says. “One has to have a fairly realistic idea of where you can afford to live,” says David Bentley at Bidwells. “You don’t have to have the all-singing, all-dancing property on the first rung, you need to build up to that.” As to timing – it’s down to the individual, says John Lorimer. “If it’s the right property, it’s affordable and you want to buy it, that by default becomes the right time to buy.” If prices continue to go up, the property you buy now will build equity that should also help fund a bigger home in the future, though it’s worth doing your sums and

working out how interest rate rises will affect your mortgage payments, confirms Stuart Harris, a partner at Carter Jonas. “The natural tendency is to go for the most expensive thing you possibly can but one ought to temper that by factoring in some variables and obviously mortgage interest rates are one of those.” HAVE A HEART TO HEART WITH YOUR MORTGAGE LENDER While you may not think of your mortgage lender as your new BFF, they’ll want to know so much about you that they might just as well be. It’s not officialdom gone mad, however, but all in a good cause. It follows the introduction of new rules in April designed to ensure that homebuyers don’t borrow more than they can realistically afford to pay back.

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In the old days, lenders stuck to rigid rules. The amount you could borrow was calculated on a multiple of your salary. As a result, the thriftiest kid on the block who stayed in every evening feeding his piggy bank would have the same sized mortgage as the spendthrift who earned the same but drilled through his salary on payday. Today, explains Tracy Simpson, mortgage and intermediary sales manager

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at The Cambridge Building Society, what you can borrow will depend not just on your income but your outgoings and your lifestyle, too. “If new first-time buyers have got huge amounts of debt, new cars, all sorts of things, then that will potentially not give us the same scope of lending as someone who hasn’t got any debt, especially if they’re on the same sort of income,” she says. A qualified mortgage advisor will spend time getting to know each customer, ensuring they go into the transaction “with their eyes wide open,” Tracy comments. They will spell out not just the costs of the mortgage repayment but other regular outgoings, from insurance to maintenance, that come with home ownership. And often, they’ll do their best to find ways round problems, like finding a cashstrapped first-time buyer a mortgage which requires a lower deposit. Someone with high levels of existing debt might be urged to tackle it before making a mortgage application. Conversely, a higher loan might be possible for a buyer with a promotion in the offing and an employer prepared to confirm that news. HONE YOUR HAGGLING SKILLS – AND CALL THE PROFESSIONALS Be prepared to negotiate everything from the asking price (keep talking to the agent if your initial offer is turned down) to fixtures and fittings. Try asking for curtains, light fittings and appliances to be included, even if they weren’t originally part of the sale. Once your home purchase is underway, you’ll need someone to carry out the conveyancing – basically everything that goes into transferring the property into your name, from checking out the contracts to making you aware of all the costs you’ll end up paying, including their fees to carrying out searches, as well as making sure that everything about your home – from the flood risk to neighbours’ building plans – is out in the open and above board. It’s worth checking that your conveyancer is known to your lender, advises Tracy Simpson at The Cambridge Building Society. Many mortgage firms approve their own solicitor panels. “We’ve checked their details, we know they’ve got the qualifications and appropriate insurance,” she says. Pick someone else and they’ll need to be vetted, for a charge. Your mortgage lender will also insist on a valuation of the property so they can be certain that it’s worth the amount you

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If first-time buyers have got huge amounts of debt, new cars, all sorts of things, that will potentially not give us the same scope as lending as someone who hasn’t got debt are paying. If the worst happens and you can’t repay the loan, they need to know they will get their money back. While the surveyor is there, it’s well worth asking for a more detailed survey that will pinpoint any serious, and potentially expensive, problems that need fixing. Buyers can opt for either the homebuyer’s survey or a full structural survey which “really goes into the nuts and bolts and lists everything,” says Tracy Simpson. SIGNING ON THE DOTTED LINE – LIFE AS A HOMEOWNER When you become a homeowner, you may well do things differently, says David Hollingworth, head of communications at London and Country Mortgages. “People

do change their spending habits once they take out a mortgage and cut their costs accordingly,” he says. So is that new home all worth it? “It’s a fairly lean time for people who save a fair amount of money to put down as a deposit and have other hidden costs, but at least it gets them on the ladder,” says David Bentley. “You need to budget and go into it with your eyes wide open.” And while first-time buyers can end up feeling they come bottom of the feeding chain, the housing market wouldn’t exist without them, points out John Lorimer at Saint Andrews Bureau. “Without first-time buyers, the whole thing doesn’t work. They underpin the whole market and people should appreciate that.”

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WORDS JENNIFER SHELTON

BOOMTOWN BULLETIN

All the latest from Cambridge’s new property developments MODERN LUXURY Anyone looking for a sleek city apartment would do well to check out the two-bedroom property at Aura, Long Road. Featuring spacious, open-plan living accommodation, this contemporary apartment features a stylish fitted kitchen and dining area, luxury bathroom, bright living room with floor-to-ceiling windows letting in plenty of natural light, plus two bedrooms with an en suite to the master. Underground parking is also provided. The flat is part of the new luxury Aura development, which is conveniently placed for access to Cambridge city centre, Addenbrooke’s hospital and many of the city’s top schools. Prices start from £460,000. www.auracambridge.co.uk

NORTH WEST COMMUNITY CENTRE The University of Cambridge’s new North West Cambridge site reached an important milestone last month as the application for the community centre on the development was approved. With trustees from Cambridge University and Cambridge City Council, the community centre will be operated as a joint venture and the facility will serve the new community as well as the wider Cambridge public. Heather Topel, deputy project director of the North West Cambridge Development, says: “The proposal for the centre is a culmination of thoughtful intelligent design and genuine dialogue with the local community. This aspect of the development is very much a joint venture that brings together Cambridge City Council and the University to provide a quality facility to serve the community, and we look forward to delivering this aspect in partnership.” Designed by architectural practice MUMA, the single-storey community building

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will be ideally placed within the heart of a vibrant community, close to the future market square and primary school, with space for a nursery. The community centre will incorporate a main hall and two multipurpose rooms which have been configured from feedback from the facility managers, representatives from potential users and also local residents. The community centre has been designed to ensure it meets the intended levels of sustainability, by making use of natural ventilation and natural light, and photovoltaic panels. In addition to the community centre, an application for 234 key worker homes by the Dutch practice Mecanoo was also approved at the local authorities’ planning meeting. Work on the North West Cambridge Development infrastructure has already begun, with phased completions due from late 2015-16. www.nwcambridge.co.uk

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NEW GROWTH AT GREAT KNEIGHTON To commemorate the planting, two years ago, of 600 trees in the new 120-acre country park at Great Kneighton in Cambridge, siblings of some of the former pupils from Fawcett Primary School who planted the trees have visited the park to unveil a new plaque. The children also enjoyed spotting the name tags on the trees that their brothers and sisters had planted two years previously and were amazed at how much the trees had grown and developed. The children were assisted by Countryside’s appointed landscape architect Paul Gibbs, who comments: “It was great to see the siblings of the former pupils who planted the trees visit the country park to see how much the saplings had grown. The new plaque is a great way to commemorate the children’s involvement in the creation of this wonderful new country park and will be seen by the community for many years to come.” To date, over 14,000 new trees have been planted within the country park, which forms part of the growing community at Great Kneighton, on the southern fringe of Cambridge. Construction of the country park is taking place in phases, with the southern half nearing completion and planned to be open to the public next year. All four ponds have been constructed, and the bird reserve, which is proving very popular and is now home to a wide range of bird species. Footpaths have also been laid

linking the southern half of the country park to the rest of Great Kneighton and the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, and allotments in various sizes are also under construction, which will be available to all local residents. When complete, Great Kneighton will comprise 2000 muchneeded new homes, from apartments through to six-bedroom family houses. In addition to the country park there will be a new secondary and primary school, health centre, shops, a library, community square, sports pitches and a public art programme. For further information on Great Kneighton visit the website: www.greatkneighton.com

ANNINGTON HOMES As families continue to move to the everpopular Waterbeach development, there has been an increasing need for a nursery on-site. Lisa Wakley-Davies, who used to run a preschool in the area, was asked by advisors at the Early Years Foundation Stage to open a nursery on the site and so Little Stars Day Nursery opened in October 2013. They provide full day care for children from the age of three months to five years. Angela Walsh, head of sales and marketing at Annington, comments: “We are delighted that Little Stars is getting established here and it’s great to see the Buchanan Centre so busy.” Waterbeach is a tight-knit community and Little Stars Day Nursery, located centrally within the development, has been warmly welcomed by local residents. Little Stars has close links with Waterbeach Community preschool and the nursery. Pupils are invited to attend assemblies and Christmas shows, ensuring a smooth transition from nursery to primary school.

The developers are delighted that there has been such a positive response to the development and that the sense of community feeling is coming together. Lisa from Little Stars comments: “Waterbeach is a special place with lots of lovely people – especially the children. We have been so busy with enquiries and new children since Haling Place launched; it’s great.” All of the properties at Haling Place have undergone intense external and

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internal refurbishment, with contemporary new kitchens and bathrooms fitted in all of the homes. The grounds and communal spaces are also being improved to include additional landscaping and private parking spaces for new homeowners. The next phase of the development launches for sale on 10 and 11 May, 2014. See the website for more information. www.annington.co.uk

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Cambridge Property Edition May