Martin Roberts and Lucy Alexander visit a property in Dulwich, south east London, a house in Kent that has taken a drop in price and a property in Cornwall.
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Hello. Today's property market may well be challenging
but there are still bargains to be had if you know what you're doing.
We're here with tips on how to find them
and how you could make the current climate work in your favour.
So, here are today's plucky purchasers.
Now, before you buy, we always advise you to do your homework
otherwise you'll get more than just a telling off from the teacher.
Now, it's vital to check the condition that the property's in,
the area and how much it could be worth once renovated.
So, did today's buyers get top marks?
My trip to West Dulwich, in London, doesn't start too well.
Oh no, it gets better.
The price of this house in Kent has dropped by nearly £100,000.
That is over a 40% drop on the original sale price.
And, well, what can I say about this place in Truro, Cornwall?
All these properties are being sold at auction.
We'll find out who bought them and what they paid for them
when they went under the hammer.
The Thames River divides London, and not just physically.
Property on the north side of the river is often seen as more desirable,
hence the higher price tags.
But if you're prepared to explore the south side, you might find more for your money.
So, this is one of the nicest streets in West Dulwich, a real mix of properties.
Anything from individual properties down that end to flats, apartments.
It's a real pick 'n' mix,
but I reckon I've found somewhere that's quite sweet.
Close to the high street, with good rail and road links to the city,
this three-bedroom flat definitely hits the mark at a guide price of just 150 grand.
So, a shared access there which is what you might expect.
But then, not too brilliant an entrance.
Feels very cramped. I don't know, it gets better.
Cos the front room here is actually a really good size.
You've got this huge great bay window. Yeah, we like that.
Nice feel but, hang on a minute...
what's going on here?
Looks like somebody's done a bit of remedial work, I guess...
signs of damp. Ooh, blimey.
The wood's started to rot. I guess that's rising damp.
My concern would be what damage that's done to the joists under the floor so that needs checking out...
but all in all, doesn't feel too bad.
I don't think that's too much of an issue.
However, I may have spoken too soon,
as here in the next bedroom there's more evidence of damp,
so I'm already thinking about getting some professional advice.
Down this narrow corridor are the bathroom and kitchen,
which for a three-bedroom flat, really doesn't work for me.
So, small bathroom and kitchen.
Again, what you'd sort of expect.
I don't know what you would do with the internal layout here to improve that.
You'd certainly renovate them, for sure.
In terms of anything more major? Needs some thinking about.
What I do like though, this rear room,
a good size living space and a bit of an added value.
Well, a real bonus of this flat is that it has a garden
and as you can see, it's really nice.
Well, it would be if this was the garden that attached to the flat. Unfortunately, it isn't.
The garden to this property is actually divided down the middle,
so this flat, the ground-floor flat, comes with this bit.
Not as good as we first thought.
# By my side
# In the dark of the night
# By my side. #
Now, I've heard of shared gardens but this is just weird.
Perhaps an arrangement with the upstairs neighbours would result in a more practical solution.
But the shared space raises other issues
besides where you plant your azaleas,
as a local estate agent points out.
With this particular flat, one of the main issues with the garden
is that it is separated right down the middle.
You've got an upstairs flat on the left-hand side here
and this flat's on the right.
It obviously needs quite a bit of work but the main issue
is that you will be overlooking your neighbours
and if you did have the reception room at the back,
it would mean that you'd be quite often looking at them
enjoying the sun in the garden at the back.
So, although my first instinct was to restructure the layout,
I'd say it will require careful thought
about exactly how you do that.
Meanwhile, for that guide price of 150,000,
what value could it have once renovated?
Valuation in terms of sales, I think we'd be looking at 250.
Obviously, you've got the stamp duty break at that level
and that's always going to be restrictive in the market
in this area for this kind of flat.
In terms of a lettings valuation, you'd be looking between 900 and £1,000 per calendar month.
Well, for that guide price of 150,000 quid,
I would have expected this place to be in much worse condition.
It's not going to take a lot to sort this place out
and with an end value of about 250,000, there's money to be made.
Let's see who fancied it when it went to the auction.
Right. Lot 18. Ground floor flat.
I don't know... 140, then.
Not going to go below 140.
Thank you, 140. 150.
160. Back with you, at 160. 170.
170. How much?
No. 179. 179, right at the back.
182. 183. 184.
185, right at the back. 185. 186.
186, with you.
187, madam. 187, new spot. 188.
187, with the lady. 188, with you.
189. 190, sir.
190, at the back, right at the back.
191. 192, against the wall. 192.
195. 196. 196. 197. 198.
You'll never know if her last bid was 200. It's those round numbers.
201. One more go?
If not, 200, with the lady. 201.
202. 203, sir. It's against you.
202, with the lady. First time.
Second time. Third and last time.
If you're all done?
Sold, 202. Well bid, madam.
It may have been well bid but that battle pushed the final price way over the guide.
The successful bidder was Carol, a former nurse and PA.
She's currently renting a property on the same street
which may be why she put up such a fight at the auction.
# I want it so badly. #
-Carol, nice to meet you.
-Nice to meet you, too.
-That was a bit of a battle, wasn't it?
It was, very much so. Very busy, as well.
-I mean, the auction house was absolutely packed out.
People couldn't even get in the room.
Interesting, the way auctions are going.
It seems to be a real back on busyness.
I don't know where the credit crunch was but it wasn't there that day.
So, you got fairly involved in this purchase, there.
I did except for I wasn't supposed to be.
I mean, I only went to the auction house to actually see what it might go for...not actually buy it.
But, you know, I live on the street so I was interested to see what this actually might go for.
Why did you start bidding if you weren't going to buy it?
All that good advice that is around
and it all went out the window when I was there,
actually and suddenly, a hand goes up and I'm here.
So you had no idea that you were going to buy it.
You spent far more than you anticipated spending.
202, it actually went for.
Mmm. And you weren't actually anticipating buying this kind
of property or this kind of legal title, as in freehold or leasehold?
-But apart from that, it was fine.
But anyway, I'm here and it's a great street.
You can't get away with it like that. Carry on a bit.
Well, I wasn't thinking
too many things, actually.
You get carried away. Well, I do. It's the second time I've done this.
# And it's all just a little bit Of history repeated. #
The second time?!
I've heard of accidentally stubbing your toe twice, but buying a house?
Well, that's something and it gets even better.
I went to an auction a couple of years ago, as well...
and then a lot came up that I'd just walked through...
again, a flat and again, suddenly I'm there.
All I can remember was I had a red pen and it went in the air and this man was nodding at me
and I was nodding back at him and I ended up with a flat again.
And then, after I'd bought it,
I found out that the roof was splitting
and the walls were bowing out, so another challenge.
I wouldn't normally advise this but have you thought about not going to auctions?
I think that I should be banned. I'm sure I should be banned, actually.
# Accidents never happen Could've planned it all. #
That's certainly one solution to her impulsive bidding problem.
But I have to stress, this isn't something I'd recommend doing, let alone twice.
As if that wasn't enough, Carol was recently made redundant.
Although she was looking for somewhere to buy, she hadn't really planned to spend that much.
-A few sleepless nights and especially the night after the auction, didn't sleep at all.
Well, I suddenly had a flat that I hadn't, in the morning, thought I was going to be bidding for.
Right. So what was going through your mind in those wee small hours of the morning?
What have I taken on?
It wasn't really what I wanted.
And how can I, you know, make the best of it?
While I don't necessarily agree with how she spent her money,
I do think Carol has at least bought a cracking property.
If she's careful with the renovations, there could be some profit here.
So what kind of budget have you got?
I mean, I'd love to be able to do 15,000 and do it up, but I'm not sure...
but a little bit extra, I'm sure.
Depends how much building work but that's a good budget you've got, if you're just smartening it up.
New central heating. All the doors need replacing.
Plastering. Damp-proof. Quite a bit.
But the idea is to then live here?
Oh, yes. Definitely. And therefore, I don't have to pay the rent.
Right. And timescales for that?
I mean, are you going to live here for a while?
I mean, what's the plan for you moving forward?
The thing is, if I plan anything, I tend not to go with it anyway.
So I might as well just move in and see what happens next.
You never know. Six months down the line, another auction.
How would you categorise your life, do you think? Is it a word..?
Full and enjoyable. Challenging.
And never a dull moment, you know.
Well, there you go. Carol breaking some of the major rules of buying at auction.
I think she's a bit shell-shocked.
At the end of the day, I think she'll do fine.
The big thing is can she stick to that £15,000 budget to turn this place round?
If she can, I think she might still be OK.
You can find out how she gets on...
..later in the show.
I'm in Sittingbourne, Kent.
Its name means, literally, hamlet by the bourne, or large stream.
The town is about eight miles from Gillingham and you can get to London by train in just over an hour.
Welcome to Eden Village, a relatively new housing development and it's just off Bluebell Drive.
It sounds and looks idyllic, doesn't it? Well, it is.
It's a brand new housing development.
Well, I'm afraid I've got some information that rocks its perfect image.
The house I'm here to see sold for £227,500 two years ago.
Today, the guide price is set at just 130,000.
Now that is over a 40% drop on the original sale price.
Sobering, isn't it?
And the rest of the site shows more signs of the times.
As you can see, this development is work in progress.
The houses are still being built here.
Now, sadly, new builds, well, they've been hit hardest by the property downturn.
Overbuilding in some areas leading to a glut of properties competing for buyers and tenants
has seen values and rents spiralling downwards.
Lenders are also less keen to finance them,
some insisting on a 50% down payment on all properties less than two years old.
What we're looking at today is not a run of the mill property.
This place is just 18 months old.
If it was a car, you'd say it's just about run-in.
For a house, it's practically new.
The property I've come to see today is a three-bedroom end of terrace.
It looks like it's in really good condition.
Why wouldn't it be? It's new.
It makes a real change for me on Homes Under The Hammer to look at a house with not much wrong with it.
It's in really good condition. You've got lovely painted walls.
A nice little feature window area with new blinds, a fireplace...
although the carpet is not fantastic.
It's really dirty. That'll need to be ripped up and all of it, actually, will need to be replaced.
You've got a great kitchen. Look at this. It's really modern.
You've got beech units, black worktops, spotlights in there.
A really good place to cook. But what I like is you can walk straight from the kitchen into the dining area.
Enough room for a big table here.
This is perfect family living and I love it that you can go straight out into the garden.
OK, the garden may not be the biggest, but this is a new build.
Generally, gardens in these aren't massive, but perfect for low maintenance.
A bit of time with the mower and a strimmer will soon knock it back into shape.
With plenty of parking and its own garage, this looks like a great little starter home.
Well, upstairs, it's as you'd imagine. More magnolia paintwork.
Lovely white, shiny gloss on the doors. It's in really good working order.
You've got three bedrooms, one en suite, which is a real added bonus in a property like this.
Lots of storage in here. Family bathroom through here.
And the main bedroom, it's not the biggest space I've ever seen.
One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six.
About seven foot. Not huge.
You can forget the king-size bed.
It might be a little compact, but it's perfectly formed.
Put a new carpet down and you could move in tomorrow.
So, has the market for this type of property really collapsed?
Or at an auction guide price of 130,000,
was this house just a one off, or up for auction for a quick sale?
Let's hear from a local estate agent.
In the last two years here, the prices have fallen slightly.
Where they're still building, new properties are being offered,
perhaps at cheaper prices so it's had a knock-on effect.
With all this fall in values, is that £130,000 guide price now pretty close to the market price?
I'd market this house for £180,000.
On the face of it, that sounds really encouraging.
If you could get that price,
for very little work there could be 40 or £50,000 profit.
How could it fare as a rental?
I'd rent this property out between £775 per calendar month and £800 per calendar month.
So, buying a just completed new build at the moment might not be the best idea.
But get one second-hand and you may just pick up a bargain.
The average property price of a semi-detached in Sittingbourne stands at £188,000.
With the guide being set at just 130, there is a margin here.
Did someone buy well? Well, let's see as we go to auction.
So, lot 173 then is the next lot for offer.
39 Bluebell Drive in Sittingbourne, Kent.
What do you say on this? 130 to get it started on this one.
Can I see a bid of 130? I can.
Thank you. £130,000. 135, now.
135 is with you. 135. 140. 140. 145.
No. With you, the original bidder, at 150,000. 155, you're saying.
151. I thought so. 152.
152. 153. 154. 155. 156.
157. 158. 159. 160.
160. 161. 162.
162, new place, seated. 163. 164.
164. You're back in. 165. 166.
166,500 you're saying. 167.
One more. Otherwise 166,500 for the first.
166,500 for the second.
Third and final time at £166,500.
At just above the guide price, for £166,500, the new owner is local man, Paul.
He'd been after this house for quite a while.
Congratulations, Paul. You must be thrilled.
-Yeah. I certainly am.
-So, what took you to auction to buy this property?
In all honesty, I saw the property up for sale cos I live locally.
Saw it, put a bid in.
It got accepted, but it didn't complete prior to the auction.
I was given a call about 45 minutes prior to the house going under the hammer
to say you can complete now, but we've got to pull it out the auction, but we're not sure we can.
So, due to that, I did sort of gamble and I thought,
no, I'll bid it now because a lot of the properties were going for the guide price and this one didn't.
But I still feel I've done well.
Third and final time, at £166,500.
So Paul went ahead, gambled and actually came out pretty even
with his pre-auction offer of £165,000,
paying just £1,500 more on the day.
But as he works nights, just getting to the auction was an achievement.
-So what's your job then?
-I'm an engineer for South Eastern Trains...
based in London, in the control room.
What I do is, basically, to help the drivers
and any train stopped that's on the live rail that has faults.
And basically, I get them out of trouble.
So, basically, a troubleshooter in the control room.
-So you're the man they call.
-I am the man they call. Yeah. I'm the man they have to rely on.
So that's a kind of job that's on the edge, in itself, isn't it?
-It is, actually. Yeah.
-So you must be used to all of that adrenalin pumping.
I am, but not after I've had a whole night of working, and then going up there during the day.
So how many hours had you been awake for?
From the previous day, I suppose you're looking at nearly 48 hours.
-And you were about to spend a vast amount of money.
That's quite scary, isn't it?
Very scary. And I could have done with someone with me,
just for a bit of moral support, because you can be a bit in awe of the whole thing,
but afterwards I felt pleased.
I suppose you got a huge adrenalin rush after the auction, didn't you?
Well, I did, but I had to cos I had to go back to work.
So you did all that, bought a house and went back to work.
Straight to work cos I had to start at seven.
So bearing in mind it was in London, as well, so straight to work, yeah, for another 12-hour shift.
Makes me feel tired just listening to what Paul went through to get this house. This is one determined man.
But why did he go those extra miles to get this place?
I bought this, predominantly, I think for myself, but I'm not sure whether I'll live here or not yet.
I think I'm going to do it up, and then make a decision from there
whether I rent it out or live here myself.
-But I've got no plans to sell it.
-So you're not quite sure if you're going to move in.
Have you got any great ideas for sort of working on it, painting it, renovating it?
Yeah. I think it needs a little bit of TLC, basically.
It needs new carpets,
a good paint up. It needs sprucing up.
You need to stamp some personality here because it's a typical boxy new build, at the moment.
-It needs some mirrors. It needs some furniture, doesn't it?
-Yeah. It does.
-You need to sort that garden out.
-I'm not sure, but I think I might know a man who might do that.
You've got to get out there and chop that back. It's going a bit crazy.
Definitely. Yeah. I'm not looking forward to that, actually.
Paul's given himself a budget of around £3,000 to spruce the place up which is really all it needs.
His main challenge is finding time to do the work.
Paul followed his instincts and this house to auction.
Luckily, he didn't fall asleep when it came to his lot.
Will he make this a home or will he rent it out?
You can find out later on in the show.
Coming up, Truro may be a desirable place to live, but I don't think the same can be said about this house.
It's just...it's not good.
Back in Sittingbourne, surely Paul's almost new house has been a breeze.
I'd say the hard stuff for me, really, in all honesty, has been finding the time to do it.
But first, are drastic measures needed to stop Carol's impulsive buying?
Thought about not going to the auctions, perhaps?
I think that I should be banned.
POP MUSIC PLAYS
When I met retired nurse Carol she'd just spent £202,000 on this three-bedroom
ground floor flat in a desirable area of West Dulwich, London.
The only trouble was, she didn't mean to buy it.
So you had no idea you were going to buy it. You spent far more than you anticipated spending.
202 it actually went for.
-And you weren't anticipating buying this kind of property.
But apart from that, it was fine.
Sold, 202. Well bid, madam.
To make matters worse, this was the second time Carol had bought a property without intending to.
But the good news was that she did actually need somewhere to live and despite her impulsive start,
Carol's managed to turn this flat around in just six weeks.
POP MUSIC PLAYS
Despite my initial concerns, Carol has left nothing about this renovation to chance.
Not only has the entire property been rewired and replastered,
but she's fitted a brand new kitchen and bathroom suite.
It has been a real rollercoaster from knowing that I was finishing work
to, in a coffee break,
going and buying a flat at auction
to having it on my hands
and having to do all the work and now moving in.
It's been a lot in a short time, but, you know, a challenge, I like a challenge so that's good.
Although Carol is still looking for a job, she's not the sort of person who lets the grass grow under her.
She's been working here full-time.
Yeah. I do tend to want to do things quite quickly
and have them done yesterday instead of in the correct timescale,
so I do go for it when I have a chance.
POP MUSIC PLAYS
While Carol may have been a bit impulsive at the auction
and impatient about getting the flat finished, she definitely hasn't cut any corners on this renovation.
In fact, she's come up with some clever solutions to update this old property.
One of the things I've done in this room is put the boiler in this cupboard here.
It's so that I don't have to have it in the kitchen.
And hopefully, I won't have to access it too often.
That boiler may well be getting a bit of use
as about the only thing that Carol hasn't replaced are the windows.
While they have been freshened up, it would have been good to see some double glazing.
Now, speaking of all things double, what's happened with that shared garden?
A lot of the work has been done inside, but I have cleared the garden of some of the plants,
put in a few of mine from previously where I was and, with the help of four men,
I had the shed moved to the end here so that it wasn't blocking the light going into the back room.
And I hope that within the next few months that I'll be sat out here,
enjoying the weather, with a glass of champagne and relaxing.
Well, that champagne may have to be put on ice as, unusually for Carol,
she's decided to wait a while before she moves in.
It was her spontaneous purchase at the auction that made her part with more money than she'd planned.
A total of 202,000. Has she controlled her budget better?
I was hoping to keep it under maybe 20,000,
but it's gone up to probably about 25,000.
That brings Carol's total investment to approximately 230,000.
While she has no plans to sell it and buy another - at least until the next auction -
we invited two local estate agents to come and see
if she's added value to this mid-terrace.
I was really surprised when I got the call to say come back.
I was expecting it to be a couple of months, but it's been amazing.
Transformation's been terrific, actually. It's a lot brighter.
There's still a few bits to be done, I think the vendor would accept, but an amazing transformation, overall.
First impressions, really nice.
Really nice. I love the white decor, the wood floors,
the contemporary look which works really well in properties like this. High ceilings.
Really, really, very inviting. Very warm.
Excellent rental property. In terms of your rental return, having three bedrooms is going to maximise that,
so it would work well as that, certainly.
If Carol's impulses get the better of her again, she may well consider renting this out.
But for now, this will be her new home.
She has invested around £230,000 so far, so what could it be worth?
I think 250 is a very realistic price and we should be able to achieve 250.
But over 250 would be, yeah, almost impossible, I would say.
Given how nice this flat is, I might be prepared to go in at higher than that and try it, sort of 265, 270.
That's good. Maybe two glasses of champagne in the garden.
With the flat now finished, Carol can move in and turn her attention to finding a new job.
However, judging by what she's achieved here in such a short space of time
and for a profit, maybe she's already started her new career.
But let's hope she controls her bidding next time.
Well, track record, I'd probably come away with something, so I'd better be careful...
or do my research first.
Depending on your viewpoint, the car is either a curse or a blessing.
Certainly in rural communities, many would consider it essential, but the increasing volume is putting
excessive demands on towns and cities.
This has meant various measures to control the numbers.
# I like driving in my car... #
This isn't any old road sign.
It's a Cornish road sign, but not necessarily one that you'd associate with this part of the country.
However, traffic congestion is a real problem, especially here in Truro, so much so,
that the local council are trying to encourage more inner city housing to try and get people on their feet,
which is exactly how I'm going to get into the city centre.
You have to admit, it makes a lot of sense.
Why drive when you could walk to work, especially when the setting is as magnificent as here in Truro?
Perhaps living in the city centre is not so bad, after all.
Well, being so close to the city centre, just a stone's throw from Truro's beautiful cathedral,
in fact, you'd think that what I was here to see was some mid-terrace, perhaps, or a cutesy-wutesy cottage.
Well, how wrong you would be.
This house is known as Rosemullion,
which is a surprising name for somewhere that couldn't look less like a rose.
But at a guide price of £130-140,000, this property,
with its four bedrooms, studio and integrated garage, could have the sweet smell of success.
Well, let's hope the inside is a bit of an improvement from the outside.
Well, I don't know whether Austin Powers would call the wallpaper in the hall "groovy",
but the rest of the flat is anything but on trend.
Dilapidated kitchens. Dog-eared reception rooms.
It's in a sorry state.
That's a bit weird! This is the second kitchen.
Again, it's in an absolutely atrocious state.
It's the whole layout of this place that's just wrong. You've got this very narrow corridor.
You've got those cupboards, which basically are a complete waste of space.
I mean, all in all, it is just...
it's not good.
Judging by the rest of the space, the bedroom, the bathroom, the downstairs studio room
and yet another kitchen, I guess this must have been rented out as three bedsits at one time.
Perhaps, financially, that could still be the best option.
But with the stringent regulations on multiple occupancies,
there'd be a lot of work to do to get this up to standard.
What would the auctioneer who sold this building advise
about the best way forward?
I see it as a redevelopment project, probably,
to create a cottage on the end, a standard two-storey cottage there.
And then here, perhaps keep the garage, but go upstairs
to a flat over this garage and the garage next door which isn't ours.
That's the slight bugbear. That garage isn't ours to play with.
That's certainly an interesting option, but there's a fair amount
of work and with the garage situation, it may be problematic.
Would it be worth it?
The resale market, depending on the state of the market when it was brought to the market,
would be about 110, 115, something like that,
for a pleasant little cottage with a parking space.
Here, with a garage, probably, but a much smaller apartment,
would probably be 90, 95,000, perhaps, but probably not 100.
That might be £200,000 worth of potential resale value,
but at what was a £130-140,000 guide price,
plus development costs, I'm not sure there would be much of a return.
So what about keeping the status quo here and just modernising?
As well as the redevelopment angle, there is, obviously, the pathway to refresh it
and keep it as a room by room rent machine, and it would be quite productive.
I think there would be... Well, I know there would be a bigger market
for the cottages and the cottage in the apartment, either done
or with the planning consent.
So, Graham's convinced that's the way to go. But I'm not so sure.
Well, you know how your initial impressions of a place can often be wrong? In this case, they weren't.
It's absolutely horrible.
The big question is, do you keep it like it is, maybe make some money from the idea of it being bedsits,
or do you gut it and try and make the best of the bad job?
I don't know. It's not an easy one.
Let's see who fancied it at the auction.
Lot 19. Rosemullion.
Versatile property, so it's everything on the top
and including everything you can see, bar the left-hand garage.
130 to 140, the guide. Only going to ask you 100 to kick off.
100 somewhere. 100,000. We're away.
100,000. We've got 100. At 100.
At 100. At 100. Who's going to say ten for me now?
At 100, I've got.
110. Thank you, sir. 110.
110. 112, if we go. 112.
15, if you like, sir. I'd say 120, it would be lovely.
OK. 112 is behind you.
112. At 112. Looking for 14. At 112.
OK. Looks like I've to focus on you two chaps. 112 is behind you, sir.
OK. 13, if you like it.
At 112, it's behind you.
At 112, once. At 112, twice. At 112, are you sure?
Here we go. Gentleman at the back with the glasses at 112 and out.
Sold. Excellent, well done.
For £112,000, nearly £20,000 below the guide price,
the new owner of this Truro property is local man, Frank.
Let's hope he has some good ideas about what to do with it.
-Frank, congratulations. Got yourself a bit of a project!
-Just a little bit, yeah.
Tell me why you wanted to buy this place.
Initially, it was the parking that drew me.
What, the garages?
You can't get a house in Truro with parking.
And then secondly, was the three bedrooms upstairs, lounge and a kitchen diner down here.
Just one house, for one family or whatever.
What about the overall kind of feel of the house? I mean, it's...
Luckily, Frank didn't view Rosemullion through rose-tinted spectacles.
He knew exactly what he was getting.
In fact, he nearly bought it prior to auction for £130,000,
so was delighted to snap it up for just 112.
-So tell me a bit more about you.
-Been in the building business 34 years.
I suppose I've renovated 20 properties in my time.
-I work full-time, as well. In fact, I've got two jobs going at the moment.
I work for a local housing association as clerk of works.
-And I'm a loss adjuster, as well, for an insurance consultants.
So, I'm pretty busy.
This will be the first project I actually do where I'm not actually hands on.
I want a quick turnaround, hopefully two, three months at the outside.
And I'll be getting local chaps in to do all the work.
So, Frank's a very experienced builder.
And as he's a clerk of works, too, it's his job to check the quality of work,
so I'm sure he'll be an exacting boss.
So talk me through exactly what you're going to do in terms of the internal.
My first thing up there is to rip all the internal studwork walls out.
Give me a blank canvas.
I'd then start laying down some plans on the floors, see if it's going to work or not.
Hopefully then, it will be three bedrooms,
two the far end, one coming this way and the bathroom over that side.
Maybe a small cloakroom, utility room, one end of that, with a lounge above this.
-Any idea how much it's going to cost?
-I reckon £18-20,000 should sort me out on this one.
So the amount of money you saved on buying it, it's almost like you get the restoration for free.
-Can't be bad.
This is now starting to make sense to me.
Frank is clearly someone who views a building and wonders,
"Now, what can I do with that?"
I bet he made some great Lego houses when he was a boy,
and I'm sure they weren't your standard box shape, either.
Now, it is an unusual property.
-Is that something which appealed to you?
-I love quirky things.
Most places I've bought have had something about them.
The last project I bought in Torquay was an ex-electrical contractor's.
It was his office and stores.
-So I bought that, took a chance on it, got planning permission and then renovated it and sold it on.
So, this buying slightly quirky properties is a bit of a forte?
The quirkier the better, yeah. I'm just waiting on an offer
-on a public convenience in Penzance, actually.
-You're buying a loo?
-I made an offer on it, yeah.
-I think there's money to be made there.
-As a what?
-Running it as a toilet?
-No, no, I don't think so.
Definitely storage space, but I'll probably build on top of it.
It's single-storey, at the moment. Smack in the middle of Penzance again.
-Very, very cheap offer I made on it, I'm telling you.
-Right. For a loo?
It's a good sized loo.
It's not a loo with a view, unfortunately!
So compared to that, this is actually quite normal.
This is a fairly straightforward place.
Yeah. This probably will be hopefully a quick seller-on, and then move on to the next one.
-Well, good luck with it all.
-Thank you very much.
-Nice to meet you.
Well, it just goes to show there is a buyer for every property so long as it's at the right price.
But Frank genuinely does seem delighted with this place.
Mind you, he does like a quirky project.
In terms of challenges, well, converting this to three bedrooms, I'm not so sure,
and can he honestly turn this fairly hideous 1970s house into something that people would want to buy?
You can find out later in the show.
We are dying to find out what's happened to those properties.
-Yes. Have they been transformed or encountered problems?
-Let's find out.
One of the areas of the property market that has been hardest hit
recently is new builds, particularly on new estates.
In fact, some developers have stopped this type of building altogether, until the market picks up.
But where there's a downturn, there can often be opportunity.
That's what railway engineer Paul thought when he finally got his hands
on a three-bedroom house in Sittingbourne, after a bit of a struggle.
I saw it, put a bid in.
It got accepted, but it didn't complete prior to the auction.
I was given a call about 45 minutes prior to the house going under the hammer, to say,
"You can complete now, but we've got to pull it out the auction,
"but we're not sure if we can pull it out."
So after working a full nightshift,
Paul raced to the auction and managed to make the winning bid of £166,500.
That was slightly over the original 165,000 he was going to pay prior to auction.
Then, tired but pleased, he went back to work.
Now, six months on, have all his efforts been worth it?
Paul could have just moved in because there wasn't really much to be done, but he has, in fact, given it
a fresh lick of paint and with his furniture in, it's looking much more like a home again.
Presumably, as the property was only 18 months old, this has all been fairly trouble-free.
Well, one of the first problems I found when I moved in was that
the sockets upstairs weren't working in the computer room, so I had no power to my computer at all.
And then I got a friend round and we went through the whole circuit of the house
and traced the fault down to a couple of the switches here, for the dishwasher and the washing machine.
It was actually wired through the switches incorrectly so it took us about a week to suss that out.
So the way I've rectified it is I actually leave them on all the time now.
Other than that, it's got to be rewired and to be honest with you, it's not very cost-effective.
At least now, Paul knows how to get the power working upstairs.
And even if he hasn't changed the wiring, he has at least changed the flooring throughout the house.
Another thing I'm going to do is to actually put some wardrobes in here.
This is my lad's room and one thing about a new build is it is lacking
a bit of storage space, so I'm going to put some mirror wardrobes in there
which will give us ample room then for his clothes and probably mine, as well.
Although Paul hasn't decided whether he's going to rent,
keep or sell the house, he certainly seems to have planned it out as though he's going to live here.
OK. This is the only thing I haven't really touched at the moment on the house is the garden.
The weather hasn't really been on my side regarding that and at the moment,
it's a job that I've got lined up for the summer now. Looking forward to that.
And what I've got planned is I'm going to put some pots round the outside, keep the middle nice and
simple, bit of green for my lad to play football on and basically, keep it nice and simple, low maintenance.
That should be spot on. People who buy or rent new builds are generally attracted
by the low level of maintenance inside, and especially in the garden.
I'd say the hard stuff for me is really, in all honesty, has been finding the time to do it.
Because of me working shifts and things, it's been quite difficult,
and getting motivated after working long shifts has been difficult.
Paul specifically chose the house because of its decent order in the first place.
He hoped that would reduce his workload, as well as keeping his costs low.
The original budget I set up was about 2,000.
Now, I've probably done about six,
to be honest, and most of that has been on furniture.
With furniture not normally included in refurbishment costs,
£6,000 is probably a slight overestimate to spend here.
But even so, that would take his total to just below £173,000.
So has it turned out to be a good buy?
What do two local estate agents think?
The positives of buying a new build,
especially with this one,
you don't have to do any work to the property at all.
You can move your stuff straight in.
You've got modern features like en suites. Modern kitchen, as well, usually, with white goods included.
In terms of new build properties,
the thing that doesn't work for me is the density of the properties.
They're all crammed into a very small area, very small gardens,
tight parking areas.
The property has a driveway and a garage, which is fine,
but we tend to find that the garage is smaller on new build sites,
so we hope that the buyers
can get out of their cars once they're in the garage.
But it's definitely better to have one rather than not.
Where the property's located, on this former estate,
yes, there is ongoing building works.
At the end of the day, most of the properties around this particular one
are completed but things like the road surfacing isn't completed
and that will put off some buyers.
Paul has spent around £173,000 here but it's a new build -
perhaps the hardest-hit category in the current property slump.
This house, for example, was bought for 227,500, just 18 months ago.
So what's it worth now?
The resale value of this property, I would recommend a price of £165,000.
The resale valuation of the property, in the current market, I would put in the order of £165,000.
So the values continue to tumble and Paul might see a £5-10,000 loss here.
How does he feel about his purchase now?
I know the market's not good at the moment. The price is quite low.
As far as I'm concerned, it's a long-term investment.
It doesn't really worry me at the moment.
If Paul is to hang on to it, he may rent it out at some point.
Is that a viable option?
Rental valuation, I would recommend £775 per calendar month.
Rental value for the property, three bedrooms,
£750 per calendar month.
It's quite good. Yeah, I'm happy with that.
It seems like a good price.
I would have thought 650, 700, so yeah, that seems good to me.
That's OK, around about £9,000 a year
which is a yield of just over 5%.
Will that help Paul decide what to do next?
I haven't made my mind up yet as to whether to rent it, sell it,
or what to do with the property.
I think, maybe, I may live here.
I do like it. I like the area.
But in general, I haven't quite made my mind up yet.
-# So you've got to let me know
-Me tienes que decir
# Should I stay or should I go? #
'Truro is the lovely county capital of Cornwall.
'With its magnificent cathedral and quaint streets, it really is a very pretty city.
'And then I found this.'
'But despite its less than aesthetically pleasing exterior, and an interior which frankly,
'wasn't much better, it did have some plus points.
'It was close to the city centre and had its own parking,
'a rare commodity in Truro.
'So this slightly unusual project appealed to local builder, Frank.
'He snapped it up at auction for £112,000.
'He thought it would make a quirky, upside down, three-bedroomed house.
'Four months on, had this property, known as Rosemullion,
'started to bloom or was it too prickly a proposition for Frank to tackle?'
'Well, there's certainly progress outside.
'Not only does it look 100 times smarter, there's a new front door and some additional parking.
'The garden and rear of the property appeared considerably more presentable.
'It's a pretty good job, so far.'
Initial bit of work which we had to do was rip everything out so we just left, basically, a big shell.
Most of the internal walls were just partitions.
Frank decided to take them all down so he could see the wood for the trees.
He then set about the task of putting it all back together again.
We've basically gone back to the same set-out as was here originally.
But even if the room layout was similar to what was here before,
their uses have changed considerably.
Two rooms that were kitchens have been changed into bedrooms, turning it into a three-bedroomed house now.
There's been a complete overhaul of the bathroom.
And some significant changes in the hallway.
Now, this particular space here, I think it's worked out really well.
We've opened everything up. When you originally walked in, you came in through the back door,
the only entrance to this property and then you had a wall up here,
doorway here, and then you had doors and a long, long, narrow corridor.
What we've done is we chopped this wall out down here,
opened this space up, completely,
moved some walls across,
cut the cupboards which cover the gas point and the new boiler,
so we've still got cupboard space but it's a lot more narrow,
given the passageway, a lot more width and makes the whole thing look a lot, lot bigger and brighter.
Generally, I'm over the moon with this section.
And so he should be.
They've taken that horribly claustrophobic corridor
and turned it into an inviting space.
But just wait, because if you think this works
well, it's nothing compared to the success of the kitchen.
Right. Here we have the kitchen diner area, now.
Don't know if you can remember when we initially did it,
this was a downstairs bedsit.
I've upped the spec a little bit on this.
Nice bit of worktop.
Higher standard stainless steel sink.
Your fandabidozi moveable tap.
Tried to keep things as light as possible and again, I think the room is big enough
that it works as a kitchen diner, as opposed to trying to squeeze a small dining room table and chairs in here.
Frank's been in the building trade and has bought and sold properties for over 34 years,
but he'd hoped to be fairly hands off with this renovation.
Did it work out that way?
I ended up doing all the garden.
Hated it. The only thing I hate worse than gardening is painting which I did as well. But anyhow...
dug the whole lot over, returfed it.
Then mother-in-law was saying, "I'd like to do a bit of gardening."
I said, "Mother, come up," so off she came, done a bit of gardening
and at one stage I said, "Mother, come back in, you can't get wet.
"Get your coat on. Go out there again, girl. We can't have no time wasted."
So, come rain or shine, Frank and his mother-in-law sorted out the garden.
While they were dodging the showers, who was busy with all the painting and decorating?
My wife. She did most of the painting.
Painting, basically, from scratch to finish was her.
The only thing I'm allowed to do normally
is I can do the miscoat on the new plaster.
Can't do any cutting in. Not allowed to do that.
And normally, my wife finishes everything off.
And she does it to a very good standard, normally.
She's not happy with it as it is now. She's coming back to do some more on it. She's not happy.
# It's got to be perfect
# It's got to be worth it, yeah
# Too many people take second best
# Well, I won't take anything less
# It's got to be, yeah, perfect. #
She really must be a perfectionist
because the quality of finish here is very good, indeed.
The general spec that Frank has opted for is pretty high, too, which of course, comes at a cost.
Budget-wise, not too bad. I think, initially, somewhere like 18,500.
We've come in at £21,549. I think that was the last thing I looked at.
And we've got nothing else to pay out.
With that £21,500 spend on top of the original
purchase price of 112,000,
Frank has sunk over £133,500 into making Rosemullion bloom again.
So, has it been worthwhile? What do two local estate agents think?
Having seen the property before, I think they've done a superb job.
They've spent time and effort getting it right.
It's nice and light. The kitchen's very, very good.
That will appeal to purchasers,
especially those working in the city centre.
He's been very clever. He's done a good, clever job on the inside.
The decoration's nice and plain.
It's simple, conservative.
But the fittings look good.
They seem very impressed but this is a tough market to sell in.
So, in the current climate, has Frank invested £133,500 wisely?
The market, at the moment, anything up to 175 is moving extremely well.
And I think if this was priced somewhere just below there, or around the 175,
I think we've got a number of interested parties on our books at the moment
who would come up today and look at it.
I would put it on at an asking price round about 175.
I think we'd put it on just a tad higher, just to see what the reaction is, no more than that.
And I think I'd have to have a chat then. We may consider keeping it a little bit longer.
Despite the fact that there could be up to a £40,000 sale profit here for Frank,
he's now considering renting it out.
How would that do?
In the current rental market, somewhere in the region of 750,
£800 per calendar month should be achievable.
Probably somewhere between 700 and 750 per calendar month.
You know, that's basically what I'm looking at, anyhow.
And I think that's a good price for the property.
That level of rent would give him a yield of around 6.5%
which should do Frank for a while.
But his next proposed project,
a toilet conversion, has unfortunately gone down the pan.
Does that mean he's now ready to call it quits?
I keep saying I'm never going to do this again but I think I probably will do. Something will come up.
Something will just get in my bug and I'll think I've got to have a go at that.
# Never give up on the good times
# Got to believe in the love you find... #
Yeah, you might see me again on this programme. You never know.
# No, never give up on the good times
# Living it up is a state of mind. #
Let's be frank, here, ho ho.
I think there could well be a few more properties before he really calls it a day.
That's all the properties we've got for you today.
We'll see you next time for more Homes Under The Hammer. BOTH: Goodbye.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
Martin Roberts and Lucy Alexander visit a property in Dulwich, south London, a house in Kent that's taken a drop in price and a property in Cornwall.
All of these properties went to auction; Martin and Lucy find out who bought them and what they paid when they went under the hammer.