Episode 28 Homes Under the Hammer


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Episode 28

Martin Roberts and Lucy Alexander visit a three-bedroom property in Mid Glamorgan, a house in London and an old telephone exchange in Devon.


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It's always exciting opening an auction catalogue.

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From bungalows to barns

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to beautiful cottages, it's all there.

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Look hard enough and you can find just what you're looking for when you buy under the hammer.

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These turbulent financial times don't necessarily mean your dreams are on hold.

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When your watchwords are budget and save, the auction rooms could be just the place.

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So let's see who grabbed a bargain.

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'This property in Mid Glamorgan has a rather unruly garden.'

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It could do with sorting out. Luckily, they've left a strimmer.

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'In London, there are problems cooking up in this kitchen.'

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Or should I say lack of it? Just a Belfast sink. I mean, that is it!

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'And remember this old telephone exchange in Devon? We return after two years

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'to see how it's been completely transformed.'

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All these properties have been sold at auction and we'll find out who bought them and for how much.

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'The village of Rhydyfelin in South Wales is 10 miles from Cardiff and just 3 miles from Pontypridd.

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'Incidentally, it's the home town of the band Lostprophets.

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'But let's hope there are no lost profits under these rooftops.'

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So I'm here to see

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a three-bedroomed mid-link house on a large estate, built in the 1960s,

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so architecturally maybe not everyone's cup of tea, but there's this nice little area outside here,

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there's a garage, double glazing AND the key point is the guide price was just 54,000 quid.

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Let's see what's behind the door.

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'All in all, it looks pretty good from the outside. There's an enclosed garden at the back.

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'Perfect for barbecues. But what's it like inside?'

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So what do you get for £54,000? Well, you might be quite surprised.

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Not only do you get the garage, but when you come in, do you know what? It's not bad.

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Down here, one big, open-plan living area.

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This is the kitchen. Tiled floor is very practical.

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The actual units are pretty serviceable, I would say.

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You'll have to put in new appliances - a cooker, a hob and an extractor, which was taken,

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but it's a nice-sized space. Then you come through this archway to the main living area.

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It's big, it's open-plan, it's light, it's airy... Hello!

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Light fitting there. Big patio doors out onto the garden.

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The garden... What can you say? It's a usable space.

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It could do with sorting out. Luckily, someone's left a strimmer.

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All in all, pretty good news.

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'And that's handy. The grass could do with a good mowing,

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'but is the rest of the house trim and tidy?'

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So, upstairs no great surprises.

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Three bedrooms - two doubles and a single. Bathroom and separate loo.

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Do you knock those into one? I'm a fan of keeping them separate.

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But in reasonable nick. The whole house, you have to say,

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it needs a bit of smartening up, but a lick of paint, new carpets and it's fantastic for rental.

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Or a lovely family home. It is what it is. I think it's pretty good.

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'The place may be worn and dated, but that shouldn't cost more than a few thousand pounds to sort out.

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'I asked a local estate agent along to hear what she thought of the house and the local area.'

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It's the upper part of Rhydyfelin,

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an ex-local authority estate. Quite a popular location.

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You've got the local supermarket, the local shops,

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and it's on a bus route. It's a good area.

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'So the location gets the thumbs up and it sounds like she thinks the property isn't too shabby.'

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There's minimal work that needs to be done. It's purely cosmetic,

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and getting it to a standard for renting out or somebody moving in.

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'After that work is done, how much could it rent out for?'

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Approximately, you'd be looking at £350-£400 per calendar month on this property.

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'So if the house went for £54,000, that could mean a great return.

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'What if the new buyer decides to sell it on?'

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We would achieve £65,000-£70,000 on this property.

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'So at a guide price of £54,000 and a couple of thousand to renovate it,

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'that could mean a pre-tax profit of £9,000-£14,000.'

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So, all in all, a very good property with a very attractive guide price. Let's see who fancied it.

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Lot number 18 now, ladies and gentlemen.

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Who's going to bid me 50? OK, sir, but it's worth a lot more.

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50 I'm bid. Thank you. 2. 52.

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4. 54. 6. Thank you. At 56. I should think so. At 56.

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At 56. I'll take one if it helps you.

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At 56,000. This is no money for it.

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At £56,000, shout if I'm missing you. There is the bid.

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At 56. 7, thank you. At 57. Fresh bidder. At 57.

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58. 9, is it, in the back? 9 in the back.

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There's my bid.

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At 59,000. Quick, if you want it. There's my bid in the back.

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Have you all done, then? At £59,000. In the back of the room. Have you got a number now?

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No? All right, I know who it is.

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'I'm glad HE does! The winning bidder, somewhere up at the back was local businessman Ian

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'who runs Barry Island Pleasure Park.

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'Ian got the house for £59,000, just five grand over the guide price. Now, regular viewers

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'may recognise Ian as he's been on the show before.

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'The last time we met him, he'd started buying property to let.'

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It's something I've been looking to get into for quite some time.

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'I met up with Ian back at his purchase to see what he thought of his latest deal.'

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-Congratulations. Very good to see you again.

-And you.

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Remind me about what's happened since the last time we met.

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Em, well, the last time I bought a property in Barry,

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which was really the first one, to do up and renovate.

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Since then, I've gone to an auction and picked up a couple more. So I'm on a roll, so to speak.

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'In fact, this is the sixth property he's bought to let

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'and it sounds like he's developed a cavalier approach at auctions.'

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I was looking at a completely different property locally in Barry.

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Erm, and I purchased that and I was at the auction just looking through the catalogue.

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And I saw this one in the catalogue and thought, "Ooh, that looks... That looks quite cheap."

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-I've never been to this area before so it was completely blind apart from the photo.

-Ah!

-Yeah.

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-Well, I just put my hand up and it was mine.

-So you hadn't seen it.

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-Had you read the legal pack?

-No.

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Oh, mate(!)

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-You're supposed to be a big, grown-up, sensible businessman!

-I know.

-And there you are

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-doing the cardinal sin.

-I know. But sometimes making mistakes is the quickest way to learn.

-Oh, yeah!

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It can cost you a lot, though!

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'Buying blind is a very risky game to play. There could be all sorts of unforeseen problems

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'lying behind a perfectly promising exterior, but on this occasion luck was on Ian's side.'

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-What did you think when you saw it for the first time?

-I was pleasantly surprised.

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It's a nice property for the money I've paid for it, so I'm well pleased.

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And the area?

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The area was a little bit frightening because just down the road there was three properties boarded up.

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I couldn't get my head round why.

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So that frightened me a little bit.

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But, to be honest, after speaking to the neighbours and people surrounding the area,

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it is quite a nice area.

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'It turned out they were not boarded up for any more sinister reason than repair work after flooding,

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'so again Ian's luck was in. Now that he's seen it, I wondered what he was going to do with it.'

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We're looking to put the toilet and bathroom into one, totally re-carpet,

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redecorate from top to bottom. A couple of windows need replacing. Central heating needs looked at.

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So a complete overhaul, really.

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'And it certainly needs it. How much has he set aside to do the work?'

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I always put a budget on every property of sort of 10K. You just don't know.

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But, realistically, I think this one will be less than five to sort out, but we don't know.

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I opened the window earlier on and it's not looking too good, so it'll be changed.

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So there's another £1,000 that I didn't bank on.

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'Ian only paid £5,000 over the guide price.

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'Even if he spends the full budget he's going to realise a very healthy 9% yield

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'and he's already got a tenant lined up for it. Will this man's run of luck never end?'

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When I came to view the property and collect the keys,

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the lady next door said, "My daughter's looking for a property."

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So we worked out a rent and, you know, she's moving in.

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You must think this property lark is a piece of cake! You buy a place blind and it turns out all right,

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your next door neighbour says, "Would you like a tenant?"

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It is feeling that way! I keep falling on my feet.

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So from that point of view, I'm quite chuffed at the moment.

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But I'm sure in the future I will perhaps come a cropper along the line.

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-Hopefully not!

-No, hopefully not, but I have had no bad experiences at the moment, so I'm very happy.

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-Well, good luck and may that luck continue.

-Thank you.

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I'll see how you get on. Cheers, Ian.

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Today I'm in Enfield, just 12 miles from the centre of London.

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It used to be a very small market town and take about a day to travel into the city.

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Transport links have much improved since the days of horse and carts

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and trains whisk you from here to the centre of town in half an hour.

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'The clippety-clop has been replaced by the speedy whoosh of a fast link train

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'and Enfield is better for it. Commuters love the accessibility and cheaper house prices.

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'According to the Land Registry, the average London property is currently £380,000.

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'In Enfield, it's £235,000.'

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A short walk from the town and I'm here on Halstead Road to see today's auction lot.

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The auction catalogue tells me the house has been in the same ownership for 80 years.

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That makes me very excited indeed. I'm imagining it hasn't been renovated much in all that time.

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So somebody taking this on can only do one thing - add value.

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The guide on this three-bedroom terrace is only £125,000.

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'The pebble-dash exterior isn't to everyone's taste, but makes for easy maintenance.

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'There are sash windows, but they could do with being spruced up. What's it like on the inside?'

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Just as I expected, a right old state!

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Things just haven't been touched in years. You only need to look at the electrics. Lovely light switch.

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You have this wonderful old cornicing, a lovely fireplace, nice, deep skirting boards.

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The beautiful old sash windows. Lots of lovely untouched gems - I love it.

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Into the second reception room and a bit disappointing.

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You've got a 1930s fireplace instead of Victorian.

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You could think of knocking this wall down to have a through lounge, but that's all personal choice.

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And the kitchen...

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Or should I say lack of it?

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Just a Belfast sink. That is it!

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You'd have problems cooking up a nice little feast in here.

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'Lack of kitchen amenities is the least of your problems.

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'Cracked ceilings, damp walls, bare floorboards and old electrics.

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'Altogether, it's one scary challenge for a buyer.'

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So upstairs it carries on in the same vein.

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You've got bedroom one, two and three.

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In here, well, look. It looks to have a very, very bad leak.

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That could be down to years of neglect and missing roof tiles.

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It's the first thing that needs attention and it could add thousands so beware.

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'It's not only the plumbing that needs sorting. All the electrics need replaced.

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'So that guide price of £125,000 may be cheap, but the renovation certainly won't be.

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'Round the back, one part of the house is in full working order although it's hardly convenient.'

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Outside to the only bit of plumbing in the house. Downstairs bathroom? No.

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Outside toilet? Oh, yes!

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'This may have been the way it was 100 years ago, but sitting outside on the toilet in the cold and dark

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'isn't a modern family's preferred way of using the facilities.

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'One of those upstairs rooms would be much better suited to a new bathroom suite

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'and a lot warmer in the winter.

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'There is another great development opportunity behind the house -

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'a wild, unkempt garden crying out for a good tidy up.'

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In need of some landscaping? Yes, I do think so.

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But imagine what this could be. It often amazes me that people think nothing

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of spending 10 grand on a kitchen. yet resent spending money on the garden. It really is a feature

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and you must make it a selling point. People are impressed by mature shrubbery.

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You can add colour with plants in pots. A well-conceived garden can add thousands to the end value

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so don't overlook it.

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'That old battered conservatory can be flattened and replaced

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'as it's an ideal space to enjoy that soon-to-be-perfect garden.

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'I wondered what a local estate agent would make of it all.'

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It's a great house, actually. There's lots of original features.

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The owner's got their work cut out,

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but it's a lovely little road and close to the town centre.

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It obviously needs the complete works. It needs central heating, it needs a kitchen

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and a bathroom of some sort because it doesn't have one at all.

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It's got loads of character, a really nice cosy feel. It's a big project, but great potential.

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'It will certainly be a big project and it could cost an extra £30,000 to do those renovations.

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'Once all the work was done, what could the property go for?'

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The property has a ceiling because there is a stamp duty threshold at £250,000.

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Even if a property is worth slightly more than that, it's sometimes difficult to get people to pay more.

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So that's about the ceiling until the market picks up again.

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'The stamp duty rate jumps from 1% to 3% over that ceiling.

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'So it would need to sell for a good bit over 250 grand to make it worthwhile for the seller,

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'so while it waits for the resale market to become more buoyant, what could it rent for?'

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If the property was rented, it's likely to achieve in the region of £950, possibly £1,000 per month.

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'So it sounds like it could return healthy profits - almost as healthy as those weeds.'

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Lonely house would like to meet new owner. Sense of humour is essential and cash would be good, too.

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Let's find out who answered this house's lonely hearts ad as we go to the auction.

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The auction room was certainly busy and bidding began in earnest.

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130. Yeah? 130.

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140. 150.

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155. 160. 170.

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5?

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78, sir. 79?

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79. 80.

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190.

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191. 92.

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94. 195.

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196. 198.

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99?

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199. At 200,000.

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200. And 1?

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201. And 2?

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202. 203?

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203. 204? 204.

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205? No.

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Gentleman with the red jumper round his waist. £205,000.

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First time at 205. 206. Back with me down here. 207.

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208? You won't let it go, will you? 208?

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208. 209? 210.

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And 11? And 12?

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No. 211 standing.

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First time at 211.

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Second time at 211. You're going to miss it. Third and last time at 211. 212.

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213? 213. 214?

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214. And 15. And 16?

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And 17. And 18.

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And 19.

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220? 221?

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22?

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No. 221, then.

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First time at 221,000. Second time at 221,000. Over here.

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Third and last time at £221,000. Last chance.

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Sold for £221,000.

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'The final bid was from father and son Pat and Joe

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'who paid £221,000 - 96 grand over the guide price.

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'They're from Ireland and have come to Britain to try property development.

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'Unfortunately, Joe couldn't make it today but we have the next best thing - his twin brother Colin!

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'All three of them plan to do up the house so I wondered why they were trying their luck over here.'

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We decided to come over here and try our hand in England.

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We're builders back home in Ireland. Nothing much is happening there, so we thought we'd try this.

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Just getting our feet in the door.

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'And what a way to get started as they paid £96,000 over the guide price.

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'That's seen some of their potential profit flushed away.'

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Were you pleased with the price? £221,000. Is that what you expected?

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Not as much as that. A little bit less,

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but I did like the area and I know it.

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'This is Pat's first property in London. He has renovated a flat and a five-bedroom house in Ireland,

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'but the latter has been on the market for two years.

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'He hopes to do better in London.'

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So, Colin, are you as a family going to uproot all of you and move over to England?

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Not permanently, but for now to get this place finished

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and if this works out, we'll go again because it's lovely over here

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and God knows the weather is better!

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-Have you left anybody in Ireland?

-Yeah, my wife and the huskies.

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-You've got huskies?

-I've got two gorgeous ones. They replaced the twins when they left.

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-They are now treated better than we are.

-They do what they're told!

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So, you know...you didn't!

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'When it comes to building, though, Joe and Colin certainly do what their dad tells them.

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'They've been helping him since he renovated the family home and Pat has 20 years' experience.

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'How big a job does he think this is?'

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We hope to do it in two months. We'll be here six days a week

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and I've known from previous experience we work well as a team. Each guy knows what the next will do

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and, yeah, I think we'll do it.

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'Pat reckons they'll need a budget of £25,000, bringing the total cost of the project to £240,000 -

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'just ten grand under the estimated resale value. That's not a massive profit,

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'but will give them the start they want.

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'Before I let the boys get on, there was one piece of family history I wanted to shed light on.'

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-So, Colin, tell me about your background.

-My background would be very different to this.

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I was in a band for about maybe three or four years. We were spotted by Louie Walsh.

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-We had a couple of singles out.

-So you were a pop star!

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-I never looked at myself... And he never!

-Did you have fan mail?

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-We had a lot of fans.

-Then you're a pop star.

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'So from stage curtains to rather less glamorous ones, I'll catch up with Pat and the twins later

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'to find out how they get on.'

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Coming up: we'll find out, two years down the line,

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how this former telephone exchange in Devon had its cobwebs blown away.

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Back in London, have there been more problems than expected?

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We had to strip everything back to the brick, which meant all the wiring, plumbing...

0:25:010:25:07

But, first, in Wales is Ian's luck still in?

0:25:090:25:12

I'm sure in the future I will, perhaps, come a cropper.

0:25:120:25:17

'Back in Rhydyfelin, Mid Glamorgan, we catch up with pleasure park owner and local businessman Ian.

0:25:210:25:27

'He snapped up this three-bedroom property for £59,000. It needed to be redecorated

0:25:270:25:33

'and freshened up, but not much else. Lucky for Ian - he hadn't even seen it before the auction.'

0:25:330:25:40

I've never been to this area before, so it was completely blind.

0:25:400:25:45

I was at the auction and, well, I just put my hand up and it was mine.

0:25:450:25:51

'He managed to get this property for only £5,000 over the guide price.

0:25:510:25:57

'We went to see what he'd done with the place since.'

0:25:570:26:01

We've decorated right the way through.

0:26:010:26:06

We've renewed a couple of the windows and done the kitchen downstairs.

0:26:060:26:11

We knocked the toilet into the bathroom so it's all in one

0:26:120:26:17

-and just a general paint and decorate.

-'What an improvement.

0:26:170:26:22

'Ian has really brightened up the house with modern colours and wallpaper throughout.

0:26:220:26:28

'They were chosen specially for his new tenant, the daughter of a neighbour and her two children.'

0:26:280:26:34

The tenant has had some input with this particular room.

0:26:340:26:38

The colour for the little boy.

0:26:380:26:41

And there's pink for the little girl next door.

0:26:410:26:45

'They asked him for a door for easy access to the garage and he obliged.

0:26:450:26:51

'Ian allowed himself and his team of builders three weeks for the work until the tenant moved in,

0:26:510:26:57

-'but during that time he went on holiday.'

-There was a deadline on this project

0:26:570:27:03

because we've got a tenant moving in

0:27:030:27:06

and, with hindsight, I shouldn't have gone away, but that was an impossibility.

0:27:060:27:12

'Without Ian to supervise, the work ran over by a week and could still do with more time.'

0:27:120:27:19

The schedule's pretty much there. Another four days would do it.

0:27:190:27:24

So an extra 10 days on top of the three weeks.

0:27:240:27:28

'Despite that, he's achieved a lot, but perhaps the holiday timing wasn't ideal.'

0:27:280:27:33

If I had been hands on with the project,

0:27:330:27:37

then it would definitely have been done in those three weeks.

0:27:370:27:42

'As you can see from the paint pots and dustsheets, Ian still has a couple of jobs to get finished.'

0:27:420:27:48

There's still a few touches.

0:27:520:27:55

I wanted to put a patio on the back door. Ran out of time.

0:27:550:27:59

-Still got a shower to put in.

-'At least Ian's coming clean about the work he still has to do.

0:27:590:28:05

'He'd originally set aside six grand for it, so how much did he end up spending here?'

0:28:070:28:14

At the moment, it's just under £2.5K, so I'm very happy with that.

0:28:140:28:19

'Including the £59,000 he paid at auction for the house,

0:28:190:28:23

'Ian has spent around £61,000. I wondered if the work he'd done here would make its future rosy.

0:28:230:28:31

'We asked two local estate agents for their opinion of the standard

0:28:340:28:39

'of these renovations.'

0:28:390:28:41

Having looked round,

0:28:410:28:43

I'm very impressed by the standard of decoration and quality of finish.

0:28:430:28:48

The changes they have made are very nice. It was purely cosmetic.

0:28:480:28:52

They've made a very good job.

0:28:520:28:54

'I wouldn't have knocked the toilet into the bathroom.'

0:28:540:28:59

I'd have kept them separate.

0:28:590:29:02

I don't think there's anything different that should have been done to this property.

0:29:020:29:08

'Well, what a glowing report. What do they think Ian could rent this property out for?'

0:29:080:29:14

In this area, I'd expect a property of this quality to let for

0:29:150:29:19

the region of £450-£475 per calendar month.

0:29:190:29:24

This is a good rental area. There's quite a good demand for properties like this.

0:29:240:29:30

I would say that you could achieve between £450 and £500 per month.

0:29:300:29:35

I think that's about right and, yeah,

0:29:350:29:39

the person that I've got coming in is paying 495,

0:29:390:29:43

so I would say that the two estimates there are in line, really.

0:29:430:29:48

'That could be a fantastic yield of 9.75%

0:29:480:29:53

'so he's hit the nail on the head with his rental price.

0:29:530:29:57

'With all that new decor and improvements, how much could the house now sell for?'

0:29:570:30:04

I'd value it in the region of £69,000-£72,000.

0:30:040:30:08

We would market it at £70,000-£75,000 and estimate to achieve about £72,500.

0:30:080:30:14

I'm very, very pleased actually with that valuation.

0:30:140:30:18

The lady next to us said that hers was valued very similar to that,

0:30:180:30:23

but I'm not looking to sell, just rent.

0:30:230:30:26

'It's good to know that if he did sell it, he could make a great pre-tax profit of 11 grand.

0:30:270:30:33

'Not bad for one month's work. Ian's been really lucky, as he bought it without seeing it.

0:30:330:30:40

'Will he take that risk again?'

0:30:400:30:43

I'm not sure. I don't think I would buy blind in the future.

0:30:470:30:51

And I definitely won't be going on holiday again when we get a project together

0:30:510:30:58

that needs to be done very quickly. Time is money.

0:30:580:31:01

'And let's hope he finally gets round to cutting that grass.'

0:31:010:31:06

'In the autumn of 2007, a stroll down this Devon lane

0:31:130:31:17

'brought me to an engaging little property

0:31:170:31:20

'that really wasn't too dear.'

0:31:200:31:23

Well, views of Devon don't get much better than that.

0:31:230:31:27

The rolling hills, the sea in the distance. I'm right in the middle of the countryside

0:31:270:31:34

and it is a gorgeous area, so property prices around here are indeed extremely expensive.

0:31:340:31:40

So if I said there was a property up for auction with a guide of £25,000,

0:31:400:31:47

oh, yes, you'd be interested. And that's it.

0:31:470:31:51

It doesn't look too bad from the outside, does it? But there's a catch.

0:31:510:31:57

'You'll need to hang on - I'll explain when I get inside.

0:31:570:32:02

'Outside, the windows are boarded up or smashed, but the roof looks in good condition.

0:32:020:32:08

'The setting is glorious and this building is well connected.

0:32:080:32:13

'So what's on the inside behind that door? Just putting you through.'

0:32:130:32:17

This is it. Basically, it's a room.

0:32:170:32:20

It is, in fact, the old telephone exchange. Why on earth you would need one here I have no idea.

0:32:200:32:27

There must be about three houses.

0:32:270:32:29

But it's a building, so it starts to get exciting. That view is extraordinary.

0:32:290:32:36

So what shall we do? Massive glass front in there or put some eco-friendly house on the plot?

0:32:360:32:43

A kitchen that looks over the view? It would be fantastic.

0:32:430:32:47

But the planners say absolutely not. This has to stay exactly like it is and you can't live here.

0:32:470:32:54

Basically... it's quite an expensive shed.

0:32:540:32:59

'The former telephone exchange went to auction with a guide price of £25,000.

0:32:590:33:05

'Any investor hoping to convince the planners to allow the slightest change in use will face

0:33:050:33:11

'a very difficult challenge.

0:33:110:33:14

'But there is some good news. The property comes with permitted development rights

0:33:180:33:25

'which allow the owners to do various things for 28 days a year.'

0:33:250:33:30

The planning, as it stands, would allow you to spend 28 nights here.

0:33:300:33:34

So maybe you could put bunk beds in there, you could use this as a hideaway,

0:33:340:33:40

a retreat away from the rat race.

0:33:400:33:43

But it's just crying out, this rear wall, for windows in there looking out at that view.

0:33:430:33:49

'You might think it was worth £25,000 for the view alone,

0:33:490:33:53

'but without windows on that side and little hope of planning permission,

0:33:530:33:59

'it was a case of standing outside and looking across the valley

0:33:590:34:03

'and possibly just using the former exchange as a shelter if it rained.'

0:34:030:34:07

Well, before you engage your brain and think about ringing the changes on this one,

0:34:100:34:16

you might as well forget it. This is never going to be anything other than what it is.

0:34:160:34:22

Still, somebody at the auction bought it. Let's find out who.

0:34:220:34:26

OK, we have the former telephone exchange. What can I tell you?

0:34:260:34:32

It's a nice little square plot,

0:34:320:34:35

virtually square plot up on the hills, woodland behind you,

0:34:350:34:39

looking estuary towards. Fantastic spot. A little hideaway.

0:34:390:34:44

Someone's going to surely say to me £30,000.

0:34:440:34:47

How about 25, then, cos you know it won't make that? Just put your hand up. 25.

0:34:470:34:54

We do have... Wendy, ask him if he'll do the decent thing and offer us 25 to get going.

0:34:540:35:01

Thank you. 25 I've got. We're away.

0:35:010:35:04

25 I've got. At 25.

0:35:040:35:06

At 25,000. 26. 27 in the middle. Wendy, 28 or not?

0:35:060:35:11

28. 29.

0:35:120:35:15

30.

0:35:150:35:17

31? 31.

0:35:170:35:19

32? 32 I've got.

0:35:190:35:21

33? 33.

0:35:210:35:24

Oh. 33. 34 or not?

0:35:240:35:26

34? 34. 35.

0:35:260:35:30

35. Fresh bid. 35. 36 or not?

0:35:300:35:34

36. At 36.

0:35:340:35:36

At £36,000, then.

0:35:360:35:38

At £36,000 once. You're going to miss it for 500 quid? Seriously?

0:35:380:35:45

£500. £500.

0:35:450:35:47

36 and a half. 37? 37.

0:35:470:35:50

At 37 I've got. At 37. 37 and a half.

0:35:500:35:54

37 and a half. 38.

0:35:540:35:57

38. At 38.

0:35:570:35:59

At 38. 38 and a half.

0:35:590:36:01

39 or not?

0:36:010:36:04

39. At 39.

0:36:050:36:07

At 39. Half. 39 and a half.

0:36:070:36:10

39 and a half.

0:36:100:36:12

40 she goes. At 40.

0:36:120:36:15

At 40. I'm looking for a half.

0:36:150:36:17

40 I've got.

0:36:170:36:19

First time. Serious now.

0:36:190:36:21

Second time. At £40,000, you're sure and done?

0:36:210:36:25

Last chance. Being sold at £40,000.

0:36:250:36:28

-Your bidder, Wendy.

-'How appropriate! This former telephone exchange was bought by a telephone bidder.

0:36:280:36:35

'I met up with Beatrice at her purchase.

0:36:370:36:42

'In the past, she's worked as a hairdresser on a cruise ship, run a rest home and developed properties.

0:36:420:36:48

'Maybe she now fancies being a telephone operator.'

0:36:480:36:53

-We didn't see you at the auction.

-You didn't. I was unable to go.

0:36:530:36:58

I had an operation on my foot, had my foot in a plaster.

0:36:580:37:02

I'd read all about it and I'd been out walking and seen it.

0:37:020:37:06

When I saw it in the catalogue, I thought I'd make a call.

0:37:060:37:12

-So why did you buy it?

-Because this is my dream.

0:37:120:37:16

A sanctuary, a little bolt hole. It's something really nice.

0:37:160:37:21

-What do you know about the area?

-I do walk a lot in this area.

0:37:210:37:26

I'm walking most weekends.

0:37:260:37:28

And I would like to come and overnight here, bring the dog, do some walking, bring friends round.

0:37:280:37:36

Perhaps have a log burner in there and just not spoil the environment but be part of it. It'd be lovely.

0:37:360:37:43

'Beatrice paid £40,000 for the telephone exchange.

0:37:430:37:47

'Not surprisingly, it's the location she fell for.

0:37:470:37:51

'Simply using the building as a place to sleep overnight could prove a problem,

0:37:510:37:57

'but what an outlook.'

0:37:570:37:59

-That's the best bit - the view.

-It is.

-There are no windows.

0:37:590:38:04

I would just adore some windows to look at the view and I'm sure you could tidy up the trees a bit

0:38:040:38:11

so you could look out and still see the view without damaging the trees. I'm sure you could.

0:38:110:38:16

-But that means putting windows in.

-It does and I would need planning permission for that.

0:38:160:38:22

'Beatrice is under no illusions about the planning application.

0:38:240:38:29

'She's spoken to the council and it doesn't sound promising.'

0:38:300:38:34

-What do you know about the planning restrictions?

-They're going to be very difficult, they are.

0:38:370:38:43

They wouldn't really like any changes at all and they don't really want anybody staying.

0:38:430:38:49

I'm told if I could further the tourism industry, I might have more of a chance.

0:38:490:38:56

I'm thinking of opening the smallest B&B in the area!

0:38:560:39:00

'I THINK she's joking! But maybe a business use could unlock the potential.'

0:39:000:39:06

-What are you going to do with it?

-I decided I must track down a local architect. I'm not local.

0:39:060:39:12

I brought him out. He didn't say what my friends have said, "You must be mad." He really liked it.

0:39:120:39:19

What does he think you can do?

0:39:190:39:22

He thinks because I work that I could possibly have it as a work office.

0:39:220:39:29

But I don't want to work until I am 100. So I could then say, "I don't want to work any more,

0:39:290:39:35

"so now may I take up residency?"

0:39:350:39:38

-It would be a really long-term thing.

-Planning permission by stealth.

0:39:380:39:43

'I've got my doubts that would get the result Beatrice is after, but her architect is on the case.'

0:39:440:39:52

So talk me through the project plan.

0:39:530:39:56

Well, the project plan is that a proper plan will be submitted through the right channels

0:39:560:40:03

by the architect who knows what he's doing. I don't.

0:40:030:40:07

And he said I must be prepared that they will turn it down

0:40:070:40:12

and we could appeal and find out what they would allow and it could be a few months...a year, possibly.

0:40:120:40:20

But this is my long-term - I don't ever want to let go of this.

0:40:200:40:24

I don't. This is for me. So if it takes a long time, it doesn't matter.

0:40:240:40:29

-It sounds like you've found something that's a bit of a dream.

-Oh, it is.

0:40:290:40:34

'Well, back in 2007 it seemed a very distant and unlikely dream,

0:40:340:40:40

'but as you'll see later in the programme, occasionally, dreams do come true.'

0:40:400:40:46

Some time has passed since we met the buyers of our second property.

0:40:500:40:54

-Have things gone according to plan or were those plans ripped up?

-Let's find out.

0:40:540:41:00

'Back in Enfield, London, Pat and his twin sons, Colin and Joe bought this mid-terrace,

0:41:000:41:07

'three-bedroom house at auction for £221,000 - £96,000 over the guide price.

0:41:070:41:14

'They're builders by trade and they would need those skills to fix up this neglected property,

0:41:140:41:21

'but Pat was confident the work would be done quickly.'

0:41:210:41:25

We hope two months. We'll be here six days a week.

0:41:250:41:28

'But in those two months, they had a lot to do.

0:41:280:41:32

'The whole place needed redecorated, a new kitchen and an inside toilet would be an improvement, too.

0:41:320:41:40

'We've returned to meet Pat and Colin at the house. They're still some way from the finish line

0:41:400:41:46

'and have gone over the original schedule by another month.

0:41:460:41:50

'Sounds like they had a bigger job than they first thought.'

0:41:500:41:55

Everything had to be done in this house, unfortunately. We had to strip everything back to the brick,

0:41:550:42:01

which meant all the wiring had to be done, plumbing, everything else.

0:42:010:42:05

'So that old, worn floor has been ripped out and replaced with beautiful wooden flooring.

0:42:050:42:11

'All those old rotting windows have gone, too, so no more nasty draughts on chilly nights.

0:42:170:42:23

'As you can see, the house is still a building site,

0:42:240:42:29

'but all it needs is decoration. The cracks have been filled and the wiring installed,

0:42:290:42:35

'so it's not far from finished. Colin explained the major structural changes in the front room.'

0:42:350:42:42

We've divided this room here. These two rooms, there was obviously an original wall here.

0:42:420:42:50

It's load-bearing, so we had to put in a girder to carry it. It came out very nice.

0:42:500:42:57

We had the option of putting in double doors.

0:42:570:43:01

If need be in the future, they can do that themselves.

0:43:010:43:05

It's still two rooms, but gives the impression of one room. We're really happy with the end result.

0:43:050:43:12

'And they've also tackled that outdated toilet situation.'

0:43:120:43:17

We finally have a bathroom inside. Upstairs we divided a room. There were three bedrooms.

0:43:180:43:25

We divided one room into two and got a bathroom in. It's fine.

0:43:250:43:29

It's not a waste of space. It worked out very well.

0:43:290:43:33

'So the bathroom is in place, which is more than can be said for the other facilities.

0:43:330:43:38

'They haven't had time to fix up the kitchen yet because of one unforeseen problem

0:43:380:43:45

'that was a major drain on their time.'

0:43:450:43:49

We hadn't intended doing the roof, but it had to be done.

0:43:500:43:54

We didn't see it at first, but when we got up there it had to be done.

0:43:540:44:00

'So in the end, the whole roof had to be retiled.

0:44:020:44:06

'The extra time spent on the roof plus the extra time to replace all those windows meant

0:44:060:44:12

'the work took longer than expected.'

0:44:120:44:16

It was going to be two months. Unfortunately, with the roof having to be done

0:44:160:44:21

and the windows delaying us, we would have had the kitchen units in and it would be painted,

0:44:210:44:28

but these things happen in building. You have to go with the flow and make the most of it.

0:44:280:44:33

'They're certainly making the most of this property. The garden was a great space, too, but wasted.

0:44:330:44:40

'But they have now cleared it, so it's ready for landscaping.

0:44:400:44:44

'There was also a battered old conservatory which they've ripped out for more garden room.

0:44:470:44:54

'The original budget was £25,000, but with the extra expense,

0:44:540:44:59

'Pat reckons they'll probably end up spending 30 grand. He was meant to be staying with the boys in London

0:44:590:45:05

'to do the work. Unfortunately, he caught flu and had to take it easy, so Colin was left to oversee.

0:45:050:45:12

'He's more than happy with the result.'

0:45:120:45:17

It was a huge challenge for him because he was really on his own.

0:45:170:45:21

He did a fantastic job money-wise and work-wise.

0:45:210:45:25

'This was their first renovation outside Ireland. Has it paid off?

0:45:320:45:37

'We asked two local experts for their opinions.'

0:45:370:45:41

I think my impressions of the property are really good.

0:45:410:45:45

He's opened it all up.

0:45:450:45:47

And the arrangement upstairs with the bathroom is very good.

0:45:470:45:52

Having a look around, the property has great potential.

0:45:520:45:56

Love the layout downstairs. The through lounge is lovely and then down into the kitchen,

0:45:560:46:03

which will work really well.

0:46:030:46:06

'Despite the fact it's unfinished, they see the property's potential.

0:46:060:46:10

'So what do they think it could sell for on the open market?'

0:46:110:46:16

I think when the work's all done, the property is going to resale for £275,000-£280,000.

0:46:160:46:23

And if it was mine, I'd try for £285,000.

0:46:230:46:28

I would put this property on the open market for £285,000.

0:46:280:46:32

That's pretty good. That's more or less what we had anticipated.

0:46:320:46:37

'In total, the boys would have spent £251,000 here.

0:46:370:46:42

'So that's a great profit of 34 grand.

0:46:420:46:46

'What could it earn if rented out?'

0:46:460:46:48

If they went for the rental option, it's likely to rent for in the region of £1,100-£1,200 per calendar month.

0:46:490:46:56

I would put this property up for rent for £1,100-£1,200 per month.

0:46:560:47:00

'That's an impressive yield of 9.5%, but would that be enough to tempt him to rent it out instead?'

0:47:020:47:09

With what we've invested, it definitely is a good return.

0:47:100:47:15

So, yeah, we might. We'll see how the sales go.

0:47:150:47:19

But we might rent it for a year or two. It's an option. We'll see what happens when it's finished.

0:47:190:47:25

'They might even be able to afford to sort out the back garden

0:47:250:47:30

'as they have at the front.

0:47:300:47:32

'Pat seems confident about handing over the reins to Colin for the next one.'

0:47:320:47:38

He's proved he can do it here. He doesn't need me any more. The world is his oyster!

0:47:380:47:44

'Property development is quite a departure from Colin's previous career in pop music.

0:47:440:47:50

-'Is he hooked on houses now?'

-I will definitely stay at this and get a couple of years out of it.

0:47:500:47:57

We tried the music earlier on and had a lot of fun doing it, had a couple of singles out,

0:47:570:48:03

so I imagine I'll stay at what we're doing now. I'm really enjoying it.

0:48:030:48:08

It's great fun. Every day is different, every month is.

0:48:080:48:12

Yeah, just keep going. You never know what the future might bring.

0:48:120:48:16

'It sounds like Colin is more than happy to progress from boy band to builder.'

0:48:160:48:22

'It was the autumn of 2007 when I first ventured

0:48:260:48:30

'into the lovely rural location of Mamhead near Exeter in Devon.

0:48:300:48:35

'The setting was the biggest issue with getting this telephone exchange connected back to modern life.

0:48:350:48:42

'Planners weren't keen on any kind of residential dwelling here,

0:48:420:48:47

'but, undaunted, businesswoman Beatrice decided that £40,000 seemed well worth paying

0:48:470:48:53

'just to own such a tranquil spot.

0:48:530:48:56

'At first that was all she was going to get.

0:48:560:48:59

'Initially, she got her wires crossed with her architect by going for a work/living space,

0:48:590:49:06

'which was rejected by planners.

0:49:060:49:08

'But when we last saw Beatrice in 2008, she'd just had good news.'

0:49:080:49:12

On Tuesday I got a phone call to say that, verbally,

0:49:120:49:16

they've given me planning permission for holiday use

0:49:160:49:20

and it would be made official - when the notice has been on the outside of the building for eight weeks,

0:49:200:49:28

then I will get it in writing.

0:49:280:49:30

'So after a year of planning limbo, Beatrice was given the green light for holiday lets.

0:49:300:49:36

'Finally, the derelict exchange could be taken off hold and Beatrice could ring the changes.

0:49:370:49:44

'We catch up with her now 18 months after she first bought it and, boy, what a transformation.

0:49:540:50:00

'She's wrung every last drop of potential out of it.'

0:50:000:50:04

What I want is I want it to be I'm here in a beautiful area and I want to be IN that area.

0:50:180:50:26

As soon as the sun comes out, as soon as it's tolerable at all,

0:50:280:50:32

I want that whole wall to disappear and I want to be inside outside.

0:50:320:50:37

And I want to feel a feeling that you flow through the building.

0:50:420:50:46

You can flow through the outside space and come back in again.

0:50:460:50:50

I'm afraid when I was asked about colours, it's just got to be white. It brings the light in.

0:50:580:51:05

Well, here's my kitchen, just the way I thought it would be.

0:51:130:51:17

This is the only extension, really, apart from the little bathroom. It's made it grow a weenie bit.

0:51:170:51:24

This is the living area. I've got wonderful views, I've got the woodburner, just as I dreamed.

0:51:240:51:31

And I've got the wet room here and then we go on to the bedroom and the view here as well.

0:51:310:51:38

'It hardly seems possible that this holiday cottage could have been created from essentially one room.

0:51:380:51:45

'There's tremendous attention to detail. Beatrice even travelled miles to get the perfect basin.

0:51:450:51:51

'And it's not just the looks that she went the extra distance.'

0:51:510:51:55

When I did a recce, I walked the whole area, a nine-mile radius of this area.

0:51:550:52:01

I know every transport cafe, every fish and chip shop, every nice restaurant and pub.

0:52:010:52:07

I've put details here for visitors. But I also found, to my amazement,

0:52:070:52:12

-that this is the area where all the disabled walking is.

-'With this in mind,

0:52:120:52:17

'Beatrice made her holiday home disabled-friendly, installing a wet room, ramp and special pathway.'

0:52:170:52:25

I particularly wanted to get the disabled access in. I want everybody to enjoy this view.

0:52:260:52:32

I'm thrilled we got this window in. It was not on the original plan.

0:52:320:52:37

The view there is just as lovely as the other views.

0:52:370:52:41

We can come round here and if we open up these doors we can see that view there

0:52:410:52:47

which is just absolutely fantastic. It's just lovely.

0:52:470:52:52

I knew this would be lovely, but it's twice as good as I thought.

0:52:520:52:56

'She's really done a fantastic job with such a small area,

0:52:560:53:00

'but it isn't just the space that was limiting.'

0:53:000:53:04

The planning quite clearly states that I must promote the tourist industry and make sure that it's let

0:53:040:53:11

as regularly as possible. It's not let all the time, so I get use too.

0:53:110:53:16

But it is the Mamhead village councillors I have to thank for being here.

0:53:160:53:22

They sent a letter on my behalf saying they'd really like someone here because it had been vandalised

0:53:220:53:28

and they were sick of it.

0:53:280:53:31

'This is one holiday home the locals really wanted.

0:53:310:53:35

'Their goodwill has helped Beatrice fulfil the building potential

0:53:350:53:39

'along with a lot of input from her architect and her builder, Preston.'

0:53:390:53:44

When I first saw the plans, I thought it's not worth doing and she's a bit mad to have bought it,

0:53:440:53:50

but after two or three weeks, I've realised it's really good

0:53:500:53:54

and she can make a nice holiday place. She done well on it.

0:53:540:53:59

'As he created this dream holiday home for her, Preston will also get the benefits for a while himself.'

0:53:590:54:05

I spoke to Beatrice and she said she will let me stay here for a week, free of charge.

0:54:050:54:11

'Preston might get a free week's holiday, but for Beatrice, realising this amazing transformation

0:54:110:54:17

'was anything but free.'

0:54:170:54:20

I think my end budget, when I'm absolutely finished,

0:54:200:54:24

will be £41,000. And I am now ready, with all the things that are in,

0:54:240:54:29

to spend the first weekend here.

0:54:290:54:32

'The initial purchase price of £40,000, her spend of £41,000, plus fees and planning costs

0:54:320:54:40

'adds up to a total outlay of around £85,000 for Beatrice.

0:54:400:54:45

'So how successfully has she rung the changes here? We asked along a lettings agent

0:54:450:54:51

'and the auctioneer who sold it.'

0:54:510:54:53

It's the most unbelievable creation

0:54:530:54:56

of what I sold to what it could be.

0:54:560:54:59

My first impressions are the situation and the view,

0:54:590:55:04

out across the valley to the sea. Lovely area.

0:55:040:55:07

Nice space, very compact.

0:55:070:55:10

Easily sellable and rentable as a holiday cottage.

0:55:100:55:15

I'd sleep in a septic tank if this was my view and my surrounds. It's just a fantastic spot.

0:55:150:55:21

'First and foremost, this is a holiday cottage. How much rental per week could it achieve?'

0:55:210:55:27

Peak price per week, I'd say £300-£350.

0:55:270:55:33

Peak season rent per week would be about £500.

0:55:330:55:36

'Based on that higher estimate and 40% occupancy, that could be an annual return of over £10,000.

0:55:360:55:42

'How does Beatrice feel about that?'

0:55:420:55:45

I'm not a great doubter, but that sounds a great deal of money for a very tiny property.

0:55:450:55:52

'Those are pretty impressive rental figures. How does it stack up on the resale market?

0:55:520:55:58

The resale price today would be in the region of £130,000-£140,000.

0:55:580:56:03

That's absolutely marvellous.

0:56:030:56:06

I'm just so thrilled with it.

0:56:060:56:08

'It may have been a long, drawn-out process, but it paid off for her.'

0:56:080:56:12

It's come absolutely spot-on to what I dreamed of.

0:56:120:56:17

It's all turned out more than perfect. I wouldn't change a thing.

0:56:170:56:22

'Beatrice's story just goes to prove that sometimes you don't need to pay telephone number prices

0:56:260:56:32

'for dreams to come true.'

0:56:320:56:35

We've proved that even the smallest project has tales to tell.

0:56:490:56:53

So join us for more surprising stories next time.

0:56:530:56:58

Subtitles by Subtext for Red Bee Media Ltd - 2010

0:57:120:57:16

Martin Roberts and Lucy Alexander visit a three-bedroom property in Mid Glamorgan, a house in London and an old telephone exchange in Devon.

All of these properties have been sold at auction; Martin and Lucy find out who bought them, and what they paid when they went under the hammer.