Simon O'Brien and Rani Price try to avoid a crash landing in Slough as they search for a house for a young family near one of the UK's busiest airports.
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Today we're in the Royal County of Berkshire.
Yes, the birthplace of King Alfred the Great, King Edward III, King Henry VI and Lord Mountbatten.
A scene of riots, rebellions, battles, sieges, trials, executions, weddings, celebrations.
Sounds like a normal day on To Buy Or Not To Buy.
-Simon, this place practically breeds history.
Berkshire and its towns essentially form the basis of the indelible history that is our great country.
And you know what they say? An Englishmen's home is his castle.
So, where better to find three castles, well properties, for today's buyers.
One of which they can try before they buy.
-Now for a snapshot of today's family.
-They are the Watkins, Kate,
David and their beautiful two-year-old Elise.
Mum Kate is a massage therapist, keen yoga enthusiast, and claims she can play the piano.
David is a special effects supervisor in the movies, and is rather useful around the house with his DIY.
-Which will come in handy if a property needs a bit of work doing, right?
In fact, they'll be happy to buy a house, knock it down and start building it again from scratch.
Or maybe David could do it using special effects.
Kate and David, we're here just in Slough.
I've got to say, you've got an amazing garden here.
You've got loads of land. Why is it you actually want to move?
I'd say it's more the area. We love our house and garden, if we could pick it up and put it somewhere else
-it would be fantastic.
-So, where do we want to be?
If you use Slough as a centre, we're looking to move pretty much around the perimeter of it, really.
No further into London.
Maidenhead would probably be as far left as we'd like to go, up as far as Gerrards Cross,
above the M4.
Sunningdale, maybe below, as far down as that.
Do you like the country kind of life?
I see you've got chickens.
We'd like to carry on having chickens. Somewhere with a bit of space.
We're not really looking for the big house at the moment.
We're looking to buy a good area that we can then turn into our big house.
-We'd be looking to do a lot of work ourselves.
-How many bedrooms?
Three bedrooms, which we've got now. As long as we could extend.
Picture this house. You don't mind a bit of a project, you don't mind a bit of work. But what style?
Old, I don't want any new-builds.
-Something with a bit of character.
-Now, what about work?
If we're talking about moving away from the area we're in now, are you working in this area?
-Do you need to be quite close?
-I'm kind of freelance.
The area we move into, it's kind of within that same circle of where the studios and that are, you know?
-So we're not doing the big drive.
-Do you mind being in a flight path?
PLANE FLIES OVERHEAD
Kind of, yes.
Yes is the answer, but I don't really see how we can get
away from that, looking in the areas we're moving to.
Exactly. Anywhere this side of London, particularly the areas you're talking about,
-they are difficult to avoid.
-They are, yes.
-But if we can put up with this...
-If we can put up with this, we can put up with it anywhere.
-Do you prefer terraced, semis, detached?
-Are you bothered?
We'd go to a semi if it was in the right area, and the right positioning and various.
-Budget, what have we got to play with?
-I suppose 400,000 would be our top, top limit.
Taking into consideration stamp duty and things like that as well.
Which should keep a lead on you two guys.
We will do our best.
We can't push you any further?
You're definitely saying 400,000?
We have it on film.
-It's on tape! 400,000, we'll do our best.
-We've got all the information we need, shall we get going?
-We certainly shall.
Well, Kate and David certainly know what they're after.
I think they're after Windsor Castle but with a bit more outdoor space.
However, we have a budget of £400,000 and less houses for sale.
I think we have our work cut out here.
I need to speak to the local folks to find out what's really inside their minds.
Here it is: usage notes.
In the past, a king or queen held court when they talked to the people who gave them advice. Perfect.
See you later, Your Majesty.
Berkshire goes from one end of the social spectrum to the other.
Windsor Castle with all its pomp and pageantry, and the world-famous public school Eton College.
To the slightly less urbane and definitely more urban icon that is Slough.
Which made its way onto our screens thanks to a certain David Brent and friends.
Yet, venture only a mile or two outside and you're greeted by some of the country's finest green belt.
Beautiful villages, tranquil living and stunning properties bursting with character.
Berkshire is right next door to Greater London,
and the centre of the capital is only 20 miles from Slough down the M4.
Which is why thousands commute daily.
With numerous train links, and Heathrow airport on the doorstep, it's immediately obvious why
Berkshire is a seriously desirable place to live.
But what would 400 grand buy around the rest of the UK?
Well, in Stockport this extended, four-bedroomed detached house sitting in a secluded cul-de-sac
comes with landscaped gardens, its own private driveway and the very reasonable price tag of £375,000.
Or perhaps a super duplex apartment, set in a Grade 2 listed manor near Cardiff.
With two double bedrooms, two luxury bathrooms and 15 acres to stroll around in.
All for £395,000.
And in rural Somerset, you could be the proud owner of a quite charming
three-bedroomed thatched cottage, tucked away in a quiet village,
with superb outside space at the slightly higher price of £425,000.
So, let's see how we can spend the Watkins' money in and around Royal Berkshire.
-Hello, is it Nick?
-Hello, I'm Nick.
Thank you very much for seeing me today.
Right, I've got a lovely couple.
They want to relocate from Slough.
Datchet is a really, really quaint, pretty little area, and you're by the river as well.
Do you think that will be more affordable?
-I think it's all a bit of a muchness in this area.
They'd like something period.
But I think they're very open-minded about that, and they don't mind doing a bit of work.
-How realistic is that?
-I don't think it'll buy a period home around here, partly because there aren't so many
period homes, and when they do come up they're in high demand and they get a considerable premium.
Going from Beaconsfield, Windsor, Datchet, Farnham Common,
Stoke Poges, I think, really, it's all a bit of a muchness.
Excuse me, are you inside Kate's head? Because you're listing everywhere she wants to live.
Hedgerley is great because it's a true village.
It's got a village pub,
it's got beautiful walks, it's got a pretty church.
It's got all the right ingredients.
Perfect, I love it. I love it!
-You don't look like you're working very hard.
-I've done all my work.
Well, we'll see about that.
I, meanwhile, have been working my socks off.
And I think it's been worth it, because property one today is a fabulous choice.
They said they just wanted to move their house and put it somewhere else.
That's more or less what I've done, but there's also room for expansion.
That's property one, it's a beauty. What have you got?
I'm going for location.
That's what I'm going for.
This property gives them a choice to do a little bit of work.
-It is a bungalow, but it's got a lot of space.
-We're both very, very happy with this.
-The wild card.
When they see it, we know they're going to see the potential.
That's the wild card, it's beautiful. Shall we get on with some more work?
-Yes, let's start at property number one.
-Oh, yes. My choice.
My choice is an absolute winner.
In the small village of Datchet near Slough is this original 1930s Art Deco semi, with over
150ft of garden and a drive for up to three cars.
This place is property's equivalent of being dealt a straight flush.
Right, come on. My choice today,
property one is this offering here. First impressions?
It looks very nice. Loving the arch.
-Looks like it's got a bit of character.
1930s, little touch of Art Deco there.
And you'll find those touches throughout the property as well. All right?
-Datchet, do you know this area?
-Fair knowledge of the area, yes.
I don't normally applaud you in your choice of areas, but I do think it's a fantastic area.
And I believe it's a great catchment area for schools as well, which is
-something you're thinking of for the future, isn't it?
You want good schools for your little one(s)!
Absolutely. Good primary school, good secondary school and also
a very good private school just along the road, Eton End.
So let's aim for the skies.
-Talking of which...
-Right on cue!
Let's see what you think when you get inside.
Get in there and enjoy it, see you in a bit.
Thank you. Wooden floors, that's a good sign.
-Good for children.
-One young kid, maybe more on the way.
Wooden floors. No messing.
Through to the lounge.
Nice fireplace. That looks almost identical to what ours is at home.
Nice space for our big sofa. I see they've got a big sofa.
Yes, a big L-shape, yes.
Nice size. I was thinking that this was a dining area.
-It's quite a long front room, isn't it?
I'm hearing the planes, Simon.
But they aren't commenting on them, so it must have good windows.
It's double-glazed throughout, yes. Thank you for that, Rani.
-Double-glazed throughout, front and back.
-This is quite a nice area.
-A good size.
And there's space around here, I guess this would be a utility space.
Possibly even maybe close this off?
I was just about to raise that point, because of the noise of the washing machine.
I agree with that, I'd separate out the utility room.
-I don't like the noise of the dishwasher going, and the washing machine. I'm with you there.
And a conservatory.
It's a nice space.
Might even make it a play area for Elise.
If we weren't looking to extend, as next door have done.
Next door have extended so the precedent has been set.
-So they can come out back, they can put another bedroom upstairs if they want it.
Family bathroom. And...
doesn't appear to have a shower. No, it has got a shower.
It's got half a shower, by the looks of it. Needs a bit of work.
First bedroom. Nice, big cupboards there.
I take it this isn't master bedroom.
Yes, we could make this Elise's room. I will use some of her cupboard space.
I'm sure it'll all be used for your clothing.
There you go. They start to imagine themselves living here.
That one would be Elise's room.
Yes, a room fit for a little princess.
OK, with a double bed. I take it this is...
This would be the master bedroom.
But very similar storage next door. Similar sort of size.
-Nice big window, lets a lot of light in.
I guess this is the spare room.
-Yeah, third bedroom.
Could be a study.
Could be office. Office, study.
Or temporarily a nursery, maybe.
Office study for now.
Nursery in the future.
There you go, Kate.
-There you go. Now then, join us here a second because you've left us a bit confused.
You kind of warmed to the place, then went cold, then warm...
-Talk to us.
-We're just trying to sort of envisage.
It's fairly similar to what we've got at the moment.
So I'm kind of reserving judgment.
-We've got more properties to look at. So...
-Oh, well, thank you. That's really positive.
You did say to me, you did say to both of us,
that if you could take your house and move it to another area, you said if it's a good area...
-Yeah, that's true. We did.
-That's more or less what we've done.
-It's got potential.
I mean, looking at next door as well, they've got a big extension on the side.
They've set a bit of a precedent at the back of the garden, big garage built.
I don't think we'll have trouble getting permission for that.
I don't need to do my job here. Exactly what I was about to say.
-It has got potential.
-It's got exactly the potential that David's talking about.
You said you wanted something you could extend as you went. Look what they've done next door.
They've gone sideways, they've gone backwards.
They're about to put a massive conservatory on it.
As David said, you've got a huge garage down there because you've
got rear access at the end of the garden, with summerhouse, workshop.
You said your maximum budget would be £400,000 for the perfect house.
-Kate, however, is reserving judgment whether this is her perfect house.
But how much do you think this property is on the market for?
You're good at this.
I would say this is up for... 380.
I'm going to go for 375.
-Mmm. Yes. Hoping indeed. Bit of wishful thinking, there, Kate.
It's actually on the market for 389,950.
-But, you know, lovely area. Look at the garden. It's gorgeous.
-It's got potential.
It has got potential.
Yeah, it has got potential. I'll agree with that.
I still don't know whether they like it or not. I'm confused.
Kate, let's go to property number two because, hopefully,
we'll be able to get a bit more of an idea of what you really like.
-I think I've made a better choice. Come on, Kate.
-It's that way.
My choice of property also lies in the beautiful village of Datchet.
In fact, I'm surprised we didn't bump into each other.
It's a detached, chalet-style bungalow with 120ft rear garden.
On the poker theme, I'm looking at a royal flush right now.
So, Simon, I'll see your straight flush and I'll raise you.
Right, then, you two. Now, Simon took you to Datchet.
I am a bit more in the know with the locals so I am bringing you to Dash-ay(!)
This is a lovely, lovely area, this is.
There's a little local park where the kids hang out with the parents.
So I kind of thought that was a nice feel for you.
We're only still about 15 minutes away from Gerrards Cross. So we're in the vicinity you want to be.
-Is that good?
-We've got everything in the area you want.
-It's a good area.
-So, go on then, first impressions, Kate.
What do you think?
-Well, it's a bungalow.
But... no, I'm open-minded.
We've not thought about looking at bungalows.
But, yeah, wait till we get inside.
-Perfect. So, Dave, what are your thoughts?
-Yeah, very similar to Kate, really.
I hadn't really thought of a bungalow but it doesn't mean
it's not going to be good so we'll reserve judgment until we've been inside. And good off-street parking.
No through road, in a cul-de-sac.
Perfect for kids.
It's a really nice family area.
And if you do want to flatten this like I'm getting the impression you do want to,
you can always park your caravan here.
So, are you ready to go in and have a look around?
-I believe we are.
-Go on, then.
-See you in a bit.
Wow, long hallway.
OK, let's check out this room.
It looks like it's got an en suite there.
I gather there's a young lady maybe living in here.
Good for Elise's room.
-With en suite. Which is good.
-Nice and light.
-I like rooms that are light.
-Would you be able to get a double bed in here, do you think?
No, you can fit a double bed in there, of course you can, Kate.
Downstairs toilet. Mind you, they're all downstairs because it's a bungalow.
But it's a fair size. It's got a shower and a bath.
This looks like the living room.
Yeah. Big sofa.
-Our L shape would go in there well, wouldn't it?
I like the fact this house is nice and light.
They seem to like this place a lot more than they liked yours.
-They do, do they?
-And we come into another bedroom.
Looks like we've got another lady in here. It's all pink in this house.
I think you're going to be OK.
Fairly decent size.
Again, room for a double bed.
Now. What do we have here? Office.
It is a strange layout. I suppose, being all on one floor is different.
-We're not used to it.
-It's different for us. Exactly.
I completely agree with Dave there.
It is quite confusing, this space.
It takes a couple of circuits to kind of get the layout in your head, doesn't it?
A nice sized kitchen.
Loads more work surface, actually.
-Yeah, there is a lot more.
-And a gas cooker.
Gas cooker. Still feels like it's a bit enclosed.
Yeah, it's just a funny layout.
It is a funny layout.
And we're not used to looking at bungalows, exactly.
That could be knocked out, could it?
Hang on, they want to knock things out?
I knew he'd want to do this. I was waiting for this, Dave.
And the last bedroom.
OK, a similar sort of size. Nice to look out on to the garden.
-I quite like that.
And nice and light.
Storage is a bit of an issue in this room, is it not?
There doesn't seem to be too much storage behind there.
-They've got a nice big bed in here, though.
-It is oversized, you're right.
See, I would probably change the layout and I would probably make
this bedroom a dining room, with the patio doors coming out.
Or some kind of area leading off the kitchen.
Looks like we've got another room through here.
-This could be yours.
-I think it is definitely mine.
-We'll shut you out here.
Congratulations, you two.
You found it to the garden.
Eventually. It was a bit of a maze in there.
It's kind of a bungalow. It's just a different way of living.
And if you did decide to go for a property like this,
you could move the rooms wherever you wanted them to.
You could have your bedroom here or, Dave, you could just knock down the walls, you know.
-Have it all open-plan.
-Take off the roof, extend.
-That is the point.
-It could go up, actually.
If you look next door, they've gone up. There's potential doing that.
Or, of course, you could go down, go into the basement.
I never thought of that.
Bungalows, they just do generally have a much bigger footprint than your standard house.
I agree with you, the layout in there, you do have to go around it
a couple of times before you kind of work out where everything sits.
But, Dave, come on, this is your opportunity.
Get some walls out, you could create a massive living space in there.
-And you could keep this garden,
you've got fantastic space for your chickens, your
swimming pool, your hot tub, your summer house, all those things and still space for Elise to run around.
It is nice and light out here, I must admit, in this property.
Kate, you're one down. Your budget maximum £400,000.
How much for this place?
-Go on, I went first last time.
-OK, I'll go first.
-You went off my mark.
-Up my stakes this time.
I think I'm going to go for 395.
-I think it's a lot less than that, personally.
I think more like 360.
Well, you've upped your stakes and you were right to do that.
Congratulations. It's now one all.
You were the closest.
Unfortunately, you said don't go above 400,000.
All right, I did go above 400,000 because I thought it was worth it for this area. It's 430,000.
But hopefully, with the market, the way it is, there is room to haggle.
-You could get it within your budget.
-Right. Two very different properties so far, eh?
We've got one more to go, though. You know what it is.
-It's the wild card.
-It's the wild card. It's this way.
Come on. Let's go.
We've gone off the beaten track for the wild card.
-Well, we've gone to Buckinghamshire.
-It's got the space they're after,
the rural location and needs work doing to it.
It's ex-local authority and could just be the missing king of hearts to complete our full house.
OK, Kate and David, the ever intriguing wild card is upon us.
Here it is. But before we talk about the property, let's talk about where we are now.
We've hopped over the border into Buckinghamshire to Hedgerley just round the corner from the
lovely village of Stoke Poges. What do you think of the property?
Well, first impressions aren't great. But the immediate area does look great.
-It's much quieter than we were in
The size isn't bad. It doesn't look small. That's good.
No doubt it has potential but I'm loving the area.
-The area's good.
-Yes. It looks fantastic.
At the back you've got private woodlands, so nothing will be
built behind you, which is absolutely brilliant, I think.
Simon said there, we've hopped over county which is excellent news
because that puts you in the catchment area for future grammar schools.
So if you did want to stay here and make this your family home, that's kind of fantastic news and
it's also got good primary schools as well, just in Farnham Common, which is down the road.
Right, before we send you in, a word of warning, it's not the wild card for nothing.
You said when we first spoke to you, you weren't scared of doing a bit of work.
Bear that in mind. Let's find out if you have the imagination to make this your family home.
All right? Get in there and enjoy it.
Ah, it certainly is a wild card. OK, so does it a lot of work but that is what...
Needs new windows.
Well, I'm still quite blown away by the front.
Yes, and the actual location.
When you take someone into property that needs a lot of work and you hear them going...(GROANS)
Their voices have actually gone up an octave. They seem quite excited about doing work.
And that is why we picked this wild card.
-What's through here? We've got a bar.
That's a little games room.
And looking through there, I'm probably inclined to open all this out.
Dave, I would go one step further, actually.
I would literally take the extension down and start again.
Go through to the kitchen? It's a good-sized kitchen.
Much bigger than we've got now.
Would we be able to open that out any more?
Maybe that could possibly be redesigned.
-Redesign the back of the house.
-That's got loads of potential.
David said it there, "loads of potential". And that's what they wanted.
It's nice and bright as we walk up here, nice and bit of sun coming in.
-It's a fair sized garden.
-Yes, it is a fair sized garden.
-Lovely woods at the back.
-I wonder how far they do stretch?
Take a look at this. Woodlands are privately owned.
So no-one's going to be building on this. It's absolutely beautiful.
-This is, what? A small bedroom, would you say?
-It is a fairly small bedroom. But...
A good bedroom for...a good bite size bedroom for her.
-Enough for a small bed and a wardrobe.
It's a good, blank canvas, I think, this whole place.
The excitement is continuing upstairs, isn't it?
It really is and they're seeing beyond the decor.
Yes. That's good potential there.
-Love the floorboard.
-Take the carpet up.
At the minute, we don't know if this is the master's, do we?
-I'd like to think not.
-That's obviously a small bedroom.
-Yes, that's right. OK.
And now....the master bedroom.
Ah, this would be master bedroom, I would say. With a bit more storage over there.
-Wouldn't you say?
-Yes, definitely more room.
It's got a double bed in already and it looks like there's
a similar size to there with that one without the double bed.
-Definitely. No, this one has got more space.
Here you are, sitting in the sunshine overlooking the woods.
-Say a little bit more, please!
-We're just thinking about a lot.
It's hard to get excited about the property as it is
but it's quite easy to get excited about the potential.
And that's what you really want, isn't it?
When you're walking into a property and most things are finished,
you're looking at a finished project. You're not looking
at what it can be turned into.
Easier, isn't it? To picture a place which needs work in your own style.
Yes, exactly that.
Who's in the lead here? Is it 1-1?
1-1? It's 1-1, isn't it? All right.
So your maximum budget is £400,000. Who wants to go first?
I'm going to go on the money.
-I knew you'd do that!
-Was that your guess?
-Did you say that to him?
-OK. £400,000 from you, Dave.
And I'll go 395.
-You've won, Kate.
-Look at Dave's face. Don't like that!
-Yes, never mind that.
You might not like that but he will like this.
This place is on the market for £315,000. That was one-five.
-Is it really?
OK, you two. You've got a big decision to make now.
Which one would you like to test drive?
But we're not going to ask you right away.
We're going to give you a moment. You can go over there, put your heads together.
-Yes. We'll see you in a bit.
-And make your choice. Good luck! All right, while they do that...
Here's a quick recap for you.
Will it be my pad offering the perfect opportunity for the family
to leave their own personal footprint?
It's a wonderful Art Deco period house with a whopping 150ft of garden and affordable at £389,950.
Or will it be my property, bizarrely also in Datchet.
The superb detached chalet style bungalow.
It's a great size with loads of outdoor space, which is exactly what they're after.
I think it still represents good value for their money at £430,000.
Or just perhaps David and Kate will plump for today's wild card.
The ex-local authority semi-detached in rural Hedgerley.
Practically a giveaway at £315,000.
And they've chosen....the wild card.
Would you believe it? The ex-local authority house in Hedgerley.
Come on, guys, in you get.
And David's straight into the bar.
Hey, cheeky! How did he do that?
This is dusting off the cobwebs....
-Its been a while since I played darts.
Double top to bring the house down.
-How did he do that?
Must be special effects.
Good to see Kate wasting no time getting started with the yoga.
Gorgeous Elise has got it all figured out.
But come on, David. Let's see one big special-effect, come on.
A lovely day for testing a bit of snow in the country.
Make it snow in Hedgerley? Wow!
Brr! It's like a winter wonderland!
Well, you picked the wild card to test drive.
-Shall we ask why?
-This place has got loads of potential.
I think more for us the area.
It's a fantastic area.
Slightly less noise, which is always nice.
-So, yes, that's the main reasons for me, really.
This place we can more or less put our own stamp on it.
-I'll ask the big question....
-Hold my hand.
To buy or not to buy?
-I think we're going to buy.
Well, of course, it's £85,000 below your budget.
You've got that to do it up. Maybe even a little bit more?
Absolutely. Dave, you can just get happy on this place, knocking walls to bits all over the place.
-Listen, before he does, shall we get out here?
-I think we should. Good luck, guys.
-It was lovely to meet you.
-See you later.
Simon, the perfect result.
-Absolutely. Nice house, that. Pity he's going to demolish it.
But I guess the point about this search was it was less about the property
and more about finding them the place to live.
If you want us to find you the perfect location or the perfect home...
-Don't hesitate and get in touch.
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