Property series. Simon O'Brien and Jonnie Irwin get on track with some motor loving property hunters looking for a family home in Northampton.
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Hello! Welcome to To Buy Or Not To Buy.
Today, we're racing around Northamptonshire...
..looking for a grand prix of a property.
Sometimes, Simon, I think To Buy Or Not To Buy is like a grand prix.
Monaco one week, Sao Paolo the next?
No, I was thinking we both get to compete off the grid
against each other with our chosen properties.
Ah, then our buyers get to take a lap of each house.
Then one of us gets pole position.
Before we take a pit-stop while they test-drive their favourite circuit.
-Giving them the unique opportunity...
-..to try before they buy.
And the buyers in today's driving seat are Claudio Masoli
and his co-driver, civil partner Matt Wiggington.
Claudio is a European sales manager and Matt runs a travel company
-so both spend a lot of time negotiating planes, trains...
And it's the automobiles that make them both tick.
Professed petrol-heads, both boys are mad about everything cars
especially of the Grand Prix variety.
Listen, I know Jonnie will take cars and engines and all that all day.
But I won't. Tell me, there is a reason for this move, isn't there?
We're looking at increasing the family.
So we're looking at getting a house that's more child friendly.
-So you want to adopt?
-We're looking to adopt.
What do you see this home giving you in terms of environment?
The essential part for me is the outdoor living.
We want open plan, outdoor spaces.
For my sins, I'm also Italian so I have all the family visiting.
-A lot of family, so we need bedroom space.
-Which specific areas do you like in this part of the world?
We want something closer to a major town with better schooling.
And something more commutable for my office as well.
This is all very sensible!
-Can you believe you're doing this?
-It's a scary process.
We were just discussing it. Everything we do is focused on the future.
Matt is looking at buying a new car and we're looking at NCAP ratings.
Get out of that!
We're happy to be more normal, more family-like,
but we'll keep the exciting part, if just a sports car in the garage.
-Are we talking about a double garage now?
I'd like a triple or a quadruple, but...
-That's good of you.
-But in the real world...
-A double would be good.
-The house itself. What does it look like?
-Minimum four bedrooms.
Do you like period properties? Give us your desires.
It's more likely to be an older, 1930s, 1950s, '60s, '70s,
not anything '80s onwards because they're pretty much all the same.
-They're all a box, they're smaller.
-Older ones seem to...
-Although new houses have already had the open plan feel designed into them.
Are you prepared to do some of the work yourselves if they don't have open plan?
-I love the way he says, "Yeah."
I've done DIY with Claudio before.
-When we say, "Do it ourselves", I'm not sure...
-Somebody else will do it.
If you're talking about having work done for you by a professional, that's going to cost money.
It's kind of tied in to the budget. The budget is fairly flexible.
We've said that something around 350-ish is OK.
I'll stop you now. 350 for all that you want? No.
OK, let's go a bit further, then. Around the 400 mark.
-That was good, wasn't it?
-Do it again! Do it again!
-Stop there. 400.
Happy to go a little bit over the 400 if we can get it back to around 400.
Are there any key responses to listen out for?
-If I don't see anything I like.
-Silence would be one!
-Jonnie, while they're still talking, shall we get going?
-See you later.
You know, Jonnie, I'm beginning to understand what all this grand prix lark is all about.
Listen, we've got a job to do today.
You me and the team have three properties to show Claudio and Matt.
-We're not going to get that done while you sit dreaming of being Jenson Button!
Oh, just drive, will you?
So today's property search is situated around Northampton town.
With a population of 205,000, this is a great location for commuters.
As well as today's buyers, this area has also been home to some well-known faces.
That's right. A-list celebrities Matt Smith, aka Doctor Who,
funny man Alan Carr and Radio 1 presenter Jo Wiley all come from Northampton,
along with our very own D-lister, Jonny Benarr.
-That's cruel, Simon.
-Yeah, but true. He is from round here.
Now, if living close-by to a motor circuit appeals to you,
then check out the following.
Like this modern and spacious four-bed property in a sought-after village near Brands Hatch.
It has everything a family could need.
Or how about this impressive four-bed detached family home
in the village of Castle Donington.
Finally, this recently renovated four-bed property
in the pretty village of Thruxton. Deceptively spacious,
it could be yours for £375,000.
Imagine if all the housing stock in the UK were in a race.
-Like a housing stock car race?
-Yeah! I wonder what would win the chequered flag for popularity?
An interesting question, Mr Irwin. Shall we find out?
Start your engine, please!
I'm all revved up!
Despite a recent acceleration, lagging at the rear of the grid
with at least 17% of us driven to choose this streamlined lifestyle
are flats and apartments.
Making only marginally more progress is the hot-rod of the housing market, the detached.
Despite its size and house power,
only 23% of us are steered towards its sweeping drive.
Faring much better down the track and holding its own
is the compact and cheeky little mover, the vintage, ever-reliable terrace,
housing 28% of the British race.
But way out in front and beating them all to the finish line
is the well-built semi.
32% of us choosing the porch not the Porsche as the ultimate accessory.
Who would have thought that sleepy suburbia would beat them all to the chequered flag?
Here's the line-up for today's property Grand Prix.
Look at this. They've asked for four bedrooms. They've got four.
They wanted a double garage. They've got it.
But also, there's an in and out driveway. Very posh.
It's not a typical estate house as every one is a different design.
How about you, Simon?
Feast your eyes on this. This, I think, is perfect for the fellas.
A family home but it just gives that little bit extra.
I am in love with this property.
That's Property Two. It will take some beating.
But Jonnie, what steered us towards the Wild Card?
If they like the character of yours, they'll love this one.
It's got about 100 years on yours.
It's got beams, lovely rooms, a snug, even a range for them to cook on.
And a beautiful mature garden.
I reckon this is the one.
But why is it the Wild Card? Wait and see.
-Shall we start the tours?
-I'm in the driving seat. Let's go for mine.
Haven't got the keys!
First on the grid in today's property race is my choice.
This four-bed detached family home is in a quiet cul de sac.
If you look under the bonnet, all it needs is a bit of a tune-up.
Got the keys this time?
Weston Favell. Have you been here before?
We've not really looked at the area. We discounted it.
We had an impression of what type of property was here, and we were wrong.
You've got a local primary school for your potential child.
Guys, first impressions, please.
-Impressed and surprised.
-I'm impressed. Driving up to it, it looks good.
Nice open position. Circular driveway for Claudio. He likes that sort of thing.
Good to see a double garage. It's got a nice feel to it.
-All sounds very positive.
-Let's get inside.
Tell you what, when you go inside,
you might need to use your imagination.
-This is very much a project, I would say.
-Looking forward to it.
-Right. Get in there, then. Enjoy.
OK, so... This is a good space.
-Jonnie said it was a project.
-He did, didn't he!
OK, a nice-sized hall leading into...
-..a good-sized sitting room.
-Very nice. And it's light.
Good for the kids. You can always have the area towards the doors for the kids. Open it up.
-You can still watch them.
-Keep an eye on them.
-Easily change the wallpaper.
-The fireplace is in. Update it.
-Something more modern. Perfect.
-The dining room.
-It's a good-sized room. It's nice it opens out...
-Fantastic double doors.
We're getting "fantastics". These guys hinted that they're fussy, but they're showing imagination.
They've not seen our favourite feature yet.
-I don't think you'd need to do much to this.
I'm not sure about the snooker table.
-We'd put something else in here.
It's amazing, Jonnie, that you've found such a lovely house that comes with its own pool...table.
-This would be perfect for you.
-We've got furniture to put in here.
Ah. Right. Kitchen.
-A bit smaller than...
-Smaller than we were expecting.
-I can imagine your mother making pizza on here. Rolling the dough out.
-Let's have a look in here.
-This is the first bedroom.
-I don't think it's the main bedroom.
You'd get a double bed in there quite easily.
General updating. It's nice and light. It's not overlooked at all.
-Bedroom number two.
-Are they the same size?
Again, another good size. You could use it as a guest room.
Or a child's room. It's the perfect size.
Close to the main bedroom and the bathroom.
-Their son or daughter doesn't need a big room.
I grew up under the stairs, in a cupboard.
That I believe!
-So this would be bedroom number three.
-The third bedroom.
Again, a child's bedroom, spare bedroom.
-Good size bathroom.
Like the rest of the house, it just needs freshening up.
-You'd want a proper shower cubicle.
-Not sure there's room.
-Try and sort out the noise the floorboards make.
You come up with the strangest things!
Know how to stop floorboards creaking?
-Don't walk on them.
-Don't walk on them!
-OK. So, hopefully, there's a...
-A master bedroom.
-Much lighter than the other bedrooms.
It's not as big as you would like, but it's not a bad-sized room.
That's a good size. It's almost as big as the main family bathroom.
-Always a winner.
-Always a winner.
Really good. Well done, Jonnie!
So, by the sounds of it, that went pretty well.
I think it ticks a lot of boxes in terms of what the brief is.
Is it a house to fall in love with? Difficult to tell.
Claudio, as you walked round, you'd said if you went quiet, you didn't like it.
You were talking a lot. You're now quiet!
-The noise behind us.
-I think the road noise.
You don't get that impression inside. The double glazing is good.
Come round the back, and the garden is fantastic, a lovely space.
There's a lot of noise from the road.
That's perhaps the compromise.
Right. Guess the price time.
Now then, your budget started around 350 and with one sentence we got it up to 400.
-So we'll stay around there.
-Yes, you did. I'm sorry, but you did!
-Who's going first?
I think it's going to be...
I'll go for a little more.
Well done. One-nil up to Claudio.
-It is £365,000.
-Food for thought?
-And a great start, I think.
-I think so.
-A good start.
I have my work cut out to top that. Property two is this way. Come on!
-My choice is going to leave yours standing on the grid.
-Just look at it.
Fellas, for Property Two, we've rushed down to Rushden.
-I can see what you did there!
-I have this all day with him!
Property Two. What am I going to tell you about it? I'm not.
We're just going to look at it.
Let the property do the talking.
-First impression is really good.
-That's what I wanted to hear, Matt.
What a difference between the first property and the second. Sorry, Jonnie!
-This is pretty impressive.
-Done us proud
with this one, before we even look inside.
-So far, ten out of ten.
-Sometimes, Jonnie, less is more.
You just let the property speak for itself.
-Self praise is no praise.
-I'm praising the property!
This is absolutely beautiful, isn't it? A stunning property.
-Imposing, great setting.
-A really good feel.
-I'm going to enjoy listening to you boys.
-It's early days.
-Early days, but it can only get better!
Amazing feel. Really light and airy.
It's very grand. I can't wait to see some more!
-That was a quick wow!
-Hardly in the door!
Yes, so this is like a drawing room or sitting room.
Beautiful stone fireplace.
-Nice high ceilings.
-So far, ticking, ticking, ticking!
-So what's over here?
-I presume this is the dining room.
-As evidenced by four chairs.
-Four chairs show you...
-Again, a good-sized room.
-Again, a fantastic fireplace, innit?
This whole house is grand.
The rooms are grand, the decor has been done to celebrate the grandeur.
-Another sitting room.
-With another fantastic fireplace.
-You can imagine family in here. Sitting down.
Tick, tick, tick!
Where do we go from here? It's really good.
OK. Kitchen overlooking the garden.
Bright kitchen. Beautiful work surfaces.
-You like tops.
-Big cooker. A winner for your mother.
It follows the period feel, but it's a very modern feel as well,
just as we asked for.
A real combination between modern and old.
Fabulous. It leads into this amazing...
-This is the part that joins the sitting room.
The good thing about this is you can imagine being in the kitchen and the children having breakfast
-while you're in the kitchen.
-Just looking out. Isn't that just...
You feel quite regal!
-We'll take tea in the living room.
That is a landing!
That is a landing!
Oh, this is a nice space.
-I love these original cupboards.
-I know how you are with shower cubicles.
-But it squares out. That becomes a shower.
-It's great. I like that.
Let's see what's in here.
-Wow, that's a beautifully light room.
-So many windows coming in.
-So much light.
-Unusual with these round windows. A chandelier.
Beautiful. It looks fantastic from outside,
-but the light they let in is amazing.
There must be a catch. There's got to be something.
-This is a massive room.
-This is another ten out of ten for a bedroom.
-As the master suite, this is beautiful.
Oh, good Lord!
There's an en-suite which is a beautiful en-suite.
-This is really unusual, isn't it?
-That is a shower!
That shower is probably my favourite ever shower.
It's got all the modern bells and whistles, that tubing has squirty bits.
Yet it's in beautiful Victorian style.
I love that shower, me.
-Another massive room, isn't it?
-You get all the light.
-As a child's room it would be fantastic.
That view out there is just amazing.
You don't get houses like this any more, do you?
-Simon's done an amazing job finding this.
Did you like that?
I have to say you've really done us proud with this one.
-What an amazing find!
-I've got a handshake!
-Congratulations. Well done. Brilliant.
-Not so much!
-You must love this house.
Cos we've heard nothing about a garage!
Well, I did spot the garage issue with the...
Issue? Garage issue? There is no garage, man!
But the house is beautiful.
There is plenty of space here outside this room.
-That's what I was about to say.
-You could easily build a car port or...
What I say is, be aware of planning issues when you look at these houses.
And look for TPOs, tree preservation orders,
which one might imagine could be on that tree.
So your garage isn't going there.
With that in mind, let's start thinking about the costs.
-We think you've been naughty and gone way over budget.
-If it's naughty,
-it's his fault. If it's good, thank me.
-You've shown us something out of our price bracket.
-Shall I go first?
-Go on, then.
-I'm reckoning 415.
Actually on the market
-for £5 short of £450,000.
-It feels every penny of that.
a little bird tells me there is considerable room for negotiation.
-It's a wonderful house. You had to see it.
-But one thing you haven't seen is the Wild Card!
So it's now time for our final competitor in today's race.
It's the Wild Card, folks.
Will it take pole position by overtaking Property One and Two?
We'll have to wait and see, won't we?
Now, if we're sticking with the motor racing metaphor,
we could well be on the final strait here.
-Because it's the Wild Card.
-And it's certainly wild!
Yes, it is! How's your gardening, fellas?
-He loves it.
-Keep me busy!
-But it's pretty, isn't it?
-What about the village?
-Been here before?
-No. New territory.
-It's got a really nice feel to it.
-It's lovely. It has a pub.
And a school in the next village on. A primary school. Couple of miles.
Let's talk about the property. Look at this place.
It's very, very attractive.
Very different to what you've shown us before.
But a really nice feel to it.
It's got a garage, but only one. And it's ready to move into, this.
Very different in style. I look forward to hearing your reactions.
I'm looking forward to it.
-Well, this is certainly different.
-It's not something I would look at normally.
-No, but that's the whole point.
-Very country cottage.
-OK, this is nice.
It's a good-sized room. The ceiling feels so much lower than the one earlier.
I get visions of winter. Fireplace on here.
It's a nice cosy room.
This is the kitchen. That's warm, with the Aga.
-You're not keen on Agas.
-I'm not. I'll be honest.
Not Italian friendly cooking!
Yeah, this is an English house. An English country house.
-OK. So this would be the dining room.
-Wow, that is...
-..a fireplace, isn't it?
If you can sit either side of the fire in the fireplace,
-that is an inglenook. And you can here.
Well, this is amazing, isn't it?
-An amazing extension on the back.
-This is more my style.
-Yes, this is a room we'd use a lot. Access both sides, as well.
If the kids were in the garden, that's nice and easy.
You can't smell this at home, there's a living plant in there
and it smells beautiful.
OK, so this is going to be - well, it's decorated as a study or office.
-Quite a small room.
-It feels lighter upstairs than it does downstairs.
-So this is the second bedroom.
-Ah, that's bigger.
-Is it me, or is the room wonky?
The cupboard seems to be leaning against the wall!
-It's one of the perks of an older house.
-A unique feature!
Individual, that's it. This is almost unique, this cottage.
-Narrow with the book shelves.
Is this the master bedroom? No.
It's a good-sized room, though.
-And this cupboard seems straight so this room's not tilting!
-What more could you ask for?
I quite like it. It's got a nice feel to it.
-Matt likes it.
-And Claudio is completely unsure about it.
-OK, this is the...
-It's an improvement on avocado!
-Avocado on the walls now and lemon in the bathroom!
-Lemon tree yellow!
It's a good size.
-Wow, that's a master bedroom. This is what it's meant to be like.
It's got, for you, a combination of the old with the brick.
-It's an unusual house for me.
I'm absorbing the whole house still.
Claudio is taking his time because he's not used to this style of property.
It's very different to what they asked for. It'll take more adjustment.
Same when you started working with me!
-That is sweet. That is nice.
-It's a great size.
-It certainly isn't overlooked.
-Shush and listen.
I'd love to know what my family in Italy would think of this house!
Now, fellas. Matt, I think you love this house.
For me, this feels kind of right.
It's got a taste of modern with it with this beautiful conservatory on it.
-There's compromise in this house, which is good.
-The whole point of this move is about a family.
-You're starting a family.
-It's a family house.
-You judged it right.
-But how much is it worth? Guess the price time.
-What's the score?
Your maximum budget, £400,000.
-It's a new house, a new concept for me.
Unknown. So I'll go spot on budget. 400.
-I'll be more generous.
It's on the market for £445,000. Well done, Matt. So you win.
I like the fact he's celebrating that we're talking 45 grand over!
There is some good news, though. The owners of this property
-have mentioned that there would be some room for negotiation.
OK. I think you'll agree,
we've shown you three very different properties, all of which would suit the big move ahead of you.
You now have to decide which one you'd like to spend more time in.
-Questions you can ask each other over there. Put your heads together.
Big decisions, mate. You know what? It's time for a pit-stop.
Oh, yes. Here's a quick recap for you at home.
First off the grid was my choice, getting us off to a flying start.
A substantial family home.
Property Two opened up the race in a very grand style
with a grand price tag too!
Using all their budget, are we?
But it could be the Wild Card that takes the flag.
Quintessentially English country living.
So it's the Wild Card that will be the setting for the test drive.
I'm pleasantly surprised by this choice.
-I had Property Two as the odds-on favourite here.
-Never mind that, what about this?
-I've got the longer bit round the edge.
-I'm beating you!
It's very tense. Into the final lap.
I did that to make you feel better!
-OK. More important, can I see if the cars fit in the garage?
It's the height...
There's enough space for a sporty number, isn't there?
-Not a problem.
Regardless of who won the toy car race, has the Wild Card won them over?
Time to find out.
The mystery property took the chequered flag.
And never have the words "test drive" been more apt!
-How did you get on?
-We enjoyed it.
I want to thank you because I wouldn't have looked at these houses.
I come to the magazines, flipping over. No, no, no.
-It made me really appreciate.
-And made my life a lot easier, to be fair!
This isn't just about you two. It is about the new family.
So, does this village lifestyle...
Is it ticking boxes? Are you thinking along those lines?
I think so. I've grown up in villages so I'm comfortable in one.
Listen, I'm going to ask, I'm going to ask. I'm excited now. So,
bearing that in mind, I'll ask the question.
To buy or not to buy?
To seriously consider buying.
We've got more work to do like finding out about the area,
this village, having been here for the first time today.
-But it's a definite contender.
-We like it.
If all the answers were answered correctly...
-We would buy.
-That's what I wanted to hear. It's been a pleasure.
-Good luck with your new family.
To use a driving term, you're about to take a back seat in your life!
-I'll leave you with that! Shall we go?
-See you, guys.
A happy ending, I think, Simon. A podium finish for the Wild Card.
But even you must be running out of motoring puns by now.
So if you would like us to help you find your perfect home, do get in touch.
We'll put our foot to the floor, full throttle, to find you your perfect property!
They keep coming, don't they?
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