Property series. Simon O'Brien and Jonny Benarr help a Somerset family search for a great investment property in Birmingham.
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Ah, there you are! On today's show, we're looking for a home
for a couple who don't even want to live in it.
They don't even know the area very well. They live 130 miles away.
-So...what are we doing?
-Never before has expert advice been needed more.
Birmingham, the beating heart of the Midlands.
The engine of the Industrial Revolution.
Home to such national treasures as the balti curry
and the Gravelly Hill interchange. That's Spaghetti Junction to us.
It also has one of the UK's largest student populations.
Which is kind of the point of this little lecture.
Marella and Geoff have been together for eight years,
but have known each other for 18. They were good neighbours, you see.
Everybody needs 'em! They live happily in Somerset,
but are looking to buy a second home in Birmingham.
And that's because Marella's son Oliver is studying IT
at one of the city's three universities.
Now, a student's life is a happy one, but the cost of living can be a struggle.
So Marella and Geoff, the kind couple they are,
are hoping to provide Oliver with a home from home
-while he studies.
-Would that be...rent-free, then?
You're the best mum in the world. You're buying a house
-for your son to live in?
Watch and learn, parents. This is the future England.
Bank Of Mum And Dad coming to the rescue.
You're going to buy a property for him to rent back off you, right?
-Hopefully with some of his friends,
so we're still going to get some income. It's not all one-way.
I see. So Oliver will become one tenant,
-and you'll be looking for others?
-Yeah, so it may change over time.
Students in the first year or so, and perhaps professionals
-in a couple of years' time.
-What have you got in mind -
-apartments or houses, or are you happy to look at both?
We'd like to think we'd make the decision with our business head on,
-but the heart is bound to come into it.
-Where would that lead you?
What kind of property? Period properties, modern?
I like modern. Modern... New, obviously.
-Are you looking to do any work on the properties?
-No. We'd be looking for something with minimal work
because of the distance we are away.
I wouldn't like to be popping up every weekend
just fixing a tap washer and various other bits.
We'd like something that's been modernised.
I've got some news for you. You're going to rent a house to your son
and his student friends, and they don't think they'll be popping up
-fixing the place!
-Change your number at all costs.
If you want, for today, Simon will be your heart
and I will be your head. I'll focus on the business side,
-and Simon will be all emotional.
-I'll just walk around like a student
with a traffic cone on my head. We'll mix the worlds together.
Money. What's your budget?
Up to 200,000.
It depends on the property. If it's a good investment,
-you'd be prepared to pay a bit more.
-We've got a nice one here!
-I'd go to 250 for this one!
-You think? I'm not so sure.
This is also an investment property for their future.
-Oliver will only be here for a year.
What you're saying is, we need a change of mindset today.
-We are not looking for a home. We are looking for the right property.
Big city, mate. Better get cracking!
Birmingham is at the epicentre of England's motorway network,
with the M6, M42 and M5 all feeding traffic
in and around the city.
Oft referred to as the Second City, it's seen by some
as the poor relation to the capital, sullied by downward investment,
unemployment and the collapse of its industrial core.
But Brum, as it's affectionately known, needs re-evaluating. It's alive with culture, great spaces,
-and, crucially, great housing stock.
-The average price is around 160K -
cheaper than London, but more than other areas in the West Midlands.
So, if you're thinking of investing, what would Marella and Geoff's £200,000 budget get you
in other university cities around the UK?
Try Glasgae! A bonny place to live.
This two-bed apartment is in the Yorkhill area -
stylish fittings, wooden floors, and the balcony,
it's well within budget at a price of £164,950.
I've no idea what that accent was.
Moving on, just a mile from the centre of Manchester,
this innovatively designed mews-style house has three bedrooms. Very modern living indeed.
Ideal for renting to students, this four-bed end-of-terrace
is in Leeds, only half a mile from the university. Very well appointed,
it's on the market at offers in the region of...
'While Jonny plods the streets on the hunt for the perfect property,
'I'm the one using my head. It's straight to the agents' for me.'
They've got up to £200,000 to invest. Is that realistic?
-I think you've got a good choice of properties in that price range.
What kind of areas are we looking in?
The city centre is divided into four quarters,
and we've got several universities,
and mostly students want to be based around them.
I've got a couple looking to buy a property as a rental investment
in Birmingham, for either students or young professionals.
-What are good areas for them to live in?
-Kings Heath? Moseley?
-Close to town.
-The Jewellery Quarter's a good area,
-but not for students.
-Young professionals, yeah.
It sounds like a good place to invest.
Excellent place. Never been a better time to invest,
as the prices have dipped, and property values are excellent.
If you can get a mortgage, it's a brilliant time to buy property.
OK. Buy-to-let investment properties rules.
Think about your target market and position the property accordingly.
Young professionals are going to need access to train stations
and other forms of commutability. Students - amenities, bars, parks,
and, of course, fast-food restaurants.
OK! I'm sorry, but to coin a phrase, good things come to those who wait.
And I get you. I've done some research into the kind of areas
that students and young professionals would want to live in,
-and I've got some interesting things.
-I tell you what I've learned -
the distinction between a professional apartment and a student pad have become completely blurred.
Would you believe that one of the primary requirements for a student hang-out now is a parking space?
-Things have changed. With that in mind,
I have a fabulous Property 1. It will tick all the boxes.
It is right for professionals and students,
and there's nothing to do at all for Geoff and Marella.
The bar has been set very high! Property 2, I've gone for areas,
and with that in mind, Harborne, a very popular area
amongst young professionals indeed. This house is fantastic.
Now, then - the Wildcard today. We've left the Wildcard
to the secret To Buy Or Not To Buy property-finding team,
and they have come up with an absolute beauty. I love it.
-Shall we start the tours?
-Yes! Property 1?
Great Barr is a busy old suburb with close links to the city centre.
Property 1, however, sits on a quiet cul-de-sac.
I've done the maths, and I'm sure this place will get a first
Right! Marella and Geoff, Property 1 today is my choice.
I am feeling pretty pleased with myself, I have to say.
Before we talk about the property, let's talk location,
because this all about investment - for Oliver first and foremost.
The station to Birmingham City University is just around the corner. Two stops, he's there.
Other way, into town, and, more importantly,
for long-term investments - we're talking for young professionals -
the M5 and M6 are just around the corner that way
for those who want to commute further afield. OK?
Location I'm happy with. Property - are you happy?
First impressions, very good. Yes.
I like the drive for his car, and the garage,
I think it's more synonymous, style-wise, with young professionals
than students, so you get the best of both worlds. You've done well.
Thank you! It worries me when he's nice to me. It does.
I hope you're going to be nice to me when you go inside.
It's a low-maintenance property. That's what you wanted. Go in.
Try and put your own stamp on it. See you on the other side.
No problem with carpets. Nice floor.
Exactly. From a rental point of view, not having carpets to clean,
-replace and change is a positive.
-Quite a bit of room.
-Yes. It's a nice-sized room.
-It's too good for Oliver!
They've got to look at it from a pragmatic and professional point of view.
All they're looking at is, does it work as an investment prospect?
-Don't worry about the presentation too much.
-Does it work?
This is a nice size. Plenty of room for a table, space to move around.
Oh, look at the kitchen! The units are gorgeous.
Nice modern kitchen. Exactly what they're after -
not having to spend any money. Anybody could move straight in.
And the garden, ideal for barbecues.
-Nice size. Not too big.
-It is a lovely size.
It's a great-sized garden, and it's also very peaceful indeed.
Well, the downstairs and the location's good.
Let's hope upstairs is as well.
Looks nice and... Nice area up here, isn't it? Nice to have a window too.
The much-undervalued yet always-commented-upon landing window.
Obviously a single, but plenty of room for a student.
Yeah. I wonder if this is the smallest room?
-If it is, it's quite a nice size, really, isn't it?
Oh, a double!
Now they're getting to the nub of why I really like this property.
Oh, that's a nice size. That's good.
Because I wasn't sure whether that was going to be the double
and this was going to be the small room.
-Low maintenance, though.
-No wallpaper. Just a lick of paint.
Let's see what this... I thought this was going to be a bedroom!
-Yeah. That's nice.
That's good. Good window. Nice to have a window in there.
That's student life. No-one has baths any more.
I like Geoff's sweeping generalisation of the cleaning habits
of the nation's students. "They don't bath, they shower."
Master bedroom. Got your feature wall you like.
It's nicely decorated, isn't it?
And built-in wardrobes, another one of your favourites.
Yeah. That's really good.
The double bedrooms are both a great size, and even the third bedroom
-is not too boxy.
-Not too small, like you normally get in these.
You could squeeze a double bed in there.
You'd just charge less to a student because it is smaller.
It's got a nice outlook. The whole location's good.
I can see this appealing to a wider audience than students,
which is good for the long term - professionals and families.
Just what we're looking for.
Simple question - well?
Very impressed. I think you did well with this one.
You actually said, "Just what we're looking for."
I think it is. Low maintenance, it appears a nice location,
-This property has further appeal
beyond professionals and students. This is a great family area.
-It's a cul-de-sac.
-You know what he's suggesting!
-If Oliver settles down...
He's not. He's just saying there's a wider market appeal to this place.
The maximum spend, £200,000. Three bedrooms, link-detached.
Great area. Excellent commutability. What do you think?
Let's go with Geoff. Let's go Geoff first. I like it.
Right. I think we're just over, if not at the top,
so I'm going to go for 205.
I'd say 190.
This place is on the market, very competitively priced, at £170,000.
-We were way out!
-You were closest. One-nil to you!
-Good one to start with?
Challenge on! Follow me. This way.
For Property 2, I'm taking Marella and Geoff to what I'd simply describe
as an excellent rental property in one of Birmingham's most sought-after areas, Harborne.
But it's not exactly, er, modern.
OK, here we are at Property 2. The weather may have turned against us,
but the sun is still shining on us, I believe, metaphorically speaking.
We are in one of the most sought-after suburbs of Birmingham.
This property is more squared on to your young-professionals
and smaller-families market. I don't think it is as much for students,
but Oliver's only got a year left at uni anyway,
so let's take that out of the equation and check this place out.
What do you think of that? First impressions?
-It is an older style.
-They're not convinced.
-No, they're not! Brilliant!
-I would just add to that, as a long-term investment,
you really can't go wrong with Harborne. But you need convincing.
-There's only one way to do that.
-Get in. Have a look around,
with your heads, not your hearts. This is not a home for you.
-There you go.
-See you in a bit.
Oh, I like the fireplace.
-Nice alcove. That's a real feature.
-It's decorated nicely too, isn't it?
-Not to my taste.
-Well, it's quite modern, isn't it?
Please try and think with your head and not your heart.
Gosh, this is bigger than I thought it was going to be.
-It's so different, isn't it?
-I expect this is original flooring,
-the old tiles.
-They are original quarry tiles.
Yes. Beautiful garden out there.
Oh! Excuse me.
There is the said beautiful garden.
-These are wide, aren't they?
First room. Gosh, this is big as well, isn't it?
Gorgeous, little, original fireplaces.
-Lovely! I'm so happy they've survived.
There does appear a lack of space to put your clothes, though.
I wonder what's in that cupboard over there?
Let's hope it's an en suite!
Is it an en suite? It's a cupboard. Great.
It's a single, though, isn't it?
Yeah. You'd struggle to fit a double in and a couple of wardrobes.
Easily a double bedroom, guys. Do not even worry about it.
-This man used to be an estate agent. Can you tell?
You can see the city centre, so we can't be that far away.
Hey, you can as well! It's quite nice!
And the garden goes back quite some way behind those two clowns.
Bathroom. It's a nice-size bathroom, though, isn't it?
Yeah. There's a big hatch there.
I'll have to ask Jonny what's up there.
The weird thing is, you've got this fantastic space up here,
and the only access is via a ladder from the bathroom.
-En suite for this room.
-Would you want to be going up and down this?
But it's full head-height. We have got proper load-bearing floors,
skylights, everything you want in a loft conversion.
To make it accessible, and make it benefit the property -
Simon and I were discussing this - the best way to probably come up
is through the disappointing en suite from bedroom one that turned out to be a cupboard. Sorry about that,
but you could bring the staircase back up over the existing one,
against the load-bearing wall at the back, and you've got a three-storey house.
-With the hatch where it is,
it interferes with the floor space, but stairs on one side
would actually make it a usable room.
Sticking that in is going to cost a bit of money.
We know what your budget is, but what is the asking price on this beauty?
That is the question. Let's play guess the price.
-All right? After you, please.
Age before beauty. HE LAUGHS
So if we take the staircase out of the equation for the short term,
what do you think of it as a two-bedroom house,
in a highly sought-after area, for an investment property?
This is the head and the heart. The heart is warming to the property.
I don't think we liked it from the outside, but it's got so much character inside.
But the head is saying we'd perhaps prefer a drive, a garage,
the extras that other houses may offer.
Your maximum budget, £200,000. You're one-nil up, Marella.
Geoff, come on. How much for this place?
I'm going to have a go about 195.
-I'd say 197.
Canny. Very canny. And you've won.
Congratulations. Geoff, unlucky, mate.
The actual asking price is 199,950.
OK? So it's just at the top of your budget there.
Originally it was marketed for £215,000.
It has been on a few months, so I imagine there's still a little bit of movement.
-But what do you think about that?
-I think it's probably worth it,
but it's probably not the one for us.
-How about having a good time...
-..at the Wildcard?
It's this way. Come on.
Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter has the highest concentration of jewellers in Europe.
-There's a surprise.
-It's an historic area, with listed buildings
-and modern apartments.
-One of which is today's Wildcard.
Right, Geoff and Marella. Now, then - so far we have shown you
an utterly investable Property 1, low-maintenance, modern,
exactly what you asked for. Then we've shown you an investable area,
we believe. The Wildcard - you know it's where we swing things around.
We've brought you slap-bang into the centre of Birmingham,
literally - the city centre is on the doorstep -
to try out a bit of contemporary modern apartment living.
What are you thinking? Here's the building.
So far I think it's lovely. It's central,
the parking is good,
-Yes. I mean, secure parking is probably a real advantage.
In the city centre. Absolutely. It's going to have real value.
And you obviously are still feeling the effects of Property 2,
where there was a bit of work to be done.
-You're probably praying Property 3 needs nothing doing to it.
We're getting the message here! Well, one thing we promise you -
that is the case. Get in there.
Enjoy this place. Go that way. The lift is over there.
-We'll be listening in. Off you go!
-See you in a bit.
-Gorgeous hardwood oak flooring throughout.
-We're missing the shower.
but it's very clean, very light.
Are you sure they wouldn't put a shower in an apartment like this?
Yeah. Nice and modern.
It's very modern. It's lovely.
-And look how high those ceilings are.
-It really has a lovely, open feel.
-And that rear area
is either an office or a walk-in wardrobe.
-That looks like an office.
-A study. A study area.
This is like a dressing room with a double function.
They're using it as an office, but you've got all the wardrobes,
Office for me, walk-in wardrobe for him.
I thought this was going to be another bedroom.
-It's definitely got the "wow" factor, hasn't it?
So this is it! The Wildcard, contemporary city-centre living at its best.
It looks like control of the house from here. Slightly higher.
-Estate-agent parlance, please.
-OK. A fantastic contemporary open-plan kitchen
with lovely granite work surfaces. Full range of appliances, including a dishwasher and a fridge-freezer,
double-brushed-steel oven and electric hob. It is superb!
Never mind the students. We'll be moving in here!
No, it's not for you! It's for Oliver!
Ah. This is probably the downside.
A double-use room.
No. Look around! You can separate that bed from the living room.
Oh. This is lovely, though.
It partitions off!
One of my concerns is that they're falling in love with this property
and not seeing it from a practical investment point of view.
An en suite! How cool is that?
And a walk-in shower. Lovely. I wondered where the shower was.
There! There's always a shower in a modern apartment like this.
The hardest bit's going to be guessing the price,
because I've just no idea.
There you go! The second bedroom is created by pulling the blind across.
-It works, doesn't it?
-It does, yeah.
-But you would have to know
-the other tenant, if you know what I mean.
It's not the most substantial of divisions.
Yeah. So you would be looking, I guess, at Oliver plus friend.
-You couldn't let out the other room to a stranger, I'd say.
By the sounds of it, they're not going to rent it out to anybody.
You're going to live here yourselves! You really have fallen in love.
-I think it's great.
-But that can all be undone very quickly...
-..when it comes to guess the price. It's two-nil.
-Geoff, you are playing merely for pride.
Your maximum budget was £200,000. Who wants to have a guess?
-You go first.
-I think it's over,
but how much I don't know.
-I'll go for 215 and a half!
Oh, I see what you've done there! You've just topped it,
-because you knew... And you went the wrong way.
If you'd just gone 214 and a half, you would've been closer.
It is a bit lower. We've been a bit cheeky. It is the Wildcard.
It's a beautiful apartment. It's on for 209,950.
All right. OK.
So not substantially over what your maximum budget is.
There are things to bear in mind. It is leasehold.
There are service charges - £620 every six months.
£100 a month is about right, I would say,
when you've got an elevator and electric gates to service.
We've shown you three very different properties.
We've covered all the bases
in the Birmingham investment market for students and professionals.
Would you agree? Got to decide which one to spend a bit more time in.
Sit down, have a good think about it,
-and we'll see you in a bit.
-See you later on, guys.
Well, three very different properties indeed!
So whilst they decide which one to test-drive...
Here's a quick recap for you at home.
A modern home in a quiet street, Property 1 was in tip-top condition
and had the versatility to suit students, professionals and families alike.
On the market for...
It was all about location with Property 2.
The house had lots to offer,
but it needed a pragmatic approach to maximise its potential.
On the market, though, for...
The Wildcard was loft living personified,
a modern conversion slap-bang in the wham-bam of the city centre.
A bit over budget, though.
No surprises, then - it was the Wildcard.
Oliver and his student mates seem to be behaving themselves.
Yes, but do they know that Marella and Geoff are listening in?
They seem happy enough, don't they?
They do, yeah. I think they're settling in quite nicely.
Mmm! Let's see, shall we?
Taxi into town. Get on it, lads!
Careful, boys! Mind what you say!
All-dayer. Two o'clock.
-What does that mean, then?
Oh, blimey! Better not explain that one to the parents.
If they're going out till two,
I hope the walls are soundproofed for the neighbours.
-Geoff, always the practical one!
-I think we've heard enough now.
Well, they've heard enough, and it's ticking the boxes for the boys.
Well...just checking the place out.
-It's incredibly clean! Students aren't what they were, are they?
Oliver has now seen the place. We know you love it to death.
-I love it.
-What did he think of it?
-And he loves it, too.
-So he should. It's gorgeous, isn't it?
-And there's no work to be done. That's a relief, isn't it?
All of a sudden, you'd be coming visiting from the Southwest
for a different reason - just because you'd want to.
Yes. I hope my son moves out for the weekend so we can move in.
I personally have still got a few reservations about this,
because you want to invest money into a property.
So you want to be looking at capital growth over a number of years,
or making a profit on your rental income.
This place would generate 850 to 900 a month.
If you put down a reasonable deposit, it will give you that.
But long-term growth in Birmingham, where so many apartments are...?
Excuse me! Excuse me! Here's how it works.
We find three properties that we really like,
then we encourage them to like them. We don't try and put them off.
I'm not being that guy! I'm just being realistic with you.
It's lovely, but for long-term growth, I'm not sure.
-Bit to consider there. Go on, Jonny.
-OK. You do have a property to sell,
but if that place was sold,
the question I ask you is, to buy or not to buy?
-I know that you want the best for your son,
-and you felt this was the best.
-Is that fair enough?
Guys, it's been an absolute pleasure. I want a word with you.
-We'll leave you to it.
-Enjoy the place!
Jonny, you are supposed to encourage the people to like the place.
Normally, but when it's an investment property,
-they need to have all the facts.
-You are right. I apologise.
I was thinking with my heart, not my head.
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