Property series. Jonnie Irwin and Simon O'Brien rise to the challenge in Worcester as they try to prevent a couple from heading off to Africa.
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Welcome to To Buy Or Not To buy!
We're, apparently, heading for Worcester.
We're here to help a couple who are having an uphill struggle with the property market.
-Are we nearly there yet?
-Not far now, Jonnie.
I swear he's got the map upside down.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen.
Like my erstwhile colleague, today's house hunters are ramblers.
They're keen to get on the property ladder before prices hike upwards.
I'd no idea you were into all this. You've got all the gear.
It's been said I could ramble for England!
I believe it's been said. Which way to Worcester?
Triangulating off the church over there, that hill there,
and this post here...
Got to be this way.
Not that post there then, no? All the gear. No idea.
'After our help today are house hunters Irene and Malcolm.
'I hope you're better at reading the property market than maps!
'Now retired, this adventurous couple are now heavily involved in voluntary work overseas.
'They spent six months in Tanzania, setting up a hospital.
'Although they plan to continue their work in Africa, they want a base here in the UK.
'Having sold their house, they're ready to go.'
Look at that, Jonnie. Take it in.
Soak up the beauty of this country.
-What it is to own a house here. Pity you don't!
-Tell us more.
-Well, we sold our house three years ago.
We've been working abroad and come back with nowhere to live!
So you're looking to find yourself a base in the UK.
Any plans to jet off again?
We plan to go to Uganda at the end of the year.
-What are you doing there?
-We're with the Church Mission Society.
There is need for accountants, so we're going to a diocese who run a number of projects,
including an orphanage for children whose parents died from Aids.
-That doesn't sound like a two-week jaunt.
-No. Not quite.
No. We're going for two years.
-Shall we come back?
-We'll see you in two years' time.
Are we looking for something that is going to be built in two years?
No. We don't like new-build properties.
-What DO you like?
-We're looking for an older style property.
Something that's been there a bit of time, with style and a period feel.
OK, so you're talking 1930s backwards?
-You like period features. Size of property?
Not too big but we would like two reception rooms.
Malcolm's taste in music, and the volume he likes, is very different from mine.
-So I'd like a little place...
-Yeah. That's it.
-It is, isn't it?
-It could be.
-I assume we're not looking for a terraced house.
-No neighbours adjoining your wall.
-Unless they're deaf.
-Do you want to be urban or rural?
I thought they said "airborne"!
Urban but tucked away, ideally. Really easy to walk to shops.
But somewhere you don't feel as if you're in the main town.
-Show me the money.
-£350,000 is what we've got.
-Ooh. That's pretty good.
-You're in a fantastic position.
-You don't have to sell. You're ready to go.
-It's in the bank.
-On that note...
-Physically, and mentally, it's downhill from here.
-Jonnie, that's Worcester there.
-Best head that way, then.
Today should be a piece of cake!
350 grand to find a three-bed house. Over 100 grand a bedroom.
What a beautiful part of the world! Only one problem.
How do we find the houses? Don't worry! Ha ha ha!
I've got the trusty map.
'Today's search brings us to Worcester in the southwest Midlands,
'situated on the River Severn, some 30 miles south of Birmingham.
'Worcestershire will forever be remembered best for the phenomenon
'that is its sauce, still produced in the original factory from 1897.
'The city has had a facelift with a multi-million pound development
'of Diglis Island and the marina.
'The town retains period architecture,
'one reason our couple were drawn to the city.
'Not to mention the Malvern Hills, with spectacular walks.
'What's on the market for Malcolm and Irene's budget of 350 grand
'in other popular rambling locations around the UK?
'How about this four-bed period farmhouse in Yelverton, Devon?
'The property retains many original features.
'Or this five-bed weaver's cottage
'in Hayfield at the foot of Kinder Scout on the Pennine Way.
'This lovely two-bed cottage in Keswick
'is surrounded by some of England's most magnificent countryside.
'Back to Worcester for a look at an important historical period that shapes many homes we live in today.'
Have you ever wondered, as I have, why there are so many of these -
the Victorian house?
The era lasted just 64 years,
the reign of Queen Victoria, from 1837 to 1901.
During that time, England's population almost doubled
from just over 16 million to just over 30 million.
One of the main reasons was the Industrial Revolution.
With it came a migration of people from the countryside to the towns,
resulting in millions of these homes being built all across the UK.
Status was everything and your house was a physical demonstration of your place in society.
A bay window was a must-have feature.
Until they became commonplace in 1875, THE feature that would impress your guests was one of these.
With homes being built for everybody,
from factory owner to factory worker, we're left with
a heritage of properties of all shapes and sizes and all budgets.
After our lesson in Victoriana, time for a lecture in properties.
-Jonnie, how have you got on?
-Well, property number one.
They said they wanted period. That means maybe 1930s and before.
It's late Georgian. Loads of period features. Double bay windows.
All the bedrooms they asked for. I think they'll like it.
Property two today.
We've been talking Victoriana, high ceilings, sash windows. You know what I've gone for?
However, this property is a complete mixture of the old and the new.
Malcolm and Irene could move in without lifting a finger.
Important, as they spend so much time away from home.
-I think it's fabulous and Malcolm and Irene will agree. Property two!
-What do we call property three?
-And everybody loves it! Look at it!
1920s, 1930s. They like that period. They want three bedrooms.
It's got a manageable garden.
It's also got something about it that's like a yeast extract spread.
You either love it or loathe it. Oh, yes! It's a bungalow.
That could be why it's the wildcard. Shall we start the property tours?
-Property number one? My one?
-Yes, why not?
'Well, my property today is a real find.
'This cottage is a Georgian gem.
'Although it's in town, it has a country feel of peace and quiet.
'Stop rambling then.'
Malcolm and Irene, my property is a very late Georgian number.
-What do we think?
-Very attractive. Nice quirky shape.
We're a mile from the city centre. What do you think of the position?
I like the way it's tucked away so you feel as if you're on your own.
-Very peaceful, isn't it?
-What do you think of the property?
-Very unusual. I like the look.
It's got a nice little kinky roof.
An apple tree in the garden, which is my favourite.
-I didn't mention that.
It's gone well from the outside.
-That's only half the story.
We will be listening in. In you go.
-Nice big hall.
-Nice tiled floor.
-What are you doing?
-Ah, you've got a lovely south-facing courtyard.
South's that way.
This must be the lounge. Gosh. Look at the fireplace!
-A nice bay window.
-Unfortunately, just with a wall in front of it.
Not much of a view. At least double glazing's been done.
The second reception.
It certainly feels nice and solid.
It will be. It's that age, isn't it?
Bit of a galley type kitchen, which isn't my favourite.
One thing this house ain't is open-plan.
Because it's kind of developed over the years. Bits have been added on, and it's organic. I like that.
Ah! Now, this is nice.
-Ah, the office.
-You could have a bed-settee in here.
We'll see what they've got upstairs.
This end of the house, they're a lot more upbeat. They like it.
Perhaps they were holding judgment. I think you're on to a winner.
Is this the first bedroom?
Not a bad size. The view. At least you haven't got the wall here.
-This looks like another bedroom.
-Oh, it's got the fireplace.
-A better view.
-The bungalows aren't so overwhelming.
They're not quite on top of you.
What? The bungalows aren't on top of you?
You're inside a three-storey house. How can a bungalow be on top of you?
Uh-huh. This is the bathroom.
-Yeah. Ah. Corner bath.
-You'll enjoy that.
-No. You can't really lay down.
It's got a very big shower.
-Ah! Loft conversion.
-The original beams.
I wonder if this is an en suite or another room.
They've got it as another bedroom.
They've done pretty well for the first one, I think.
That did not sound like you were falling in love with this home.
-It's a very nice house. It's got a lot of character.
-I never heard the word "wow".
For me, it didn't have that wow factor.
-Off-putting was the wall you could see from the lounge.
-Life is about compromise.
-Once you find out how much this is on the market for, that can change your mind.
It's Guess The Price time. Your maximum budget £350,000.
Difficult to say cos it has got a lot of character. I'd plump for about 330.
I think it's a bit more.
I was going to say 345,000.
Well, it's £335,000.
-First one to Irene. Well done.
-Jonnie's got us off the mark.
Can I beat that? Let's get the map out!
Property two is...this way.
-No, actually. It's this way.
'If they like period, they'll love this detached Victorian five-bed.
'This is absolutely stunning.'
OK, you lovely pair. Property two today is my choice.
-Now, you don't need a map to know...
-..we've got a busy road.
-We were going to ask what you were saying.
Put that to the back of our minds for a moment.
Focus on this property. Talk to me about architectural beauty.
It's a very nice property. It looks well-maintained.
It's got a nice extension.
-It looks very nice.
-It looks larger than the last property.
A mile that way, Worcester.
That way, beautiful countryside. What more could you want?
-I'll tell you. You will find it inside. Enjoy it.
Here we are.
-Very nice hallway.
-It has to be nice to get over that road for me.
For me! Oh, good size room.
Do you think we could get a big enough table there?
Yeah. Enough room to get everyone round the table for Christmas.
-This is the lounge. Not as big as I was expecting.
At least it's got a focal point.
-Is it too modern for you?
-No. It's OK, so far.
-"OK, so far."
-This whole house has been refurbed.
-Top to bottom.
Pretty top-end as well.
Oh, gosh! Big kitchen.
It's got the sink I like!
That's a big plus. Doesn't quite negate the room!
Another eating area. We don't have to use the dining room for meals.
The dining room could become a second reception.
-A good size bedroom.
They put the modern lights in the ceiling.
-It was the same in the kitchen.
-In the kitchen, I like it. Bedroom?
I'm not so sure.
I've never seen so many lights. I got a suntan when I walked round!
And an en suite. En suite wet room.
Yeah. It's a very good size.
I think they DO like this house.
I think they want to see the whole place.
Maybe they want to see all three houses before they say which one they want.
Which is the point of the programme.
This must be... It's as big as the other bedroom.
Nice fireplace again.
This is a good size! Nicely tiled.
-I think you can lie down in that.
-That is a good bath!
Best part of the house so far.
-Best part of the house!
-You can lie down in this bath.
A smaller bedroom.
Still not a bad size, though. Another en suite, of a sort.
-Yes. I'm thinking there's too much bathroom cleaning.
Too much bathroom cleaning?!
You've given them an amazing house but, no, too much cleaning.
-You can't second-guess that, can you?
Another good size. They could certainly all be double bedrooms.
The shame is they're all very similar, the same flooring.
We've got to do some work to make them a bit distinctive.
-OK, shall we go and see what Simon has to say for himself?
We listened intently as you walked round this place. All clear as mud.
-Talk to us.
-Um, yeah. It's a nice place.
For me, it's just a bit... too modernised.
It didn't have nooks and crannies, little odd features.
We're looking for something that we can look forward to coming back to. This probably isn't the place.
Maybe the price will change your mind. I'm doubtful, but...!
-Irene, you are leading.
-I certainly am.
-You offered Irene to go first. You were worried. So you're first.
-I'm even more worried now!
-Central location. I would think 330,000.
I would go nearer 345.
-Doubly bad news for you, Malcolm. It's now 2-0.
The further bad news is this place is on the market for £375,000.
Getting back to the map, trust me this time.
The wildcard is definitely this way.
Have we got a wildcard for you today?
-It's a bungalow!
-That doesn't sound very period, Simon.
-This one is.
Complete with the original features Malcolm and Irene are after
and a central but quiet location.
-It's been said everybody does love the wildcard.
-I love the wildcard.
-I love the wildcard.
-I sometimes love the wildcard.
We're in luck! The reason it's wild?
It's a bungalow!
1920s, 1930s is your cut-off point. Like Simon, it's difficult to age.
It could be 140, it could be a mere 20 years old.
Closer to 140 than 20!
-I'd say 1920s, 1930s.
-What do you think?
-Yes. It's cute.
It's got a bit of difference about it.
We're a mile from the city centre again, the other side.
A really nice verdant quiet street.
The other reason it's wild is because it might need updating.
I think you've got the imagination to do that.
-Why don't you go and try doing it?
-In you go!
The hall. Look, this is lovely.
Yes. Nice. Original wood, I would think.
-Is this the kitchen?
-Windows to the front and the side.
-These tiles are not quite me!
-1970s, but it has been looked after.
It's got wood panelling!
-Touch my oak panelling!
-We have oak panelling.
Oh! You can feel they're at home.
You can put all your wooden figures along the top.
Then there's this little nook at the end, almost.
This is it, though.
The oak panelling has won you over?
This living room, they love.
-They really like it. Oak panelling, fireplace.
Patio doors, which is good.
There must have been original French windows.
The garden looks... It's a bit larger than we'd go for.
-But it looks easy to maintain.
-Yeah. It's lawn and shrubs.
We could get you out there doing the lawn! I could sit in here!
-Reading the newspaper!
There's a room here on the left.
Being a bungalow, you can decide whether it's a bedroom or reception.
Looks like it could be a dining room. They've got a folded table.
So, across to the bathroom.
-Ha-ha! It's not a white suite!
-I told you.
-White suites are going to go out of fashion.
-You've always said that.
It's not a white suite. It is a period feature.
Which period? Well, let's say... '70s?
Not a bad size.
Beam again, which is interesting.
They've got this set up as yet another reception.
-They use it as a television room.
-What is it? It's obvious, isn't it?
Let's see what this bungalow's got on top. It's a nice staircase.
I like the way it echoes the oak panelling in the lounge.
Oh. Quite small.
Big enough for a single. Or even bunk beds for the grandchildren.
This one's a bit bigger.
It's two twins, or a double room.
You'd have to have a master bedroom downstairs.
I suppose you could have this as a master.
-Would you have the master bedroom upstairs?
-I like to go upstairs to bed.
-A small toilet and sink.
-It's nice having a toilet upstairs.
-As well as downstairs.
-That seemed to go down pretty well.
-I don't know which way to go now.
You didn't know with your map. Follow me.
That seemed to go a lot better than we've heard before.
Yes, it did. It was much more MY cup of tea, certainly.
The lovely oak panelling in the lounge.
-Quirky. Obviously, things we could do to it, in time.
-It seems to have gone fairly well.
-Yes. But that could all change.
-Because it's Guess The Price time. Now, then.
Malcolm, you are playing for pride. Your budget, £350,000.
-Go on, Malc.
-It could be the walk of shame.
I'll say 335,000.
I think it's going to be higher. I think it's going to be 349,50.
-What a guess!
-There's no nice way of putting this. Malcolm, you are a loser!
This house is on the market at £350,000.
There you go!
Irene was £50 out! That's no good.
-We'd haggle with that, you see.
-This may be an opportunity for you.
They've had offers in excess of 300.
-So the reckoning is it'll settle between 300 to 350.
I win! LAUGHTER
-Bit more food for thought there.
We've now shown you three houses.
You've got to decide which one you'd like to spend more time in.
I wonder where that would be(!) Take yourselves off and have a think.
-I'm prepared to put money on this one, Simon.
-While they're making that tricky decision, let's map out the three choices.
-You rambling on?
'Will Malcolm and Irene go for my choice?
'They loved the Georgian cottage look.
'The wall just outside the front was an issue, though.
'I thought I gave them everything
'with my beautiful detached Victorian place.
'They were impressed with the period features.
'Will the wildcard come up trumps?
'It turned out Malcolm and Irene were partial to a bungalow.
'The oak panelling was a winner.
'Will they see past the '70s kitchen?'
'Quelle surprise! They've gone for the wildcard.'
-They're not, are they?
# Hold my hand and we're halfway there... #
'Jonnie, let go of my hand.
# ..I'll take you there
BOTH: # Somehow
# Some day
# Somewhere. #
'I hope the neighbours like a show tune!
'Irene looks comfy in the lounge, but where's Malcolm?'
MUSIC: "We Will Rock You" by Queen
'I see why they need two reception rooms!'
'Malcolm's got the enthusiasm,
'but Roger Taylor needn't worry about being replaced just yet.'
-Malcolm, you are a rock 'n' roll dark horse.
-But is this a harmonious house?
-I think it's pretty harmonious.
When Malcolm was in one room, I couldn't hear him. That's great!
-It can't get better.
-You don't know Worcester particularly well.
-No. Not yet.
-Are you happy with this part?
We looked round. It's a beautiful city.
-This area looks very nice.
-A very sought-after area.
So location sounds right.
-Even the birds are singing for us. The house sounds good.
-The question, Simon O'Brien, I'd like you to deliver.
-To buy or not to buy?
-Is it a maybe?
-A definite maybe.
We need a bit more time to think about it.
They've been homeless for two years. No need to rush!
Wherever you spend your time in future, this country or another, we hope everything works out well.
-Thank you very much.
-Jonnie, I've got a plan.
-One more round-Worcestershire walk. I just need the map.
-I don't want to.
-Let's hit the footpaths!
-See you later.
-See you later.
-Can I at least have the map?
Dear, dear, dear.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd