Property series. Geoff and Claire have 650,000 pounds to spend on a home in Sussex. Will Jonnie Irwin and Jane Farnham tempt them with a finished house or a fixer-upper?
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'These days, navigating a difficult market is harder than ever before.
'Do you plump for the easy option
'and go for a property with no work needed?
'Or do you take a chance on a wreck
'with potential to become your perfect pad?'
I'm here to prove that a renovation project is the best way
of getting your dream home.
I think today's property market is full of great homes
that are ready to move into.
It's our job to help house-hunters make up their minds.
Can I dare today's buyers to take on one of my wrecks?
Or will they play it safe with one of my readies?
'Today, we're searching in East Sussex, 1066 country
'around the ancient town of Battle,
'where William the Conqueror defeated King Harold
'and built this beautiful abbey to commemorate his victory.
'House prices here are on the up, rising by over 10% on last year...
'We're here to find a family home
'for marketing director Geoff and his wife, Claire,
'who works part time as cabin crew for a long-haul airline.
'With three-year-old twins Ella and Tristan,
'they want to get off to a flying start,
'after the family moved here two years ago.
'They celebrated their tenth wedding anniversary on the ski slopes
'and are desperate to go off piste and find a home
'to spend the next ten years and beyond.
'They need help widening their search beyond where they live,
'and decided to call in the experts.
-'Who wants the "doer-upper"?
-Who wants the "that'll do nicely"?'
I'm Claire. I work as cabin crew for a long-haul airline.
I'm Geoff. I'm a marketing director for a holiday park operator.
We find that we're taking the children out a lot of the time
because the garden's not ideal.
It's on three different levels.
I would love a good size garden
with a flat level area of lawn where we can kick a ball about.
I think what's going to impress them is land.
I'd like it to be big enough to justify a ride-on mower.
-What is that about?
-It's in our blood. I want a ride-on mower.
I live in a flat in London.
-I wouldn't consider an ugly property.
-Bungalows turn me off.
-It would have to be detached.
-Four bedrooms. The bigger the better.
My main priority is that it's by a good school.
-They want the lot!
They want the lot in quite an expensive part of the world.
They mention what always holds up property prices - good schools.
That's going to stretch the budget when you're looking at land as well.
There's going to be compromises today.
I'd consider a wreck for a number of reasons. Firstly, the potential gain, in terms of value.
I would like something that's quite easy to move in.
I try really hard to make our life stress-free.
To spend all your time at work, then coming home and living in a mess,
that would put pressure on me, I think.
Very sensible! It's always the lady who brings it back to reality.
Claire will probably win because she's more sensible than I am.
I think you'll win,
if Jonnie can find something within budget
that would let me stay in this house
while work was done in the wreck. Good luck!
-She looks like a hard task master.
'So, to sum up, Geoff wants a wreck and Claire wants a ready.
'They're both looking for...
'..While Claire wants something with a lot of kerb appeal.
'All that with a budget of £650,000.'
Finding a ready that's going to beat what they've got? That's what's going to be the toughie here.
'But I can completely understand why Claire wants out of rented
'and into a home of her own.
'A wreck with enough potential will come at a cost.'
We've got a great budget but MASSIVE aspirations for a new home.
And Claire doesn't want any piece of a wreck.
'I can't help but think I'm at a disadvantage.
'Wrecks with enough kerb appeal are hard to come by, but I can only show them what's on the market.
'So for my first property I'm heading out to Pett,
'four miles east of Hastings.
'This place has a charming, sleepy feel to it.
'Unfortunately, there is no school in the village,
'but it does have great access to this wonderful beach.
'That sounds great, Jonnie, but what about the house itself?
'All right! It's a modern five-bed house, on the market for £585,000.
'That, Jane, is 65 grand under budget.
'I know it's no oil painting,
'but that can be improved on and it will definitely need work
-'to bring it up to Claire's standards.
-Wait a minute, Irwin!
-'This house isn't a wreck.
-OK, she won't be knocking walls around.
'It's still a big modernisation job.
'There are five bedrooms here,
'plus two bathrooms and an en suite that needs finishing off.
'Well, almost needs starting, but the main reason I'm excited
'is the land, two acres of it.
-'And a riding school with stabling for that ride-on mower.
Imagine your new house has its own long sweeping drive,
some gates here to keep the children in, stop them wandering off.
Then you could pull your cars into this wonderful courtyard space.
It's...it's not the prettiest of homes but, er...
The point of a wreck is to try and use your imagination.
For example, I'm thinking
a bit more wood on the front, wooden doors on the garage.
To make it look a bit softer, maybe even a bit more contemporary with a traditional feel.
It's got potential. Do something with the drive.
There's a nice centrepiece that we could work with.
'Not a bad start, Jonnie, but you need bigger reactions than that.'
-It is big, isn't it?
-Look at the size of this room!
-That is a genuine inglenook fireplace.
You could get either side of that.
The whole thing about this house is
-I'm not asking you to knock down any walls.
This is a refurbishment project. So what do you think so far?
-It's a brilliant size.
-Good proportions. They work for me.
'How's that for a better reaction?
'Even Claire seems excited about the potential inside.
'Wait until they see the potential outside!'
We're moving quite a bit away from the house.
Don't worry, because we're still on your land.
We could still be on your land right down in that bottom paddock.
Cos that's your boundary!
-Is that enough for a ride-on mower?
Somewhere for the kids to play, explore and learn about nature.
-Which they don't get at the moment.
-We could have family rounders!
I was quite happy with you being here, Geoff.
But it's Claire who needs to be convinced.
What's going through your mind?
Seeing the land there has made me a bit emotional.
I take the children out so they can run around and play.
I wouldn't have to leave the house to entertain them!
Can I rein you in a little bit?
Just bring you back down to Earth with a bump!
-There is a lot of work to do.
Have you thought about the practicalities of doing that with a young family?
Because there's nothing structural that needs doing to the house,
we could get a lot of decorating done whilst we're in the rental.
Bearing in mind your budget of 650. This is on the market at £585,000.
-Speaking to the agent, he reckons they should be looking to settle at around 550.
100 grand of decorating? I think you could get that done.
I could have a nice kitchen!
Claire's never had a brand new kitchen!
'Ah, the brand new kitchen! The female equivalent of the ride-on mower!
'Works every time.
'Don't underestimate us. It'll take more than a central island to win Claire over!'
There's not a huge amount of work to do.
We're talking new kitchen, new bathroom, new windows.
But if we gave ourselves three months where we are now.
That's the bulk of it done.
Finishing touches after that, if that would fit within the budget.
I'm not scared by it. It's just if you add everything up.
'Geoff is definitely interested, but Claire still needs persuading.
'My female intuition tells me Claire's not digging it.
'Time to show her something she can get really excited about.
'Namely, my first gorgeous ready.
'For that, we're going to the tiny village of Fairlight,
'nestled in the trees, less than a mile from the sea.
'It's got a church and a pub
'and a post office that acts as a village store.
'It's ten minutes by car to Geoff's work in Hastings
'and six minutes to the local primary school.
'The property itself is a split-level house...
'..It's got five spacious bedrooms, a beautiful wrap-around balcony,
'a pool, a private two-acre garden and knock-out views!
'But they don't like their split-level garden.
'What makes you think they'll go for a split-level house?
'Claire likes kerb appeal! I don't think this was what she was after.
'Let's see, shall we?'
-How's this for a grand entrance?
-Rather marvellous gates.
-What are your first thoughts?
-Fantastic! I love the drive.
I love the gates. I love the trees.
-Is it a house? Or is it a bungalow?
-I'm hoping it's split-level.
I imagine there's another story.
'Bingo! Geoff's got it! No. It's not a bungalow, Claire.
'It's a hidden gem. You'll see.'
-You've got a great sized living room with fantastic views.
-Is this working for you, really?
-First impression is fantastic.
I can't wait to get outside.
-'Geoff's loving it.
-But Claire's gone ominously silent.
'I just need to get her out onto the balcony to check out the pool
'and all the space the twins are going to have to play in.'
We had just over two acres in your wreck.
-This is just shy of two acres.
This view's beautiful. It feels like I'm on holiday.
But I'm not sure about the house.
I'm gutted cos I LOVE it!
What's not working for you, Claire?
Probably my first impressions at the front.
Why don't you head in here? This is the views you'll wake up to.
This is your master suite with the dressing room and en suite!
Maybe that'll work for you.
'You're not giving up without a fight.
'I know what I'm doing. The master suite is my knock-out punch.'
How can one room change my mind?
-You're feeling it now, aren't you?
-Yeah. I love the view.
-This is perfect.
-I've got a good feeling now.
Look at the size of that shower.
-It feels like a lovely holiday home. Nice feel.
-I think you're right.
'You're pulling out all the stops, Jane. Can you persuade Claire?
'Relax, Jonnie. I think she's already been persuaded.'
It's got everything they asked for.
It's just on a split level. It doesn't work for everybody.
I'm going to have to show them something a bit more traditional
from the outset, and also layout.
Maybe something closer to Hastings, where the kids have something to do.
And maybe give them something where there's so much room in the budget
that Claire won't have to lift a finger.
-She's going to be on board by the end of the day! Let's go.
-'Right, it's every woman...
-Or every man.
'Claire likes things to be just so. I don't blame her.
'I won't rest until I've found a home that's just right.
'I'm finding something that appeals to Claire's desire for aesthetics
'and Geoff's hunger for a project.
'If Claire liked the holiday feel in Jane's ready,
'she'll love the location of my second wreck.
'Hastings is a bustling seaside town with no shortage of opportunities
'to dig out the buckets and spades.
-'Showing them a sand castle, then?
'It could be a jewel in the crown.
'Geoff and Claire want style and space.'
It's also just down the road from where they already live.
I reckon they might like it.
'They'll love the price, too.
'This detached 1930s house, five minutes from the town centre,
'is 255 grand under budget!
'It's far from being a total wreck, having been partially renovated.
'Geoff and Claire can take the reins
'and transform it into the perfect home without too much hassle.
'It has four good sized bedrooms, a big family bathroom
'and the potential to extend upstairs.
'The main garden space on offer is to the front of the house.
'More front than Hastings promenade!
'We'll see who has the last laugh when they see it!'
Now, for my wreck offering. Come right onto this garden bit.
This is her. What do you think?
I don't think it looks like a wreck.
The garden's at the front, which isn't ideal.
-Is that it?
-Well let me...
-It lacks kerb appeal.
OK. I'm thinking car parking here.
You've got gates here, so nobody can see in.
You've got your garden at the front.
I have an issue with the garden being at the front. Sitting out here, barbecuing...
The barbecue would be there. Oh! I don't know!
'Doesn't sound like Claire wants an audience while she's flipping burgers!
'Not the sizzle of reaction I was hoping for. I'm flippin' worried.'
-It's, er...bigger than I thought.
Can you see past the neutral-to-sell decor?
-It's still a bit foggy.
I just don't know if I can be bothered to.
I think if it was, from the outside, beautiful on an amazing road,
my mind would start working, thinking this is a lovely space.
-You're not seeing it?
'Hear that? That's the sound of hope.
'But that's NOT a happy face. Who's having the last laugh now?'
Come in the garden. I'll show you what I had in mind.
In my opinion, the kitchen isn't big enough for the rest of the house.
My thoughts were, because we had a lot left in the budget,
to bring it out this way.
Some form of glass extension, then you've got a long dining-kitchen.
The kids are out here playing...
But there's no point going down this road
if you're not saying, "We like the area. We like parts of the house."
The house next door, you'd almost offer to paint it for them,
just to make your outlook nicer.
You know what? It's not for you. Let's cut it here.
I have been known to change my mind.
If I was a betting man, I'd keep my wallet in my pocket.
'This viewing has literally gone down the pan.
'Perhaps they'd feel better if they knew how flush they'd be on completion of the work.
'To finish what's been started and extend out back would cost...
'Plus eight grand to convert the loft space into a fifth bedroom.
'I'm fighting a losing battle here.
-'Harold would have something to say.
-One in the eye for me!'
-There's not a single redeeming feature.
-There's not a single shower!
I can't even imagine it.
-I really can't.
-No. It's not for me.
'Never mind, Jonnie. Allow me to put this house hunt back on track.
'Your first wreck may not have hit the nail on the head,
-'but they did like the location.
-Glad I can be of SOME use.
'It's clear that Geoff and Claire judge with their eyes, and not their wallets.'
I want to show them something they'll fall in love with, something with great kerb appeal.
Maybe a house with a more traditional layout might help.
'I've gone all out in pretty Pett to find that perfect village home
'minutes away from good schools and Geoff's work.
'It has a large level garden for the kids,
'and stunning sea and country views.
'It's been extended with the addition of a two-bed annexe.
'The space is so versatile, they won't need to lift a finger.
-'Bet it comes at a price!
-It's on the market at 625,000.
'Still nicely within their budget of 650. Eat your words, Jonnie!'
I think I may well have saved the best till last.
Claire, let me recap.
You wanted a great area with a good school,
which is what you're getting here.
But you also requested from the get-go, you wanted kerb appeal,
something that looked pretty.
-Are you feeling it?
-This is it.
-This is it?!
I need to get through the door, but I almost don't!
-I love it from the outside.
-It says "family", doesn't it?
Look! You're getting even closer!
'Repeat after me, Jonnie. "This is it."'
A quick tour.
Kitchen-diner, dining room, conservatory onto the garden.
-Is this a big enough living room for you?
I almost like it so much I'm not looking properly.
It's got a LOVELY feel.
It connects with you on so many levels.
It's a big downstairs, but you're getting more, a separate annexe.
It's two-up, two-down.
With the kitchen and everything. A separate home.
Is this somewhere you feel
you could lay down your roots and stop for ever?
So far, it feels like my dream, DREAM home.
-And you, too?
-To get that reaction from Claire is fantastic.
It's what we were looking for. She's started me off now!
When you've been looking for a couple of years and you walk into a place that feels right.
And that you don't... BOTH LAUGH
-We can't afford this, can we?
-Well, I've got to be honest with you.
It is coming in...
-quite close to your budget at 625!
-'I'm welling up!
-I imagine admitting a disastrous defeat IS upsetting.
'Grab a tissue, cos I think the best is yet to come.'
-You want to see the rest?
We're going to head into the garden cos it has a view to die for.
OK. There's more.
-You can see the sea!
Can you imagine sitting out here in the morning, having breakfast,
with views like that?
-I just love it.
-And very private.
'My work here is almost done.
'If they see the potential of the annexe, I might have cracked it.'
-Oh, my goodness!
-It's a miniature perfect home!
-It's like a little home!
It's so lovely. Friends that came, it'd be like a little holiday place.
'And finally, it's upstairs to the bedrooms.'
Ever think you'd be lucky enough to have a house like this? Seriously?
'There's no reason why they couldn't live in a house like this,
'but it wasn't easy getting here.
'No, we've been searching to show them the best properties available
'so they can finally get out of rented and into a family home
'close to Geoff's work, good schools
'and with a big enough garden for the twins.
'They loved the land with my first wreck,
'but Claire wasn't inspired by the prospect of a complete overhaul.
'Things didn't get off to the right start at my first ready.
'It did have a pool, though, and fantastic views
'from a gorgeous master suite.
'My final wreck was a write-off.
'Claire couldn't get a garden at the front out of the back of her mind.
'No wonder they got so emotional in my final ready.
'It was a fantastic looking house
'in a great area, with the bonus of an annexe
'for visiting family and friends.
'Two against one. Will they go for my first wreck?
'Or one of my readies?'
This is nice, isn't it?
It slightly beats my last place.
I had views of, er...a hedge.
-She was almost in tears.
-I hear we've had waterworks.
-This sounds ominous.
-Was it you, Geoff?
-Yes, it was.
-He almost came to tears as well.
Let's give you the chance to dry your eyes.
-First house, what do you think?
-The two acres appealed to me.
Sounds like you're thinking fairly positively...
Speaking positively! Absolutely not, now I've seen this place!
It would start as a project and still be a project in ten years!
I decided to take you to something with a little bit more kerb appeal
and also with the same amount of land.
Your heart wasn't in that when you started.
The gates were fantastic. It seemed very grand.
Perhaps more like a bungalow, at first.
Then I had a complete turnaround when I saw the garden.
And the master suite, with those doors just opening up
to that wonderful view.
You were on side, even though it was a ready.
-If you've come round to it, it sounds like a distinct possibility.
We left there, clearly, I went wrong!
Just so we know, when did you write that place off?
-When we arrived.
-Walking up the garden.
I brought you, then, here. What are your thoughts now?
I still absolutely love the place.
But you're not sure now, now he's seen upstairs.
-I just felt a bit claustrophobic.
-Is it a balance between heart versus head, then?
Maybe you should sleep on it and get back to us about which one you want to view again.
'It's not going to be easy for them. It's all about my two readies.
'One doesn't have the wow factor but has the space their family needs.
'The other won them over on style, but is short on space.
'After a night to sleep on it, they call me and Jane.'
Right, here we go.
We both fell in love with house number four, particularly Claire.
But we just felt the dimensions inside weren't suitable for us.
We'd like to go back and see house number two, the one with the pool.
-You got your own way, Geoff?
It was a case of head over heart.
-Let me know how you get on.
'I'm thrilled to bits. Geoff loved this ready house.
'It's now all down to whether Claire can see past that bungalow feeling.'
This is when I changed my mind, when I saw that view.
-It's just beautiful.
-'All looking quite positive, Jane.
-But what's the final verdict?'
Now I've actually been to the bottom of the garden,
I like it even more.
If I'm really honest, I still don't quite feel it in the house.
But as soon as I step out here...
I just can imagine Ella and Tristan playing here and that...
I was about to say the same thing.
For them to grow up with this,
-I think they'd just be more rounded children.
I think it's a home to be proud of,
but from the front, certainly, it hasn't got the...
-Yeah. The wow factor. I didn't sleep well last night.
We need to have a really good think about it.
'Claire never seemed totally convinced by my first ready.
'Even trying desperately to make it fit,
'they decided to go for a ready home they found later in Battle,
'right at the top of their budget.'
-A win for the readies. Well done, Jane.
It shows both sides need to make compromises to find a happy home.
-So join us next time when we show people around wrecks...
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
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Marketing director Geoff and wife Claire are looking for a family home. After two years in rented accommodation they have called in the experts, Jonnie Irwin and Jane Farnham. With 650,000 pounds to spend in Sussex, will they choose a finished house or a fixer-upper?