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Auction watch: December 2020

Auction watch: December 2020.

04 Jan 2021 | 5 min

December is traditionally a quiet time of year in the property auction world, as people with money to spend do their Christmas shopping on the high street rather than in the auction room.

But tradition is a thing of the past in 2020, and so it stands to reason that plenty of tempting auction lots have appeared in catalogues over the last few weeks, keeping our team unusually busy.

Here are some of our favourites that went under the hammer over the last month or so.

The first-time flip

14 Greenwood Row, Pudsey, West Yorkshire

This charming stone-built end-terrace in Pudsey, near Leeds, needs a little light refurbishment but already has the makings of a great home – with tasteful fixtures and fittings in both the kitchen and bathroom.

It has electric heating (rather than the more popular centrally plumbed variety) and could perhaps benefit from a replacing those unfashionable leaded windows, but the layout is good – with one large bedroom, and two smaller ones that are ideal for children.

So why is it at auction?

We’re speculating, but it looks like it might be a complex title because of what’s called ‘creeping freehold’. This house benefits from a cellar, but the cellar is actually beneath next door’s property. This can create complex legal issues that can scare some mortgage providers.

It went for its guide price of £120,000.

The stately pile

Happisburgh Hall, Happisburgh, Norfolk

This fabulous, double-fronted period property is situated in an acre of land half a mile from the coast in picturesque Happisburgh – pronounced ‘Hays-borough’, if you’re unfamiliar.

Proof positive that you get a truly huge range of properties at auction, this ultimate ‘forever’ home has development potential thanks to a large unconverted barn that would make a great holiday let.

The house itself has previously been extended, and was recently occupied – so happily the windows have been double-glazed, and there’s an oil-fired central heating system. The kitchen, bathrooms and carpets are dated and need replacing, but there’s nothing wrong with the grand hallway’s tiled floors or the several original fireplaces.

It’s advertised as having six bedrooms, but realistically one of those should be sacrificed to create an en-suite bathroom befitting a house of this grandeur. Downstairs you’re spoiled for choice when it comes for places to sit, with a lounge, dining room, conservatory, drawing room, and library – but there’s a hodge-podge of ancillary rooms that could be put to better use.

The sale price of £718,000 is just the start of the story, of course, and you could easily spend another six figures on doing it up. But wow – what a house!

The labour of love

52 Cringle Road, Levenshulme, Manchester

We wrote a little while ago about the appeal of Levenshulme, a few short miles from our Cheadle headquarters, as a potential investment location. And one auction-goer has clearly decided to take the plunge, with this three-bedroomed period terrace.

In need of significant modernisation, it loses points for lacking central heating but wins them back with the right layout: the bathroom is already upstairs. There’s a lot of work that needs doing here, but it has the makings of a truly beautiful home if you have the time, money and vision to make it happen.

Prices in Levenshulme are rising steadily, so the guide price of £115,000 was surely there just to hook attention; the hammer eventually went (virtually) down at £179,000.

That may seem steep, but bear in mind that the house three doors down, which also needed (admittedly less extensive) modernisation, sold in 2019 for £199,000 – and prices in Levenshulme have risen by over 6% since then.

The holiday let

Bramble Cottage, Butcombe, Somerset

The tiny village of Butcombe gave its name to the well-known local brewery, and is now home to just 200 or so residents. Situated on the edge of the stunning Mendip Hills, it’s a short drive from picturesque Blagdon and the renowned Cheddar Gorge.

The charming Bramble Cottage needs significant investment before it’s ready to be rented out, but it might be worthwhile – two-bedroomed holiday cottages in the area can command as much as £2,000 a week in high summer, and we can’t think of many times when the British staycation has been more popular.

It sold right on its guide pride, at £200,000.

The ‘divide and conquer’

15 Lyde Green, Halesowen, West Midlands

This former nursing home was previously home to 16 residents, and is ripe for redevelopment as a number of flats – possibly as many as six or seven.

Buried beneath all of the safety signage, wipe-clean surfaces and other evidence of its former life, lies a beautiful period property with ample off-road parking and tidy gardens to the rear.

One-bed flats in Halesowen typically rent in the region of £500 per calendar month, and six flats renting at that rate could bring in £36,000 a year in rent when fully occupied. That might represent a useful return, but the buyer will have to spend their money wisely if that’s to be the case – their initial £434,000 investment could need another six-figure sum spent on it yet.

The one that didn’t sell

203 Cascades Tower, Canary Wharf, London

Situated in the Isle of Dogs and overlooking the Thames, the Cascades Tower was built in the late Eighties but is already Grade II-listed by English Heritage.

The interior of this two-bedroomed flat certainly needs dragging into the 2020s, but there’s nothing wrong with the amount of space on offer for central London.

With a guide price of £450,000 and still available at the time of writing, tempted investors may be interested to know that monthly rents for similar properties are in the region of £1,800. So why hasn’t it sold? We’re guessing, but we think it’s location.

In the world of office space, Canary Wharf is the motherload – and offices are distinctly out-of-fashion in 2020. Prices for both purchase and rental in this part of London are falling as a result; so it may be the right flat at the right price, but it’s the wrong time.

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