The Houses can sell a home

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Indy Lifestyle Online
When it comes to selling in the Camberwell/ Brixton area, a brochure with a picture of the Houses of Parliament works a dream. A house owner having enormous difficulty in selling her quiet family house in the same neck of the woods off Myatt's Fields, a lovely but little-known park, was amazed at the success of St Gabriel's Manors advertising campaign.

She looked enviously as City workers snapped up the apartments in a converted Victorian college which sold heavily on being two miles from Westminster. In the meantime she was constantly having to explain to sceptical buyers that no they didn't have problems with Brixton, and Okay there were a few rough spots but all in all it was a very good area. Which is true, but it's galling for honest folk to find that buyers prefer to take the word of a developer.

The only thing that surprises Simon Coan of Winkworth, who knows the area well, and used to take his children to Myatt's Fields in preference to Battersea Park, is the prices people are prepared to pay in some south London developments.

And as soon as the words loft or split level are mentioned, buyers seem to lose all reason. "They come to us saying they have a lovely studio flat and want pounds 130,000 for it, and I have to tell them, not in a million years. I always ask why they paid so much for it. As for the Far East buyers, they see a line saying 10 minutes by taxi to the West End and then pay through the nose."

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At least the Far East investors who have just bought off-plan in Galliard Homes' Butlers Wharf development can pinpoint exactly where they are. Right on the waterside between the Design Museum and Pont de la Tour in what is now a car park. Spice Quay, a 92-apartment block, according to the architectural drawings, will not be apeing its warehouse neighbour, opting instead for glass balconies among other features. There is not much chance that buyers will do a White House (Galliards' enormously successful South Bank venture) and queue all night.

This Galliard and Frogmore development has sold so well in the Far East that only 23 apartments remain unsold. However, they expect nearly all of those to go to owner-occupiers since the rental yield on apartments that start in price at pounds 400,000 is not high. A 1,900 sq ft duplex apartment over two floors is being sold for pounds 850,000. Shops and restaurants are being built into the ground- floor scheme, and a new multi-storey car park is going up behind Butlers Wharf. Sales: 0181-508 8881

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What can compare though with the restoration of the last of Regent's Park terraces? After four years of meticulous work, Cambridge Gate now houses a splendid 40-room mansion and 23 apartments.

No.1, the mansion, is a cool pounds 15m and comes with its own bespoke Rolls- Royce Silver Spur as well as eight bedroom suites, six reception room, three kitchens, a library, study and orangery.

At 16,500 sq ft it is one of London's largest residences and is not short of useful little gadgets, like a glass-domed swimming pool which transforms into a ballroom at the press of a button.

Eleven of the apartments have been released in the first phase, the largest of which is more than 6,000 square feet.

Six apartments have already been sold to a mix of UK, American and Middle Eastern buyers.

Prices range from pounds 1.9m to pounds 3m. Agents are De Groot Collis: 0171-235 8090.

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