The truth about the 'bargain' deals

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Indy Politics

It is rare for an estate agent to admit that a buyer could have got a better deal but that was the consensus forming yesterday about the Blairs' "bargain" flats in Bristol.

It is rare for an estate agent to admit that a buyer could have got a better deal but that was the consensus forming yesterday about the Blairs' "bargain" flats in Bristol.

One agent based in Park Row, where the Panoramic apartment block is situated, said: "They could have been a lot more aggressive if they wanted. It seems to be that they took the first thing that suited them. We had five flats in a similar development and offered a discount of up to 25 per cent."

The Blairs' property deal has to be seen in the context of the city's property market.

Demand for period houses in upmarket Clifton and one-bedroom flats in central Bristol remains strong, but since a series of office-block conversions completed in the last 18 months agents have found the £200,000-£300,000 prestige apartments preferred by the Prime Minister and his wife difficult to shift.

According to one agent, there have been around 1,500 new units in the last 18 months, starting with Redrow's 52.10, and including Royal Parade and Capricorn Quay – both near the university and within 10 minutes of the Blairs' flat. But excess supply has made it a buyers' market in this category. As one agent put it: "There are only a limited number of doctors and BBC executives looking for homes."

Despite its central location and expensive fittings, the Panoramic development prized by the Blairs has hardly been selling itself. Flats in the seven-storey block, with views over the Mendips, had been popular but the others facing the congested road had sold only with inducements such as free furniture and solicitors' fees, one agent said.

Letting experts were also sceptical that the Blairs had benefited much when their agent, Hydes of Bristol, dropped its commission from 12.5 per cent to 10 per cent, including management of the property. One agent, a specialist in the rental market, said: "That doesn't require much serious horse-trading. We often start around 12 per cent but can end up at 10, or even 8 per cent."

However, the kudos from the presence of a Blair in the development could lift prices. The agents stress its central location and high-quality interior, which includes Villeroy & Boch bathroom fittings, Canadian maple flooring and secure underground parking.

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