MATHEW JONES OF BRISTOL WRITES: I am a 25-year-old graduate who, like many of my friends, had to move back in with my parents after university while I paid off my debts. Having held a reasonably paid engineering job for the past couple of years, and with a little assistance from my mum and dad, I am now in a position to put down a deposit and buy my first property.
My parents' house is in a small village outside Bristol which, though pleasant, lacks the nightlife that I am looking for. I would like to live right in the centre of things in the city - within walking distance of Whiteladies Road would be ideal, as it is where my friends and I socialise, and there are plenty of shops, cafes and restaurants.
My budget is £165,000 - which agents have suggested might not buy me much in this desirable area. Is it possible to find a nice, one- or two-bedroom property for this amount?
My preference is for an apartment within a period property, rather than anything newly built, and it should have a good rental potential, so that if I decide to work abroad for a time, I can cover the mortgage payments. Is this possible?
KATY POWNALL REPLIES: Whiteladies Road and the immediate surrounding area is indeed a very popular place for young professionals and investors. Its trendy boutiques, eateries and bars are a magnet for young buyers and the housing stock is perfect for those with a fondness for period properties. In the 18th and 19th centuries this area was colonised by wealthy merchants and their Georgian terraces and Victorian villas have mostly been divided into apartments which usually provide spacious rooms and unusual, character features. Other major selling points include the spectacular gorge, the 400 acres of the Downs and the good links to the city centre (around a mile away) and to the M4 and M5 interchange.
Proximity to Whiteladies Road gives you three main choices in terms of areas - Clifton, Redland or Cotham. BS8 (Clifton) is the most desirable postcode in the city. Agents reckon on properties in this locale fetching up to 10 to 15 per cent more than those in neighbouring postcodes. For £225,000 you could buy a spectacular two-bedroom flat here. For your budget of £165,000 you might find a one-bedroom, but it is likely to be on the outskirts and in need of some work. Studio apartments fetch £125,000 in this neck of the woods.
BS6 (Redland and Cotham)offers far more affordable price tags. As a broad rule of thumb, Redland properties will be around 10 per cent more expensive than their Cotham brethren. In Redland a one-bedroom apartment might cost £145,000 and a two-bedroom £180,000, though there are cheaper properties around if you look hard.
Agents report that the rental market is slowing slightly. One- and two-bedroom apartments in BS8 and BS6, however, should rent well, particularly if they are close to Whiteladies Road. You will need to consider your market and stick to a neutral and modern design scheme. Rental for a two-bedroom apartment can be anything up to £850 per month in Clifton, dropping to £650 or £600 for a one-bedroom. In Redland, a two-bedroom apartment could be rented out for an average of £700-750 per month; in Cotham £600-650.
Property one: A Victorian two-bedroom flat in the heart of Cotham, BS6.
Agent's details: About a mile away from Whiteladies Road, on Victoria Walk, this top-floor flat comprises two double bedrooms, a lounge, kitchen and bathroom. Original multi-pane sash windows and lovely views.
Agent: Connells, Redland office, 0117 923 9023, www.connells.co.uk.
Property two: A one-bedroom apartment in a Georgian terrace, Redland, BS6.
Agent's details: Situated just off Whiteladies Road, this hall-floor apartment is in a grand Georgian terrace. Comprising entrance hall, sitting room, kitchen and modern bathroom, the accommodation offers period features such as full-length sash bay windows, cornicing and shutters.
Agent: Andrews, Clifton, 0117 9732551, www.andrewsonline.co.uk.
Property three: A two-bedroom period apartment on Whiteladies Road, BS8.
Agent's details: A period flat conversion containing two double bedrooms, a lounge/dining room, a kitchen/breakfast room and a bathroom. This second-floor apartment also features sash windows and gas central heating. It is located on Whiteladies Road.
Agent: Your Move - Oliver Scarlett Estate Agents, 0117 9744265, www.your-move.co.uk.
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