househunter

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The Independent Online
househunter

Derbyshire

You need about pounds 60,000 to buy Brand End Cottage, pounds 40,000 for the house and about pounds 20,000 for the four-wheel drive to get you there: the cottage is up a steep dirt track and has no water, so the vehicle needs to be large enough to take water carriers. However, this being near Buxton, there is a spring as well as the River Dove very near. The cottage has two bedrooms large enough to accommodate the current owner's five sons, a kitchen, living-room, dining-room and bathroom. It sits in a windswept, isolated plot with great views. In the Sticks: 01434 381404.

For what it's worth

Professor Douglas Wood's prediction that house prices would not rise for 20 years was a self-fulfilling prophesy. The man who was famous for 15 minutes as a result of his remarks on a recent Panorama programme has wiped a few more thousands off the value of British property. In the May report by estate agents belonging to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, one in five says house prices are falling. This compares with one in eight reporting price falls in the three months ending in April. "The housing market in May slumped to its worst performance for a year, as home-buyers responded to the round of downbeat speculation on the long-term direction of house prices," the RICS said. "Recent guess-work, in the guise of analysis by 'experts', on future trends in the housing market has been unwise and irresponsible."

"Incidentally," asks Huw Warren, of Cluttons in Oxford, "did Professor Wood predict the downturn in the late Eighties?"

Most of the 123 estate agents reporting from across the country say business is generally subdued, with modern estate houses becoming almost unsaleable unless priced very cheaply. There is demand for period property in villages.

Who's moving

The Duchess of York is struggling, like many buyers, to find the right house. She wants somewhere big and private in the ritzy Surrey/Berkshire belt for no more than pounds 1m. The kind of house she would like is Keepers, in 24 acres, at Sunninghill, near Ascot, but that costs pounds 1.5m. So how about Beech Grove, complete with staff cottage, nearby? It started out as a lodge on the Windsor estate. It is priced at pounds 800,000 (Knight Frank & Rutley). The only potential flaw is the neighbours.

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