Househunter Thorne Island

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The ultimate weekend retreat has just come on to the market. Thorne Island can only be reached by boat and most of the two acres is taken up by an impressive 1840s fort. The mainland is a quarter of a mile away.

This small parcel of land is off the Pembrokeshire coast by the entrance to Milford Haven and the fort was built as a naval base as part of the port's sea defences. Since the 1940s, the property has been a hotel. It has three main reception rooms, 10 bedrooms, three self-catering kitchens, a roof-top bar and an outside sauna. Knight Frank (01432 273087) is selling Thorne Island for pounds 275,000.

For What It's Worth

The rental market is going from strength to strength countrywide. In London, there is such a shortage of good rental properties that prospective tenants are having to make up their minds on the spot.

To coincide with this continuing increase in rental popularity the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA), is planning to launch its Buy-to- Let Initiative in the autumn, in conjunction with the Institute of Surveyors, Valuers and Auctioneers (ISVA) and Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). The Woolwich Building Society and Homeloans Direct are already backing the scheme.

At the moment, most building societies penalise private investors wishing to buy properties in order to let them commercially, primarily because they are worried they will see their money go down the drain. ARLA is hoping that as lenders wake up to the fact that there are professional letting agents out there who can help and advise people on the best properties to buy and how to let them successfully, the risk involved will be substantially reduced.