Overview: For sale - a highly desirable blob

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Can an old stone house ever be too run-down for British tastes? France has traditionally been the prime hunting ground for second-homers with an appetite for gentrification, but there are now new kids on the block who are fast realising that they also could be sitting on little goldmines.

Can an old stone house ever be too run-down for British tastes? France has traditionally been the prime hunting ground for second-homers with an appetite for gentrification, but there are now new kids on the block who are fast realising that they also could be sitting on little goldmines.

A Bulgarian farmer who might not have given his old family house in the nearby village a second thought for generations suddenly finds there are British buyers who are prepared to pay £50,000 for it. But while this may be an opportunity for all sorts of people to jump in and offer their services, the one that is singularly lacking is the person who can take a good photograph.

Over the years, the French have learned that the English weakness for redundant properties is not only richly amsuing but also rewarding. They have also learned that a good photograph can make just about anything saleable. Even a house without much of a roof can be tantalising if shown in a glorious setting.

It's is a lesson that the newcomers to this game would do well to learn. Details of properties for sale in spots along the Black Sea, the Adriatic or in mountain villages are often accompanied by a photograph that is little more than a blob, or half a building, under a huge canopy of trees.

Of course, they may suspect that when it comes to property, even in countries of which we know little, a wreck is an opportunity beckoning. Or they may subscribe to the warts-and-all school of advertising that seems to hold such a fatal attraction for the British. Like the ad spotted a while ago in a weekly magazine for a property in France: "Smelly old place, riddled with damp, belonging to a pig farmer, wonderful views".

As the dust settles on the euro debate, those whose business it is to interpret the Chancellor's every twist and turn have noted that most recently he referred to the US market in terms of property and long-term fixed- interest rates rather than the German model he appeared to favour earlier.

Ray Boulger, senior technical manager at Charcol, wonders whether it has been pointed out to Gordon Brown that home owners in this country would be appalled at the lack of choice and even the influence exercised by the banks in Germany over certain types of property. It is interesting that only about 40 per cent of people own their homes there.

Take the son of a German friend who is married with two children, fluent in four languages and has a job with a major company. He has recently returned from a posting in Mexico but has chosen to rent. That would be regarded as unthinkable in the UK.

A new phenomenon in south London has added to the jungle of "For Sale" signs: an estate agent's board that advertises not the property to which it is fixed, but a fund-raising event for a local school. This not only leads those of us who are short-sighted to start rumours about neighbours selling up but adds even more clutter to the streets. Call me a curmudgeon but where will it all end? On this occasion it might have a charitable purpose but the mind boggles as to what agents might be prepared to advertise if the going gets tough.

Comments