The Going Rate: Quality is now less costly

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The Independent Online
KENSINGTON exudes quality, and so it should when first-buyers have to find around pounds 125,000 just to get a foot in the door. But 'quality' means something extra in this area. 'A lot of buyers are looking, but they are very fussy,' says Julia Cook, of Cluttons Residential.

This is partly because investors are a strong force, and they want property that at best can be used immediately, and at worst has no irretrievable defects, such as a pokey second bedroom. A two-bed flat in Palace Gardens Terrace, for instance, needed renovation, so it sat on the market for nearly two years and dropped almost pounds 20,000 to pounds 150,000. Another in Strathmore Gardens fell the same amount in six months to pounds 155,000.

Time on the books and price falls are not synonymous, however. One flat in Pembridge Square also took six months to go but made the asking price of pounds 195,000. But a small cottage in Kensington Place took more than 18 months to sell, after dropping pounds 10,000 to pounds 185,000. A larger one in Jameson Street took three months but lost pounds 17,000 to sell for pounds 208,000, while one in Peel Street fell more than pounds 30,000 to pounds 334,000 in four months.

CARLISLE is so far from the epicentre of the property earthquakes of the last five years that by the time it felt an upsurge, much of England and Wales was on the way down again. Now the sinking feeling has arrived, but in a confused pattern.

'Some properties sell, others do not, and there seems to be no particular reason one way or the other,' says Richard Stow, of General Accident Property Services.

A two-bed terrace house took three weeks to go for pounds 37,000, dropping only pounds 1,000, yet a modern two-bed semi in a good suburb took a year and fell pounds 3,000 to pounds 45,000. In between, a three- bed semi needing renovation in another fringe area sold in 11 weeks, with a decline of pounds 3,000 to pounds 42,500.

Outlying villages are just as confusing. A four-bed detached house in Wetheral fell almost pounds 3,000 to pounds 80,000 over 13 weeks. A four-bed cottage with large grounds in Heads Nook took more than a year and dropped pounds 13,000 to pounds 105,000. Another four-bed detached in Caldbeck on the fringe of the Lake District fell pounds 12,000 and sold in six weeks for pounds 198,000.