One of the most striking examples of the unpredictable nature of Eric Cantona, Manchester United's fallen hero, must be his choice of house. He has shunned the executive homes in Cheshire lived in by the vast majority of his team mates, not for a converted warehouse flat in the city,but a house in modest Boothstown with crazy paving up the wall. It cost him around £87,000 - about nine weeks' earnings.
Footballers invariably live in large modern homes on exclusive estates backing on to golf courses, often with team mates for neighbours. And rich people generallytend to choose to live in large houses, not least because they offer some privacy. Maybe Cantona will be forced to follow them in order to escape the unwelcome glare of the cameras.
The latest quarterly housing survey from the ISVA, the valuers' and auctioneers' society, warns people to stop looking back to the boom days of the Eighties and accept that today's stable prices and moderate turnover are here to stay.
The 7,500-strong society said business among its members dropped by around 17 per cent in the last quarter of last year. Few members expect much improvement this year. Many home owners would have to go through "the pain barrier" of selling their house for less than they paid for it, said David Berriman, chairman of the ISVA's property committee.
"Throughout the recession people have been talking about how things will be much better when the housing market recovers," Mr Berriman said. "It's time we all faced up to the fact that this isn't a long nightmare - it's reality. The market is not going to recover. The party's well and truly over. This is it for the forseeable future."
Showbiz folk on the move this month include the actor Nigel Hawthorne, star of the play and film, The Madness of George III, who is selling his 16th-century house in Hertfordshire. Radwell Grange, two miles from Baldock, has three large reception rooms and two conservatories, one leading off the kitchen, the other from the sitting room. Upstairs it has three bedroom suites and three further bedrooms. The barn houses a games room and gym.
Potential owners may be influenced less by its famous occupant than by a planning notice included in the details. It says that planning consent exists for a service station on the A1(M) about half a mile from the property, though no detailed plans have yet been submitted. Knight Frank & Rutley's Hertfordshire office (081-447 1766) is asking for offers around £385,000.
Also on the move are Jonathan Dimbleby and Bel Mooney, owners for the past 15 years of Glebe House in the village of Upper Swainswick near Bath. The family are leaving their stone house with three reception rooms, four bedrooms and a suite of offices to start an organic farm a few miles up the valley. Cluttons' Bath office (0225 469511) has set a guide price of £495,000.
The story (14 January column) of White Hart Farm near Newmarket, inhabited by the same family for most of the century without such luxuries as a lavatory, has had a happy ending. It sold at auction for just under £200,000 to some local cattle farmers who will amalgamate the 41 acres with their own land and make the house into a home for the farmer's son.
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