Sunday, 14 March 2010

CHANGE OF PLAN - PROPERTY WISE

I've spent the last couple of years reading auction catalogues for property sales and then viewing potential purchases. We've seen some truly awful properties being sold by housing associations. Well, not awful in themselves, but trashed by the previous tenants. Appallingly amateur interior paint jobs, children's grafitti on the walls, broken or missing kitchen doors, soiled carpets, filthy toilets and baths. All being sold with low guide prices but ultimately too depressing for me to buy. I've viewed repossessed terrace houses with small back yards full of countless dog turds. How do people live like that? We've also looked at some new build developments but so often the rooms are so small that it takes a lot of ingenuity by the designers to furnish the show apartments [US = model homes] to create any illusion of space.

I've viewed many of these whilst Mrs Troy was at work during the morning. Keeping myself busy trying to invest spare cash now the banks pay such trivial rates of interest. The ones with potential, I've gone back for a second viewing with Mrs Troy, and often with Troy Junior in tow. He's becoming quite a property expert, making quite savvy comments. However until very recently I haven't found my ideal purchase. That was a shame because I think a series of blog postings about renovating an old wreck or trashed house would have made interesting reading.

When we first moved to the Ipswich area a new building development had just been started centrally by the river. As well as several low-rise blocks, it also included an eleven storey high-rise block of apartments although for a very long time, through the credit crunch, it was just a concrete shell - looking more like a multi-storey car park than housing. Driving past, on the other side of the river, I often said to Mrs Troy that I'd love to see the view from the top. Then earlier this year they started to fit out the concrete shell and the builder put adverts for these flats in the local newspaper. We viewed them, including the duplex penthouses, wearing our hard hats. I was interested but thought them still a little overpriced so took it no further. Then I got a text message saying the prices had been lowered. So we returned to have another look. We were then told that the sale of an apartment in one of the "Sold Out" blocks had fallen through and that "Head Office want it sold this weekend". It was fully furnished (to show standard) and was a very generously proportioned apartment with two bedrooms, two bathrooms and two balconies overlooking the river. As soon as I went in, it felt really comfortable and spacious and somewhere I could happily live.

That's always been my problem with property - using my heart rather than head - thinking "could I live here myself?" rather than the hard-headed approach of a seasoned property developer. That's why we've certainly missed a number of opportunities in the past and I've pushed Mrs Troy's patience to the limit (although I'm sure she really enjoys having a nosey around anyway).

I made an offer to the builder as a "cash buyer". They grimaced and said that Head Office would have to approve it but they would push to get it through. They would want a very quick exchange and completion. Well I'm pleased to say the purchase is now going through with completion stretched out a little until the end of March. Already, two letting agencies have given it the thumbs up and are actively looking for suitable tenants.

Here are a few photos - I know you've been patiently waiting for them through all the verbiage above.

This is a view of the apartment block with the footbridge over the tidal river and with the other, previously mentioned, high-rise block to the right.


Here's the view from the balcony looking across the river. It is only a couple of minutes walk to the Ipswich Borough Council headquarters and to its left, the Suffolk County Council headquarters. To the right are the County Court and the white floodlights, centre of picture, are Ipswich Town Football Club. It's a level 6 minute walk (I timed it) to the railway station and trains to London in just over an hour. The main shopping area is within a ten minute walk, as is the marina.


But you really want to see inside don't you? (Its okay you're not nosey, just curious). Here's the spacious main bedroom which has an ensuite bathroom and full length glass patio doors onto a balcony.


It will need some personal touches to make it look less like a hotel room and more like a home.

Here's the kitchen. Everything was included in the sale price, not only fridge/freezer, washing machine and microwave but even down to a set of kitchen knives, kettle and toaster.


The living area and kitchen are open plan which isn't really to my taste. I would have preferred at least a partition and archway but apparently the younger generation like to be open-plan. Here's the living area with dining just to the right. There's a another full length wall to ceiling glass wall/patio doors onto a balcony. Everything, bar the child, was included in the purchase price.


If I was 25 to 30 years younger (and childless) I'd happily live there and commute into London. Hopefully I'll find a young couple who'll think the same and rent it off me. With everything brand new inside (and it has been fully carpeted by the builder since the photos were taken) I'll be envious of them!

Although the property market is still weak and will most likely dip again before recovering I'm glad to have moved some money from cash to property. I'm concerned that higher inflation is waiting round the corner. Even if not, I still hope I've got myself a bargain. A spacious new 2-bed, 2-bathroom apartment, centrally located overlooking a river in one of England's county towns for a price only just into six figures. There are not many places you can do that here in England are there?

19 comments:

Suzanne Jones said...

Despite the odd dip in prices, you can't go wrong with property investments. And this one is GORGEOUS. Congratulations.

Debs said...

I love your new purchase! Congratulations, it sounds like you've done really well buying this property.

I loved looking around properties when we were trying to find this house. Great fun.

DJ Kirkby said...

Troy, that place is gorgeous! I love open plan and minimalism and that place has both. You call it 'hotel like' and I call it devoid of sensory overload :) Do you think you and Mrs Troy might retire there someday or do you plan to have several properties to chose from by that time?
word veri: matomote

Hadriana's Treasures said...

The apartment and location are certainly ideal. Good luck with it all! I've renovated properties in the past and it is not an easy process. The problem with looking for places to refurb...is that there are not many of them left now..the older, dilapidated properties...

I think you are wise to go for one of these. Quick turnaround and instant rental. Congratulations!

Troy said...

Well that's four comments within the first sixteen hours of posting. Just shows the previous posting was an aberration for whatever reason.

Suzanne - I'm sure in the long run you are right about property. All the statistics certainly prove it here in the UK. I saw an article though in the newspaper which said they couldn't sell houses in Detroit (USA) for even £60 ($100)!

Debs - fingers crossed, time will tell, but it felt right when we were in it. Often its best to go with the gut instinct.

DJ - I could imagine having this apartment as a secure UK bolthole whilst also having a villa in the Canary Islands after Troy Junior has left home. But that is 10 years away at least and lots can happen in that timeframe.

Hadriana - well its not exactly property developing but rather the lazy way to invest in property. The key thing will be to find reliable tenants and not have any significant void periods whilst we own it.

Ladybird World Mother said...

I know exactly where that is... clever you. Hope you find some lovely tenants soon to make it their home. Rather envious. Sounds and looks amazing.

Troy said...

LWM - now a lettings agency have got a tenant lined up to take it the day after completion. I'm suddenly thinking that it is too nice (actually 100% perfect) to let to a single guy who might mess it up!!!

Vi said...

At first I thought you were describing my how with the child grafitti walls and filthy bathroom!

Well you certainly did change your mind in what you wanted in the end! Love the look of the place and hope it is a success for you!

Crystal Jigsaw said...

That looks great. Spacious bedroom from the look of that photo. Fingers crossed you'll get the tenants you want.

CJ xx

John Raiye said...

Dear u wall soon get good Tenants, don't worry u planning of making the money by Cash Property Sale will not go waste it will be successful dear...

Troy said...

Vi - yes, a total change from some of the earlier options. Fingers crossed that I've already got the perfect tenant lined up to move in April 1st (no joke....I hope!).

CJ - see my response to Vi above regarding the prefect tenant.

John - thanks for choosing Troy's Blog as the perfect outlet for your advertising needs. Although we hadn't discussed it in advance, our commercial rates are very reasonable as I trust you'll agree when you see our invoice. We can also provide a proofreading service.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Surprised you didn't buy Ipswich FC instead. About the same price surely?

Troy said...

Ken - I was looking for an investment, not a toy to play with.

bantambabe said...

Been away and only just caught up with your new purchase. Looks great and is surely a fantastic buy! Well done!

Jaybird said...

Is it not time you jumped under a bus and did all a favour ? Christ Troy you so boring !

Troy said...

Jaybird - no please, after you.

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Award for you over at mine!

Ladybird World Mother said...

Just reading through your comments... and giggled long and hard at the comment regarding John whatchermacallit... AND THEN the Jaybird. Nice return there, my friend. How very dare he. xx

Troy said...

LWM - glad you enjoyed the resonses. You may also enjoy my response to an anonymous commenter on the previous posting too!