Sunday, 14 March 2010


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?

Thursday, 4 March 2010


Well judging from the lack of comments, that last posting "2 weeks in Basel" (now deleted - but now reinstated, see comments for background) obviously went down like a lead balloon. It was a departure from my norm and obviously not to my readers' tastes.

Blogging is an experimental art - we live and learn.

I'll be back sometime over the next few days with another posting.



I thought I'd share with you an interesting exchange of real e-mails that went between various people who organise fund raising/social events locally. For confidentiality reasons I won't identify the organisation or the real names of the people involved.

A recent event was themed as a ladies "pamper" evening just prior to Valentines Day. The chief organiser, let's call her "Brenda" is pregnant and wasn't well in the week leading up to the event so her husband took over her organising duties. Another helper, let's call him "George" enjoyed working with Brenda's husband and teased her with how much better it had been working with him instead of Brenda.

The event proved to be very successful - both as a community event and financially.

A couple of weeks have since passed and now the organising committee (Brenda, George, Susan, William and Troy) have just exchanged the following e-mails:-

Brenda : "I will have to give my parting goodbyes at this point as I am going to be as lazy as possible from now until the baby comes"

George : "does this mean your husband will be stepping in"

Brenda : "Hmmmmm unfortunately not. You seem to have taken a keen liking to him!"

George : "He's nicer than you!"

Brenda : "So you've said before. I'm sure he'll be afraid, very afraid when I pass on your unswerving compliments....or maybe not?"

George : "Maybe you don't know your husband as well as you think?"

Susan : "Hi everybody, when did we say we would meet again? Can't find my notes at the moment. George, I can arrange for some support if you are thinking of coming out of the closet so to speak."

William : "By my calculations we have four Tuesdays to choose before Easter. I can make the 16th or 30th March..."

Troy : "I can't make the 30th but I'm okay with the 16th after 7.15pm"

George : "I cannot do either as I am in Basel for 2 weeks"

Troy : "Having read the string of previous e-mails, I hope you and Basel have a happy two weeks together. PS - I don't think you needed to have been so graphic about it though!"