Wanstead property: Love me tender

Wansteadium’s property blogger, George C Parker, writes:

Gracious readers, Spring has arrived and the local property market continues to blossom. Increasingly I note that properties in this area are listed ‘sale by tender’. These three words are estate agent catnip – usually meaning that sealed bids are invited to avoid underpricing in a seller’s market.

An example is this handsome 5-bedder on Grove Park for which bids of around £1.3m are invited.

On offer are a very generous living area, and a mature, leafy garden-cum-cricket square in an excellent location. However, the successful bidder may choose to dispense with the rather trendy Dalston beard on the lower front bay window.

Alternatively, for those who would like yet another bedroom, plus walking access to stables, this Empress Avenue house is on the market with Churchills for a more transparent 900k.

Narnia in Aldersbrook

photo (4)I needed a double-take when I spied this Martin and Co advert on Zoopla this morning. Were these Queenswood Gardens apartments truly “Built in wardrobes” like the fabled kingdom of C.S.Lewis? Perhaps when the Flats are snowy in winter, the residents might see a resemblance.

The comparison does pall somewhat when we remember that Narnia had a splendidly elegant lamp post. In contrast Redbridge appears to pride itself on finding the ugliest and ill-matched collection of street illumination outside of a war zone.

Returning to the property in question: with off-street parking, and directly on the 101 bus route to either Wanstead tube or Manor Park station, the price does begin to look extremely competitive (yes I did spot the reference to a June 2013 open day which I presume is a typo).

You’d probably get an even better view of Narnia might be afforded by this 5th floor residence in the little-known Belgrave Heights development.

Two wheels good

As anywhere in London, the ever-increasing number of new apartment buildings appears to be increasing the strain on infrastructure and services. Wansteadium has carried a number of articles on the increasing pressure on parking around homes, schools, and the High Street, and the difficulty in striking a happy medium.

Fundamentally there are too many short car journeys, yet Wanstead remains a truly wretched place to run a bicycle, not least for school kids who should be using their young legs rather than bouncing about in the back of cars.

I’m adding my two penny-farthings to this matter because there is solid evidence to suggest environmental, commercial and public health benefits to improving cycle access and storage facilities.

Thanks to Heather Whitney who posted an interesting article to the Wansteadium Facebook page recently.

Remember that local elections are coming up, so now is a good time to mention this and other issues (the state of Christchurch play area?) to your candidates as they attempt to canvass your endorsement. Like an estate agent: they work for you.

Wanstead folk in PR mode

Wanstead is to feature in this week’s Evening Standard Homes and Property supplement. The authors have been soliciting views and tips on Twitter, and Wanstead folk have responded handsomely. (Wansteadium would only take issue with N. Affleck’s phrase “of sorts”.)

Wanstead’s newest home?

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Times must be good. The former Startin Builder’s office on the corner of Sylvan Road and Wanstead High Street, which has just been converted into a one-bedroom bungalow, has just gone on the market.

It’s yours for £300,000.

It’s before Wansteadium’s time, but we believe the building started life as a ticket office for the railway – presumably in days before the line it served was actually part of the Central Line. But this meant the building needed quite a bit of refurbishment before it would be suitable for a house – including installation of some insulation.

What was a paved front area for the builder’s office has now become a recently laid winter lawn, benefiting from the mild wet weather no doubt.

So who would it suit? Conceivably someone who works in the City who wants somewhere to sleep during the week (and who likes trains, probably).

We are seeking a comment from George C Parker posthaste.

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Rumour: Foxtons coming to Wanstead?

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Rumours are rife that an upmarket estate agent – possibly the controversial Foxtons – is to open a branch in Wanstead. It’s thought that the venue will be the new shop & flats complex built on the corner of Station Parade and Hollybush Hill – a building that Wansteadium likes to think of as Wanstead’s Flatiron.

If the rumours are true – and being sited between Wanstead and South Woodford would make the spot a good one for an agency – it would mean that an alternative plan to use the vacant ground floor for a family-friendly cafe and restaurant would be scotched. But it could mean much else besides, not least that the Foxtons Minis which are a familiar site in gentrified parts of London might also become familiar here too.

A new upmarket agency may also have an effect on house prices, though levels in Wanstead have anecdotally outperformed the market in recent years in any case. But if it were Foxtons it would certainly herald some uncomfortable times for other estate agents in the area, since it is known for proving vigorous competition, such as offering zero percent commission deals when new branches open.

Last year the FT reported on the opening of branch in Hackney, and on Foxtons expansion tactics. The paper reported:

“One former senior Foxtons employee describes the tactic as ‘genius’ and says it has been key to helping the company win market share from rivals for years.’You get a market share on day one and are into profit by month four,’ the person says. ‘It feels like you are giving it away, but you are not going to make any profit in the first three months either way because you wouldn’t get the instructions, so you might as well use the time to get a market presence. It works very well and everyone benefits. Well, maybe not the competition.’”

Of course the rumour may not be true. We have e-mailed Foxtons to ask and will update if they respond.

Wanstead, Wanstead, Wanstead

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Channel 4’s Location Location Location returned to Wanstead on Tuesday night, as young couple Anisha and James attempted to find a 3 bedroom house for less than £425,000. They said they wanted to avoid suburbia and stay “in the creative buzz”. For the duration of the 4OD window, you can see the programme here if you missed it.

They started in Wood Street (which Phil Spencer said was “an area popular with young creatives”), then moved to Leytonstone (“an area to get their creative juices flowing”), then a new build on Wanstead Flats, about which househunter James said: “This is busting my noodle.” He wasn’t very comfortable with buying a new house.

They remained undecided for a while. Spencer’s advice was that he had always bought houses for location. The couple’s budget restriction prevented them from getting in to more central parts of Wanstead (three bedroom houses for £425k are now hard to come by) In the end they chose the new Wanstead Flats house, and got it for £420k.

There were a few sightings of Wanstead – including some shots which looked a lot like Sylvan Road. But otherwise (and unless Wansteadium blinked), anticipated shots of the Orange Tree did not materialise.
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Pictures: Channel 4

Wanstead Property: George gets festive

George C Parker, Wansteadium’s property blogger, writes:georgecparker320x339

* December already! As always, gentle Wanstead folk go about their business in the run up to the Festive season. They pop into Harvey’s for parcels of winter berries and mistletoe, and leave their goose and turkey orders graven in the grand book of fowls kept at AG Dennis. Al along the High Street, twinkling bulbs light the crisp dusky evenings, the chain coffee shops commit quite unspeakable crimes against cinnamon, and parents make the gravest of oaths to their little darlings regarding their behaviour influencing the big man’s generosity come the 25th.

* Back at Parker Towers, when business affairs are put to one side for the rest of the year, I like to pour a glass of something Churchillian, and settle back with Mrs P to watch a classic movie by the fireside. And if for whatever reason (usually precedent) my viewing companion flatly refuses my first two dozen choices on grounds of taste and decency (her loss) then we compromise on a Christmas classic. My all-time favourite is the incomparable It’s a Wonderful Life, not least because I recognise a lot of the young George C Parker in the character of George Bailey – it’s almost suspicious. Principled, beautifully cardiganed, modest, the hero defends his beloved family “Savings and Loan” building society business tooth and nail in order to keep alive the hopes and dreams of the good people of Bedford Falls. I’m getting an investment idea: Parker’s Saving and Loan would be hot on speakeasies, emporia, mansion flats and bookshops; tough on betting shops and drab chains. Perhaps an idea worth reviving in my 2014 resolutions .. I’ll let you all in on the ground floor.

* Talking of ground floors, in Autumn, I covered the news of a premium bungalow on the Avenue which appears to be still on the market. For the avoidance of doubt dear readers, it does have a chimney, so there are no grounds to fear that any seasonal, sleigh-based delivery service would have difficulty in servicing the property. Bid away.

* Finally, a word on house prices, which seem to have strengthened particularly during 2013. A stalwart Guardian journalist recently tweeted that his Wanstead pad had nominally increased by 20% in the past year. This kind of news might not please those trying to get on the property ladder, but it does tend to bear out my frequent assertions that Wanstead’s fine location and amenity will continue to serve it well in future.