Harry Potter fans turned a mundane £450,000 three-bed home in Bracknell, Berkshire, into one of the most sought-after properties in the country in 2016 – although it was edged out of the top spot by a £55m luxury townhouse in Belgravia, London.
Rightmove, Britain’s biggest property website with around 127m visits a month, has compiled a list of the top 10 most-viewed homes across its site in 2016.
Behind the Victorian facade lies 9,000 sq ft of contemporary home, including the obligatory basement pool, gym and indoor cinema. Its gardens and terraces have been designed by a Chelsea Flower Show gold medallist, and its Addison Road address is one of the most prestigious in west London. It was first listed, according to Rightmove, in January 2016, and but is now understood to have been sold for an undisclosed price.
This fixer-upper dates back to at least 1613 and has links to Victorian adventure novelist Rider Haggard. The Grade II-listed gatehouse comes with 1.66 acres and is in need of complete renovation. But before you sell that one-bed flat in south London to live like a lord in Suffolk, the bad news is that it has gone under offer. The agents say: “Fixer-uppers are generally extremely popular, so will often sell well in any case. Its size and potential charmed a huge amount of people who came to view the property, despite its listed status and need for major renovation from top to bottom. Safe to say, after over 150 viewings and multiple open days, we have achieved a lot more than the guide price with an offer now locked in (subject to contract).”
The ultimate Notting Hill dream home, so say the agents, but the current owners of this mansion in Pembridge Square are “cagey” about being named or disclosing the sale price. Apart from the eight bedrooms, nine bathrooms and four reception rooms, the agent says the “centre piece of the lower ground area is a lavish spa with an oval-shaped massage area and a large gym”. An architectural historian writes on the Pembridge Association newsletter that “the houses represent the style of a country which exercised a dominating influence throughout the world. That style was determined by the attempt to combine grandeur with economy of means”.
This three-bed terrace house over three floors is in one of Bedford’s most desirable locations, just a 45-minute hop into central London from the local train station. The price tag, character features and a decent-sized garden made it hugely popular on Rightmove. “Among the really expensive and unusual ones each year we often see a few that just have really nice features, like this cottage,” a spokeswoman said.
Why would a humble two-bed cottage in Shropshire, extending to just over 1,000 feet, generate such huge interest? Because it is one of the few remaining cave houses in Britain. Once the home of local artist Anthony Dracup, the key feature of the property is the 650 sq ft cave to the rear, with gothic archways and vaulted pillars. It is, according to the agents, “unlike anything else you are likely to see”.
The agents call it “one of the finest new mansions in the Ascot area”, but this new-build eight-bed, ninth-bath home has failed to find a buyer since first listing in October 2014. It includes a 14-seat cinema, three powder rooms and its own spa with a sauna, gym and 13m indoor pool, so it’s handy that the property also comes with its own staff quarters. The agents say it has “many high-impact rooms”, adding that “it’s no surprise that it has attracted a great deal of attention”. But not, it would seem buyers: it first listed at £24m before dropping to £19.75m earlier this year. Now with a £17.95m guide price it’s almost a bargain.
Rather better known as 4 Privet Drive, the Dursleys home in the Harry Potter films, this three-bed home went on the market in September, but has since been removed from sale. Any buyers will be able to make their own use of the cupboard under the stairs, which in the film was Harry’s place to sleep. The agents say the home is “in a quiet cul-de-sac location” and “has recently undergone complete renovation to an extremely high standard”.
Despite listing on Rightmove only a month ago, this island fortress off the Pembrokeshire coast has ignited huge interest. The Napoleonic-era fort, built to defend Milford Haven harbour and garrison 100 men, has 10 bedrooms and three bathrooms, but would need serious amounts of money spent to bring it up to habitable condition. Or in perfect estate agency-ese, the new owner “will wish to reconfigure the accommodation”.
Ex-footballer Ashley Ward and wife Dawn, star of the reality TV show Real Housewives of Cheshire, have reportedly had their 11-bed mansion on the market since October 2013, but three years later it’s still on sale, despite having £1.5m knocked off the price. Set in 12 acres, it boasts a princess-themed bedroom, hair and nail salon, games room and cinema, with interiors designed by Dawn (who has also worked for Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard). But plans to build conference and banquet facilities on the site raised objections from around 150 neighbours in this upmarket Cheshire village.
The 10,500 sq ft former Belgian embassy in Eaton Square, and headquarters to the Belgian government-in-exile during the second world war, was sumptuously renovated and put on the market for £55m in November 2015. It boasts gold chandeliers, retractable glass ceilings, a basement swimming pool and a passenger elevator should the stairs across its six floors become too much. But its failure to find a buyer willing to pay not just the £55m asking price, but also the £6.5m stamp duy, is indicative of the slump in the top end of the London market.
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