When the going gets tough, the tough…go shopping!

It was slight panic stations here on Friday, as I woke up to another booking – for 4th March!!  That means four weeks today we have a paying guest arriving and we haven’t finished the shower or the decorating yet.  But the sun was shining and it was the first day of the year with a whiff of spring about it, so I’m afraid instead of picking up my paintbrush, I jumped in the car and headed west to have a drive past a few houses I’d picked out as potential next purchases.  Nothing like a spot of window shopping 🙂

House number one I only really went to look at because I was going within 5 miles of it, I wasn’t really considering it.  At £280,000 it’s by far the most expensive of the four (or was when I set out, read on…), but it’s currently being run as a holiday let and that price includes all the contents and the income from the forward bookings.  It’s got three ensuite bedrooms and has the most stunning view over to Ben Loyal.

Judging by the photos, it needs absolutely nothing doing inside, but I am slightly put off by the proximity of the house next door and that the conservatory is on the end rather than on the front.  Plus £280,000 for up here is a LOT.  At a guess, the house on its own is worth £200,000-£210,000, they’d probably have paid about £25,000 for the contents new and they say a year’s-worth of bookings is worth £25,000, but they’re not fully booked for the year ahead at the moment.

Next on the list was a 2-bed bungalow.  This one interested me, because when I was Googling it, I found a home report for it dated 2009 and the land registry showed no sale since it was built in 1999, so it looks as if they’ve been trying to sell it for a while.  The home report was about as clean as they get, the house was a bit dated, but only really needed decorating and some new doors for the kitchen cabinets, and at £120,000 it was about the right price.  I suspected what might be causing the problem was its location and access.  It’s right on the edge of the carpark for the cafe next door and the only access to it is through that carpark – so if the owner locks the gates, you’re stuck.  That blue sign in the first picture says, in very large letters, no parking for the house, so I suspect there’s a dispute of some sort.

The bungalow does have a big garden with a little summerhouse and deck looking out over a great view (that’s the cafe garden in the second shot, but same view).

Without solving the access problem, it’s a no-go – BUT the cafe is also for sale.  It’s a cafe plus gift shop plus owner’s accommodation plus two en-suite letting rooms.  The owner’s accommodation and letting rooms would turn into a single 3-bed holiday let with no modification needed.  Buy that and the bungalow and bingo, no more access problem, and you have two holiday lets and a small business, which could either be run by a manager or leased to someone else to run.  The problem?  An asking price of £395,000, so £515,000 plus stock at value plus furniture money required to buy it.  I did run the idea past Pete, who I can trust to tell me when I’m living in cloud cuckoo land, and he said it wasn’t idiotic at all, but to look at it on the basis of the income from the holiday letting part of it covering all the costs and treat any income from the cafe and shop as the profit.  It just about stacks up on that basis, but even if I threw Ethel’s into the mix as security, I don’t think any bank in the land is going to lend me £550,000 (about 70% LTV) on previous experience of one renovated house with 4 weeks booked!  If both of them are still on the market when we’ve got a second project done and dusted, then we might take a look.

Number three was a little house I’ve had my eye on for a while and it’s recently come back on the market after a sale fell through.  i know what the matter is with this one, it’s a pre-fab and therefore unmortgageable, hence the asking price of £75,000.  To be honest, the only thing you could really do with this is knock it down, the rooms are absolutely tiny and it’s not in great nick.

But is this a £75,000 view?  Close to it, I think!  One for when we have a lot more working capital.

House number four is another one that has recently come back on the market after a sale fell through.  I have to admit, I like this house a lot, not least because of its stunning view.  It’s on at £130,000.

The roof is fine, albeit in need of a good scrub, and the gutters need clearing.  Those aluminium windows need replacing.

It has a little garage on the side with the oil tank in it.  This needs taking down completely – it’s likely to be asbestos sheeting and it looks as if it’s been built over the neighbour’s boundary line.  Every time I’ve driven past this house there’s been a car pointedly parked in front of the bit of the garage that’s over.

The garden needs clearing and the boundary fence replacing (currently dilapidated post and wire), and there are a couple of trees I’d want removing just to be on the safe side, but once tidied, this would be lovely to sit out in, looking up at the Watch Hill.  Sadly it’s not quite steep enough to get views over the top of the house to the sea!

The main problem with it is that it’s very, very close to the road and this causes problems with parking – the road is single track here, so parking on the road outside the house completely blocks it.  In theory you can put one small car inside the garage and another outside it in front of the garage door and house (there are some slabs down forming a rudimentary parking space).  The car in the below picture is where I think the boundary actually is and is taking up most of the dropped kerb, so I think permission would be needed from the council to drop a further bit of kerb and turn everything past that post into a parking area for the house.

Inside it’s currently laid out as five bedrooms and one downstairs bathroom.  I’d turn one of the upstairs bedrooms into a big family bathroom, remove the downstairs bedroom to make a big kitchen diner and turn the current kitchen into a utility room – like this:

I drove Mick out to have a look at it on Saturday morning and he loved it so much that he was happily making plans for us to move there until I pointed out that there was no land with it, and the back garden was way too small for 3 horses and a flock of sheep!  But with the paperwork for decrofting Ethel’s now submitted to the Land Registry, we can definitely start the search for our next project and so I’ll be speaking to the agents next week to try and arrange a viewing for us.