Basement described as 'uninhabitable' a snip at £595,000

London basement Knightsbridge

When the estate agent describes somewhere as "currently uninhabitable" and "slightly affected by vibrations from underground trains" it doesn't exactly conjure up images of expensive living. When you add in the fact that the current lease is up in less than 30 years, you'd be forgiven for thinking this flat will be within the most meagre of budgets - but it's actually on the market for almost £600,000.

The agent's photos of the property reveal just how much work is needed to bring it up to a reasonable standard. It's not just the junk piled on the living room floor, the bare, cell-like single bedroom, or the grim kitchen. The peeling paint has reached epic proportions, and the water tank over the sink in the bedroom speaks volumes about the level of refurbishment required.

In many parts of the country, the owners would struggle to ask more than £60,000 for it. However, the secret of this property's value is that it's in Stanhope Gardens in Knightbridge, round the corner from the Natural History Museum, and a stone's throw from Harrods. This is possibly the priciest part of London at the moment - where the penthouse flat in One Hyde Park recently sold for £140 million. In this part of London £595,000 is small change.

James Wardle, Director of Hamptons International, Knightsbridge office points out: "Stanhope Gardens is one of South Kensington's most sought-after garden squares, with apartments selling for well over the £1m mark. 26a Stanhope Gardens represents a rare opportunity to fully modernise a home in what is a highly coveted residential pocket of SW7.

The agents emphasise that there is potential here, and with the right planning, a beautiful two bedroom flat could be lying beneath the bare floorboards and the filth. His view is backed up by the fact that this home attracted enormous interest and is now under offer for over the asking price. Wardle says it's: "A reflection of the kudos of buying in a Grade II listed building, which with some work, has potential to become a good quality investment or attractive home."

"A buyer could expect to spend £350,000 to £400,000 to upgrade the property, inclusive of the cost of extending the lease by 90 years. With comparably sized properties in the locality selling for more than £1,000,000 this offers a potential for profit for someone who can see beyond its current state."

It seems that the price is right: £600,000 is the going rate for an uninhabitable basement in this part of London. Just as it's the asking price of this seven bedroom detached mansion in Ramsgate - with its own detached coach house, this well-maintained and spacious four-bedroom home in an area of outstanding natural beauty in Dorset, this three bedroom terrace in Blackheath, and this one bedroom flat in West Hampstead.

The question is, where would you rather live?

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