How much for Britain's most expensive repossessed house?


Melville House

Melville House, an 11 bedroom Grade A Listed mansion in Fife, became the most expensive home ever to be repossessed. It had been on the market for £4.5 million, but after it failed to attract any offers it was repossessed in 2005.

Now it's on the market again, but how much is it worth now?

The property

It's an enormous property, built in 1679, and comes complete with 11 bedrooms and seven reception rooms. It also comes with 16.5 acres of land and two pavilions - and has a tree house that most London-dwellers would be content to call home.

The property is in a particularly grand architectural style, with oak panelling, a great staircase and elaborate fireplaces. It is being sold 'turn-key' so that all the furniture is staying in the property too.

However, all this is not enough to push the property back to the hefty price asked in 2005: it has gone on the market for just £1.6 million.

So why the falling price?

It isn't necessarily its reputation as Britain's most expensive repossessed property that's holding it back. Repossessed properties are rarely the bargain they are assumed to be anyway - as the bank is duty-bound to get the best possible price. And in any case, you wouldn't be buying from the bank - you'd be buying from the owners who took possession in 2009.

There's a question mark over whether the property was ever worth £4.5 million. It never sold for that sum, so there's a strong argument that it was over-priced.

That aside, the drawback with this particular property is that it's a refurbishment in progress. Estate Agents Strutt and Parker say about the bedrooms that they "will have en-suite facilities when completed". Likewise the outbuildings were apparently recently damaged by fire, so while they are being sold as a cinema and gymnasium in progress, they are currently only possibilities on paper, as the agent puts it: "It has outstanding potential as a leisure complex or office space."

It's currently split into a main property at the heart of the building, and two independent wings of the house - one of which requires refurbishment. It means that even if you wanted the house divided like this there would be an awful lot of work to do, and if you wanted to restore the house back to a single property, it would be a major undertaking.

Then there's the grounds, which feature a former cricket pitch and a former tennis court - which would require yet more work if you wanted to return them to their original use.

Completely restored it could easily be worth £1 million more. Estate agents, Knight Frank, currently have another property of a similar size in a similar location - Myres Castle - which is on for offers over £2.5 million. Arguably it's a truly fine example of its type, but it's still significantly more expensive.

The question is how big the market is for a £1.6 million Fife property with plenty of work left to do.

But what do you think? Is it worth the effort, or would you rather opt for one of the other properties on the market for the same price - like a two bedroom flat on London's Marylebone Road near Baker Street, or a Victorian country house in Denbighshire in Wales with nine bedrooms, a separate lodge and cottage?

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