Can't see the house for the trees: Property engulfed in ivy sells for £500,000

A property engulfed by ivy and hidden by overgrown garden greenery has sold for more than half a million pounds.

The three-bedroom end-of-terrace property on Ruthin Road, Blackheath in south London, started with an opening bid of £470,000 and went under the hammer on Tuesday.

Auctioned by Savills, the property is "in need of complete modernisation" and comes with a rear garden of about 50ft and a garage, the company states on its website. It also has a reception room, kitchen and bathroom.

The home sold for £554,000 after three bidders battled it out during the auction, held at the Marriott Hotel in central London.

Savills auctions director Robin Howeson told the Press Association: "I think it is a really good buy, but I think you've got to be a brave buyer to buy it. I think that would have put people off ... to deal with that level of foliage on a house."

Property website Zoopla lists the average value for homes on Ruthin Road as £716,667 and Mr Howeson said he estimates £200,000 of work will need to be done on it.

"I did expect it (the sale price) to go slightly higher," he said. "It is a really unique house. Seeing something like that with that level of work which needs doing to it coming through our catalogue in the last five years, I haven't seen something like that."

From the street, only the front door and downstairs window of the building are visible, with all other surfaces covered in ivy, including the roof and garden wall.

The upstairs windows of the property are also completely obscured by the extensive plant life, with the large garden shrub also overhanging the entire depth of the pavement.

Head of Savills auctions Chris Coleman Smith, who conducted the sale and brought down the hammer on the winning bid, told the room packed with more than 350 potential buyers that "underneath all that, there is a house".

"Look at it, I think it is brilliant. It is one of the best properties I have seen in ages - fantastic," he said.

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10 property hotspots

In Scotland, Edinburgh is seen as a city with huge growth potential. In 2014, prices in Edinburgh were up 10% in a post referendum boom that shows little sign of slowing down.

Local agents are not expecting quite such stellar growth for the next 12 months, but they think price rises will be well above the average predicted for the whole country.

Rightmove named this as the area where it expects house prices to grow the most over the next five years. It says that over this period there will be a huge number of people moving out of London in order to afford to get onto the property ladder. They want a reasonable commute combined with plenty of attractions in the local area, and Southampton offers all this. With relatively affordable housing stock, it's a prime candidate for growth.

Luton was Rightmove's candidate for the second biggest house price rises over the next five years. It emphasised that this isn't a mater of opinion, it is the result of crunching the data.

Luton is another major beneficiary of the move out of London, and while it is arguably not as attractive a place to live as Southampton, it's only 23 minutes into central London - which rivals some of inner London's commuter times. With average prices of £179,368, it's clearly a far more affordable option, and the area has already started to show signs of a boom.

This was the third area suggested by Rightmove. As with Southampton, it is well positioned for London commuters, and also has huge local attractions.

A survey last year asked young professionals to name the place they would most like to live, and Brighton and Hove were the only areas that appeared on the list outside London.

One of the reasons it's not higher up the list is that houses are already on the pricey side, with an average cost of £338,956 - up 13% in the past year alone.

There may be few people who grow up with the dream of living in Swindon, but the electrification of the rail line to London will bring travel times down across the West Country, so Swindon becomes part of the outer commuter area.

Given that the average property costs £168, 968, it's easy to see why Swindon will be a popular option for commuters on a tight budget.

Bath is also going to benefit from electrification of the line, because the commute to London will fall to a manageable 70 minutes. The beauty of the city - along with a vibrant social and cultural life - makes it a clear choice for more long-distance commuters.

Of course, with an average asking price of £374,617, it's not a tremendously cheap place to buy, but the geography of the city restricts development, so these prices are expected to rise still further.

Property Frontiers says that the booming house prices in Oxford are set to get even higher. At the moment, travel to London takes 60 minutes, but this will reduce even further in 2016 when the line is electrified. Prices in the most desirable parts of the centre aren't much cheaper than London.

However, further out there are pockets of affordability, and when the Water Eaton station opens in 2015 it will open up areas to the north of the city too.

Manchester has seen enormous property price rises over the last couple of years, and Property Frontiers expects this to continue into 2015.

Other commentators are expecting the growth to slow over the next few years, especially given the gains made since 2012. However, demand for properties remains buoyant, and with the growth of the local economy, price rises seem inevitable.

Rising prices in London have pushed buyers further and further out of the centre, so estate agents are now claiming zone three as 'the new zone 2'.

Savills believes that the biggest gains over the next five years will be the less glamorous districts - putting the South and East in the frame. Gritty areas that could benefit include Ladywell, Streatham and Catford in the south, and Leytonstone, Forest Gate and Walthamstow in the east.

Cambridge could also perform well. It has already had house prices lifted by the growth of tech companies to the north of the city, and the arrival of pharmaceutical headquarters will help push prices up further.

In 2016 a new rail service from the city to the science park will keep prices rising, and beyond the opportunities presented by the local economy, Cambridge is also part of the 'outer commute' area of London, which Savills expects to shoot up in value over the next five years.


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