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The twelve days of Christmas ... the big trends of 2017 from stamp duty cuts to loft conversions

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me . . .

We all enjoy belting out that famous old carol at this time of year. 

Some people know it by heart. 

Fantasy home: a chateaux in the Dordogne, priced £1.6m with Savills

Fantasy home: a chateaux in the Dordogne, priced £1.6m with Savills

Others love hamming it up: ‘FIVE GO-O-O-O-LD RIINGS!!’ Manchester United fans even have their own version, a musical homage to United legend Eric Cantona.

So here, in the spirit of Christmas, is our version tailored to house-hunters, home-decorators and other followers of property trends. 

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:

Twelve cuts in stamp duty…

The Chancellor made a start in his Budget, offering relief for first-time buyers. 

But he needs to go further. 

Stamp duty on expensive properties is now so prohibitive that it has acted as a dampener on the whole London market. 

Buy-to-letters are also being clobbered. 

It is time for a major re-think at the Treasury.

Eleven chandeliers…

Where better to hang mistletoe than from a chandelier? 

Browse Chelsea-based Italian company Rocco Borghese, roccoborghese.com, and, if you have a few thousand to spare, take your pick.

Ten fires a-burning…

If a stylish chandelier takes care of the top half of your living room, there’s nothing to beat a crackling log fire to warm up the bottom half. 

Go to The Fireplace Superstore, the fireplacesuperstore.co.uk, for a bewildering range of wood-burning stoves and luxury gas fires.

Warm welcome: In the market town of Retford, Glebe House¿s dining room features a log burner and French doors onto the garden

Warm welcome: In the market town of Retford, Glebe House’s dining room features a log burner and French doors onto the garden

Nine lawyers racing…

Wouldn’t it be good if instead of dawdling, nit-picking, and turning the entire process into an obstacle course for buyers and sellers alike, solicitors did the paperwork in days rather than weeks? 

Many still seem to work to a Dickensian timetable.

Eight agents a-tweeting…

Technology has revolutionised house-buying and the best agents know how to use social media as a shop window. 

In 2017, far more people are likely to view particulars online, than by peering through estate agents’ windows. 

So make sure you get an agent who can use tech to best advantage.

Seven cats a-flapping…

The trouble with cat-flaps is that stray cats can as easily get through them as your own cat. 

So why not secure your peace of mind with a Deluxe Infra-Red Cat Flap from catflaps.co.uk (£32.28)? 

Focal point: The dining room of this five-bedroom house in Great Bentley looks across one of the largest village greens in England

Focal point: The dining room of this five-bedroom house in Great Bentley looks across one of the largest village greens in England

Your cat wears an infra-red collar which automatically unlocks the door when it is close by. 

Bonkers but brilliant.

Six maids a-hoovering…

Interior designers are all very well, but how do you keep your home immaculate after they’ve left? 

Answer: employ a cleaner and don’t stint on what you pay. 

There is a world of difference between those at top firms such as Housekeep (housekeep.com) and the cowboys.

Five gold baths…

A good bath can make a home, so why not treat yourself to one that you could soak in for hours? 

You can get a free-standing gold-effect bath for £1,600 from Victorian Plumbing, victorian plumbing.co.uk.

Four student buy-to-lets…

Gothic charm: Six-bed The Chantry, near Newton Abbot, has a palatial dining room with arched Gothic display cabinets

Gothic charm: Six-bed The Chantry, near Newton Abbot, has a palatial dining room with arched Gothic display cabinets

Student buy-to-lets would not appeal to everyone, as tenants tend to be more feral than house-trained. 

But the student market is increasingly sophisticated and, for those prepared to hunt around, still offers a decent return. 

Good university cities to target include Manchester, Birmingham and Sunderland.

Three French chateaux…

For Francophiles, the ultimate in French property remains one of those incomparable chateaux, preferably on the Loire. 

But not all chateaux on the market are humongous. 

Browse the websites of overseas property specialists such as savills.com, chestertons-international.com, and you could be looking at your dream home.

Two loft conversions…

With the property market stagnating, more and more people are choosing to extend rather than move. 

A loft conversion not only creates an extra room, but increases the value of a property by 21 per cent on average, according to Nationwide’s estimates.

And a treehouse in a pear tree!

It would have to be a very small treehouse or a very large pear tree — an oak would probably be advisable. 

But for families with children and a large garden, a treehouse is fantastic. 

Top-of-the-range treehouses from Blue Forest, blueforest.com, cost from about £70,000.

 

Tags Property

ABOUT THE AUTHOR celebrityrave

Journalist, writer and broadcaster, based in London and Paris, her latest book is Touché: A French Woman's Take on the English. Read more articles from Agnes.

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quotes

Everyone went outside to smoke cloves and bitch about having to stay after for the State.

Jon Stewart on events following Charles — January 19, 1999