England: Garden flats are enjoying a renaissance on the property market, with demand outstripping that for other homes by as much as 54 per cent. Traditionally viewed as a bad investment because of poor security and lack of daylight, basement flats have previously been difficult to sell.
But the average price of one in Edinburgh rose by 17.9 per cent in the first eight months of 2006 compared to the same period in 2005 – well above the market average of 11.6 per cent. Buyers are even willing to pay a significant premium to secure a garden flat in some areas, according to figures from the Edinburgh Solicitors Property Centre (ESPC).
In the New Town, the average price of a two-bedroom flat stood at £243,615 in the eight months to September. The same size of garden flat sold for an average of £278,716.
In the city’s West End, the average two-bedroom flat sold for £283,029 – some 24 per cent less than the average price paid for a similarly-sized garden flat in the area of £351,529.
In contrast, in 2000, the average garden flat in the capital sold for an average £86,412 – barely three per cent more than the overall average paid for flats.
The average price of a two-bedroom flat in the New Town in 2000 was £146,284, while a garden flat of similar size there sold for an average £141,663.
Ron Smith, chief executive of the ESPC, said: "A lot of buyers dismissed garden flats as too dark and dingy or lacking in security and privacy. Our figures show that these properties can actually attract a premium and can be ideal for certain buyers – not just those who have pets or children and need additional space, but also those who are downsizing and who are used to ground-floor accommodation with a garden."
Catherine Hall, 45, who shares a two-bedroom garden flat in Edinburgh’s West End with her husband, said: "We absolutely loved this flat when we moved in. Having moved into the centre of town from a detached villa in Barnton, we were particularly grateful for the extra space we got through having the garden – though it was just a patch of mud when we bought the place.
"The rear doors let in so much light that we wouldn’t otherwise have had, and you can have barbecues or sit out in the garden and enjoy a glass of wine. You can’t do that on the top floor."
She added that her flat, which has its own private entrance through a secure gate in the garden wall at the side of the building, had been ideal for her cats. "No-one wants to keep their pets cooped up all day, especially if they have been used to having the run of a bigger space."
Jill Andrew, an associate at Edinburgh solicitors Murray Beith Murray, said: "We have undoubtedly seen an upsurge in demand for garden flats from young professionals, particularly ladies, who own at least one cat.
"Ten years ago you could not shift them for love nor money."