■ The actor and comedian had a huge Hastings pad by the sea, but the commute drove him mad in the end…
What was the first property you bought?
IT WAS a house in Hastings — I bought it in 2004. I was 37 and a bit late to the property-buying scene. I’d seen friends buy, sell, make money and move on from property so I bought in Hastings as I could afford something bigger than I’d get in London. I had been renting a flat from my dad in Lancaster Gate before then. My ex-wife and I had our first child, we were going to have another one and wanted a house with space. It was a five-bedroom detached, with a big garden and beautiful sea view.
Did you do anything to it?
We had plans to do a new kitchen but never got round to it. We did a loft conversion that added another bedroom. I’d gone from a two-bedroom flat so I found the space and light in the house extraordinary. But the commute got under my skin after a while and I liked it less and less. I work quite a lot in London so if I had to commute more than three times a week it would become a headache. It was nearly two hours on the train, then the Underground journey on the other end — it’s not like commuting from Brighton. And you’re at the mercy of the train services.
How long were you there for?
Six years. I split up with my ex, she went back to London with the children and we put the house on the market. It wasn’t long after the financial crash happened so, we didn’t make any money on it.
And you bought a house in France…
I had a bit of disposable income at the time as I was doing cinema adverts for Orange — this was around 2005. It was a beautiful house in a little village in the south west of France not far from Poitiers. Unfortunately, we didn’t realise the village was dying and shortly after we bought the house the only shop in the village shut down. It had three storeys, three reception rooms, four bedrooms and a barn. I had the money to buy but not to do it up immediately. It was lovely to go there on holiday — my kids and friends loved the place — but then one winter there was a flood because a pipe had burst. I didn’t know until someone went round to check on the house. There was a lot of damage.
How bad was it?
The pipe was on the first floor and the water had been pouring for weeks. The basement flooded, the water dislodged the oil tank, which meant the basement had flooded with a combination of oil and water — and it reached up to 12 inches on the ground floor. So I had to think carefully about paying to do it up. Who would want to go there on holiday, when there’s no shop, no bar, and they could go somewhere a few miles away and have a lovely time? So I sold it. It was a shame because the house is beautiful, with a wonderful garden with pear trees.
Would you buy overseas again?
Never in a million years. You think, ‘I’ll buy this so the kids can have nice holidays.’ But we could have had a string of beautiful holidays for the money I threw at that house. The house was habitable but I sold it, including most of the furniture, for significantly less than I bought it for. Renting abroad has become so easy now and it’s very competitive — my friend has bought a really high-end villa in Morocco and it’s booked up for four years. So unless you can do something like that, there’s not much point.
Where are you now?
My new wife and I bought a house in Lincolnshire last year, which we love. It’s an old village farmhouse — five bedrooms and a barn. The gutters needed doing but the only other work we’ve done was decorative. There’s a pub nearby and it’s in a fantastic area.
What would be your dream home?
Having moved into the house in Lincolnshire, which has big Georgian windows, it’s made me realise how important light is. After living in a basement flat in London, I’ve found I need it a lot more now. It’s important to have light and a peaceful atmosphere — so my ideal house would be anywhere that has that. Sunshine makes a huge difference to your mood.
■ Steve Furst has appeared in Little Britain, The Bill and Dick And Dom’s Funny Business. He’s currently starring in Walk Like A Panther, in cinemas now
All about… Hastings
HASTINGS is in East Sussex, on the south coast of England and has a population of around 100,000. The historic town gave its name to the Battle of Hastings — the famed 1066 showdown between William the Conqueror and King Harold. It has train services to London’s Charing Cross and Victoria stations.
Famous residents have included Jo Brand and Shirley Collins. Last year, most property sales in Hastings involved flats, which sold for an average of £141,002. Terraced properties went for an average price of £234,621, while semi-detached properties fetched £269,698.
During the past year, sold prices in Hastings were 7 per cent up on the previous year and 23 per cent up on 2015 when the average price was £186,527. rightmove.co.uk