Madelaine’s diary: a week in the world of unique Sussex homes

Picture of Paul Travers

Paul Travers

The truism of contemporary self-employed life that “no two days are the same” has been ringing in my ears recently.  The past week or so has been crazily divergent, and these are some of the events and unique Sussex homes that have kept me on my toes.


Getting a second chance

A buyer withdrew their offer on a lovely off-market house in St Leonards due to the financial upheavals of recent weeks. So I was really pleased to be able to invite back another of the original viewers. I knew he loved the house and would welcome a second viewing. This time he brought his wife who’d been travelling a lot during the earlier viewing period.  


They travelled up from the West Country, stayed overnight and were on the doorstep eager and excited at 9 am. I’m pleased to say it all went very well. The house looked glorious in that golden autumn morning light we get on good days at this time of year. The wife loved it as much as her husband had the first time around, and their offer has just been accepted. I’m so pleased that these very nice people will live in this historic and gracious house. As unique Sussex homes go, it’s one of my favourites.


The owners are an absolute pleasure to work with. In fact, I’m planning to take a relaxation pilates class with one of them soon.  My only regret is that we’ve become friends and I’d like them to stay in our town so we can continue seeing each other!   


There are some really interesting property opportunities in St Leonards at the moment, for a fraction of what you’d pay in London. And the glorious Georgian architecture is every bit as good as what you’ll see in Primrose Hill or Islington, like this six-storey building of three sea-view apartments with a retail unit below – the asking price of £1,300,000 would get you one floor in Central London!

unique sussex homes - normans road freehold investment property
Unique Sussex Homes: this entire building is for sale including a retail space on the ground floor and sea-view apartments above

St Leonard’s lifestyle is extremely enjoyable, with plenty of culture and cuisine for a fulfilling social life. And I speak from experience because I moved here from London. Plus of course, you’re right by the sea, which is sublime.


Talking to the press

During the week, I had a long call with a journalist who works on Country Life. They’re seeking interesting properties to feature for their print and digital outputs.  It’s so great to have these conversations with people who know and care about property. 


We’ve been getting a lot of press recognition over the past 12 months or so. It’s partly because I’ve been working on that side of things within the business. But quality publications also like to find reliable sources of good stories. I hope we can bring them some insightful ideas for features along with some remarkable homes.


So far this year, the unique homes we handle have been featured in The Sunday Times, Saturday Telegraph (a couple of times), Bloomberg Press, London Standard and Global Mansions. Now we’re really looking forward to adding Country Life to the list!


Making new connections

Because of these friendly press relations, I was connected to a woman who owns her own locations agency.  Like so many from the creative sectors, she and her family moved to East Sussex a couple of years ago from South London. She’d worked with Conde Nast and was not only incredibly well connected, but also lovely to chat to.  


I can envisage us working well together with referrals. I can ask some of our clients if they’d like their interesting homes to be on her roster for film and photoshoot locations. In return, she may be able to lead me to some unique homes which are coming to market.  It’s not about a financial deal, but just another good connection with a really smart and interesting person.

unique Sussex homes - 43 marina st leonards

One particular home I could really see as the location for a fashion shoot or tv series is in Hastings. This warehouse-style sea-view apartment was converted from the showroom of a department store and has a trio of huge French doors onto a wide balcony overlooking the promenade – what a place for evening cocktails or morning coffee!

Unique Sussex homes – the sea-view terrace at a warehouse-style apartment in Hastings


Inching towards a sale

Over the past couple of months, I’ve been working on a twenty-acre estate near Robertsbridge. The has a simple dwelling on it, and I love going there. I always take my dog with me because enjoying the rolling Sussex countryside with uninterrupted views, woods and fields without my dog would feel odd!

Unique Sussex Homes - 20 acres with a holiday home
Unique Sussex Homes: a twenty-acre estate with a holiday home

Everyone who’s viewed has loved the setting. While walking the twenty acres together, I’ve heard some inspirational ideas from each of them around how they might use and enjoy the land.  I’ve learnt a lot about sustainability, drought-resistant crops, keeping llamas and establishing eco-aware hospitality.  


We now have some very seriously interested people, and we went back today in the curiously hot autumn sunshine and walked the acres again. They’re putting together a business plan for investors, which I’m giving them some support with. It makes sense to add my own life, business experience and connections to facilitate a sale.  


Becoming a Home Coach

Buying a property is surely the biggest financial decision of our lives. It affects every aspect of how we live, behave and the opportunities that come to us. So it makes total sense to me to get some external coaching. Someone who can be objective about the realities and practicalities of any property and help you fulfil your dreams. 


In another part of my life, I already work as a Coach for Change with clients from the creative industries. I love it, and it would be great to bring it to my work at Unique.


My husband always plays back to me when I kindly, and with deep respect, suggested to a recent divorcee that the house I was showing her would be a disaster for her situation. She was buying a home alone for the first time in her life, and it was a risky moment. But she met me a week or two after that and thanked me for being honest and saving her from an expensive and possibly miserable mistake. 



A ticket to Rye

Whenever I go to nearby Rye, I regard it as a bit of a treat. It’s usually for Kino, the independent cinema, or a nosy around a clothes shop I really like called Cordelia James. For drinks or lunch, it’s the newly refurbished George pub (I like to sit on the mustard sofa in the main bar and imagine how great it would look in my own home). Or, for the best walk in the area in my opinion, around Rye Harbour Nature Reserve. 


So it was interesting to go there for a couple of valuations as the town has more than its fair share of unique Sussex homes.


One more off-market home in Rye is now confirmed. I’ve enjoyed writing the off-market brochure for the owners who, like most of our clients, are interesting, friendly and, well, unique.  


The second property is one I’m going back to visit properly when half-term is over. The hilarious owner says that the place is looking terrible with all of the children around at the moment! I doubt that – she’s impeccably turned out and a renowned interior designer. I can’t imagine her home would be anything less than perfect!


Wrapping up

Nobody likes you being too smug about what you’re doing in life, but I can’t help feeling pretty fortunate. I’ve got a very mixed portfolio of work and opportunities, and I get to see some wonderfully unique Sussex homes and meet fascinating people.    


I can’t wait for next week!

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