19 AUGUST 2014
The record divide between property prices in prime central London and prime country locations accounts for the reasonable amount of activity in the £2m to £4m bracket in Hampshire, West Berkshire and Wiltshire. Many of these buyers are selling up in London and taking advantage of the price gap to snap up a country retreat.
Research from Savills shows prices in prime central London are 38 per cent higher than the market peak in 2007, while high-end country homes are 5.6 per cent below peak prices.
Many of these buyers are moving out of London because their children are settled into public school or they want to be close to their child’s Prep school. They like the fact that they are still within easy reach of London with a commute of one and a quarter to one and three-quarters of an hour.
Older buyers are taking the opportunity to downsize and clear or reduce their debt. Many of my clients are downsizers in their early fifties through to their seventies.
However, there is frustration that there is not enough quality stock on the market. Some vendors and buyers are thinking about next year’s general election and what the consequences of the outcome may be. There is also uncertainty about where the property market is headed and what will happen with interest rates. If homeowners get another 5 to 10 per cent growth in the value of their house, for example, why sell up and put the cash in a savings account earning at best 2 or 3 per cent?
While buyers are being picky, if you are serious about purchasing a country retreat it is possible to do so as long as you follow some tips:
• Those who are keen to buy in the M3/M4 corridor should bring themselves up to speed in terms of knowledge as quickly as possible. People often tell me that they aren’t in a rush but they have to be when the right property comes along.
• Research the commute and school options so you know which area to focus on.
• Make sure you have your finance in place, whether you are buying for cash or are taking advantage of one of the low mortgage rates.
• Look at property for sale to get a measure of the marketplace and see what has traded.
• Employ the services of a buying agent to get the inside track and put you ahead of the competition. Make sure you choose one who actually knows what they are doing: just as you wouldn’t take advice on the stock market from a newly-qualified adviser, make sure you choose a buying agent who has been in property for at least ten years.