The country market strikes back
In a year of uncertainty, property seemed to be the one thing you could count on
IN a year in which the pollsters got more or less everything wrong— from the UK’S Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s victory in the American Presidential Election to Leicester City’s win in the Premier League—the multiple uncertainties of 2016 should have spelt disaster for the UK countryhouse market. But they didn’t. On the contrary, from September onwards, leading agents saw a surge in sales of prime country houses and estates with little sign of a slowdown on the run-up to Christmas—a time when the sector traditionally hangs up its boots until spring.
Earlier this month, perseverance paid off for Atty Beor-roberts, head of Knight Frank’s operations in the Cotswolds, when he and his team signed off on the sale of Peter de Savary’s immaculate, 207-acre Manor Hall estate (Fig 1) at Withington, Gloucestershire, to a Scandinavian buyer, in one of the region’s high-profile sales of the year. The enchanting Cotswold estate, with its Grade Ii*-listed manor house set high on a wooded hillside overlooking the River Coln on the edge of the village, was launched—jointly with Savills—in Country Life on March 30, at a guide price of £10.45 million for the whole.
However, the deal was no seasonal one-off, as Mr Beor-roberts explains: ‘Across the Cotswolds, since August,
‘The market finally kicked off in September– it needed to!
we’ve sold no fewer than 27 houses and farms priced between £2m and £12m —50% to local or regional buyers, 31% to London buyers and 19%–20% to buyers from overseas—and we’re still going strong. Many of the larger properties or estates are being bought by people in their fifties or sixties, who have already put their children through
Fig 1: Serene Manor Hall estate at Withington, Gloucestershire. Guide price £10.45m