One of the more regular mantras that I hear from estate agents is the fact that it only takes two people to create a market for a particular property.

Evidence of this was demonstrated, or at least illustrated, just the other day during a presentation on the country house market given by Middleton Advisers to the national property press in London.

Bidding for second homes is often much more aggressive the primary residences, explained Tom Hudson, one of the founding partners of this property finding business. ‘If you can afford a second home in the first place, and many of our buyers can without relying on lending from banks, then they can afford to pay what it takes to secure the house.’

Waterfront properties that tick all the boxes in Devon and Cornwall are so rare but I hadn’t quite realised how rare until Tom told us about a sale last summer. Despite the economic climate of 2009, a large waterfront house in Devon, with its own private beach and land, was launched on the market for £4.2 million and, after a “bidding war” broke out between two interested buyers, ended up selling for an astonishing £8.6 million. ‘The bids that came in didn’t mess around either,’ explained Tom. ‘The price leapt up in substantial jumps.’

The story was meant to illuminate the point that putting a value on these very rare country houses is nearly a dark art. Some of these houses come up just once in a generation; some buyers won’t let the opportunity of owning them pass them by whatever the cost.