The latest Hometrack monthly national housing survey shows that the supply of homes for sale in England and Wales fell by 4.6% in January, and is down by 10% over the past six months. According to research director Richard Donnell, ‘a general unwillingness to commit to the market to either buy or sell means that we’re likely to see a continued lack of housing coming to the market for sale, a trend that will support prices in the short term’. Traditionally, in times like these, estate agents have relied on the ‘three Ds’ death, debt and divorce to keep the wheels of commerce turning. Then, in the 1990s, downsizing was added to the list, and now we have ‘doing a runner’ packing in Britain for foreign climes. Certainly, country house agents must be grateful to the dozens of vendors who, having decided to sell up in the UK and move abroad permanently, have stuck to their guns and put their houses on the market in January 2008. In most cases, the decision to quit these shores has been part of a carefully thought out long term plan, rather than a knee-jerk reaction to the recent political and financial turmoil.

Idyllic Timbers Chase, at Chiddingfold, Surrey, a former Jacobean hunting lodge set in 13 3/4 acres of gardens, grounds and paddocks, and surrounded by some of Surrey’s most beautiful countryside, has been home to Jane and Sherif Yehia since 1974. They already own houses in France and Spain, and now that their children are grown up, they’ve decided to live overseas on a permanent basis, so Strutt & Parker 01483 306565 are seeking a buyer for Timbers Chase at £4 million. Dental surgeon Chris Blockley is winding down to retirement, and last August, he and his wife, Sally, thought ‘half-heartedly’ about downsizing from Colts Bushes at Rowhook Hill, near Horsham, West Sussex the converted former coach house and stables to nearby Rowhook Hill House which has been their home for the past 26 years, to spend more time at their apartment in sunny Sotogrande, or skiing around the world. Now, they’ve decided it’s ‘all systems go’, and Colts Bushes, which has three reception rooms, six bedrooms, an extension currently used as a surgery, stabling, outbuildings and eight acres of gardens and grounds, is on the market with Surrey agents Browns 01483 267070 at a guide price of £1.65m.

The career path of dynamic industrialist Chris Nutbrown is a classic contemporary tale of British entrepreneurial success. Having built up a successful waste disposal business from his base near Southampton airport, Mr Nut-brown sold out while still in his forties, and he and his wife, Sue, are enjoying the resulting freedom, for some time at least. Just over a year ago, they moved to stylish, secluded Riverlea House on the Avon Castle estate at Ringwood, Hampshire, which is ideally placed for the New Forest, the south coast and London, via the M27 and M3 motorways. Now, they, too, are moving to Spain, so their state-of-the-art, 8,608sq ft home, built in 2003, with planning consent to add a 3,000sq ft swimming pool and leisure complex, is back on the market with Savills 01202 856800 and Hearnes 01425 489955 at a guide price of £2.75m.

Ten years ago, Graham and Gill Giles bought and refurbished rambling, mid-Victorian Press-land House, with its outbuildings and sheltered 1.6 acres of gardens, at Hatherleigh, on the northern edge of Dartmoor, Devon, where they have since run a successful B&B. But the business left them little time to enjoy their house in France, so they’ve decided to take early retirement and move to France full-time, once a buyer has been found for Pressland House, which is for sale through Knight Frank 01392 423111 at a guide price of £1.05m. Twelve years ago, David and Teresa Clark moved from East Sussex to Cornwall, having bought picturesque, Grade II-listed Trewerry Mill, in the peaceful rural hamlet of Trerice, near Newlyn East, three miles inland from the north Cornish coast, and 8.5 miles from Newquay Airport. They refurbished the historic mill house and its adjoining cottage, once part of the Arundell family’s ancient Trerice estate, converting a stone granary into two self-catering holidaycottages. It was always their intention to retire to Australia to be near their daughter and grandchild, so, having finally been accepted on Australia’s fast-track parent-migration scheme, they’re ready to make the big move to Byron Bay, New South Wales. Trewerry Mill is on the market with Savills 01872 243200 at a guide price of £1.1m.

Globetrotting Paul Hay has business interests in Australia and South Africa, and, having reached the ‘big five-o’, he has decided to sell up in the UK and alternate his time between those two sunshine countries. Consequently, the charming small Northamptonshire country estate that’s been his UK base for the past 10 years is for sale through Knight Frank 01789 297735 at a guide price of £1.5m. Dodford Manor, in the village of Dodford, about eight miles from Northampton, is a pretty five-bedroom Georgian manor house, with large gardens and an extensive range of outbuildings suitable for conversion, set in more than 48 acres of ancient deer-park, paddocks and woodland. Of all our would be émigrés, property developer Rob Gilbert and his wife, Lucy, will have the shortest distance to travel when they relocate, with their four young daughters, from elegant 17th-century South Lodge at Norton, near Shifnal, Shropshire, to a new family home in the Isle of Man.

Savills 01952 239500 quote a guide price of £900,000 for the substantial seven-bedroom village house, once owned by the Apley estate, which stands in well-established gardens and grounds and is within easy commuting distance of Shrewsbury, Telford and Birmingham. The nearby 1,916sq ft stone coach house, which has planning consent for conversion to a four-bedroom house with independent access, can be bought by separate negotiation.