The topsy-turvy country house market is proving hard to read with some houses going to sealed bids and others languishing on the market for months, in some cases years. According to Stacks Property Search (01594 842880), properties which suffer from any of the following conditions are proving harder to sell:

1) Dark, north facing properties

2) Wrecks which may cost much more to renovate than expected

3) Big houses with small gardens

4) Properties at risk of flooding

5) Properties without parking

6) Houses that are full of idiosyncratic style

7) Properties close to commercial units

8) Properties badly overlooked

9) Road noise, plane noise, bypass noise, under flight paths

10) Properties that have been on the market for ages
 
Gideon Sumption of Stacks Property Search explains: ‘A good, very well presented farmhouse at Stockland (near Honiton, Devon) with 30 acres being a case in point, going under offer recently with three bidders at well over the guide price of £1.35m. Conversely, another well presented farmhouse with four acres near Cullompton (Devon), which was competed for and sold for a premium in early 2007, remains unsold at £995,000 because of some new undesirable agricultural development adjacent to it. Larger estates went quiet last year as the big money waited to see which way the wind was blowing. That market is now moving again; Stacks is acquiring for an overseas client a large Somerset estate with an exceptional principal house and 1,200 acres.’

Country houses which are proving easier to sell include:

1) Family houses in the catchment area of good state schools

2) Properties in villages with good facilities

3) Traditional farmhouses with a few acres

4) Well located bigger country house – purchasers are insisting on privacy and protection, setting and location is paramount.

5) Period properties with good outlook/views

6) Quiet, substantial village houses

7) Properties with outbuildings that have potential for development and hence offer flexibility

8) Period properties that have potential for adding value without the need for a major renovation project

9) Land with planning permission for a dwelling, and surrounding acreage

James Greenwood adds: ‘While some exceptional properties are selling for premium prices, the general situation is much more sensible, and 2010 will almost certainly prove to be a flat, stable market –  the best conditions for the buyer. The main question concerns supply, or lack of it. Will or won’t there be good new property coming onto the market this spring? It depends on where you are – some agents are reporting plenty of valuations and lots of instructions. But then – they always have.’