The 10% premium on country house prices that was possible in the first six months of 2007 is becoming increasingly ambitious in the current market conditions, finds Hamptons International.

The agency is advising vendors to be more realistic about their price expectations after seeing a number of properties failing to attract interest.

‘We had marketed Tugley Farm since May 2007 with surprisingly limited interest and no offers. When in mid- November 2007 the guide price was reduced from £4.25m to under £4m we experienced a sharp increase in activity, despite a slowing market, produced 8 separate viewers in only 7 days and an offer at the new guide price. Contracts in this sale have now been exchanged. Back in May the more ‘frothy’ market lead us to a firm belief that a 10% premium may be possible. The cooling market meant that a change of strategy to reduce below the £4m threshold was realistic and produced the result we sought.’

Another property, Pyford Green House, ‘has just been reduced from £1.75m to £1.65m and Stumps Grove Cottage by £50,000 from £2m to £1.95m. We hope that this positive reaction to the New Year market will generate the necessary interest to sell both.’

Hamptons are not predicting any price inflation in the country house market in 2008 but they anticipate that demand will remain strong due to the acute shortage of property. Foreign investors remain active and the Russians appear to be even more interested in more rural locations.

‘We predict 2008 will see a gradual return of confidence if recent market uncertainties ease, as the dust settles, and the likely future of the housing market in general become clearer.’

* Country houses for sale