With so many international bankers and businessmen based within Surrey’s Esher-Cobham-Weybridge ‘golden triangle’, it is hardly surprising that even those not directly affected by the credit crunch have tended to apply the handbrake in recent months, says Tim Garbett of Knight Frank’s Esher office (01372 464496).
Even in the gilded international playground of St George’s Hill, Weybridge, where at least 50% of owners come from overseas, business has slowed dramatically, Mr Garbett admits. This is due largely to the fact that ‘nobody knows quite how far down the cliff-face things have slipped’. Nevertheless, deals are still being done in exclusive St George’s Hill, although vendors can expect buyers to bid 15% – 20% below the guide price quoted.
Purchasers expect perfection, Mr Garbett says, and any property that falls short is likely to stick around for quite some time. Having sold Dragonwyck in Old Avenue, St George’s Hill (one of the original houses built by W.G. Tarrant in the early 1900s and recently refurbished to 21st-century standards), to an eastern-European buyer for £4.5 million in August, Knight Frank have an interesting mixed bag of houses to offer prospective newcomers.
Built last year to ‘ambassadorial’ standards, palatial Warrenbayne in Warreners Lane was launched on the market three months ago by Curchods (01932 843322) and Knight Frank, at a guide price of £12.5m. The luxurious 12,798sq ft house has a vast marble reception hall and staircase, four reception rooms, six bedroom suites, a cinema, an indoor-pool complex, a games room and staff flat, set in 1.45 acres of pristine gardens and grounds.
In total contrast is the 14,607sq ft, ultra-contemporary Highclere in Camp End Road
-designed by Mark Hillier of h2architecture and completed a few months ago-that has f lowing open-plan interiors that blend seamlessly with its 1.14 acres of landscaped gardens and grounds. The striking white building has a double height galleried reception hall, five reception rooms, six bedroom suites, roof gardens, an indoor-pool complex, an entertainment room leading onto the terrace, an 18-seat cinema, a gymnasium, a playroom, a 1,060-bottle wine cellar, and a self-contained two-bedroom staff flat. Knight Frank quote a guide price of £8.5m.
Fresh on the market through Knight Frank at a guide price of £8.95m, Crickets Hill on prestigious Golf Club Road was originally built for Sir Joseph Leese by Kenneth
Wood in May 1914. The present owners have extensively renovated and extended this St George’s Hill classic, which now has 11,956sq ft of accommodation on three floors,including a galleried reception hall, four reception rooms, five first-floor suites plus four bedrooms, two bathrooms and a kitchen on the second floor, an indoor-pool complex, and a two bedroom staff flat, the whole set in more than 2.5 acres of immaculate gardens and grounds.
‘There are so many people sitting on the fence at the moment that I’m surprised it hasn’t collapsed,’ exclaims David Smith of upmarket house-builders Octagon, who believes that the majority of buyers want to be certain that the market has ‘bottomed out’ before they decide to go ahead with a purchase. However, that didn’t deter an international businessman with a young family from paying £14m earlier this year for Octagon’s most ambitious house yet, a mini-stately mansion in Granville Road, St George’s Hill, with more than 13,000sq ft of living and leisure space set in two acres of lavish landscaped gardens with a tennis court and a heated open-air pool with an incredible ‘infinity’ cascade running down to the rear terrace. Not only did this high-spec gamble pay off handsomely, but Octagon are now building an even grander £17m mansion for a Middle Eastern buyer who missed the boat on the Granville Road property.