Where are the best places to buy in 2016? We talk to the experts to find out where they expect to sell the most country houses in the coming year..

Some of the best rural agents have been sharing their hotspots and predictions for the country house market in 2016.

Jessica Simpson from Private Property Search, the buying agent for Strutt & Parker says she thinks a few pretty areas just north of London with good links back into London could prove popular: “There are a few hidden gems on the Essex and Hertfordshire border with very good access to London via the A10/ M11, or trains into Kings Cross and Liverpool Street.

‘These villages include Barkway, Buckland, Great Chishill and Clavering.’

Looking east, big changes taking place in the medieval market town of Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk are attracting interest from some weekend buyers, continues Jessica. ‘Already established as a picture-perfect country location with historic cobbled streets and boutique shops, the latest development in the town centre is attracting a new wave of weekend visitors and with that, an influx of homebuyers.

‘Now is the time to buy before property prices start to climb. Bury and its surrounding Suffolk villages offer buyers the perfect mix of modern amenities and unspoilt countryside, all within an hour’s drive or quick train journey to Cambridge.’

Finally, the charming market town of Hungerford could also prove popular this spring, says Jessica. ‘With the delightful high street at its heart, Hungerford has become more and more popular over the last three or four years. Many of West Berkshire, Hampshire and Wiltshire’s smarter downsizing set are buying pretty townhouses there.’

‘Train journeys to London only take around an hour, so you can get to Lords for the cricket, or the West End for the theatre and be back in a day. Now with Crossrail on its way, it’s looking likely that even more commuting families will begin considering further west.’

Those in the know at Savills think that the country house market in 2016 will be driven by the gap between prices in London and in the country. Prime London property prices are 36.8% above their 2007 levels, compared to a 6.6% rise in commuter areas over the same period, they found, and this should encourage more London buyers to sell soon, take advantage of the differential.

Therefore they predict that ‘prime housing markets in London suburbs, inner commuter (up to 30 mins train journey to London) and outer commuter (up to 60 mins) locations have the strongest growth prospects in the coming five years.’

Across the rest of the country prime housing markets are expected to be driven by a preference for city and town locations and strengthening local economies, the Savills research team has continued.  It seems that Scotland is seeing a similar predilection for metropolitan areas, but all markets over £750,000 are being constrained by Land and Buildings Transaction Tax.

Sophie Chick, Savills research associate director explains: ‘We expect the trend for urban living to continue as London buyers seek out vibrant locations where they don’t have to sacrifice the convenience of living close to shops, restaurants and leisure facilities.

‘Positive sentiment for cities in the north of England is also being bolstered by talk of a northern powerhouse, despite the proposals being some way off.’

The research department at Knight Frank is predicting an increase in interest for the south west into 2016, as transport links improve. ‘The South West is due a strategic transport “turbo boost” next year – several in fact, if all of the current plans go full speed ahead,’ according to Luke Pender Cudlip from Knight Frank’s Sherborne office.  ‘Flights from Exeter to London have made a big difference to the Cornish housing market.  Similarly, the plans to improve the rail and road networks in the South West should be a game-changer for the housing market in Dorset, Somerset and Devon.’

The Bristol market looks to be strong next year, thanks in part to more transport enhancements. ‘The electrifying of the Bristol to London train line will make the city event more appealing to commuters and their families. As the shorter commuting times increase interest, the suburbs which provide great family-sized homes, such as Clifton, Sneyd Park, Leigh Woods and Redland, will appeal greatly to prospective buyers,’ explains James Toogood from the Bristol office.

Meanwhile, the popularity of Oxford and its surrounding villages is in no danger of waning.  “Thanks to the opening of Oxford Parkway, many of our buyers are now seriously considering north Oxford and the villages to the north and east of the city as a very attractive location given the new commuting options available,’ says William Kirkland of the Oxford office.

‘For many of our buyers looking to get to The City of London, Paddington is often seen as the halfway point in the journey, so this new line to Marylebone is a real bonus.’

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