Country houses for sale

After a quick house sale? Here’s where to look

The fastest-selling housing markets, the Easter spike in homes put up for sale, and the 10 most in-demand areas of the home. Here's our round-up of what's happening in the world of bricks and mortar.

The areas where homes sell like hotcakes

Good news — for some, at least. The time it takes to sell a house has plummeted across many pockets of the housing market, according to Yopa.

In Hampshire’s Test Valley, it took sellers nearly three years — a staggering 1,045 days — from instructing an estate agent to getting a sale over the line in 2022. Equally surprising is that this timeframe dropped to just 216 days by 2023; that’s a fall of 829 days, or 79%, though still more than six months.

Test Valley was followed in Yopa’s ranking by Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, and Chichester, West Sussex, where sales timelines dropped by 438 days (64%) and 428 days (70%) respectively.

Vale of White Horse in Oxfordshire and Lancaster were the fastest places to transact last year, with homes in these areas selling in just 88 days and 98 days respectively.

Elsewhere, Carluke has been crowned Britain’s fastest-selling market by Rightmove. The time it takes for a home to go under offer (rather than complete) in the Scottish town stands at 24 days. Carluke was followed by Falkirk (26 days) and Larbert (27 days), also both in Scotland.

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It typically takes 43 days to find a buyer in Scotland, compared with 71 days across Britain.

‘Steady’ improvement in housing market mood

RICS closely-watched monthly residential survey shows that buyer demand has put a ‘spring in the step of the housing market’.

Buyer demand continued to increase in March. So much so that this measure is now at its most upbeat since February 2022. Meanwhile, the flow of homes coming onto the market rose for a fourth month running. And surveyors predict further improvement in housing market activity over the next few months.

Tarrant Parsons, senior economist at RICS, says: ‘With the inflation backdrop turning a little less difficult of late, this has led to expectations that the Bank of England will be able to start lowering interest rates later in the year. This should continue to support the market to a certain degree going forward.’

The 10 most sought-after features

Swimming pools top the list of the most in-demand spaces in a home, according to Make My Blinds.

If money were no object, 18.5% of Brits would add a swimming pool to their home. Summer houses came in second place, with those aged over 45 more keen than any other age group. They were followed closely by cinema rooms, with men twice as likely to want one than women.

Walk-in wardrobes, utility rooms, libraries, gyms, studies, garden pubs and orangeries also made the top 10.

This swimming pool in Buckinghamshire is for sale at £8.95 million via Knight Frank (and yes, it does come with a magnificent country house attached).

Property values slide back again

House prices slipped in March following five months of growth, according to Halifax. Average house prices fell by 1% last month, following a 0.3% rise in February. Annual house price growth slowed to 0.3%.

Kim Kinnaird, director, Halifax Mortgages, says: ‘That a monthly fall should occur following five consecutive months of growth is not entirely unexpected particularly in view of the reset the market has been going through since interest rates began to rise sharply in 2022. Despite this house prices have shown surprising resilience in the face of significantly higher borrowing costs.’

Fellow lender Nationwide reveals that house prices dropped by 0.2% in March, following a 0.7% increase in February. The annual rate of house price growth last month edged up to 1.6%.

Home movers ‘undeterred’ by General Election

The majority of buyers and sellers at the top end of the housing market won’t be deterred by the upcoming General Election, according to Savills.

Some 79% of the 1,200 home movers surveyed claimed that the General Election won’t change their plans to move home. Just 13% said they were even more committed to move in the next year, while 8% were less committed.

In fact, appetite to move home is now at its highest level in more than two years. This uplift in confidence is most noticeable among the most leveraged buyers, such as first-time buyers and upsizers, Savills adds.

Easter surge in homes coming onto market

The Easter bunny came early for buyers on the hunt for a new home. A ‘huge’ number of sellers hoisted a ‘For sale’ sign on their homes just before the Easter bank holiday weekend, according to Rightmove.

There were 45% more homes added to Rightmove on Thursday 28 March than the previous Thursday. This makes it the biggest day for the number of sellers bringing homes to the market so far this year. And the third biggest day for new sales listings since August 2020, beaten only by Boxing Day in 2022 and 2023.

Rightmove’s property expert, Tim Bannister, explains: ‘It’s still a price sensitive market, so while the uptick in activity we’ve seen over the past few months is a positive sign, sellers still need to heed the advice from their agent on pricing competitively to help secure a successful sale.’