If a bargain equates to something selling at a fair price that you really do want to own, then there are a number of bargains to be bagged at all levels in the country-house market.
According to property finder James Greenwood, from Stacks Property Search & Acquisition, it’s important not to make that mistake oft made when buying in sale conditions. You don’t want to carry out the property equivalent of snapping up a pair of bargain shoes that you will never wear.
‘Don’t buy anything simply because it’s cheap,’ he advises. ‘You need to ask why is this a bargain?’
Some so-called country bargains are ‘blighted’, points out Mr Greenwood. ‘They are homes that are badly laid out, have pylons ruining the view, or come with a tiny garden.’
As these are not problems that are easily fixed, the “bargains” are lowly priced for a reason. ‘The same rules for buying property still hold, such as location, location, location and quality,’ Mr Greenwood suggests.
Another house finder, Jonathan Bramwell from
Prime Purchase Property Acquisition, concurs that there are bargains in rural areas. However, there is competition for the best homes, he believes.
To obtain a bargain, you must be in a position to persuade the vendor and selling agent that you are better than another buyer.
‘It’s not always about making the top bid,’ he explains, ‘but often about exchanging quickly and going through with the deal.’
The closer you get to London, the more likely you are to pick up bargains at the moment, says Mr Bramwell. ‘There’s more property on the market, and as you’re in the commuter belt, it’s City-driven.’ With many City workers having lost their jobs recently, there could be more room for negotiation.
Other tips from Mr Greenwood include:
• Find out everything you can about the vendor. Understanding his circumstances will allow you to negotiate the best price
• Stress your own buying ability in the strongest possible terms
• Find comparables. This can be difficult in the current market, but pursue rigorously, as this will give you bargaining power
• Go in with a low offer and wait for the seller to come back to you. Be ruthless and hold your nerve
• Set deadlines, such as this offer only holds for x number of days
• Be nice. Being ruthless doesn’t mean ruling out being pleasant. Think of an iron fist in a velvet glove
Here are some country bargains currently for on the market looking for new, caring owners:
The Old School, Ringland, Norfolk – reduced from £1 million to £895,000. It has taken the owners eight years to convert this school into a five-bedroom house, with four reception rooms and a games room. Fine & Country (01603 221888; www.fineandcountry.com)
Stone Cross Cottage, Bradford Holsworthy, Devon – reduced from £310,000 to £250,000. Four-bedroom period cottage that is over 150 years old, with a solar-powered hot water system. Webbers Estate Agents (01805 624334; www.webbers.co.uk)
Graystones, Danby, North Yorkshire – reduced by nearly 20% to £1 million. Substantial Edwardian villa, with two-bedroom suites and five more bedrooms, set in five acres of land, including paddocks, river frontage and woodland. Jackson-Stops & Staff (01325 489948; www.jackson-stops.co.uk)
Happisburgh Manor, Happisburgh, Norfolk – reduced from £1.1 million to £925,000. Grade-II*-listed Arts-and-Crafts manor with seven principal bedrooms, five bathrooms, six secondary attic bedrooms and four former bathrooms, in nearly four acres. Great views over the countryside and sea. Savills (01603 229229; www.savills.co.uk)