Leafy Buckinghamshire is still pulling in affluent buyers from both home and abroad, even if they’re not prepared to offer the full asking price.
Despite continuing uncertainty surrounding Brexit, it appears to be ‘business as usual’ for buyers in the affluent commuter towns and villages on the southern fringe of the Chilterns. Two main groups dominate the scene: wealthy international buyers from Asian or Middle Eastern backgrounds, many of whom have substantial commercial interests both in the UK and overseas, and successful home-grown English buyers who appreciate all that South Bucks has to offer in terms of lifestyle, education and swift access to London and the rest of the world by road, rail and air.
‘Uncertainty and lack of direction haven’t stopped people buying, although buyers of houses at £4 million-plus expect significant reductions from vendors to cover SDLT bills of £500,000 or more,’ observes Nick Hole-Jones, regional director of prime and country-house sales at Hamptons International (01494 672969).
‘This is a highly mobile group of buyers who are prepared to spend substantial sums improving a property before moving on to something bigger and better in as little as three or four years. They expect purchase and renovation costs to have washed through by the time they come to sell, and vendors who aren’t prepared to take a sizeable hit on their original asking price are likely to lose out.’
The quiet private roads of Gerrards Cross, with its extensive shopping facilities and Chilterns mainline railway service to London Marylebone, have become a magnet for high-flying members of the Asian business community. In 2014, a major national survey named Gerrards Cross as the most sought-after and expensive commuter town or village in the UK, with its neighbour, Beaconsfield, a close competitor.
Mr Hole-Jones quotes a guide price of £4.495 million for sumptuous Courtenay House in the exclusive private backwater of Dukes Kiln Drive, a mile or so south of Gerrards Cross. The owners, whose substantial business interests in the Indian sub-continent presumably render them less vulnerable to possible fall-out from Brexit, bought the house—built in 2008 and already in pristine condition thanks to considerable additional investment by the then owner—as some- where to live while they were renovating a larger property nearby.
At the same time, they continued to upgrade and decorate the interior, which now offers 6,260sq ft of living space in the main house, 2,650sq ft of leisure facilities in the basement and a further 1,250sq ft in the adjoining three-car garage block, which has staff quarters above.
Accommodation in the main house is laid out over three floors and a basement and includes an imposing octagonal staircase hall, a drawing room with a magnificent Louis XV Fleur de Pêche antique marble fire- place, an elegant dining room overlooking the garden, a panelled library, a stunning bespoke kitchen/breakfast room by Simon Bray and four first-floor bedroom suites, with two large bedrooms and a Jack-and-Jill bathroom on the second floor.
With work on their next house recently completed, Courtenay House is being offered for sale with most of its furniture and fittings, the majority of which were supplied by Brights of Nettlebed or Harrods.
Extend, knock down and rebuild are concepts familiar to well-heeled home-buyers in the discreet, tree-lined enclaves of towns and villages scattered among the foothills of the Chilterns. Mark Rimell of Strutt & Parker’s country-house department (020–7629 7282) quotes a guide price of £6.95 million for spectacular Langley Wood House, set in 4¾ acres of established gardens, grounds and woodland in secluded Fulmer Common Road, Fulmer, three miles from Gerrards Cross.
Its current owner bought the site with a rather more modest house, which was demolished and replaced this year with a substantial new-build boasting some 10,600sq ft of dramatic light-filled space, thanks to the designer’s exceedingly generous use of large windows and white, open- plan interiors.
International buyers, mainly from the Middle East, have apparently been the most impressed by this remarkable house, with its vast uncluttered living areas, which include spacious reception rooms on the ground and lower-ground floors, five bedroom suites on the first floor and a sixth bedroom suite at lower-ground-floor level.
On the other hand, Mr Rimell reveals, interest in the more traditional Orchard House at Forty Green, near Beacons- field—for sale through Strutt & Parker at a guide price of £4.725 million—has come almost entirely from English buyers.
The house was built six years ago by its current owner, Richard Herbert, who originally sought to extend an existing house on the site. Having had his application turned down by the planners, he went back with a proposal to knock down and rebuild, which was waved through by the powers-that-be. The result, say the agents, is a house that perfectly combines traditional aesthetics with the practicality of a new-build.
Orchard House sits in some two acres of gardens, grounds and paddock in a sylvan corner of the hamlet of Forty Green, a mile from the market town of Beaconsfield, with its Waitrose, boutique shops and trendy restaurants. Its 7,120sq ft of accommodation— three reception rooms, six bedrooms, six bathrooms and a state-of-the-art kitchen/breakfast room—is spread over four floors connected by a lift, with a splendid indoor swimming pool, cinema and games room on the lower-ground floor.
In contrast to the property power games being played out among the beech trees of towns and villages in the south of the county, there are still buyers out there with a leaning towards a more traditional, ‘Miss Marple’ style of Bucking- hamshire countryside living, points out William Furniss of Knight Frank’s Beaconsfield office (01494 675368).
He is handling the sale of charming, Grade II-listed Boss Lane House in the Hughenden Valley, 2½ miles from High Wycombe and eight miles from Beaconsfield, at a guide price of £1.995 million. The enchanting brick-and-flint family house, origin- ally built in the 1600s with substantial 19th-century additions, is said to have been home to the legendary Lillie Langtry in the late 1800s. Used as a Cabinet war office during the Second World War, it was also frequented by Winston Churchill.
Boss Lane House stands in an acre of lovely private gardens on a quiet no-through lane surrounded by glorious countryside, with far-reaching views over the unspoilt Hughenden Valley and beyond.
It offers some 3,470sq ft of accommodation, including a well-timbered reception hall with the original staircase, an oak-panelled drawing room with an elegant Jacobean fireplace and, the heart of the home, a Tom Howley kitchen/breakfast room framed with original oak beams and flooded with natural light from the orangery roof. Three further reception rooms—a study, a dining room and a sitting room—complete the ground-floor line-up, with four double bedrooms and four bath/shower rooms on the first floor.