Country houses for sale

Property purchaser profiles 1990s – 2010s

Arabella Youens charts how purchaser profiles and bricks and mortar have evolved over the decades.

The buyer Investment bankers who had secured large post-deregulation bonuses. ‘They were often the sharp boys from public schools who’d been successful very young and were buying large country houses when they were in their early thirties,’ explains James Grillo of Humberts.
The market The decade started in recession and many country houses were put onto the market following the Lloyd’s crisis as Names were forced to sell to pay their debts. However, according to Mr Lamb: ‘Things improved and fax machines meant you could move further out and manage wealth remotely, so Devon was now on the radar’.
Brochure language Wine cellar, gym, indoor, oak-framed swimming pool, guest suites, shower rooms, games room.
Interiors Wooden floors, Minimalist walls, Farrow & Ball. Saunas became ‘glorified suitcase cupboards’, adds Mr Sweeting.
Kitchen The kitchen/breakfast room was now a must-have. Microwaves, bread machines.
Bathroom Showers replaced baths, bathware turned white.
Exteriors Swimming pools with bubblewrap covers still prevailed, some AstroTurf tennis courts, parterre lawns, hot tubs, zip wires and play areas.
Car Mercedes estate.
Dog Black labrador.
Drink Absolut vodka.
Night in The Vicar of Dibley, Pride and Prejudice.
Night out Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia.
Holidays Lech or Mustique; Tuscany and Rock; Paris for the weekend by Eurostar.
Dinner-party menu Rocket, Parmesan and sun-dried- tomato salad; River Café’s filetto di manzo in tegame; Delia’s chocolate truffle torte; Chilean cabernet sauvignon.

The buyer Dotcom success stories, entertainment moguls, Russians putting children into public schools. ‘And lots of headhunters,’ adds Philip Harvey of Property Vision.
The market ‘It boomed until 2007, when Lehman Brothers collapsed,’ says Mr Grillo. ‘The wheels then came off and, although the market picked up in London in 2009, it has yet to do so in some areas outside of the Home Counties.’ Philip Selway of The Buying Solution agrees: ‘Whereas previously an investment banker would think nothing of dropping his bonus into a country pad, post-Lehman, the attitude completely changed’.
Brochure language Home office, jack-and-jill bathrooms, party barn, geothermal heating, nanny annexe
Interiors Mr Kime recalls the ‘Babington House’ look, more Modernist interiors, Neisha Crosland fabric and wallpaper, home cinemas, lighting technology and plasma TV screens.
Kitchen Butler’s sinks, Nespresso coffee machines, American fridge-freezers, Mark Wilkinson kitchens, dishwasher drawers.
Bathroom Underfloor heating, wet rooms or frameless glass shower stalls, free-standing baths, twin sinks.
Exteriors Broadband hits the countryside, outdoor swimming pools with electric covers and invisible fences.
Car Range Rover.
Dog Black labrador.
Drink Champagne.
Night in Foyle’s War.
Night out Royal Opera House (reopened 1999).
Holidays Verbier, Mallorca, Polzeath.
Dinner-party menu Chargrilled asparagus with hollandaise; Roast pork belly with home-grown vegetables; Individual sticky toffee puddings; Pinot Grigio.

The buyer Hedge funders ‘and international buyers from all over the world—including China’, says Mr Sweeting.
The market ‘Never has there been more of a margin between what you can sell in London and buy in the country,’ says Roarie Scarisbrick of Property Vision. ‘In the 1980s, when we began, you could swap your Scarsdale Villa house for a nice old rectory in commutable Hampshire; today, if you sold your Scarsdale Villa house, you could buy two old rectories and still have change.’ ‘People aren’t as hungry for the rural idyll—they want to be able to walk into Midhurst,’ adds Mr Harvey.
Brochure language Biomass heating, car ports, wellness complex (indoor pool with gym attached), Lutron lighting system.
Interiors Ben Pentreath’s eclectic mix of colour and antique pieces (preferably from Max Rollitt), colour blocking, plain silk curtains.
Kitchen Clive Christian designs, the return of stainless steel, Wolf ovens, rotisseries by Jetmaster, boiling-water taps.
Bathroom Wet rooms, slipper baths.
Exteriors Barbecue pits, garden lighting (using LEDs that don’t burn plants), wall-to wall glazed swimming pool wings with hammams and ozone-cleaning systems.
Car Discovery 4.
Dog Labradoodle.
Drink Hendrick’s gin, water is back in.
Night in Downton Abbey.
Night out 5 Hertford Street, the private members’ club.
Holidays Ibiza, North Island, Seychelles, Verbier.
Dinner-party menu Ottolenghi’s roasted figs with pomegranate molasses and orange zest; Pulled pork, slaw and crispy kale; Mary Berry’s pineapple-and-ginger pavlova; Rose.

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