With buyers still wary of making a clean leap out of London, local agents tell Arabella Youens that there’s currently considerable demand for village houses.
When Bank’s Farm in the picture-perfect village of Bledington, near Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, was launched on the market in COUNTRY LIFE on June 10, Strutt & Parker’s man in Moreton, David Henderson, had a flurry of requests for viewings—60 in total—and it sold for more than its guide price of £1.5 million (01608 650502). The idyllic four-bedroom farmhouse, built of Cotswold stone beneath a Stonesfield slate roof, has an enviable position overlooking the green in its classic north Cotswold village.
‘Although it needs a lot of work doing to it, the house ticks many boxes for today’s Cotswold buyer,’ explains Jonathan Bramwell of The Buying Solution (01608 690780). ‘Bledington is one of the best villages in the area because of its popular pub, The King’s Head Inn, as well as the primary school, which is rated outstanding by OFSTED. In addition, neighbouring Kingham is on the mainline to London Paddington and, importantly, the hou‘se was sensibly priced.’
He continues: ‘All of these factors underline that the so-called ford Triangle hasn’t lost its lustre, that buyers today want to feel part of the action in a village with life and a pub within walking distance and that they don’t want to take on too much—Bank’s Farm has two acres, made up of a cottage garden and some paddocks for protection, which are easily managed.
Although Knight Frank have sold more than £180 million worth of houses since April 1 this year, and the number of exchanges is up 17% in the same period, appetite for properties across the board—and particularly at the top end—is typically described as ‘patchy’.
Atty Beor-Roberts, who heads up the region for the company (01285 659771), says that a key change from this summer compared to 2014 has been a move away from local people moving around the Cotswolds towards more London and overseas buyers coming to the area—nearly 50% of buyers now fall into this bracket. Most are Londoners looking for weekend houses priced between £700,000 and £1.5 million.
‘That dovetails with what we’re seeing here at The Buying Solution,’ adds Mr Bramwell. ‘Our most active buyers are either those looking to retire to the country or downsizing in London and buying a second home in the Cotswolds. Either way, they’re generally looking for one of these village houses.’
James Walker of Savills is charged with selling Campden Farmhouse, which overlooks the green at Barton-on-the-Heath, just four miles from Moreton-in-Marsh (07968 550441). It’s launching today in COUNTRY LIFE for £2.25 million. Although the village doesn’t have its own amenities,The Red Lion in Long Compton and The Fox and Hounds in Great Wolford are nearby and it’s close enough to train stations at either Banbury or Moreton-in-Marsh to make the commute to London possible.
‘It also comes with a substantial barn conversion, The Fold, which has two bedrooms and could work as a staff/nanny or granny flat, meaning that, if the buyers weren’t planning to be based here all the time, there would be someone on site to look after it,’ says Mr Walker. ‘For those buyers who are still intending on keeping a foothold in London or who are planning on travelling, having a house that you can lock up and leave is an added advantage.’
He’s also noticed an increasing interest in villages that have good primary schools. ‘Whether they’re local buyers or those coming down from London, and even if they can afford school fees, many are choosing to take advantage of the excellent State primary schools—until eight, if not all the way until 11. For that reason, if anything comes up in villages such as Sherston or Luckington near Tetbury—both have popular primary schools—people go mad.’
When this article was published in the print edition (Country Life September, 9 2015) the caption information was incorrect.