Why cash-rich London buyers are looking to escape to the country
Thu 30 Mar 2023
In the current climate, it's a buyer's market. And for the cash or equity rich buyers looking for a country retreat, high value homes in country locations outside the price-inflated Home Counties are top of their wishlists.
Many people working and living in London, Cambridge or some of the bigger cities decided, because of Covid, to put off buying a 'pied a terre' for long weekends or to decamp to for school holidays - so are now on the hunt again.
Whether it's a second home or a permanent relocation, city buyers want idyllic country properties in a couple of acres yet which have good enough transport links to enable some home working while making a regular commute too.
Devon and Cornwall, beautiful as they are, are often ruled out because they are too far away so people are now are looking at locations which they've previously perhaps not considered yet which offer good value compared with counties closer to home.
These buyers don't need a mortgage so are unaffected by the interest rate rise. For these house hunters, the current market offers rich pickings but there may be some urgency to take advantage of homes on the market now with the signs of some gradual recovery - and the inevitable house price rises emerging.
The most recent RICS UK Residential Survey published earlier this month showed some indicators of increased stability emerging through the rest of the year. Although new buyer enquiries were still down, it showed the least negative result since July, 2022 and a modest improvement in house pricing forecast for the next three months.
Meanwhile, Land Registry data showed the number of UK residential transactions in February was 76,920, 18% lower than February 2022 - but 2% higher than January, 2023.
The UK House Price Index (HPI) which uses house sales data from the Land Registry showed average UK house prices increased by 6.3% in the 12 months to January 2023 but fell by 1.1% compared to December 2022.
House price changes
HM Land Registry UK House Price Index, March 2023.
From city to country
Last year, Londoners bought 7.9% of all homes sold outside the capital from January to the end of June 2022. This was the same proportion as in the first half of 2021 and up from 6.9% pre-Covid in the first six months of 2019.
Peter and Sally Day, currently selling the Old Rectory, Swannington, Norfolk using our Norwich Residential team, relocated to the country 30 years ago - and never looked back.
Mr Day was a Rural Investment Surveyor for Bidwells, specialising in purchasing farms and estates for private and institutional clients and needed to move to Norfolk to launch the firm’s then new Norwich office.
He and his wife fell in love with the 17th century Old Rectory, of red brick construction with Gault brick dressings under a pantile roof and after buying it, re-roofed it and went on to restore the principal bedroom to its original form. In doing so, they uncovered a wooden mullioned window from 1635 which they retained and which now forms a fascinating link between the bedroom and en-suite.
An ancient well was also discovered when one of their daughters dropped a coin through a gap in the York stone floor and Mr Day heard it plop into water far below.
David Hinton, Residential Sales Manager in our Norwich office, selling the Old Rectory, said: "This house would really suit someone who wants a country home in a quintessential village that feels like you are miles from anywhere yet in truth has good access for the commuter to Cambridge or London.
"People tend to think Norfolk is isolated but in fact our transport links have greatly improved over the past few years, particularly if travelling by rail.
"The Old Rectory is just nine miles' drive to Norwich where you can be in London Liverpool Street by train within two hours or Cambridge in less than an hour and a half. Yet, you have the North Norfolk coast, the Burnhams and the Broads on your doorstep."
The Old Rectory, Swannington is just nine miles' drive to Norwich where you can be in London Liverpool Street by train within two hours or Cambridge in less than an hour and a half."
David Hinton, Residential Sales Manager, Norwich.
David Hinton: "The Old Rectory is just the perfect country house ticking all the boxes; you can move straight in, it has history attached to it, is in a lovely location with good transport links, offers space for home working and represents value compared to what the same house in many other counties would be priced at."
The 'rural retreater'
Jeremy Baguley, Partner, Residential in our Retford office, is also finding buyers are looking much more at properties situated in countryside locations - but with good transport links.
Residing at Rockley House, you can live amidst gently undulating North Nottinghamshire countryside, enjoy the river frontage and a game of tennis on a sunny Sunday afternoon and still be at your central London desk for 9am on Monday."
Jeremy Baguley, Partner, Residential, Retford.
"Post the 2020 Covid outbreak, we experienced the emergence of a significant category of buyer – the 'rural retreater', seeking quality property delivering the ability to work from home and being accessible to the larger cities of the region and London too.
"This kind of buyer always existed but now there are so many more because of the pressure on us all to reassess our work/life balance, so buying a house is much more about making a lifestyle choice than it used to be.
"We are selling, for example, Rockley House in Nottinghamshire, a listed country residence offering splendid period living with a detached, two-storey, converted barn which is consented and equipped for running a business.
"Access to the A1 is within just a five minutes’ drive.
"So, residing at Rockley House, you can live amidst gently undulating North Nottinghamshire countryside, enjoy the river frontage and a game of tennis on a sunny Sunday afternoon and still be at your central London desk for 9am on Monday, taking the direct Kings Cross rail service, approximately one hour and a half from Retford which is a 10 minutes’ drive away."
Jeremy Baguley: "Then we are also have Edlington Wood House, near Doncaster, which offers a rare opportunity to live in a woodland enclave, nestled amongst more than 300 acres of its own with great equestrian potential.
"The substantial courtyard annexe facilitates multi-generational or staff living arrangements, home working with generous enhancing possibilities too, subject to all usual statutory consents and approvals.
"Yet, it is also situated within an approximate one hour commute to the major regional centres of Leeds, York and Sheffield."
If you are looking to relocate to the country or are considering buying a property as a second home, please contact David Hinton in our Norwich office on 01603 629871 or Jeremy Baguely in our Retford office on 01777 712944.
We also have Residential teams across counties, in offices in Holt and King's Lynn, Norfolk and Lincoln. To contact them, please see here
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