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Massive rise in interest in country property in England

Those looking at country houses worth over £2 million have increased by 80% in January compared with the same month last year, according to international property consultants Knight Frank.

While overall viewing for rural real estate increased by 25% in January this year, compared with the same month in 2008.

'Although it is too early to say that this marks the end of the market downturn it is positive news to start the year with,' said Andrew Shirley, head of rural property research at Knight Frank.

A combination of factors is encouraging more people to consider making a purchase, he explained. 'House prices have fallen substantially as vendors have become more realistic, interest rates on cash deposits are risible and there are some attractive mortgage deals available for those with reasonable deposits. If anybody is thinking of buying, now is certainly the time to start looking,' he added.

The fact that the biggest increase in activity is in the south of England suggests that those areas favoured by City workers, like the Home Counties, which were hit hardest by the banking collapse last year, are starting to recover first.

'Our Country House department, which deals with properties worth over £2 million, has seen viewings rise the most – 80% compared with last January. Buyers recognise that there is a finite supply of this type of house and they risk missing out on their dream property if they stay out of the market too long. This sector of the market also appeals to international buyers who have benefitted hugely from the collapse in Sterling,' said Shirley.

Euro buyers are finding that properties in the UK are now considerably cheaper, according to Rupert Sweeting, head of Knight Frank's Country Department. 'We are seeing international buyers take advantage of the favourable Euro/ Sterling exchange that, together with the reduction in house prices, presents those buyers with opportunities to purchase a property 40% cheaper than last year,' he said.

Also those who sold their property and used the interest from the money to rent while waiting for prices to fall are now entering the market. 'Their interest was enabling them to rent a decent house, but that the rental is now eating into their capital. Now they want to buy bricks and mortar and many have told us they feel that it offers a better return than the stock market or banks,' he added.