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High end property market within range of London achieving top prices

Overall the outlook is mixed with the best properties attracting competition from buyers while those with no urgency to buy are being cautious, according to the latest analysis from The Buying Solution.

‘We're currently seeing two markets across our country teams. There are needs driven buyers who want to purchase in time for the new school year and are very active in the market, and good properties are attracting competition and selling above guide in many cases,’ said Philip Selway, managing partner of The Buying Solution.

‘Meanwhile, UK lifestyle buyers are being more cautious and in no rush to buy, particularly where something is deemed over priced. International money continues to dominate in the Home Counties with heightened activity at the top end of the market. We anticipate that this will continue with the ongoing low interest rates and weak sterling,’ he added.

In the Home Counties, that is Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Surrey, South Oxfordshire, and West Sussex, the market for properties costing £5 million to £30 million is extremely active, according to Paul Frost, buying agent for the region. ‘There is a huge amount of international interest, primarily from Eastern Europeans buying in areas such as Esher and both of the renowned Wentworth and St George's Hill estates. The prime areas of the UK continue to be viewed as good, safe, tangible investments. This is further driven by the historically low interest rates and favourable exchange rates,’ he said.

‘Further out of London, the market is more hesitant. Buyers are more school and lifestyle driven and whilst the London pull is still very strong, there has historically been less impact from international buyers. This slight uncertainty produces a flight to quality with buyers being cautious,’ he explained.

‘Whilst there are a good number of cash buyers in the market, there is no real urgency to purchase, so anything that is over-priced or considered blighted, won't attract offers. However, best in class properties in popular areas are still selling well,’ he added.

In the Southern Region, that is Wiltshire, West Berkshire, Hampshire, Dorset and Somerset, lack of stock is creating competition, according to Bobby Hall, partner and head of the Southern Region. ‘What we are now seeing is competition on really quite ordinary houses, some of which are selling well above guide prices. This is very much needs driven with buyers wanting to secure a house before the next school year starts,’ he said.

In the Central Region of Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Northamptonshire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire, it is a mixed market.  Non urgent buyers are taking longer to come to a decision and the best properties are attracting premium prices. Whilst the £1 million to £5 million market is relatively active, there are fewer transactions above these prices, according to Jonathan Bramwell, partner and head of the Cotswolds and Central region.

‘We are beginning to see an increasing number of international buyers, including Eastern Europeans and Russians, creeping further out into the countryside. These buyers tend to have homes in London and are relatively anglicised but want a second home from which they can enjoy country pursuits such as shooting, and be close to their children's schools for weekends/school holidays,’ he added.

In the estates and land sector good quality land is still selling well and achieving high prices, particularly in desirable locations within two hours of London. ‘In recent years, the appeal for land has widened as savvy investors see the potential for growth, the long term benefits, as well as the inheritance tax advantages. As such, farmland now attracts interest from a range of buyers, hence the price increases and competitive nature of these sales,’ said Mark Lawson, partner, estates and land.

‘There also seems to be more interest in large country estates with one or two big estates at levels over £20 million attracting bidders privately. The quality, condition and location of these estates is critical to buyers, with the only the best estates that have easy access to London achieving premium prices,’ he explained.

But he added that  where estates are over priced, require work, or are flawed, they are proving difficult to sell.