Market for high-end country homes in UK strongest in decade

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The upper end of the country house market may just have witnessed its most active year since the 1980s, according to an estate agency.

Savills said substantial country houses around the £2m price point have typically increased in value by £111,000 this year, as demand for larger homes with gardens has grown.

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Its prime property market report said that, after years of underperforming, the country house market rose in value by an average of 5.5% in 2020, marking the strongest price performance for this sector since 2010.

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Lucian Cook, the head of residential research at the upmarket estate agency, said: “The very top end of the country house market, in particular, has had an extraordinary year, perhaps its best since the 1980s, as buyers sought a lifestyle shift and recognised the relative value on offer.”

The south-west, the Cotswolds and Scotland have been particularly active markets, the report said. Properties offering buyers opportunities to change their lifestyles and second homes in the prime coastal and £2m-plus country house markets have been the “standout performers of 2020”, the report said.

Savills said demand for prime coastal properties had been intense, from second homes buyers and families seeking a lifestyle relocation, pushing prices up by an average of 5.6%, with Devon, Cornwall, Dorset and Norfolk proving popular destinations.

By contrast flats, or small terrace houses in central London, of similar value but with little outdoor space, have endured price falls of about £8,000 on average, Savills’ analysis of the UK’s prime residential market found. The estate agent said in the rest of the prime London market, where £2m would typically secure an additional 1,000 sq feet of accommodation and more garden space, gains have averaged £36,000.

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It added that figures from the data agency TwentyCi show that the number of sales of £1m-plus properties agreed in the 11 months to the end of November was 29% higher than in the same period last year, despite a significant fall in activity during the first national lockdown.