Country House Resilience
Date of Article
Mar 23 2010

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Country House property market continues to perform strongly against the backdrop of a recession.

While the UK property market as a whole has suffered badly over the past two years, with falling prices and stagnant sales, the country house property market has remained resilient to extremely difficult economic conditions, according to figures released by property consultancy Carter Jonas.

Comparing total sales figures for 2008 and 2009, during the worst of the property market slump, against sales figures for 2006 and 2007, at the height of the property boom, the figures show a surprisingly healthy country house sales market.

Carter Jonas figures reveal that there was a 13.3% increase in total UK country house sales during 2009 and 2008 compared to the total number of sales during 2007 and 2006 combined. The total sales of country houses in 2009 and 2008, priced between £1m and £2m, increased by 11.1% compared to total sales in the previous two years.

Total sales of country houses on the market at between £2m and £5m increased by a significant 55.6% in 2009 and 2008 compared to 2007 and 2006, according to Carter Jonas. These figures suggest that that country homes market has been bullet proofed against the worst recession in 50 years.

Interestingly, more country houses were sold during 2008 than during any year in the past five years. This was despite an economy that was going into financial meltdown with the collapse of Lehman Brothers, banks declaring record losses and a freeze on new lending. Against all this economic turmoil, sales of country houses in 2008 actually increased by 15.6% compared to 2007. Although 2009 saw a 15.4% fall in sales compared to 2008, the number of country houses sold last year was only 6.7% lower than 2007 levels, and this was at a time when the country tumbled into recession and bank finance dried up completely.

Catherine Penman, Head of Research, Carter Jonas, comments: “The past two years have been as bad as anyone in the property industry can remember, but the one shining light has been the high-end country house market, which has stood up impressively to the challenges of a failing economy and a property market in meltdown.

“There are several factors which are likely to have contributed to the resilience of the country house market during this economic turmoil. Firstly the typical country house buyer is a high net worth individual who generally does not require mortgage finance. Hence, they haven’t faced the same problems that many homebuyers have faced, trying to secure funds from banks that are reluctant to lend.

“Also, the typical country house buyer is a well informed investor rather than a speculative purchaser. They generally know what they are looking for and are making an informed decision rather than a gut-feel purchase. Although we are not seeing a torrent of high-end country houses coming onto the market, the properties that we are being instructed on are of a very high quality and there are plenty of well-matched buyers, with specific requirements who have finance in place.

“Looking forward, the outlook for the country homes market for the remainder of 2010 is extremely positive, despite the dark shadow of a General Election looming overhead. We are receiving a high level of enquiries from quality buyers and taking new instructions on a weekly basis. Sales figures for the first quarter of 2010 were encouraging.”