Making the move to the country

Harry Arnold - Anderson Harris

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Published: 29th April 2021

This Article was Written by: Harry Arnold


With the onset of sunnier weather, plus the arrival of greater freedoms in the lockdown easing, it’s not surprising many are seeking more outside space.

The warmer temperatures and brighter days also mean we’re now in the traditional period when the lovely country houses come onto the property market. The ‘Spring Market’ has always been popular because gardens are looking fabulous, and it is the best time to present country houses for sale.

2021 looks as if it’ll be a bumper year in this regard. We are certainly seeing more demand than ever from those keen to have more green space and swap an urban life for a rural one.

Of course, the current demand has also been helped by the fact that the working landscape has changed because of the pandemic. With organisations realising the benefits of flexible working, it is now far more viable to live that bit further out of the City and commute in on just 2-3 days a week for meetings, rather than the traditional Monday-Friday 9-5 slog at your office desk.

Finding your dream property

Such is the current popularity of rural properties that there is not yet enough stock to satisfy the demand. It has led to considerably higher numbers of people chasing after individual properties.

It also means there are often bidding wars between buyers and this is resulting in a rise in the prices of rural properties.

Ed Heaton, founder of Heaton & Partners, a leading national firm of buying agents says…

“In over thirty years I have never know a time when there has been such an acute lack of stock in the prime country market. We have grown accustomed to owners staying in their country houses, often for many decades, but right now in some areas there is literally nothing for sale. The stock level of some estate agency offices is running at around 20% of their normal levels.

In recent months the market has almost entirely been driven by sales resulting from either divorce or death. Whilst we are just starting to witness a handful more sales for other reasons, the likelihood is that this may be little more than a flash in the pan for 2021. Buyers must hold their nerve and make sure they don’t get carried away in crazy bidding wars, paying prices they may ultimately regret.”

Lucy Winfield of Lucy Winfield Property Advice & Acquisition adds…

“The demand for good quality houses in the country is extraordinary and many houses are achieving record prices due to competition and continuing lack of available stock. One such house in the North Cotswolds recently achieved nearly 50% over its Guide Price due to numerous cash buyers wanting it.

Gazumping is rife and many estate agents are now not allowing viewings unless you are a ‘cash buyer’ (immediately proceedable). Covid restrictions continue to make viewings difficult and so agents have had to adapt to accommodate only the best buyers as they are inundated with enquiries. Buyers should consider good advice on their side to navigate this tricky marketplace and eek out extra Off Market opportunities. With sellers nervous that they will be able to find their next home, this drought is likely to continue for a while.”

Financing the purchase

It is therefore important to have all your ducks in a row when deciding to purchase a property in the country. Speed is often of the essence if you want to be the successful purchaser of your dream rural home.

For starters, it’s important to know your mortgage capacity and be in a position to arrange a mortgage quickly. To help secure the best deal for you, your mortgage advisor needs to be aware of the type of house that you are seeking.

In reality, financing a house in the country can be very different to financing one in the City. A key consideration often centres on whether the property is going to be adequate security for the mortgage. For example, does the estate have any agricultural ties or animal grazing rights? Are there any tenancies in place on the property – for example are any of its outbuildings, cottages, stables etc rented out?

The greater the potential a property and its land has for any commercial use, the more challenging it can be to find a lender. Mainstream lenders are typically happier focusing on purely residential stock, which is why some set limits on the amount of land in the properties they’ll loan on.

Others may be perfectly happy to lend on properties with plenty of acreage if there is no income derived from the land and it is all for personal use. If not, lenders may refuse the application or refer you to their commercial property team. When considering the value of the property the mainstream lenders may value the house, the gardens and 5 acres and exclude the land over 5 acres.

Private banks have traditionally been more flexible in their lending approach to large rural properties, but they are usually more expensive in their fees and rates. They are also choosey about which mortgage brokers they deal with and do not usually accept applications from any intermediary. Most work with intermediaries they know and trust and fortunately, at Anderson Harris, we have long-standing relationships with many private banks.

Purchasing rural property can sometimes require a mortgage broker highly experienced in this market. That’s not to say it’s impossible to find finance for these purchases, but it does require specialist knowledge, experience and contacts.

Can we help?

If you are keen to make this the spring and summer when you gain more green space at home or switch the city for the countryside, do get in touch with our specialist team. We have both the knowledge and contacts of lenders favouring rural properties and estates and can help you secure the best deal for your dream home.

Contact us on tel. 020 7495 6633 or email

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