The UK Countryside Market

The UK Countryside Market

Pandora Mather-Lees
Pandora Mather-Lees
IORMA Luxury and Creative Centre

The UK Countryside Market continues to be a focal point of interest, especially in contrast to the fast-moving urban landscapes explored in our recent London market update. In this analysis, we delve into the nuances of the countryside market, assessing its current state, prevalent trends, and the factors shaping its trajectory. Additionally, we present notable properties on offer and highlight coveted areas within the UK countryside.

Woodhill Park Image Courtesy of Chris Hill of Savills

Woodhill Park, Image Courtesy of Chris Hill of Savills.

Despite witnessing a surge in interest during the pandemic, driven by the desire for seclusion and solace, the luxury countryside market faces its share of challenges. A notable discord between the expectations of buyers and sellers regarding pricing has resulted in a slowdown in transactional activity compared to previous years. While the urban market remains robust, the momentum of movement generally towards rural settings has tapered, evidenced by a 13% decrease in offers outside London in October.

According to Alina Spinu, A luxury property consultant and director of Alis Prime Management & Consultancy Services working across Europe. Alina believes that 2024 will still not be plain sailing because of the volatility of the property market in 2023. Alina comments ”There are too many variables for the real estate market to settle and I think the prices are still going to suffer some adjustments, more likely with further drops. I resonate with the outlooks saying that 2024 is still going to be a flat or a drop in price year for properties in UK, but I will keep some positivism for the period towards the end of the year or the next one when interest rates should settle at a lower rate. The right approach for the luxury property market at this moment I think is realistic expectations and prices.”

Barnes International’s 2024 outlook underscores the impact of global geopolitical shifts, particularly concerning developments in the Middle East. Amidst these uncertainties, the allure of real estate as a safe haven cannot be ignored, with many opting for countryside retreats over vulnerable urban environments as they search for security and tranquility. The trend is bolstered by the growing prevalence of remote work arrangements. This allows for geographical flexibility and the acquisition of multiple residences by affluent buyers. Despite the mixed reports, the luxury property market demonstrates overall growth, albeit with variations attributed to ongoing global events.
BARNES, a major player in luxury property on the international stage

We identified the following trends for the coming year as they apply to the luxury sector:
Sustainability and Eco-Friendly Features: There has been an increasing demand for eco-friendly and sustainable features in luxury properties, including countryside estates. This includes features such as solar panels, rainwater harvesting systems, and energy-efficient appliances. Whilst comfort and the ultimate luxury attributes will always be paramount, the affluent buyer increasingly embraces environmental concerns.

Remote Work Amenities: With the rise of remote work, many luxury buyers are looking for properties that offer amenities conducive to working from home. This might include home offices, high-speed internet access, and outdoor spaces suitable for work or relaxation.

Privacy and Seclusion: One of the appeals of countryside luxury properties is the privacy and seclusion they offer. Buyers often seek expansive estates with large plots of land, ensuring privacy from neighbours and the hustle of city life.

Wellness Features: Wellness amenities have become increasingly popular in luxury properties, including countryside estates. This might include spa facilities, fitness areas, yoga studios, and outdoor recreational areas like swimming pools or tennis courts.

Smart Home Technology: Integration of smart home technology has become a standard in luxury properties. This includes features such as smart lighting, security systems, temperature control, and entertainment systems, allowing homeowners to control various aspects of their property remotely.
Idea Works is an example of a company working at the top of the market and deploying superb leading edge technology incorporating Artificial Intelligence to delight the luxury consumer.

Outdoor Living Spaces: The appeal of countryside living often lies in the outdoor spaces available. Luxury properties may feature expansive gardens, landscaped grounds, outdoor kitchens, and entertainment areas designed for al fresco dining and relaxation.

Heritage Properties: As seen below, many buyers are drawn to countryside properties with historical significance or unique architectural features. Renovated heritage properties or those with historical charm often command a premium in the luxury market, despite the difficulties of managing listed building regulations.

Health and Safety Considerations: Post-pandemic, health and safety considerations have become more prominent in property purchasing decisions. Buyers may prioritize properties with features that promote better air quality, such as ventilation systems or properties with ample outdoor space.

Desirable Regions in 2024
In terms of the countryside, the most exquisite luxury residences are available outside urban conglomerations. Country Life magazine cites areas such as Buckinghamshire, Cheshire, Kent, Surrey and Shopshire as areas to watch. Traditionally the Cotswolds have been the ‘go to’ for purchase and rentals, especially with wealthy American buyers. However other areas such as Shropshire, in effect the “North Cotswolds” is more exclusive and less touristic. Shropshire effectively is the link between Welsh, North and South regions of the UK and is unspoilt and environmentally cleaner.

Whether for purchase or holiday rental, is home to the most magnificent properties along with the countryside and cultural heritage, historic and conservation areas to match. As with art purchases and other luxury assets, the value of a property can be tied to those who have owned it. For example on the market for the first time since 1987 is a stunning 156-acre country estate. Once owned by US Ambassador David Ormsby-Gore a close friend of John F Kennedy, Woodhill Park is for sale with an impressive heritage. It dates back to the 18th Century and is an example of relatively rare and sought after hideaway for the more reclusive of the uber wealthy.
Additionally, it boasts impressive stables, an estate and possible planning for two properties. This potential for investment and additionally revenue growth is an attractive feature of what might be classed as a passion asset given its beauty and provenance. ‘Woodhill’ as it is known, exemplifies the investment potential and cultural cachet associated with countryside living.
An exquisitely beautiful Shropshire mansion for sale that was the home of JFK’s ‘closest friend’ – Country Life.

Commenting specifically on countryside properties, Alis’ Alina Spinu suggests that certain predictions are difficult. However, she believes the Cotswolds region will bode well this year along with the East of England, particularly the counties of Suffolk and Essex. Indeed, the South West is an ideal location. Given its accessibility to London, exceptional communications and large coastal areas. Added to this is the beauty of both rugged and picturesque landscapes within short reach and proximity of luxury hotels, spas, top restaurants and the investment in the artistic community, the region is becoming more affluent.

The ultimate Devon property competing with the best superyachts for privacy, exclusivity and individuality is Burgh Island. An entire Island off the coast of Salcombe which is only accessible at low tide or by sea tractor. Currently a hotel and the location for Agatha Christie’s ‘Poirot’ it is steeped in Art Deco romance. On arrival at the white glistening property, currently a hotel, one is greeted by lively 30s music pervading the entire residence, themed dinners and every detail of architecture, furniture and interior in style. A genuine ‘gesamtkunstwerk’, Burgh Island will be ‘the’ test of the country market in 2024. Will it sell fast and if not, why not?!

An entire island off the coast of Devon — complete with Art Deco hotel — comes up for sale at £15 million – Country Life.

Devon Burgh Island, Credit Knight Frank

Devon Burgh Island, Credit: Knight Frank

Conclusion: Factors Driving Sales in 2024 in the Countryside Sector
The trends mentioned generally apply across various segments of the luxury property market, including the very top end. However, at the highest echelons of the luxury market, there may be additional factors and considerations that come into play. Here are some aspects that may be particularly relevant to the ultra-high-end segment:

  1. Exclusivity and Rarity: Properties at the very top end of the market often boast exceptional exclusivity and rarity. This might include unique features such as rare or highly sought-after locations, exceptionally large land holdings, or historic significance that distinguishes them from other luxury properties.
  2. Customization and Personalization: Buyers at this level may seek properties that offer extensive opportunities for customization and personalization. This might involve working closely with architects, designers, and craftsmen to create bespoke features and amenities tailored to their specific tastes and preferences.
  3. High-Tech Features and Innovations: While smart home technology is common in luxury properties, at the top end of the market, buyers may expect the latest and most cutting-edge innovations. This could include advanced home automation systems, state-of-the-art security measures, and experimental sustainability solutions.
  4. World-Class Amenities and Services: Ultra-high-end properties often offer a level of luxury and service that rivals the world’s finest resorts. This might include amenities such as private cinemas, wine cellars, helipads, equestrian facilities, and access to exclusive concierge services and experiences.
  5. Privacy and Security: Privacy and security are paramount concerns for buyers at this level, and properties may feature advanced security measures such as biometric access control, high-tech surveillance systems, and fortified structures designed to ensure the utmost discretion and protection. Indeed, these might now work across the family’s various residences to include country residences, but also the entire security of the individuals, their cyber requirements and office spaces alongside the physical properties. PDP Projects is an example of an organisation offering high performance methods, the latest technology and global scope.
  6. Investment Potential: For some buyers, ultra-high-end properties represent not only a lifestyle choice but also a significant investment opportunity. As mentioned above properties with strong investment potential may offer features such as provenance, historical significance, or potential for appreciation over time.
  7. Global Appeal: Properties at the very top end of the market often attract buyers from around the world. As such, they may need to cater to a diverse range of preferences and cultural sensibilities, offering amenities and services that appeal to an international clientele.
    While these trends are indicative of the priorities and preferences commonly seen in the ultra-high-end luxury property market, it’s essential to remember that individual tastes and priorities can vary greatly among buyers at this level. As always, consulting with real estate and other respected professionals specializing in the luxury market can provide valuable insights.

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