Real Estate

House Hunting in England: Country Living in the Cotswolds for $3 Million

A Six-Bedroom Villa on 6.7 Acres in Rural England

$3.2 MILLION (2.375 MILLION BRITISH POUNDS)

This 6.7-acre property sits at the edge of Longborough, a small village in the heart of the Cotswolds, the rural area in south-central England known for its grassy hills and distinctive Jurassic limestone.

The property, called Windy Ridge House, is anchored by a 6,673-square-foot, six-bedroom residence, which was built in 1960 from Cotswold stone and is surrounded by several outbuildings and expansive gardens. The house “requires modernizing,” according to the listing, but has “enormous scope to update the finish and put your own stamp on it,” said Peter Edwards, a partner with Knight Frank, which has the listing.

The house’s reception rooms are centralized off a large entry hall with herringbone floors and glass interior windows facing the dining room. The sitting room has vaulted, wood-beamed ceilings and a stone fireplace; the dining room has built-in shelves and olive green walls; and the oak-paneled drawing room has sea-green carpeting and southwest facing windows. The kitchen has a breakfast area and an island. Adjoining the kitchen are a spacious utility room, pantry and boot room, leading to the attached two-car garage.

This 6.7-acre property sits in the heart of the Cotswolds, the rural area in south-central England known for its grassy hills and distinctive Jurassic limestone.Credit…Courtesy of Knight Frank

From the drawing room, a hallway leads to a half bath and the family room, with limestone floors and French doors that open to the garden.

Staircases on opposite ends of the house lead up to the six bedrooms. The largest is near the center of the house, with carpeting and a curved ceiling. Four bedrooms access four hall baths, and the sixth bedroom has an en suite bath. Across the hallway from the primary bedroom is a spacious sitting room. An elevator runs between the sitting room and the family room downstairs, connected to each room by a small passageway.

One of the property’s outstanding features is not inside, but out, Mr. Edwards added: the paddock, which is “surrounded by mature trees ideal for grazing horses or sheep.” A detached garage, on the long driveway leading to the house, could be converted into a guest cottage, he said.

The village of Longborough sits above the Evenlode River valley and is home to a 12th-century church, as well as the Longborough Festival Opera. This property is three miles from the mainline train station, with service to London Paddington Station, about 80 miles east, running several times a day. Oxford is 32 miles southeast.

Market Overview

The Cotswolds, a 787-square-mile protected landscape running through five English counties, has remained a favorite destination for both foreign and domestic buyers, even amid the market shifts set off by the pandemic’s various restrictions and lockdowns — particularly buyers searching for space and serenity, many empowered by remote-work options.

“It’s an incredibly sought-after part of England, but what’s been emphasized in the past 18 months is just how sought-after it really is,” said Matthew Sudlow, head of the estates and farms agency at Strutt & Parker. “The current market is the strongest market I’ve witnessed in a decade, and this would be echoed by agents throughout the region.”

The first-floor sitting room has vaulted, wood-beamed ceilings and a stone fireplace.Credit…Courtesy of Knight Frank

In especially strong demand: farmhouses, with or without the accompanying land, which are increasingly attractive to “lifestyle buyers” seeking “a slice of the countryside as they switch from urban to rural living,” Mr. Sudlow said.

At his agency’s Oxford office, which includes part of the Cotswolds, properties are receiving twice as many requests this year as they were in 2019, he said. By the end of June, the office had exceeded 2020’s sales numbers.

Despite the ballooning demand, inventory in the area remains tight, said Mr. Edwards, the Knight Frank listing agent. Homeowners “are not enticed into the market to capitalize on the good selling conditions because they don’t need to or because they don’t feel there is anywhere for them to go to,” he said.

According to the HM Land Registry, residential property prices in the Cotswolds administrative district were stable between 2019 and 2020, then began to rise. In July, the average price for a home in the district was 439,106 British pounds ($595,000), up from 389,608 pounds ($528,000) last July and 390,932 pounds ($530,000) in July 2019.

For detached homes, the growth was similar: around 13 percent, rising to 655,761 pounds ($888,000) in July from 577,916 pounds ($783,000) last July and 580,182 pounds ($786,000) in July 2019. The annual growth is the greatest in the region in more than a decade, Land Registry data show.

As prices have ascended, buyers have expanded their horizons. The “Golden Triangle” of the Cotswolds — between Chipping Norton, Stow-on-the-Wold, and the town of Burford with its bustling High Street — has always been popular, Mr. Sudlow said. “But increasing numbers of buyers are looking further south toward Gloucestershire and South Oxfordshire,” he said. “The area has become increasingly desirable, especially with those hoping to keep a foothold in London, with trains from Kemble taking not much over an hour to the capital.”

Staircases on opposite ends of the house lead up to the six bedrooms. The largest is near the center of the house, with carpeting and a curved ceiling. Credit…Courtesy of Knight Frank

Besides being closer to London, the area has higher-valued properties and sought-after schools. It is, he added, “considered the ‘old-school’ Cotswolds, with historic market towns such as Tetbury, considered by many as one of the best market towns in the country.”

At the top end of the Cotswolds market, properties start at around 2 million pounds ($2.7 million) for “substantial” homes, while properties with farmland can surpass 10 million pounds ($13.5 million), Mr. Sudlow said. “There have been a couple of standout sales in the region recently, from one property on the market for over 3 million pounds attracting over 30 viewings and selling in excess of its guide price, to another with farmland selling at around 13 million,” he said.

For foreigners, “budgets tend to range from between 2 million and 4 million pounds typically, but more recently budgets are shifting upward to in excess of 5 million in some cases,” he added.

Mr. Edwards said that areas adjacent to the Cotswolds, on the “fringes” and also westward toward Warwickshire, Worcestershire and Herefordshire, may offer opportunities for buyers on a budget. “They are more accessible in terms of prices,” he said. “You get more for your money outside of the Cotswolds, and there is a bit more supply. There are parts of Warwickshire, Worcestershire and Herefordshire that you will argue are very, very beautiful as well.”

The current market, characterized by 60 percent of home shoppers not finding properties this year, contrasts with the prepandemic market, said Sam Butler, a senior partner with Butler Sherborn, a Cotswolds-based agency.

“It has very much been a sellers’ market, whereas for the three years prior to 2020, I would have said the balance was in favor of the buyer,” with lower prices and slightly lower demand, Mr. Butler said. But supply remains tight: “There is never really enough supply. It is an unbelievably popular part of the U.K. It’s en vogue. It’s in fashion. People have always loved living here.”

Even as priorities have changed for buyers and sellers in every tier of the market, he noted that the Cotswolds market remains a bellwether — “always the last to slow down and the first to pick up.”

Hedges give the gardens a formal air, while other parts of the property have more wild flora.Credit…Courtesy of Knight Frank
The grounds have walking paths, grazing meadows, and quaint corners, such as this gate at the property’s edge.Credit…Courtesy of Knight Frank

Who Buys in the Cotswolds

“The Cotswolds has a slightly more international market than the rest of the U.K.,” Mr. Sudlow said. At the top end, about 35 percent of buyers are “from overseas,” with most in that segment coming from the United States, “although there is consistent interest from Europe.”

Mr. Butler said that in the past two or three years, his firm’s foreign clients in the Cotswolds have come from Canada, Switzerland, Holland and Australia. “Fewer from America,” he said, adding that most buyers in the Cotswolds have a connection there.

“Approximately 15 percentare foreign or non-British,” Mr. Edwards said of the region’s buyers, with clients coming primarily from the United States, China, Germany, Scandinavia, France, South Africa and Australia.

Buying Basics

Foreign buyers don’t face restrictions in Britain and face the same process for securing mortgages, Mr. Edwards said.

The seller pays the agent’s commission, and the buyer and seller each hire a lawyer for the conveyance. Buyers pay a stamp duty land tax of about 10 to 12 percent of the purchase price, and 3 percent more for a second home, Mr. Butler said.

Foreign buyers also pay an additional 2 percent, Mr. Sudlow said. He added that international buyers at the high end of the market often hire an agent.

Mr. Butler said the fees for this service are between 1.5 and 2.5 percent of the purchase price, though in his experience, it is very rare. “This service tends to be of interest to the cash-rich and time-poor buyer,” he said.

The grounds offer a mix of lawns, wooded walking paths and meadows. Credit…Courtesy of Knight Frank

Websites

  • Longborough Parish Council longborough-pc.gov.uk

  • Cotswolds towns and villages:cotswolds.com

  • Visit Britain: visitbritain.com

Languages and Currency

English; pound sterling (1 pound = $1.35)

Taxes and Fees

The annual council tax is around 2,700 pounds ($3,650), Mr. Edwards said.

Contact

Peter Edwards, Knight Frank, 011-44-020 7861 1707; www.knightfrank.com

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