Many of us dream of becoming landowners and a country estate is a great way to get some space both inside and outside your house. But a large estate is a big commitment.
In this Buyers’ Guide we will look at some of the factors to consider before buying a country estate, as well as some ways you can decide what and where to buy.
These are the kinds of questions Black Brick’s experts will ask you before embarking on a rural property search, to make sure we can find you the perfect property of your dreams.
Another way to think about this question is: How much time do you plan to spend at your country estate, and at which times of year?
If you plan to spend all (or most) of your time in the country, think about the practicalities you will need in order to be happy and comfortable there.
Do you work and if so, can you work from home or do you need appropriate transport links to commute? If working from home, do you need a fast and reliable internet connection?
You might want to consider a range of other amenities, for example:
Any one of these might not be an absolute make-or-break, but keeping them all in mind can give you a head start when compiling your shortlist of properties to consider.
If you will be spending only part of your time in your rural retreat, think about the time it will take you to travel there and back from your primary residence, and whether the route will be easy to drive at all times of year.
For London residents, the rule of thumb is usually to consider up to a 90-minute maximum from door to door, if you intend to drive back and forth regularly (e.g. every weekend).
A longer distance might sound appealing if you’re looking for something really remote, but especially if you’re driving in the Friday evening rush hour, it can quickly become unsustainable for most people.
This is a question of two parts: How big do you want your country house to be? And how much land do you want surrounding it?
Larger houses are more difficult and more costly to maintain, from heating to regular cleaning, opening and closing the curtains every day and keeping them well ventilated – especially if you’re not there for much of the time.
Think about how you will take care of a large property, whether that means hiring cleaners or a live-in housekeeper, installing home automation systems such as heating controls and window blinds you can open and close via an app, and so on.
Your holiday home should be somewhere you can relax – not somewhere you have to start cleaning as soon as you arrive.
Several acres of land can also take a lot of upkeep, with this increased further by any outbuildings, trees and shrubberies, lakes and ornamental ponds.
Again, hired help can reduce the amount you have to do yourself, but gardeners and groundskeepers are an ongoing cost that just increases in line with the amount of land you have.
Putting a landscaping and grounds maintenance contractor in charge can give you the most peace of mind – there are companies who will look after your house and gardens under a single contract, for the right price.
Understanding what your running costs are and how you will manage and look after your new home is an important factor to consider before proceeding with a country house purchase.
Whether you choose a country cottage in a village or a mansion in its own grounds, at some point you might want to make changes to the property – from adding a room, to a loft conversion, to an indoor swimming pool.
There are several ways this can be more difficult with rural properties. The property itself may have listed or heritage status, or it might be in a conservation area or subject to other planning restrictions.
Even if it is not protected by any specific additional restrictions, you’re likely to encounter opposition from the neighbours if you apply for extensive planning permission. This not only means it might be difficult to significantly change the property, but could also make it harder to add value through extensions and major refurbishment or modernisation.
All of this means it’s even more important that the property meets all of your needs from the day of purchase, rather than relying on adding to it at a later date as you might with a typical urban home. As with all property maters, it’s vital to take advice before purchase, to ensure any changes that you do want to make to the property would be allowed. Talk to your Black Brick consultant who will be able to introduce you to our tried and tested network of specialists to assist.
If you use your place in the country all year round, then you’ll likely be there often enough to take care of the simple day-to-day maintenance like cleaning and airing out the property.
But if you only use the property as an occasional holiday home, it might be worth considering the secondary income of renting it out as a short-term holiday let.
This could help to cover cleaning and maintenance contractors, and would also reduce the amount of time the premises are vacant, reducing the risk of crime and helping to create that ‘lived in’ feeling.
If you’re considering a country property to rent out in this way, make sure you tell your Black Brick consultant, who can factor rental yields and local demand into your rural property search, in addition to your personal preferences for the time you spend there yourself. Don’t forget there are also tax implications to consider if you plan to rent your property out.
Black Brick’s expertise reaches from prime central London properties out into the surrounding countryside, villages and across all the home counties. We look after clients with budgets upwards of £3 million when buying country estates, and have numerous examples of fantastic estates acquired on behalf clients.
If you are looking at buying a property in the country, either as your primary residence or as a holiday home, make sure you get expert advice to take into account all the potential selling points and sticking points.
For more information, speak to one of Black Brick’s rural property advisors today, and we will help you take your first steps towards purchasing a new home in the country.
We would be delighted to hear from you to discuss your own property requirements. For a non-obligatory consultation, please contact us.