Tough at the Top

Whilst the falling market is obviously bad news for most home owners many who have already officially seen over 12% come off the value of their home there are some who have been perhaps less impacted. The average home in England and Wales might be just £162 but historically the top of the market has been somewhat insulated from what is happening to the majority.

Looking at sales so far this year we can see that there is still a market for properties over £10m with more than twenty sales in London alone. The Land Registry (which records less than half of sales at this level) confirms that in July in Chester Square, (home to Lady Thatcher and Roman Abramovich amongst others), Nº 10 was sold for £15m. Nº6 sold in April for £12.5m so things seem pretty stable in this rarified part of Belgravia at least.

In March, Gainsborough House in Barnet sold for £16.8m and in May Thames side Walpole House in Chiswick sold for £12.5m. In both cases, agents would expect these mega homes to sell for similar sums if they went on the market today.

What the Land Registry doesn’t record are the sales that involve a limited company as either buyer or seller. At the top of the market, it is much more likely that a property is an asset of a Company rather than being owned by an individual. Being a ‘non-dom’ usually means that you don’t want to have your name on the deeds of a property in the UK.

Here’s the top 10 sales in London so far this year as recorded by the Land Registry.

14/03/2008 £16,800,000 Gainsborough House, Winnington Road, Barnet, London, Greater London, N2 0TS

8/07/2008 £15,000,000 10, Chester Square, City Of Westminster, London, Greater London, SW1W 9HH

25/04/2008 £13,500,000 34, Hans Place, Kensington And Chelsea, London, Greater London, SW1X 0JZ

30/05/2008 £12,500,000 Walpole House, Chiswick Mall, Hounslow, London, Greater London, W4 2PS

04/04/2008 £12,250,000 6, Chester Square, City Of Westminster, London, Greater London, SW1W 9HH

27/05/2008 £11,990,000 14, Upper Phillimore Gardens, Kensington And Chelsea, London, Greater London, W8 7HA

06/03/2008 £11,500,000 18, South End, Kensington And Chelsea, London, Greater London, W8 5BU

03/06/2008 £11,500,000 199, 801 Apartment, Knightsbridge, City Of Westminster, London, Greater London, SW7 1RH

24/06/2008 £10,324,725 21, Flat 2, Chesham Place, Kensington And Chelsea, London, Greater London, SW1X 8HG

03/06/2008 £10,000,000 26, Phillimore Gardens, Kensington And Chelsea, London, Greater London, W8 7QE

Outside London there are a number of high profile sales so far this year suggesting that the Crunch has not come to the top of the market just yet. This is the market that I know best having bought and sold country homes and estates for over ten years. With the help of my friends at Country Life magazine, I have been looking at the very top end of the country house market.

Savills sold the Easton Estate in Norfolk with 2,417 acres for £25m earlier in the summer. The same agent sold the picturesque Longparish Estate with a beautiful home and 170 acres in excess of £9m. The irony is that I can remember when working for Savills, selling Longparish back in 1992. Back then £3m seemed like a fortune!

Strutt & Parker have proved that there has been a huge appetite for farmland with the sale of the 708 acre Wheat Hill Farm in Hertfordshire for a reported £6m. Unlike residential property, farm land has enjoyed a huge surge in the past two years with land peaking at over £7k per acre.

Both agents are now trying to sell the Encombe Estate in Dorset. 2,000 acres and a drop-dead house yours for £25m. I think that this will be the sale that proves whether the very top end of the market has suffered – or not! We will wait and see but I suspect that everyone is feeling the pinch – whatever your worth.

Here’s the list of sales of estates in 2008.

English estates for sale/sold in 2008

1. Easton estate, Norfolk; 2,417 acres; £25m; sold; Savills
2. Encombe estate, Dorset; 2,000 acres; £25m; for sale; Savills/Strutt & Parker
3. Kelling estate, Norfolk; 1,657 acres; £25 million; for sale; Strutt & Parker
4. Tetworth Hall estate, Cambridgeshire; 2,499 acres; £20m; sold; Robinson & Hall/Strutt & Parker
5. Compton Castle estate, Somerset/Dorset borders; 1,271 acres; £17m; for sale; Bidwell Faulkner/Knight Frank
6. Oak Hill Manor, Kent; 376 acres; excess £15m; for sale; Savills
7. Swaines Hill estate, Hampshire; 280 acres; excess £12m; sold; Savills/Knight Frank
8. Sawley Hall Estate, North Yorkshire; 950 acres; £10m; for sale; Savills
9. The Morval estate, Cornwall; 1,130 acres; £10m; for sale; Savills
10. High House estate, Norfolk; 1,098 acres; £9.5m; for sale; CKD Kennedy Macpherson/Strutt & Parker
11. Longparish Estate, Hampshire; 170 acres; excess £9m; sold; Savills
12. Irby Estate, Lincolnshire; 1,271 acres; £7.8m; for sale; Humberts
13. Dean Farm, Gloucestershire; 392 acres; excess £6m; sold; Moore Allen & Innocent/CKD Kennedy Macpherson
14. Wheat Hill Farm, Hertfordshire; 708 acres; £6m; sold; Strutt & Parker
15. Wyelands House Estate, Monmouthshire; 258 acres; £6m; for sale; David James
16. Saddlewood Manor, Gloucestershire; 172 acres; £6m; for sale; Savills
17. Marrington Estate, Shropshire; 995 acres; £5.5m; sold; Balfours/Knight Frank
18. Claxton Manor, Norfolk; 826 acres; £5.455m; for sale; Savills
19. Banks Farm, East Sussex; 321 acres; £5m; for sale; Knight Frank
20. Emblehope Estate, Northumberland; 7,550 acres; £5m; for sale; Savills/Strutt & Parker

Total acreage: 26,451 acres

Total value: £230.255 million

Scottish estates for sale/sold 

1. Yester estate, East Lothian; 500 acres; £12–£15m; for sale; Savills/Knight Frank
2. Tullybeagles estate, Perthshire; 5,100 acres; £7m (estimate); sold; Savills
3. Cherrytrees estate, Roxburghshire; 945 acres; £7m; under offer; Knight Frank
4. Skeldon estate, East Ayrshire; 659 acres; £6.95m; for sale; Knight Frank /CKD Galbraith
5. Dunira estate, Perthshire; 3,261 acres; £5.5m; for sale; Savills
6. Langwell estate, Ross-shire; 15,328 acres; £3.5m; for sale; CKD Galbraith/John Clegg & Co
7. Strathvaich estate (below), Ross-shire; 37,151 acres; half share for about £3.5m; for sale; Bowlts
8. Balfour Castle estate, Orkney; 770 acres; £2.7m; for sale; Savills/CKD Galbraith
9. Calroust estate, Roxburghshire; 2,000 acres; £2.25m; sold; Strutt & Parker
10. Camusrory estate, Inverness-shire; 8,100 acres; £1m-plus for half share; for sale; CKD Galbraith

Total acreage: 73,814 acres 

Total value: £54.4 million