If, like many of our clients, you are the proud owners of a period home, a rambling Victorian rectory for example or an imposing Georgian manor house and you were planning to downsize at some point in the next couple of years then you should be very excited by what is happening around us at the moment. When the restrictions on the housing market were lifted in May 2020 suddenly the type of homes which had been a hard sell for the last few years were the most popular properties on every agents’ books. Lucian Cook, Savills head of residential research said recently, “The very top end of the country house market, in particular, has had an extraordinary year – perhaps its best since the 1980s, as buyers sought a lifestyle shift and recognised the relative value on offer”.
The fact that period country homes are often hard to heat, surrounded by endless mud and too far from a mainline station has ceased to matter. What this type of property offers is space, indoors and out. So many people have been in homes which don’t lend themselves to a Covid-lifestyle over the last year. We have all found we need at least two home offices. It is impossible to be on a video call with your other half at the next desk. We need playroom/school room space for the kids while school is shut. A family kitchen simply doesn’t cut it when clearing away has to be done before every meal. And we need outdoor space, lots of it, so we don’t get cabin fever when we can’t socialise indoors or travel to parks and outdoor spaces.
Many country homes offer space to create all of this and much more. BUT….if you are to stand the best chance of realising your dream of selling your big, family house and maximising your capital, they do need some serious preparation. Most of these homes that we see have been lived in and loved by the same family for many years. The family has often been much too busy bringing up children, commuting and generally getting on with life to pay much attention to the house. And sometimes the houses themselves are simply too big.
A recent case study
We worked with one family to scale their home before sale. Our mission was to turn thirteen bedrooms into seven without changing any walls! The details eventually showcased seven bedrooms, mostly with dressing rooms and bathrooms. Seven bedroom suites, a couple of studies, a games room and a gym seemed much more liveable and attractive to a much wider family market than thirteen bedrooms.
These are our five top tips for preparing a large country home for sale;
- Start your preparation early, and we mean seriously early. Our founder, Elaine, owns a rambling Victorian farmhouse and has brought up four children (several horses, dogs, chickens and a cat) She is currently about halfway through her 5-year downsizing plan
- All the things that have irritated you and you have stopped noticing will be off putting for your buyer. We know you have got used to the fact that the drive has never been level and the water collects in a pool in the winter. Deal with it now before your buyer’s surveyor notices and starts fretting about collapsed drains
- Decorate, everywhere. The cost of paint is minimal compared to the drop in price a buyer will suggest if they think they will have to change unfashionable colours or repair peeling paint. Your buyer has probably never lived in such a big home before and they may have been paying expensive, city-based decorators in their previous home. Your buyer will overestimate the cost of re-painting. Get it done yourself before they make a low offer
- Fix the damp. Yes, we know all old houses are damp. Right now, your buyer doesn’t understand a country home. Mud, bats, damp; you know they all go with the territory, but your buyer won’t (and you can’t get rid of mud or bats!) Damp is much cheaper and easier to fix than your buyer (or their surveyor) will imagine
- Sort out the outbuildings. Re-felt the shed, declutter the barn, clear out the tack room. You have used these as working spaces for your lifestyle. The chances are high that your current buyer will be looking at these ‘extras’ with different eyes. They are looking for a garage for the shiny new quad bike, somewhere to keep the carbon frame bicycle and to house the Zwift trainer
For more top tips get a copy of our best-selling book ‘Sell High, Sell Fast – how to sell your home for the best possible price in the quickest possible time’ or better still contact us for a chat 01332 987740 or visit Lemon and Lime Interiors.