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January 27, 2012

Stop the cavalry: Home with connections to War Horse for sale

Filed under: Latest News — Four Communications @ 5:47 pm

Michael Morpurgo’s bestselling children’s novel War Horse was first adapted for the stage and has now hit the big screen with Stephen Spielberg’s blockbuster film which has cantered to the top of the box office. Now – for the die-hard fans that have read the book, seen the play and cried in the film – is the chance to own the home with connections to the popular story.

The Granary is currently for sale and was once part of Nethercott House, a farm in Morpurgo’s hometown of Iddesleigh in Devon. In his book, the author credits Nethercott House and its people as his inspiration for the original tale of the young boy who forms a special friendship with his horse, Joey, who is then shipped off to join the cavalry during the Great War.

The inspiration began when Morpurgo was drinking in his local Iddesleigh pub and met a World War I veteran and Captain Budgett, a fellow villager who lived at Nethercott House and who had served in the cavalry. Budgett described the special bond between soldiers and their horses on the battle fields.

Morpurgo then met another man who remembered the army coming to the small Devon village to buy horses for the army. The writer also knew Albert Weeks, who was a farmhand at Nethercott and tended to a horse on the farm called Joey.

In War Horse, Captain Nicholls is a British Cavalry officer modelled on Budgett and is paired with Joey, a farm horse bought by the Army at an auction in Devon.

Offering the chance to live in a home with close ties to the now world-famous story, The Granary is deep in the unspoilt Devon countryside in the picturesque hamlet of Nethercott and is part of a group of six 17th century houses and barn conversions; all individually architecturally designed. The three bedroom Granary was converted in 1998 and retains its character but reflects modern living with light and spacious accommodation.

Outside, the property sits in 6.2 acres with paddocks, an arboretum and pond area. Unfortunately Joey doesn’t come with the house but there is a stable yard with lose boxes from which to create new friendships with horses.

The Granary is on the market through Jackson-Stops & Staff’s Exeter office with a guide price of £600,000.

January 16, 2012

The property world in 1979 – when The Iron Lady came to power

Filed under: Latest News — Four Communications @ 1:17 pm

The country is in the grip of Thatcher fever and to celebrate the latest box office smash, The Iron Lady, Dawn Carritt, director of the London country house department of Jackson-Stops & Staff, reflects on the first year of the Thatcher government in 1979 and the very different property landscape; when a first time buyer could get on the London property ladder for £25,000; £1 million bought a 2,000 acre country estate and mortgage rates reached a staggering 17 per cent.

According to the Jackson-Stops & Staff archive, wealthy commuters could buy a good six bedroom family home in the stockbroker belt of Surrey with an acre of garden for £250,000 – today it would cost over £2 million. This five bedroom Surrey country retreat – pictured below – is on the market for £2,450,000.

In 1979, mortgage loans would not be considered for anything more than two and a half times a person’s salary and mainly came from building societies. Only a few years earlier women would have needed to get their father’s or husband’s consent to get a mortgage in their own name.

Thatcher’s first time buyers could own their first home in the capital off fashionable Munster Road in Fulham for £25,000 if they were prepared to do some work to it but to secure a mortgage would have required savings in an account at a building society. This one bedroom apartment is just off the Fulham Road, has been recently renovated and has an asking price of £385,000.

A north Wales country estate was sold by Jackson-Stops & Staff’s Chester office for a then record-breaking one million pounds and included a principal residence, cottages, farm buildings, over 2,000 acres and a small grouse moor. A similar Cheshire country estate – Tilstone Lodge – is currently being marketed through our Chester office. Pictured left, it includes an 11 bedroom Grade II listed house, several cottages and outbuildings, a swimming pool, 10 acre lake, parkland and farmland in 115 acres for a guide price of £10 million.

Agricultural land prices were slow to recover during the 1970s but became stronger and by the end of the decade had reached £1,500 an acre – something of a bench mark then but nothing to today’s benchmark of £10,000 an acre and in certain areas prices have now exceeded this.

Inheritance Tax (then known as Capital Transfer Tax) started the year at a top rate of 75% and income tax for the top bracket was 83 per cent though it was reduced by the Iron Lady later in the year to 60 per cent.

Basic rate tax was 33 per cent but fell to 30 per cent in the first Thatcher budget.  For those that could obtain a mortgage, the Bank Rate was at a shattering level of 14 per cent and peaked that year at 17 per cent.

Dawn Carritt commented: “House prices held despite the economic constraints, though prices did fall in the early 1980s.  The Iron Lady’s corrective medicine may have been tough to swallow for all, including property owners but the market recovered strongly by the mid 1980s and the desire to own rather than rent grew as the years of her government passed.”





January 5, 2012

Buyers to cash in on London prices and head for the countryside in 2012

Filed under: Latest News — Four Communications @ 6:37 pm

The call of the countryside will intensify in 2012 as people look to move out of London to capitalise on the value offered by rural property, in search of stability and a better quality of life, according to Jackson-Stops & Staff, the national estate agents.

Dawn Carritt, director of the London country house department of Jackson-Stops & Staff, which has 42 offices nationwide, predicts that buyers will cash in their equity in London homes and look for homes in less expensive areas where there are good schools and safe communities.

She said: “Those who are prepared to move away from the highest priced areas will find opportunities to purchase good properties while investing less. This should be helpful to areas where house prices have dropped as a result of the recession. Communications and technology now makes it far easier and acceptable to work in more rural locations.

“People may look to release some capital yet continue to see property as a good long-term investment when other securities such as blue-chip shares or bonds may have a rough time in the coming months. Traditional bricks and mortar remain a safe haven when times are tough.  We have a finite amount of land, we are not building enough to meet demand in the medium-term and, traditionally, we are a nation who aspire to be home owners.”

East Anglia could well benefit from London prices, according to Tim Dansie, director of Jackson-Stops & Staff’s Ipswich office.

He said: “The country house market is dependent on a strong London market and with the global issues and the Eurozone crisis, London is being seen as a safe haven and will continue to enjoy price rises here.  Londoners armed with this equity will be able to spend it in the country. People are seeking stability and a rural lifestyle in a village community can offer a haven from the turbulence of the past few years.” The Hollies just outside Oxford offers country living just outside a main city.

Rural and village houses and cottages under £500,000 such as 54 High Street, Ecton have proved the most buoyant sector of the market in 2011 in the East Midlands, according to Quentin Jackson-Stops. “I expect that trend to continue in 2012.”

In the South West, Ashley Rawlings, of the Dorchester office of Jackson-Stops & Staff, believes that a fall in country values will prove attractive to London buyers.  He said: “The most active market in our region is currently the £500,000 to £1 million, where upsizers and downsizers meet.”

James Wilson, of the Shaftesbury office of Jackson-Stops & Staff, also predicts that 2012 could be the year for buyers from London to capitalise on the relative cheapness of country property.  He said: “Country values have fallen markedly against London house prices. We can offer good schools, good access to London and the South-west, with our proximity to the A303.”  Old Glyn Arms in East Melbury is a listed conversion that offers good value for money.

Substantial country houses have been selling well through the Taunton office of Jackson-Stops & Staff. Brian Bishop, director, said: “I would expect the upper end of the market, £1.2 to £3 – £4 million, to continue to be reasonably active. This year we have sold almost all of the big houses ranging from £1.2 to £4 million reasonably quickly and all close to their guide price. Buyers have been a mix – from London and local people.” An example of a country house within the £1.2 to £4 million price range is Monkscombe House, a six bedroom Grade 11 listed property in Wiltown near Curry Rivel.

The “schools factor” will  continue to drive sales in 2012 in commuter-belt Kent, according to Alastair Hancock, director of Jackson-Stops & Staff’s five offices in the county.

He said: “Families will continue to seek out areas within the catchment areas of good state schools or move out of London in search of good state and private schools. We are expecting the market up to £1.5million to be the most active, particularly in good commuter areas.”

In affluent Surrey, Alan King, partner of Jackson-Stops & Staff in Dorking, said: “Younger families should be bold enough to move up, given that prices have eased back by some margin over the last three to four years. Average prices are down by 9 per cent which, coupled with attractive mortgage deals, should encourage buyers. The value of property as a hedge against inflation in the medium to long term should not be ignored.”

The Olympics is expected bring investment in key areas such as Weymouth where sailing events will heighten interest. Ashley Rawlings, of Jackson-Stops & Staff in Dorchester, said: “A recent improvement in the road infrastructure has facilitated access to this part of the coast and there has been a surge of interest from investors hoping to capitalise on this.”

The spotlight on Stratford should create interest within commutable areas in Essex and East Anglia, according to Tim Dansie in Ipswich. “We will see spikes in country house rentals on a short term basis but should also bring interest and influence on the country house market.”