Looking at flats in country houses

For some people who either spend much of their time living or working overseas or feel they do not want the responsibility of having to organise the maintenance of their home and garden, living in an apartment in a country house can be the idea solution.

In the late 1970’s early 1980’s it was rapidly becoming clear that if action was not taken to give a new lease of life to a number of great country houses and large buildings no longer suited to their original purpose would quite simply become bulldozer fodder.  There was a limit to how many properties the National Trust and other similar organisations could be responsible for yet after decades of neglect there were a number of properties in need of rescue.  One of the first to take up the challenge of converting an historic house into elegant apartments was Kit Martin whose sympathetic approach to such work set the bench mark very high.

It soon became apparent that, provided the necessary care was taken, it was quite possible to create beautiful spacious apartments with large rooms, high ceilings and period details.  Such space was idea for those who wanted space and character but not endless bedrooms as well as a feeling of security. Similarly, as a number of boarding schools closed there was a wealth of large buildings, often set in several acres, that needed a new use.

Many of the flats and apartments were then sold 125 or 99 year leases although some will have had a share of freehold as well.  Today these leases may only have a little over 80 years, or even less, unexpired.  Eighty years is the tipping point and for anyone thinking of selling in the near future they should consider whether it is time to extend their lease and if they do not already own a share of the freehold, to get together with other owners in the building and see whether they can collectively buy the freehold.

Few people look at their lease once they have completed their purchase but when it comes to selling, you need to be aware of the contents and, in particular, any restrictions in the lease. Restrictions can cover anything from not playing loud music to not having pets or hard wood floors.    It is not just the length of lease that can impact on the asking price, the ground rent and service charge can also make a difference.  If there is a reserve fund that has been built up to cover future maintenance of the building this may allay any concerns a buyer might have over upcoming major building repairs or maintenance. 

Appointing an agent who is prepared undertake the necessary preparatory work, and if appropriate, consult with the vendor’s solicitor, can help target marketing towards the right potential buyers and at the right price.  Being aware not just of the length of lease but also its terms can also save time once a buyer is found.

The Knoll was an impressive gentleman’s residence close to Woburn Golf and Country Club in Buckinghamshire that was converted into apartments in the late 1980s. Currently on the market for £450,000 is a spacious apartment which has been given a contemporary feel with polished wood floors.  It has a large 26’ reception room, entrance hall, kitchen, 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms.  The Knoll is set in six acres of communal garden and woodland.

View our selection of country houses and contact Dawn Carritt for further enquiries:

Dawn Carritt
19th March 2019
020 7664 6646