Monday, 23 October 2017

How to find the perfect home for your horses

FOR many horse-lovers their dream home would be a house in the country with sufficient space in the grounds for

FOR many horse-lovers their dream home would be a house in the country with sufficient space in the grounds for stabling and a paddock. And perhaps even an exercise yard or menege.

In fact, equestrian properties can range from a modest family home with a small paddock out back to a complete equestrian estate with its own adjoining livery business.

According to the British Equestrian Trade Association there are around 900,000 privately-owned horses and 451,000 horse owners in Britain and rough estimates suggest that there could be 200,000 private equestrian properties in the UK.

But although this is a much-coveted facility, the question is, do equestrian facilities add value to a property, or are they merely a luxury?

The size of accommodation and acreage clearly account for much of the difference in prices, but it is not really clear whether additional equine facilities add value. While good-quality facilities may be attractive — if not essential — to horse owners, the same isn’t the case for other buyers.

This needn’t be a problem for vendors. Given the amount of land typically associated with equestrian property, there is the option of separating the facilities and selling, or indeed renting them independently. There are many horse owners who would delight in renting — or indeed buying — good facilities without having to move home themselves.

On the other side of the market, buyers wanting to keep their horses at home have more options. Many rural homes have the house and the acreage, but lack equestrian facilities. Under current planning regulations, stables should usually classify as a “permitted development” and so do not require planning permission. This opens up the market to wider rural country homes with sufficient land.

The market for equestrian property clearly overlaps with those for country homes and rural properties, but it is more specialist, which adds to the time it takes to match buyers and sellers. Data from agents Hamptons International shows that equestrian properties were on the market for about three weeks longer than rural properties and four weeks longer than country estates.

The availability of equestrian facilities isn’t the only consideration for those in the market to buy or sell, or indeed rent or let, equestrian property. Location is very important, too.

In the south of England, Hamptons International data shows that Surrey, West Sussex and Hampshire are the most popular counties for equestrian property. These are equally dominant locations in the market for rural homes, which adds to the argument about flexibility of use.

Oxfordshire stands out a little, however. Nine per cent of properties sold in the county in the last four years were equestrian, compared with just two per cent classified as rural property. The predominance of horse-training facilities in the west of the county is probably a major explanatory factor.

The equestrian homes market may be small, but it is diverse. Properties are available at a range of prices and with a range of facilities to appeal to all tastes. There are opportunities for sellers to widen their market appeal by splitting facilities, and for buyers to widen the search net by adding equestrian facilities to a rural property. But location is important and the specialist nature of this market means that it’s even more important to deal with experts to find the right buyer or the right property.

Here are a selection of equestrian properties currently on the market in the local area.

Thicket House is a substantial property that has been beautifully refurbished by the present owners and successfully combines many interesting features of the period with the luxuries of modern day living to create a truly stunning home.

The accommodation is light and stylish with high ceilings as expected in a property of this style, and combined with the pool area and summerhouse, is equally suited to both family life and formal entertaining.

The welcoming reception hall creates a striking and lasting impression upon entering the house and boasts attractive oak flooring that extends throughout the ground floor. There are three reception rooms situatedoff the hall: the drawing room and dining room, both of which feature working period fireplaces and two bay windows that flood the rooms with natural light, and a study.

The spacious kitchen/breakfast room provides informal dining space and is fitted with a bespoke range of units, shell quartz worktops and integral appliances. This room opens out to the adjoining family room which is exceptionally bright with bi-folding doors opening on to the gardens and double doors linking the room with the swimming pool area. Situated off the kitchen/breakfast room is a utility room and a boot room, with an adjoining steam room that is conveniently placed for the pool area.

The first floor is arranged to provide a master bedroom with an ensuite dressing room and a bathroom, set within a bay and featuring a stand-alone bath; a guest bedroom with direct access to a roof terrace and its own shower room; two further bedrooms that are ensuite to a “Jack and Jill” shower room; and a family bathroom. There are two further bedrooms situated on the second floor, in addition to a further bathroom.

The grounds which are undoubtedly a key feature of the property, offer a high degree of seclusion and privacy and comprise meticulously maintained gardens with an extensive lawn interspersed with a variety of mature trees, well-stocked perennial borders and an ornamental pond with a wooden bridge.

To the rear of the property, and of interest to the equestrian enthusiast, lies a good-size paddock, two timber stable blocks, both with hardstanding enclosed by post-and-rail fencing to the front and a menege with silica sand/rubber surface and drainage.

The property, in Littlewick Green, is approached via a gravelled driveway that culminates in a turning circle and parking area. A spur leading off the driveway provides access to the garaging and a small field to the side of the property and continues on to provide vehicular access to the paddock and menege.

The property is available through Savills for a guide price of £2.5 million. Contact (01491) 834600.

People on the lookout for prime property in the UK rank bathrooms as an important factor in the decision making process, according to new research.

A study from PrimeLocation shows that 80 per cent of buyers in this sector say that the number of bathrooms is a significant influence when it comes to choosing which home to buy.

The typical buyer wants a ratio of at least two bathrooms for every three bedrooms, although the average number of bedrooms and bathrooms respectively needed for a property to be considered ‘prime’ is 4.5 bedrooms and three bathrooms.

Nearly a third of those polled would rule out a home entirely from their search if it had too few bathrooms, while more than 90 per cent believe that the ratio of bedrooms to bathrooms could not be greater than 2:1 for a property to be considered as ‘prime’.

A few years ago it was a statement kitchen that was on every buyer’s wish list the bathrooms were almost an afterthought, crammed under the stairs or in cupboard space.

James Mackenzie from Strutt & Parker’s National Country House Department comments: “Nowadays it is not uncommon for people to want washroom suites with jet showers, standalone bathtubs and in some cases spa rooms! As a nation we’ve never invested more time, effort or money into our bathrooms”.

In fact, 37 per cent of prime buyers think it is vital to have an en-suite in each bedroom. En-suites are also more desirable than almost any other ‘prime’ features, includingswimming pools, tennis courts and gyms. “We’ve come a long way since the Seventies and the ripe avocado and tangerine coloured bath tubs,” added Mr Mackenzie; “it’s white all the way now!”

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