International Real Estate: House Hunting in … England
A STATELY HOME ON THE COAST
$2 MILLION (1.5 MILLION BRITISH POUNDS)
This home, known as East House, is in a former manor in Rousdon, a village on the coast of East Devon, in South West England. It is one of six units in a subdivided Tudor-style house and is part of the larger 350-acre Rousdon Estate, which was established in the 1870s and now has dozens of residences.
East House, which encompasses about 12,000 square feet in the building’s southeast wing, is the largest of the units. It comes with 3.1 acres of landscaped grounds, and has access to a private beach at nearby Charlton Bay. Other amenities include a tennis court and a small lake. The manor, which was constructed of locally mined sandstone and has a slate roof, is a protected historic property with a “grade two star” listing from the National Heritage List for England.
Sir Henry Peek, a spice and tea importer who also served in Parliament, was the original owner of Rousdon Estate and commissioned the manor house on a plot 500 feet above sea level. Completed in 1878, it later housed Allhallows, a school for boys. The listing broker, Isabel Clifton of Strutt & Parker, an affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate, said the current owners bought East House after the boarding school was shuttered in the late 1990s and “restored the property to its former glory,” but are now looking to downsize.
The five-level home has eight bedrooms, five bathrooms and two kitchens, connected by a turreted spiral stone staircase. It has rich wood paneling with intricate carvings, Ms. Clifton said, as well as stained-glass windows, gold-leaf detail on the ceilings, parquet and marble flooring, and ornate moldings and fireplaces. There are also numerous wood-burning stoves.
The main entry, on the ground level, opens to a drawing room anchored by a fireplace with a decorative wood mantel. A long hallway with stone carvings and a marble floor leads to a 42-by-25-foot library/great room with two wood-burning stoves, a carved fireplace and three alcove windows with built-in seating. A reception hall and a foyer beyond lead outside to the gardens and a two-car parking area.
The level below is less formal, with an open space that includes a kitchen, dining area and family room. Doors open to the gardens and a courtyard with stone archways, cast-iron railings and a tiled floor. There is also a workshop and storage space.
Three large bedrooms are on the third level, including the master, which has an en suite bathroom, a wood-burning stove and a balcony offering views of the gardens and bay. A long hallway as ornate as the one on the level below is lined with a display case of taxidermied seabirds. (The furnishings are not included in the asking price, Ms. Clifton said, but can be bought separately.)
The remaining bedrooms are on the top two floors, along with another kitchen and a sitting area.
East Devon, which has a population of about 140,000, is a rural community in the county of Devon. It is about 160 miles southwest of London and is close to the town of Lyme Regis on the Jurassic Coast, a long stretch of shoreline declared a Unesco World Heritage site for its rich geological history. Stonehenge is about a 90-minute drive from the home, and Exeter Airport is about 20 minutes away.
The housing market in South West England has been steadily improving since the 2008 financial crisis, real estate agents said.
But “the 1 million-pound-plus market in Devon is still below its 2007 peak, and certainly transaction volumes are lower than they were pre-2007,” said Chris Clifford, associate director for residential sales at Savills, in nearby Exeter.
Home prices in Devon have risen marginally this year at the lower end of the market (below 500,000 pounds, or about $670,000), agents said. But they have remained mostly flat on the luxury side, thanks to the government’s decision to raise stamp duties on the purchase of second homes in recent years, Mr. Clifford said. (The higher taxes were put in place to help first-time home buyers.)
Still, “the market in Devon appears to be recovering from this,” he said, “and the best-in-class properties are selling well.”
WHO BUYS IN SOUTH WEST ENGLAND
South West England is a popular destination for tourists and second-home buyers, known for its historic cities and stunning rural countryside, with its rolling hills and rugged coastline.
“Devon and the wider South West has some of the most spectacular scenery in the country,” said Craig Moore, a real estate lawyer and partner in the law firm Womble Bond Dickinson.
Most buyers in the area come from other parts of England, real estate professionals said, and are often retirees or those close to retirement who can work remotely and commute to London once a week.
The international buyers in South West England tend to be drawn to the high end of the market, above 3 million pounds ($4 million), Ms. Clifton said. “Many come from the Middle East and Asia, looking for classic British architecture next to top schools,” she said, adding that she has also seen interest from Americans and Europeans.
Foreigners face no restrictions on buying property in Britain, though obtaining local financing can be challenging.
“The application for a mortgage could be more stringent than usual if you are not based in the U.K.,” said James Gostling, who advises real estate clients at the law firm Devonshires, in London.
Buyers are usually required to make a 10 percent nonrefundable deposit, and are advised to hire an experienced real estate lawyer to help with any financing needs and to oversee the transaction, which typically takes two to three months to complete. The lawyer will review the contract, conduct the necessary due diligence (including investigating the title and inspecting the property) and register the transferred title with HM Land Registry.
Real estate agents also suggested having a surveyor inspect the property and advise on its value.
Buyers do not need to be present at the closing, and “generally they aren’t,” Mr. Moore said. “Essentially the documentation gets signed by the relevant parties but not dated. The lawyers then complete between themselves the transfer of funds and the dating of the documents.”
Rousdon Estate: rousdonestate.com
South West Tourism Alliance: visitsouthwest.co.uk
Official England tourism: visitengland.com
Official British tourism: visitbritain.com
East Devon: eastdevon.gov.uk
Devon County: new.devon.gov.uk
LANGUAGES AND CURRENCY
English; pound sterling (1 pound = $1.34)
TAXES AND FEES
Home sellers generally pay the sales commission, typically 2 to 3.5 percent of the sale price, plus the VAT, or value-added tax.
Buyers are responsible for paying a Stamp Duty Land Tax, levied on properties that cost more than 125,000 pounds (about $167,000); rates vary depending on the sale price. Those who own other properties elsewhere in the world also face a 3 percent surcharge above the standard rate, Mr. Gostling said.
Other transaction costs include fees for the lawyer and surveyor, and for registration with the Land Registry.
The annual council tax on East House, paid to the local government, is 3,528 pounds ($4,728), Ms. Clifton said. There is also an annual fee paid to the Rousdon Estate community, for maintenance, sewage and drainage, of about 1,100 pounds ($1,475), she said.
Isabel Clifton, Strutt & Parker, Christie’s International Real Estate, 011-44-1392-229406; struttandparker.com
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June 13, 2018 at 03:42PM