House Hunting in Britain: A Restored Farm Compound on Cornwall’s Coast
A Seven-Bedroom Compound in Southwest England
$4.4 MILLION (3.25 MILLION POUNDS STERLING)
This seven-bedroom property is in the historic village of St. Mawes, on the south shore of Cornwall county, in southwest England. The compound, a collection of converted farm buildings clustered around a gated courtyard, comprises a five-bedroom main residence, a two-bedroom cottage, a two-car garage with an upper-level studio space, and a garage/workshop.
Located at the tip of the Roseland Peninsula, on the east bank of the Carrick Roads waterway, St. Mawes is known for its vibrant yachting and sailing community, and its access to one of the deepest natural harbors in the world, said Mark Wilson, the director of H Tiddy Estate Agents, which has the listing.
With only about 680 residential properties, St. Mawes has long “had an air of exclusivity,” Mr. Wilson said. This property, which sits on two acres of gardens and lawn, “is a rarity in that you have the privacy, but you’re only a 10-minute walk into the village,” he said.
The formal entrance to the main residence, with about 3,450 square feet, opens into a slate-floored entry foyer adorned with colorful, antique leaded windows. Up a few steps is the open-concept kitchen, dining room and family room. The dining area has polished oak floors, exposed stone walls and wood ceiling beams. A series of brick arches delineates the kitchen, which has slate floors, skylights, gray cabinetry, a large cast-iron AGA stove, and a door to an outside terrace.
At one end of the dining area, a glassed-in corridor leads to a wing with a den with a wood-burning stove, an office and a mud room. A wing on the other side of the living area has four bedrooms, three baths and a doorway to the courtyard.
A wooden staircase in the dining area leads to the upper-level living room, which has a vaulted ceiling and whitewashed walls. The primary suite, also on the upper level, is accessed by a separate staircase. It too has a vaulted ceiling, whitewashed walls, and a bath with a shower and soaking tub.
Behind the main residence are two terraces, one with a barbecue area, a hot tub and an ornamental pond.
At the opposite end of the courtyard is the two-bedroom cottage, which has lately been used as a vacation rental, Mr. Wilson said. Fronted by a terrace, the cottage has a combined kitchen and living room with a vaulted ceiling and a wood-burning stove. French doors lead to a private back terrace. The two bedrooms share a bath.
The village area has “one of everything, basically,” including a market, post office, doctor and dentist, as well as numerous restaurants, Mr. Wilson said. The Hotel Tresanton and The Idle Rocks are known for their luxury accommodations. St. Mawes Castle, constructed in the 16th century as a seaside fortress under King Henry VIII, is a popular tourist destination.
International travel from St. Mawes requires a four-hour rail ride to London, or flying from Cornwall Airport Newquay (about a half-hour away) to a London airport. Mr. Wilson noted that travelers to America often fly to Dublin Airport to get an international flight.
With its miles of beaches and cliffs, the county of Cornwall relies on tourism, and to a lesser extent agriculture, to fuel its economy. Though one of Britain’s poorer areas, its seaside homes attract affluent retirees and second-home buyers. Since the pandemic began, the housing markets in both Cornwall and the neighboring coastal county of Devon have seen sharp increases in demand and pricing, agents said.
“After the first lockdown, we experienced dramatically higher volumes of buyers registering with us, caused by lifestyle changes and working from home, with many people yearning for a better work/life balance,” Mr. Wilson said.
The high end of the market has been particularly strong, said Lucian Cook, head of residential research for Savills. Last year, there were 425 agreed sales of properties worth more than 1 million pounds ($1.36 million) in Cornwall, compared to 288 in 2020, and 151 in 2019, he said.
“You’ve got some very strong concentrations of high-value markets in coastal Cornwall,” including the Roseland Peninsula, Mr. Cook said. “There are clear hot spots that attract domestic wealth.”
In St. Mawes, property transactions totaled around 45 million pounds ($61 million) in each of the past two years, more than twice the volume in each of the three years before the pandemic, Mr. Wilson said. The average house price last year was around 1.1 million pounds ($1.49 million).
Prices for prime coastal properties throughout Cornwall surged by nearly 19 percent in 2021, compared with 15 percent for such properties nationally, Mr. Cook said. He predicted that while price growth will likely recede this year, sellers will still have the upper hand because of a shortage of inventory and continued high demand.
“The latest wave of Omicron, again keeping people at home, will continue to drive people to re-evaluate their lifestyles,” he said. Indeed, the Cornwall Council noted in its 2021 housing report that “Cornwall is the number one searched location in England and Wales from February 2021,” citing data from Rightmove, Britain’s largest online real estate portal.
Throughout Britain, the housing market continues to be brisk, said Timothy Bannister, director of data services for Rightmove. The company tracked record levels of buyers contacting agents through their site between Christmas and New Year’s, with activity up 23 percent compared with the same period last year, he said.
According to a report by the Office of National Statistics, the average home price nationwide rose by 10 percent year over year in October 2021, to 285,000 pounds ($387,000) — though that marked a dip from the 12 percent year-over-year gain in September. The South West region mirrored that 12-month price growth, at 10 percent. The London region saw the lowest annual price growth, at 6.2 percent, though it remains Britain’s most expensive area, with an average home price of 516,000 pounds ($700,000) as of October.
The U.S. Department of State has issued a travel advisory warning against travel to Britain because of a high level of Covid infections. Travelers to England must qualify as fully vaccinated under the country’s guidelines.
Who Buys in Cornwall
Cornwall has long been a popular vacation destination for domestic tourists, and the vast majority of home buyers are British citizens, Mr. Wilson said. He had just two overseas buyers last year — one from Germany, and the other from Bermuda.
The small proportion of overseas buyers are mostly residents with non-domiciled status purchasing at the upper end of the market, Mr. Cook said.
There are no restrictions on foreign buyers in England. Buyers and sellers use their own lawyers to handle the transaction.
Buyers pay an additional surcharge of 3 percent of the purchase price if they are buying a second home.
Sellers pay the agent’s commission, which varies “depending on the type of agent you use and, of course, the price of the property,” Mr. Wilson said. Generally, agents commissions in England are 1 to 2 percent.
Languages and Currency
English; pound sterling (1 pound = $1.36)
Taxes and Fees
Stamp duty tax is due on the portion of a property sale price above 125,000 pounds ($170,000), starting at 2 percent and rising in increments to 12 percent on the portion above 1.5 million pounds ($2.04 million).
Annual council taxes on this home are 3,400 pounds ($4,600), Mr. Wilson said.
Mark Wilson, H Tiddy Estate Agents, 011-44-1326-270212; www.htiddy.co.uk
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