The Property Finders – locating your property in south east EnglandBuying a property is one of the most important financial commitments we make and in an increasingly busy and competitive world engaging a professional property buying agent for such an important purchase is just good common sense. Our service is highly professional and discreet and is tailored to suit your personal requirements. As professional property search consultants we work hard to understand what you want to achieve from your property purchase. Identifying the right location for you is key and our in-depth knowledge often means that we will suggest possible locations that you may not have thought about.
The Royal County of Berkshire was once the playground of royalty and includes the vast 13,000 acre Windsor Great Park Estate. It is best known for Windsor Castle, horse racing at Royal Ascot, the Reading Festival and rowing at Henley on Thames. Situated to the west of London the county has excellent rail and road links to the City and Heathrow airport and the train from Reading will get you to London’s Paddington Station in 25 minutes.
In the east of Berkshire are the towns of Windsor, Reading, Ascot and Sunningdale where much of the property was built at the beginning of the twentieth century. As more businesses have established themselves on the periphery of the capital there has been a rise in the building of modern homes and apartments for families and professionals moving to the area. Property prices have always been strong here and you will pay premium prices for good property although the flight path into Heathrow airport affects most of the area.
If it is peace, quality of life and value for money you are seeking then the western part of Berkshire around Hungerford and the villages surrounding Newbury should be considered. Most of West Berkshire is within 75 minutes of London and it remains a popular area for the country house market.
Buckinghamshire is a mixture of market towns and peaceful countryside which include the rolling Chiltern Hills. The county stretches from NW London towards the Midlands with the M40 running along its south and west borders and the M1 to the east and north borders. The southern portion of Buckinghamshire gives easy access to North and West London and is a great choice for commuters.
Areas such as Amersham, Chesham and Chalfont are popular choices as they give direct access to London’s Underground via the Metropolitan line. With demand always high and supply limited, quality properties are few and far between and consequently sell well, keeping prices high. High Wycombe is the largest town in the Chiltern Hills and the riverside town of Marlow arguably occupies one of the prettiest stretches of the River Thames.
Heading north there is Aylesbury, an expanding market town with its surrounding villages of Waddesdon and Wendover. Further north is the new city of Milton Keynes, famous for its shopping facilities, tree-lined boulevards and modern buildings; with the headquarters of many national and international companies sited in the city there is a buoyant commuter market from the outlying villages. Buckinghamshire has a wide choice of property, from homes on modern estates to character properties in ancient market towns and villages.
Hampshire offers a wealth of treasures, from rolling countryside, unspoilt beaches, glorious gardens and pretty villages to ancient forests, bustling market towns, historic ships and imposing castles.
With a heritage dating back to Roman times, Basingstoke is an interesting combination of ancient and modern with historic buildings, ultra modern office blocks, pavement cafes and bistros nestling alongside one another. Travel south and west along the M3 towards the picturesque market town of Andover, where most of the town’s buildings are from the 18th century when it was an important stop-over for coaches. Further south, one hour from London is Winchester, an unspoilt cathedral city on the edge of the rolling South Downs and former ancient capital of England. Winchester combines the best of city life with the freedom of the surrounding countryside.
Along Hampshire’s south coast are the two cities of Portsmouth and Southampton. Portsmouth, a city surrounded by the sea, is a mix of history and heritage, designer outlet shopping, lively arts, great restaurants and bars and the charm of the old town with its cobbled streets and hidden secrets. Few places can match Southampton’s cultural offerings including the City Art Gallery and Guildhall, as well as a superb choice of fine theatres, galleries and international events such as the annual Boat Show. A short drive west of Southampton will lead you to The New Forest where clear rivers and shady groves provide tranquillity and a car-free haven for walking, cycling and horse riding.
Although it is one of the smallest counties in England, Hertfordshire has a great variety of scenery and is surprisingly rural considering its proximity to London. Hertfordshire has excellent transport links to the capital via rail and road as three major motorways, the M25, M1 and A1(M) run through the county. This strong combination ensures Hertfordshire remains a firm favourite with those needing to commute to London and the North. As a result large period and rural properties often command a premium.
Hertfordshire has a historic past as ‘Verulamium’, now St Albans, was one of the major Roman towns in Britain. The county has a large proportion of timber-framed buildings constructed between the 13th and 18th centuries and some of England’s greatest country houses, such as Knebworth and Hatfield House were built in Hertfordshire.
The early 20th century saw the rise of the Garden City movement and two of the earliest examples of this new approach to town planning pioneered by Sir Ebenezer Howard, Letchworth Garden City (1903) and Welwyn Garden City (1920) are both in Hertfordshire. Welwyn is known for its residential areas laid out along tree-lined boulevards with a neo-Georgian town centre which offers excellent shopping facilities. There are also many sporting opportunities at hand with facilities including dry slope skiing, tennis, squash, athletics and many excellent golf courses.
Known as the Garden of England, Kent is still an agricultural county, renowned for its fruit and hops and home to dairy and sheep farms. The farming based community has also had an impact on the diversity of properties in the county. Traditional farmhouses and estates, barns, an array of timber framed houses and oast houses provide some of the most highly regarded and sought after properties in the area. There is always a shortage of Georgian houses with their finely proportioned rooms, consequently they are highly prized.
The Heart of Kent is made up of the five towns of Maidstone, Sevenoaks, Ashford, Tonbridge and Royal Tunbridge Wells, whilst the city of Canterbury has a combination of heritage, culture and tradition. The Medway, known as the historic capital of maritime Kent, features what is sometimes known as the “ultimate shopping experience” – Bluewater in the town of Dartford.
Kent continues to be popular with those looking for homes which provide easy access to the Continent via ferry, hovercraft or the Channel Tunnel, with trains stopping at the Eurostar-dedicated station in Ashford, en-route to Paris and Brussels. The county continues to attract the discerning and perceptive buyer who requires excellent access to the city of London. It additionally offers an excellent choice of schools in both the private and state school sectors.
Oxfordshire is one of the most popular counties in southern England. It is far enough from London to have its own identity but with excellent communications in all directions. Oxford is a city of great beauty, culture and quality of life. The Chilterns and the M40 corridor, which runs up to Banbury, is very commutable to London, both by rail into Marylebone and Paddington stations, and by the M40, which gives it the best road link into the West End of London. The Thames Valley and the Vale of the White Horse take up most of South Oxfordshire. Henley-on-Thames is best known for its Royal Regatta, held annually in July, which is not only a major sporting event, but a “must” on the social calendar. Properties with river views are hugely popular with purchasers.
Oxford itself is probably the only city in England, other than London, where properties regularly sell in excess of £1m. The university is an obvious draw bringing in wealthy foreign academics and families looking to be near some of the best schools in the country. Houses within a 15-minute radius of Oxford with an easy school-run command a premium. Residential Oxford is predominantly Victorian with few of the Georgian terraces found in Cambridge and Bath.
The prettiest part of the county is the Cotswolds, centred on Chipping Norton. This is outside comfortable commuting range but buyers head there for the pretty stone villages, rolling landscapes and pretty market towns like Burford, the only British town to make it into the top ten in Forbes Magazine’s ‘Most Idyllic Places to Live’ survey, and Woodstock. This is classic English countryside with dry stone-walls and large manor houses.
Surrey is a diverse county; from the typically English country towns of Farnham and Haslemere in the west, to the more sophisticated and culturally mixed areas such as Esher and Cobham. Of all the Home Counties, Surrey has the best access to London and as a result it can feel densely populated. However, it is surprisingly rural and the rolling, wooded landscape is ideal for tucking houses away.
Inside the M25 are the private estates that make up the areas around Cobham, Esher and Weybridge, which contain a mix of Edwardian and newer houses. Many people move here for the international schools, international airports and security. There are many golf courses in the area and the pinnacle for some is a home in the private gated estates of St George’s Hill and Wentworth, both set amid championship golf courses.
Outside the M25, there is an equally accessible area around Woking. There are areas with a remarkably rural feel, such as the villages of Chobham, Ripley and Worplesdon. On the edge of Woking is a private estate called The Hockering where one can walk to Woking station and be in Waterloo in approximately 20 minutes – one of the best ‘fast train’ services outside London.
Further south, Guildford is the shopping and cultural centre. A good house in the surrounding villages, such as Shere, Shamley Green or Bramley attracts a premium. Heading further south down the A3 takes you to the Haslemere and Farnham areas which are even more rural. East of Guildford are the towns of Dorking, Reigate and Redhill where prices tend to be lower but all have excellent rail services into London.
East Sussex is largely designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It boasts the chalk escarpments of the South Downs in the south, now officially a National Park, undulating meadows in the east and shingle beaches on the coast. As with the surrounding counties of Surrey, West Sussex and Kent, East Sussex has a delightful range of homes, from grand country estates, to traditional cottages, to modern homes for modern living. In the north-east of the county, villages such as Hartfield and Forest Row have good access to London via trains from East Grinstead as well as the amenity of the Ashdown Forest, a popular walking area. Eastbourne is perhaps one of East Sussex’s most well known seaside resorts, located a few miles along the coast from Hastings where the Normans famously landed to conquer Britain in 1066. However perhaps the best known resort in the area is Brighton and Hove, which attracts thousands of visits every year with its cosmopolitan ‘anything goes’ attitude, thriving nightlife and fine Regency architecture. Transport links to the area are good with mainline trains to London’s Victoria Station and this ensures Brighton’s place as a fashionable alternative to London living for those who work in the capital. Road links are good as are cross channel links from nearby Newhaven and Dover.
West Sussex is a diverse county – from the new town of Crawley in the north-east growing around Gatwick airport, to the 11th century Arundel castle in the south-west, to the sailors' haven of Chichester Harbour. The county is predominantly made up of small and medium-sized towns. Although West Sussex has many miles of unspoilt coastline a particular feature of the area is the ancient woodlands together with the medieval timber framed and tile hung houses.
The northern areas of the county are popular with commuters. Other than from the nearby Surrey areas of Haslemere and Guildford, the western part of West Sussex is not regarded as the easiest area from which to commute into London at the moment. However rail links from West Sussex into London Bridge and Blackfriars stations should improve significantly from 2011/12 once the £5.5 billion upgrade currently underway is completed and interest in this area is likely to increase. In the country house market, areas along the South Downs and coastal plains are increasingly in demand for second homes, particularly between Midhurst and Petworth. The coastal plain south of Chichester and the A27 provide a pot-pourri of settlements from the pretty at Bosham, where high premiums are paid for views over the water, to Bracklesham which is best described as suburban sprawl.