What Estate Agents Will Never Tell You
You may have spent much of your life dreaming about owning your own estate. Perhaps your children growing up so quickly has made you realise that country living would be a great idea. Either way, a visit to an estate agent has left you with a number of beautifully produced glossy brochures on your kitchen table. You can’t stop thinking about those gorgeous properties.
The trouble is, those brochures will tell you how many bedrooms you are going to get and what the energy efficiency rating of the house is. You can see the acreage and the purchase price. But it is what the brochures and the agents don’t tell you that you should be worried about!
You need to know what is is going to cost you to cost you to run the place, either as it run now or according to your vision.
The Cost of Maintaining a Country Estate
Our countryside has been managed by our ancestors in one form or another for thousands of years, and intensively so for a century. If the land is left alone, it will eventually scrub over and then re-forest but it will be a mess and things could get expensive. Even re-wilding costs money. Buying an estate is one thing, maintaining it is another matter entirely?
Parkland trees, woodland and grassland are the features that give the land its unique character but they cost money to maintain. As does the water supply, not to mention the access tracks and hedges. The bills can soon start to mount up whether you invest in one acre or thousands.
The Six Figure Shock
I recently worked with a client who had experienced a major setback. Just a year after purchasing his 50 acre (20 hectare) estate, he was shocked to discover that most of his lovely post and rail fencing had reached the end of it’s useful life. It now urgently needed replacing but , with 5000 metres of fencing on the property, it would cost £75,000 – £100,000 to replace. Naturally, this revelation came as quite a shock!
Make Hay While the Sun Shines?
But how about the grassland on the estate? That would look after itself wouldn’t it? Acutally no!
Grassland needs cutting at least once a year. When you are purchasing a property, the estate may tell you that hay has been made from the grass fields in the past. The implication being that there is a farming income available. However, what the agent will probably fail to mention is that it cost the owner £100 per acre to persuade a local farmer to do the work because because the grass was of such poor quality. Could you do the job yourself? yes, if you are of a mind to. But it is going to cost you time, money and quite possibly your hair!
Never mind, you might find yourself saying, I can always ‘re-wild’ the estate to save money and, of course, you can. But you will lose the character of the estate, which would undoubtedly have been one of the main reasons that you purchased it in the first place.
You should also bear in mind that boundaries, including hedges and fences, will always need to be maintained as will paths and tracks. If you re-wild, The deer population will undoubtedly grow and then become a problem to your neighbours. Once you head down the re-wilding track, bringing everything back into management if you change your mind in the future will involve significant cost.
So, what can you do to quantify your potential costs and then to mitigate them?
It is best to speak to someone with a practical knowledge of estate management so that they can look at the estate and draw up a basic management plan. This will identify the work required and the costs involved. The plan should highlight any urgent works requiring capital investment, but should also suggest possible sources of funding to subsidise at least a portion of the outlay. These may include Countryside Stewardship Schemes or Woodland Grant Scheme funding.
At the end of the day, you want to purchase an estate to enjoy the countryside and seclusion it offers. But your property is also as an investment and should not turn into a money pit. It pays to know what you’re getting in to!
I can help you to get to grips with your potential costs and I will endeavour to ensure that your land doesn’t cost you the earth. Call me today to arrange an appointment.