Hertfordshire’s most expensive homes 2016
- Credit: Archant
Buyers looking for everything from swimming pools and saunas to sweeping lawns and stables found what they were looking for in some of Hertfordshire’s most exclusive towns and villages during 2016.
Well-heeled families spent a staggering £40 million on 10 houses alone in Hertfordshire last year as the county maintained its reputation as a property hotspot for the super-rich.
Lush countryside, top schools and fast road and rail links to London gave it the edge over other counties and even June’s Brexit referendum caused no more than a blip in a market that saw some of its most spectacular homes change hands.
Mark Rimell, a partner at Strutt & Parker’s National Country House Department who deals in houses with a minimum price of £2 million, puts much of it down to sheer value for money.
“Hertfordshire has always been better value than places such as Berkshire, Hampshire or Wiltshire where you’d end up paying 20 per cent more for the same house,” he said.
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“That’s why it has always been so incredibly popular. There’s a whole raft of people; city and town dwellers who want to move out but will only contemplate certain areas, such as Radlett, St Albans and Harpenden for example.
“Then there are those lovely villages such as Bayford and Hertingfordbury and Weston further north, all of which remain very popular.
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“And we find there’s tremendous loyalty to an area. People in Radlett, for example, are particularly devoted. Those who were born there, may move into London or go off around the world and make their money and then just want to come back.”
Margaret Towie, managing director of Lumley Estates, which is currently listing several £3 million-plus properties in the Radlett, Elstree and Borehamwood areas, agrees that there is strong demand for certain locations.
“Hertfordshire’s got everything, the four airports, Thameslink and quick access to things like theatres. But besides that, people feel they want to live somewhere where they can use their local high street. Radlett, for example, has nine hairdressers, beauty salons and everything they want.
“In terms of property, space and the quality and style of the build is important as is security. The low crime rate, for example. People like to feel they can lock up and go and spend more time at their properties abroad.”
As for the Brexit effect, she is almost dismissive, saying sales were affected “the week before and the week after” the June vote. The 2014 rise in stamp duty to 12 per cent on homes worth over £1. 5 million was also fleeting.
“Stamp Duty did hit us for a few months but then seemed to be absorbed into the market. And this was important. On a three-and-a-half to four million pound house, for example, the amounts are substantial; three or four hundred thousand pounds - the price of some people’s houses in other areas.”
Mark Rimell recalls a similar blip post-Brexit: “The Friday after the referendum the phone rang at 8.30 and a deal fell through. At 9.30 there was another call and the second deal fell through and I thought, ‘Oh dear, this is going to be an interesting day’.
“But then the market seemed to take stock of itself, picked up, and we had an incredibly good autumn with some really strong sales. In fact, we had a better run than we’ve had for some considerable time. There was just a period where people didn’t know what to do so did nothing.”
Ric Merlo, a director of John Curtis, the firm that sold Hertfordshire’s most expensive home, the £5 million-plus Highfields in Harpenden, described the town, St Albans and nearby historic villages as “enthusiastically sought-after”.
Other factors were access to outstanding state and private schools, easy routes - not just to London but other major European cities - and exceptional countryside.
“All of which,” he added, “combine to ensure that our area is often first on the list for London based buyers seeking a better quality of life.”
The Top 10
1. Highlands, Annables Lane, Harpenden (£5,125,000)
Set discreetly back from the road in the middle of a four-acre plot on the fringe of Harpenden’s exclusive Kinsbourne Green, this country house has been designed for flexible, modern living, arranged as it is over three floors which are accessed by three separate staircases.
Apart from the nine bedrooms which sit above seven reception rooms, there’s an indoor leisure complex with a pool, Jacuzzi and gym – and a garage complex which will take six cars and incorporates a workshop and two offices.
2. 19 Newlands Avenue, Radlett (£4,900,000)
There are arguably few better locations to build a state-of-of-the-art six-bed, five reception-room pile than a road widely regarded as Radlett’s premier address. This one spreads itself over 7000 sq ft, sits behind electric gates and includes the latest in home technology.
Downstairs there are two kitchens – one of them 34ft long – and the first floor is accessed via a bespoke glass and wood staircase leading to a master bedroom suite with his-and-hers bathrooms, dressing rooms and a 22ft balcony overlooking landscaped gardens.
3. Harefield House, House Lane, Sandridge (£4,150,000)
Few details are known about this most private of properties, sold discreetly having never been advertised. Set in around six acres, barely visible behind high hedges and not overlooked, flanked as it is by woodland on one side and open fields to the other side and rear, it is something of a sprawl of buildings which includes a separate pool house, a four-car garage and offices.
4. Ivory House, High Road, Essendon (£4,000,000)
The journey from the electric gate to the Palladian-style entrance is around 300 metres, much of it fenced, tree-lined and opening into 1.7 acres of mature, park-style landscaped gardens.
The gardens are probably best seen from the private terrace of its master bedroom suite. There are five of them, as many reception rooms and four kitchens. It’s fabulously secluded and has the attractive village of Essendon on its doorstep.
5. Norcott Hall, Northchurch (£3,950,000)
This Georgian-style country house was built in 1928, partially remodelled in 1935 and substantially modernised more recently. Beyond its massive reception hall lies a vast sprawl of accommodation which includes such areas as sitting, drawing and morning rooms. The dining room has its own servery, the kitchen has a breakfast area, flower room and utility room, and there’s even a cinema/playroom.
6. Stonewold, Barnet Lane, Elstree (£3,785,000)
Sitting behind electric gates and at the end of a sweeping driveway, this newly built family home comes complete with a stunning indoor leisure complex comprising a swimming pool, Jacuzzi, gymnasium and steam room.
The property includes underfloor heating, mood lighting, the highest-specification security system and a Domus Media system which controls all sound and vision throughout the house. There’s also a hand-made kitchen/dining area finished in Burr Walnut – and it even has its own staff quarters.
But it’s outside that it excels. Its 39 acres include a Millennium Garden, croquet lawn, orchard, tennis court, manège and paddocks.
7. 14a The Ridgeway, Radlett (£3,500,000)
Set back from the road behind large gates, Dragon Ridge, as it is known, rolls back towards open green belt land on a lush, green two-acre plot. Its 7,000sq ft houses seven bedrooms, four reception rooms and a stunning rear terrace that overlooks an outdoor heated pool. Six of the bedrooms on the first floor are en-suite and one on the second includes its own bathroom and dressing room. The property even has its own field accessed from the end of the formal garden.
8. Orchard House, Holywell Hill, St Albans (£3,450,000)
If location really is everything, there can be few better than one that combines a city-centre address while enjoying such privacy, nestled as it is in the shadow of St Albans Cathedral. In fact, the balcony from its main bedroom suite - one of seven - has views over the gardens and Abbey Orchard.
It dates back to the early nineteenth century and has a strong traditional feel, especially in areas such as the galleried landing and drawing room with its period veranda. There’s a 44ft games room, gym, wine cellar and outbuildings, including a triple garage block and walled vegetable garden, within its one acre. If that’s not enough it also has its own, private access to the Cathedral grounds.
9. Ashbourne Manor, High Street, Widford (£3,375,000)
This roomy, east-facing Victorian country house is Grade II listed and carefully modernised in keeping with the period. It sits in almost 13 acres of grounds which house paddocks, an all-weather tennis court and a magnificent circular stable block.
Key features include its traditional fireplaces, a modernised garden-facing kitchen/breakfast room with a stone floor and a huge dining room with the most ornate woodwork. Its eight bedrooms are spread over two floors and five of them are en-suite.
10. Lake View, Leggatts Park, Potters Bar (£3,000,000)
Set on a prestigious private development of 50 acres, it’s approached via its own private gatehouse concierge at the entrance of Leggatts Park and has its own sweeping half-mile, tree-lined drive.
There’s a lake, waterfall area and extensive grounds which slope away at the rear giving fabulous views over open countryside.
Key features include two playrooms, five en-suite bedrooms, a separate guest suite and a large orangery.