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17th century cottage in conservation area.

Byline: By Marsya Lennox

Rural property may not look its best for a month or two, even in the Cotswolds, and while vendors sit tight a little longer, frustrated buyers are queuing up for the first pick of the expected spring supplies.

The Moreton-in-Marsh office of Strutt & Parker reports a widespread shortage of property to satisfy the pent up demand.

"Although it is still early in the season, there is a major lack of supply and some very hungry purchasers champing at the bit," said Emma Bishop of the agency.

Lean winter months have whet appetites and concentrated minds and predictions for the rest of the year are encouraging.

"So far the signs for 2006 are very positive. Last year was a very fickle year, with the market not really gaining any momentum until the autumn."

Helping this new activity along was talk of interest rate reductions, the promise of city bonuses and "less pessimism on the part of the press," added Emma Bishop.

Another Cotswold-based agency, Butler Sherborn, reports a cheering upturn as last year ended.

Senior partner Sam Butler said: "In our opinion, the residential property market in the Cotswolds came in as a lamb and went out like a lion." Lack of confidence a year ago saw people standing back to wait and see. It left the market becalmed and disappointingly, there was no real summer pickup.

"Turnover was down, but in part because we advised sellers to stand firm and not to be bullied by buyers who were looking for deals.

"In the majority of cases, patience bore fruit as sellers achieved their guide prices, or very close to them, and a record number of exchanges and sales took place through the quarter October to December. This momentum and expression of confidence bodes well for 2006."

It is no surprise that the Cotswolds is a top target region for bigger spenders after traditional country houses and estates, as related in the latest Country Life Elite Property Index Report, published last week.

"The Cotswolds and Oxfordshire offer buyers the opportunity to invest in some of the most attractive property within easy reach of excellent private and state schools.

The proximity of good communications by road, rail and air continues to be a draw for those looking in this area," added Mr Butler.

The agency has been advising sellers to come to the market early, a view shared by Strutt & Parker. Ms Bishop added: "It is certainly worth coming to the market early as quality property is being snapped up, although sensible pricing is still key."

The same agent believes that this is also the perfect time to buy in the country - allowing purchasers to be settled for the best time of year.

Newly on the market is Heath Farm House at Miltonunder- Wychwood, Oxfordshire, a four-bedroom Cotswold farmhouse dating from the early 19th century.

Previously part of an equestrian business, now in separate ownership, the improved house of 2,750 sq ft comes with a third of an acre plus far reaching views to the south, east and west.

The village is half a mile away with its good local facilities. Chipping Corton is seven miles, Oxford 20 and Banbury 19 miles. The guide price is pounds 650,000. Details from Strutt & Parker, 01608 650502.

Even further south, just nine miles from Cirencester, the local office of Butler Sherborn is marketing Box Tree Cottage, at Chedworth.

This is a conservation area in an area of outstanding natural beauty and with a long history, known to have been settled for some 4,000 years.

The south-facing stone cottage dates from the 17th century and has some good old features including stone mullioned windows.

A guide price of pounds 445,000 is quoted for the four-bedroom property with three upstairs bedrooms and two reception areas including a mezzanine library with stone fireplace.

The garden totals nearly three quarters of an acre, set into the site of the valley with old orchard and stone walls to the boundaries. Details from 01285 883740.

At Burford, 20 miles west of Oxford and eight miles southwest of main line trains at Charlbury, Butler Sherborn is m a r k e t i n g P r o v i d e n c e Cottage, a listed town property in quintessential Cotswold style.

Its wonderful main faiade, three storeys of local stone construction, is covered with white wisteria to emphasise its obvious age.

A guide price of pounds 595,000 is indicated for the four-bedroom house which has two reception rooms, breakfast kitchen and conservatory plus bathroom, en-suite shower and an enclosed rear garden.

Special features include some fine stone fireplaces and a top floor bedroom suite with high views down to the main street.

Known in this southern end of the wider region as a gateway to the Cotswolds, Burford has huge attraction. It is surrounded by the Cotswold hills with the River Windrush running through the same unspoilt valley.

Locally, there are schools, shops and pubs. The A40 connects with the M40 and the M5 to the west.

The same Burford branch expects offers round pounds 295,000 for Clematis Cottage at the top of Burford Hill with views to the High Street and surrounding countryside.

It has one bedroom on each upper floor, a good sitting room with stone fireplace and exposed beams, kitchen, first floor bathroom and rear garden with patio, lawn and access to playing fields.

Details from 01993 822325.

CAPTION(S):

Heath Farm House at Milton-under-Wychwood, in Oxfordshire, a Cotswold property with lovely views, guide price pounds 650,000' Box Tree Cottage at Chedworth, in Gloucestershire, a listed four-bedroom house in an historic area, guide price pounds 445,000' Providence Cottage at High Street, Burford, in Oxfordshire, a three storey town property with character features, guide price pounds 595,000' Clematis Cottage at Burford, a two-bedroom house with attractive garden, guide price pounds 295,000
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Mar 3, 2006
Words:988
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