By Ruth Doherty
It seems we've all been spending large chunks of lockdown time browsing luxury properties online and planning our escape to the country. And the Cotswolds, with its charming honey-hued period buildings, has emerged as the top destination in the UK for this slice of country life, with Cotswolds property searches more than doubling.
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New data from Rightmove found that searches for homes to buy in the Cotswolds more than doubled (+102%) in the second half of last year, compared to the same period in 2019.
The demand for Cotswold property has significantly outstripped the national average, with buyer searches across Great Britain increasing by 50% during the same timeframe.
The number of sales being agreed by agents in the Cotswolds also outperformed the South West as a whole, peaking in September with a 100% annual rise.
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The Rightmove study also found that Wotton-under-Edge in Gloucestershire is where property prices increased the most in the Cotswolds in 2020.
Average asking prices in the leafy market town were up 14.8% on 2019, an annual increase of £38,290.
The place with the biggest annual increases in buyer searches in the Cotswolds was Chipping Norton, up by 109.5%, followed by Burford (+82.3%) and Chipping Campden (+68.5%).
And, with cobbled streets peppered with antique shops, a burgeoning foodie scene, high-end hotels (hello, Soho Farmhouse), and celebrity residents aplenty, it's not hard to see why.
Indeed, Victoria and David Beckham own a country house on the Great Tew estate, where Soho Farmhouse is also located, in the chocolate box town of Chipping Norton. The fashion designer often shares glimpses into the beautiful home on her Instagram page.
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Rightmove’s Director of Property Data Tim Bannister said: 'The headline market trend to emerge from 2020 was a huge jump in demand for rural areas and countryside living, and the Cotswolds ticks pretty much every box for home-movers seeking an escape to the country.
'As a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, brimming with endless walking trails and tight-knit village communities, the Cotswolds represent much of what we hold dear about the great British outdoors.
'It’s easy to see why the area is a magnet for people looking for a quieter life, and with remote working seemingly here to stay for many, I expect the popularity of the Cotswolds will continue to grow this year.'
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Rupert Sweeting, Partner, Knight Frank Country Department, said: 'In addition to the traditional reasons that have always attracted buyers to the Cotswolds, including the beautiful scenery, good schooling, and well established transport links, the pandemic has drawn attention to how the Cotswolds can also offer a dreamy countryside lifestyle, strong broadband networks, and space and gardens without compromising convenient facilities.
'After experiencing being cooped up during the multiple lockdowns with a small or no garden, city dwellers quickly realised the benefits of moving to the countryside. The abundance of well-equipped towns and villages in the Cotswolds means that these urban buyers are able to achieve their dream countryside retreat without having to completely isolate themselves.
'Additionally, having the likes of Soho Farmhouse and Daylesford Farmshop, whilst only ever being approximately an 1 ¼ hrs – 1 ½ hrs from the centre of London is certainly an attraction for many buyers.
'The widespread ‘cottagecore’ trend, made hugely popular and embraced by many during 2020, romanticised the escapism and tranquillity associated with the countryside. This idealisation of the country perfectly reflects how the pandemic has seen people revaluate their day-to-day lives and consequently propelled the Cotswolds’ property market into a frenzy.'
Fancy rubbing shoulders with Victoria and David? These two properties are top picks on Rightmove:
1. A Grade II-listed home in Painswick
This stunning historic home with 16th century origins sits in four acres of land in a rural valley. It boasts six bedrooms, four reception rooms and an annexe, as well as soul-soothing views. It's also close to the charming and bustling village of Painswick. See more information here.
2. A regency townhouse in Cheltenham
If you want to live near the countryside but love the convenience of being in town, this incredible property is ideal. The Grade II-listed Regency townhouse has five bedrooms, five reception rooms and beautiful gardens. See more information here.
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