Jonathan Bramwell and Harry Gladwin from The Buying Solution let us in on some of the secrets of finding your ideal home in the Cotswolds


Jonathan Bramwell and Harry Gladwin from The Buying Solution let us in on some of the secrets of finding your ideal home in the Cotswolds

Harry Gladwin Partner, Head of Cotswolds Region

Jonathan Bramwell Partner, Head of The Buying Solution

The pursuit of finding the perfect Cotswold home can be a daunting task for an individual to undertake. From village properties and country houses to farms and estates, having an experienced team by your side is paramount to securing the very best property for you. That’s why it helps to call on the services of a buying agent like The Buying Solution when it comes to finding your dream home. Buying agents can provide would-be buyers with all the knowledge they need to find a property that ticks all their boxes.

On top of providing greater access to the market – they can show you homes that are ‘off market’ as well as on it – they can help find property closest to the best schooling in an area; requisite infrastructure and connections to transport hubs; or places that cater to specific lifestyles.

Jonathan Bramwell, Head of The Buying Solution and Harry Gladwin Head of the Cotswolds region have taken some time to talk to us about how the agency helps house-hunters find their perfect home in the Cotswolds. Born and bred of the area, both have an innate knowledge and understanding of the Cotswolds, and particularly what makes buyers in this region tick. They explain what clients should consider ahead of their search and how a buying agency can manage the process beyond finding a property.

What is the main driving force behind the Cotswolds market? What do you help people consider? JB: When it comes to what drives buyers to this part of the world, traditionally it was the weekend second home owner, then you have the school driven client, particularly around Oxford, Cheltenham and Bath and also the more rural prep schools. Most of the major public schools are only around an hour’s drive from this location because it's so central, so that's a big factor for a lot of buyers. But of course, one of the main reasons for all buyers looking to the Cotswolds is the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and what that offers in terms of recreational pursuits, be it walking, riding, biking, shooting, hunting, racing, polo, you name it. It’s always been a very popular area with the equestrian set because of the big polo scene at Cirencester Park, Beaufort and Kirtlington, Badminton Horse Trials, various hunts, and Cheltenham Racecourse. HG: The Cotswolds form the ‘Goldilocks’ region of the UK, offering the opportunity to enjoy bucolic country life whilst never being too far from buzzing towns and cities. Nowhere else provides such a perfect blend of lifestyles, making this one of the most sought after areas to live in the UK. The contrast between the London centric east of the Cotswolds and the more rural, laid back west gives the region a diverse feel, with most people able to find an area which perfectly suits their needs, whether they are looking for schools, commutability, outstanding pubs and restaurants or complete seclusion – it’s all here. With this background, competition for property is intense and my role is listening to and understanding what my clients hope to achieve and using a lifetime of experience in the Cotswolds to ensure that they find and secure the best possible property for their brief, often opening their eyes to hidden areas off the beaten track.

One of the main reasons for all buyers looking to the Cotswolds is the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and what that offers in terms of recreational pursuits, be it walking, riding, biking, shooting, hunting, racing, polo, you name it.

Jonathan Bramwell, Partner, Head of The Buying Solution

What will a buying agent help a prospective buyer consider and what practical elements of a search can you fulfil to give the bigger picture? JB: So, in terms of a search for a property, we always help our clients go into their purchase with their eyes wide open. This is by undertaking thorough due diligence on the property and its immediate setting so they are fully aware of any issues that might affect their enjoyment of it. This will include planning advice on proposed alterations to the property especially if it's a listed building, and if it's necessary, we can bring in architects or planning experts to help with that. Noise is another factor that shouldn’t be overlooked. Most people are moving to this area for tranquillity which can come at a real premium, and we have to be mindful of flight paths around areas such as RAF Brize Norton. HG: A big talking point now is future development, particularly in areas where there is a shortage of housing. This isn’t a bad thing – there is as much opportunity as there is inconvenience, but it’s important to bear in mind that the towns and larger villages will change over time. Privacy, flooding and public rights of way are also top of the list, however perhaps most topical is fast broadband, and the Cotswolds are very fortunate in that regard. We do have extremely good broadband, much of which is a recent development and brand-new. It sounds small, but it’s pretty pivotal in the current circumstances, particularly as we’re noticing a behavioural change in buyers who would have once been strictly weekend and holiday homeowners, now looking to spend the majority of their time here as they can work totally effectively and efficiently providing that they have a fast and reliable internet connection.

What do you typically get asked to find in a traditional Cotswold property? JB: This varies on budget, but the classic enquiry at the moment is for an attractive, period, four-five bedroom house in or near a village which has a decent pub, good dog walks and maybe strong schooling options nearby if that’s relevant to the buyer. Above all, they want that quintessential village-feel. There are certain areas of the Cotswolds where the sense of growth in popularity is really palpable, particularly in the beautiful, unspoilt villages near the Daylesford and Soho Farmhouse. Prices have probably gone up there by around 20%, especially when they’ve got a good pub nearby. You’re really talking the equivalent now of a prime London address.

HG: Of course, that’s also reflected in the recent change of lifestyle for people. If you’re thinking now you might spend three days a week in London and the majority in the Cotswolds, you’ll probably be looking to spend more on your country home. It’s all about perspective and what you view as value for money as well. For instance, last year I acquired a property for a client in one of the Cotswolds most sought-after villages and a premium was paid to secure it off market. However, our client’s view on price was very different as they compared it to price per square foot in Notting Hill, so it looked good value, especially given that they could walk to Daylesford Farmshop, had two pubs on their doorstep and excellent dog walking. In many ways, they saw what was coming, the influx of people wanting that kind of environment.

Where would you buy in the current market where you see best value for money? HG: The market is becoming really polarised in the Cotswolds between best-in-class villages and ‘trendier’ locations which are in line with the main school catchment areas, and those which fall slightly outside of it. We think that's where clients need real guidance now: what is the right price to pay and where, because there is a real difference in price between north of the A40 and south of the A40.

JB: It's true that the market has become more polarised, whereas when I started buying in 2000 there was no difference between the areas at all. For me, now, the Tetbury to Stroud area is particularly appealing; there’s beautiful countryside and it will always hold its sense of authenticity. You can go to Stroud Farmer’s Market on a Saturday morning and you’ve got that real rustic, rural feeling as well as excellent walking which is what the Cotswolds are all about. I think it's great.

How has the Covid-19 pandemic affected what people are searching for? JB: Obviously the pandemic and lockdowns have caused an increased desire for more green space, greater freedom and sparser populated areas. As mentioned before, clients and buyers are looking to swing the balance of the time spent between the country and city in favour of spending more time here and remotely working, which is made entirely doable by the area’s great broadband, in fact, some areas of the countryside now have better broadband speeds than places in London! The ease of working from home, coupled with the better quality of life during a time where our living environment has really been put through its paces, has helped to shine a light on the Cotswolds as the place to be. This kind of news travels fast, and it’s probably the biggest reason as to why we’ve been so inundated with calls lately.

HG: What makes the area so attractive to the kind of buyers who are being influenced by the pandemic is that you can go as much or as little into the true country lifestyle as you want. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a really unspoilt, authentic rural element to the Cotswolds, but there’s also a huge number of fantastic restaurants and pubs, really high-quality places to shop and socialise – so if you’re coming out of a city and looking for London life in a country environment – it’s all here.