Premier performance from the great estates

Private estates have proved themselves to be strong performers in the post-credit crunch era and continue to evolve.

31 March 2014, Words by Lucian Cook


Our analysis indicates that the traditional period property remains the most coveted property type outside of London. However, in the period post credit crunch the strongest performers have been those properties located on private estates and dotted around the fringes of London.

Leading the pack

Of these, St George’s Hill and Wentworth, pioneered by W.G. Tarrant in the early part of the 20th century, remain the most exclusive and highly valued. Together they comprise over 1,500 homes that have an aggregate value in excess of £7 billion – more than the city of Sheffield. The layout designed by Tarrant remains, but across these estates Tarrant Houses have been consumed by modern mansions. At the extreme, properties between 10,000 and 15,000 sq ft on the best plots are achieving values between £900 to £1,300 per sq ft at figures some 34% above levels seen in the pre credit crunch area.

These two estates can best be described as the Home Counties equivalent of central London’s Eaton Square or Kensington Palace Gardens, with a dash of One Hyde Park thrown into the mix. Their exclusivity and security draws demand from an increasing pool of ultra wealthy domestic and international buyers. There is a premium for scale, with the largest properties achieving a premium approaching 100% over and above those more typically in the 6,000 to 8,000 sq ft. There has been significant redevelopment activity, with one in four sales on St George’s Hill knocked down and rebuilt to meet the increasing levels of specification required by the new breed of buyers.

Table 4.1
A two horse race?

But these headline grabbers are part of a much wider network of private estates. Whilst not quite matching the elevated status of the top two, these typically command a 22% price premium above equivalent properties in a non estate location.

Across a further 23 private estates, that exclude those estates such as Coombe Hill that have become enveloped by London, there are over 4,000 additional houses worth over £10.5 billion.

Most were conceived in the first half of the 20th century by pioneering private developers. Though there is a concentration in the Cobham-Esher- Weybridge triangle, Tarrant replicated his model at The Hockering near Woking, whilst among others the Griggs brothers developed Pinner Hill in the 1920s and Frederick Rogers pioneered the estates of Keston and Farnborough Park in suburban Kent.

The Crown Estate and Moor Park are perhaps the nearest competitors to St George’s Hill and Wentworth in terms of scale and location. They have seen similar net price growth of the core housing stock in the period post credit crunch – outperforming, but yet to see the same demand for the mega mansions as their slightly more desirable cousins. In this rarefied market, only the much smaller estates of Blackhills & Clare Hill are able to compete, though even here values are somewhat lower on a £ per sq ft basis.

The two next largest estates are Burwood Park and Kingswood Warren. Values and price growth do not compare to the more expensive estates, with super sized stock struggling to command a premium on a £ per sq ft basis above units more in keeping with the scale of the original development. Still both these estates, together with other similarly valued stock on smaller estates, have seen substantial redevelopment, as the nature of housing stock on private estates changes in a way and at a speed that has not been seen across the wider prime regional market. Yet it cannot be said that the trends seen on these estates are entirely irrelevant to the wider prime markets.

Table 4.2
Looking forward

Though listed building status will quite rightly protect the architectural integrity of the traditional country house, the amenities demanded of those properties are already changing. Increasingly the application of technology and up to the minute internal specifications will be incorporated in such properties, whether that be Scandinavian heat exchangers or home automation systems controlled from an iPhone. However, there are few country houses that give the same redevelopment opportunities in a mature setting afforded by the private estates. This inherent scarcity means the private estates will continue to evolve. Trends set in London that have made their way to locations such as St George’s Hill and are beginning to appear in estates such as Moor Park will eventually influence locations beyond the M25, including The Wildernesse in Sevenoaks.

Rural Estates

The typical rural estate – a combination of a traditional Country House, a handful of cottages and a sizeable ring fenced block of farmland and amenity land – is an entirely different proposition to the suburban mega mansion on a private road.

Whilst the residential element of this collection of assets has only relatively recently returned price growth, the performance of the surrounding land, which has risen in value by 50% since the middle of 2008, means that the average rural estate is now worth 5% more than it was at the previous peak of the market.


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Lucian Cook

Lucian Cook

Residential Research

Savills Margaret Street

+44 (0) 20 7016 3837