Local Property News in North Oxfordshire, North Cotswolds and Warwickshire

2023 has seen the North Cotswolds finally throw off the shackles of Covid and there have been several high profile openings. We are most excited by Estelle Manor (estellemanor.com), a hotel and private members club on the 65 acre Eynsham Park Estate in Oxfordshire and the Bamford Wellness Spa at Daylesford, just outside Kingham,which has the first padel courts in the area.
The two most famous pubs in Charlbury have both reopened after extensive renovations – the Bull (thebullcharlbury.com) has retained its ethos as a local pub serving good beer but now also has a restaurant centred round open fire cooking and some beautiful bedrooms. The Bell (thebellatcharlbury.com) is part of the Daylesford group which epitomise great hospitality and also includes The Wild Rabbit in Kingham, The Fox at Oddington and the Bell at Stow.
Whilst we dislike the term gastropub, we are lucky to have such a wonderful array of informal and great places to eat and drink in this corner of the North Cotswolds.

Christmas is coming and Plan B has just been put into action… It feels sometimes as though we are stuck in some kind of pandemic nightmare, but I think we can be confident that now we have all been vaccinated against Covid 19 we are in a much better place than this time last year.

Property-wise 2021 has been a pretty extraordinary year. Unprecedented demand combined with a shortage of availability meant that prices increased by nearly 20%. For example one property we bought for clients had 29 viewings and 13 offers were made on it.  However we had our most successful year ever, and the benefits of being represented by a professional buying agent really became clear. We are hopeful that 2022 will see something of a return to more normal conditions with less frenetic activity around every new listing.  What is clear is that Warwickshire and the North Cotswolds remain a particularly popular part of the country to live in and we are here to help you make the move.

We are feeling festive and are particularly excited to visit the Christmas exhibitions at Blenheim Palace which are spectacular every year but this year they have excelled themselves www.blenheimpalace.com and we are reliably informed that the very best Santa is to be found in Stratford-upon-Avon at the Magic Alley www.magicalleystratford.com


Well it looks as if we are finally emerging from the most extraordinary 15 months plus to something resembling ‘back to normal’.  There is however nothing normal about the state of the property market in this corner of England!

The past year has seen unprecedented demand for property with space both indoors and out and as reported earlier any properties which had been languishing on the market pre-pandemic were quickly snapped up once restrictions were eased.  Since then demand has only increased and there has been no noticeable increase in supply of properties coming on to the market so consequently prices have increased by well over 10% over the past year with no sign of things slowing down. Houses are not even appearing on the property portals as the estate agents already have queues of people waiting to buy so they are being sold within days (or even hours) of the vendor starting viewings. Savills have reported that on average there are 8 prospective purchasers for every house they are bringing to the market.

Consequently there are a lot of frustrated buyers out there.  Our advice is not to panic; it is possible to navigate these stormy waters but you do need to keep your nerve and really work out what is important to you in your property search. Be prepared to compromise and try to take a long term view. It is likely that you will be paying a premium for your new home but if this is your forever home, does this really matter? It seems likely that there will be some sort of correction in prices some time in the future, but this area will always remain popular and there will always be a shortage of attractive properties so they remain a good long term investment.

We have become very active recently on Instagram.  Please give us a follow on stacks_north_cotswolds

Please call us if you would like some impartial advice. We are here to help!

With the lifting of Covid restrictions in early summer, the market has taken off.  There was a pent up demand and properties that were failing to sell in January/February suddenly were selling at a premium to buyers who were keen to move to the country after being locked down in cities.

Other buyers are returning from abroad – especially Hong Kong and Dubai and are tending to move straight to the country as against to more urban areas.

We have noticed that buyers are looking for extra square footage and outside space to allow for the consequences of another lockdown. This extra space is particularly required for a home office/schoolroom and consequently buyers are insistent on decent broadband speeds.

Our advert in Country Life in July 2020

Some local businesses have thrived recently and have adapted brilliantly to the challenges of Covid 19 and for exmpleare now offering home delivery for all the weekly shopping requirements and pubs and restaurants have also adapted well to changing times.

Particular mention should be given to the following:  Paddock Farm butchery www.paddock.fm, Vin Neuf Wine Merchants  www.vinneuf.co.uk , The Bower House Restaurant with rooms www.bower.house and the Michelin starred local The Royal Oak in Whatcote www.theroyaloakwhatcote.co.uk

With the onset of autumn and the possibility of more local restrictions, there is no doubt that the market generally is slowing down; however in this part of the country the R Rate is currently much lower than average and good properties are continuing to sell off market. Vendors and agents are only considering buyers who can proceed quickly, so if you are considering a move to the area we would advise that you make sure you can proceed so you can be taken seriously.  If this means selling now and renting for a short period of time in your chosen area we would recommend going down this route.

Welcome to a particularly wet and muddy new year, although luckily there have been no repeats of the devastating floods suffered in 2007 when the River Stour caused such damage in Shipston-on-Stour and surrounding villages. Remedial works carried out by the Environment Agency and others seem to have succeeded.

We are hopeful that when the sun does finally come out we will witness a proper spring bounce in the market now that there is finally some certainty surrounding Brexit. Vendors who have been reluctant to put their houses on the market now have no excuse not to, and there are eager buyers around. House prices have been largely static for the past couple of years or so, and we do not anticipate any significant change. Vendors and buyers both need to remain realistic with their expectations in 2020, in spite of the fact that the market should be much more active.

Another interesting development is the latest consultation announced by the government into the viability of HS2. We have always questioned whether the project would ever get the green light, and currently there are whole swathes of the country where properties are blighted by the threat of HS2. There are some bargains to be had at the moment which could prove to be a brilliant investment if the project were to be cancelled, although it would be a brave person who bet on this outcome!

If you are thinking of buying a home in Warwickshire or the North Cotswolds, this summer a welcome new destination has opened for foodies in Snitterfield, near to Stratford-upon-Avon. The Farm https://thefarmstratfordshop.com/ is a rival to Daylesford https://www.daylesford.com/  but situated in the north of the region. The Farm have brought together a collective of artisan food producers, a whole food cafe, wine merchant https://www.vinneuf.co.uk/, farm shop and delicatessen. There is also a cookery school opening soon – a wonderful new addition to the area.

Festival season is well under way, and we have already enjoyed  the Cornbury Festival https://www.cornburyfestival.com/ with a fantastic  line-up including Keane, KT Tunstall and the Specials.  Not to be missed is also Fairport Convention’s annual shindig, The Cropredy Convention, www.fairportconvention.com which is now in its fourth decade!

A new, but very welcome, entrant this year is the Cotswold Distillery Festival. Opened in 2014, The Cotswold Distillery www.cotswoldsdistillery.com   is the first whisky distillery to be opened in England in over a century.  It produces award-winning gins and whisky, and has great tours (with tastings!).  They have recently opened a café and have an excellent shop. A trip to the Cotswold Distillery makes for an unusual and entertaining day out.

Finally, there is the annual Big Feastival https://thebigfeastival.com which is held every August Bank Holiday on Alex James’ (award winning cheesemaker and bass player with Blur) farm near Kingham.  This year we are looking forward to hearing music from (amongst others) Elbow, Jess Glynne and The Zutons, and enjoying cookery demonstrations from some great chefs including Daniel Clifford, Mark Hix, Raymond Blanc and Prue Leith.

And we haven’t mentioned Brexit at all…

So 29th of March has been and gone, and Brexit has not happened; after such a long period of inactivity across the economy whilst waiting for Brexit, there seems to be an increasing feeling amongst both Leavers and Remainers of JUST GET ON WITH IT!

Whilst there remains a shortage of properties for sale and also of buyers it does look as if there has been an increase in activity in the property market with local agents reporting more enquiries from both buyers and sellers over the past few weeks. My advice is that if you are considering a move to Warwickshire or the North Cotswolds, now is as good a time as any to take the plunge. Using a reputable search agent can help you find that elusive country property which is unlikely to be advertised on the usual property portals.

I am delighted to note that Shipston-on-Stour has been named by The Times https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/shipston-on-stour-warwickshire-best-places-to-live-x503jzsdb

as one of the best places to live in the country for the third year running. As a long-term resident, I can fully endorse everything in the article, headlined “Cotswolds without the coach tours is what you get in this popular market town, where fun comes before airs and graces”. There are not many places in the country where you can buy a can of wasp nest destroyer, a fillet of halibut and a Panama hat within a two minutes’ walk –  truly a town with a thriving high street.

Still not a great deal of movement on the Property front with the news full of Brexit – are you bored of this yet? I don’t think anyone is going to agree on anything and all it is doing is making a great excuse to do nothing. The London property market is at a standstill while the government decides what it will do with overseas buyers. Therefore, those that are thinking of moving to the country cannot sell their houses so delay making a decision.

My advice is that if you are considering moving, get on and do it. Don’t overprice your property, be realistic on the valuation. Many Estate Agents are over pricing properties to get the mandate. If I had a £1 for every story of a vendor going with the highest valuation only for it to be reduced over a short period of time, I would be a very rich man. A good house reasonably priced will sell then you can get on and buy.

I often hear that a number of people are worried that they will not find what they want so will not start the process. Well my advice is twofold. First, get sold and rent if necessary to put  yourself in the strongest position of being able to react when a suitable property does come up. Secondly employ your Local Stacks Property Search Regional Director to do the running around and to find that property you want.

Worried about our fees? Don’t be. Over the last 6 years I have saved my clients an average of over 9% from the original asking price and that includes properties that I have secured after a bidding war and have subsequently paid more than the original asking price!

Pick up the phone and let us talk you through the process.

What a scorcher! Normally the farmers are complaining that it is too wet, as they were in the spring but now they are complaining it is too dry! With the hay crop and the wheat being left very dry there will be a shortage of hay and straw for the winter. With the lack of grass some farmers are already having to feed their winter supplies to their animals. Global warming…? Who knows.

The heat seems to have put off both buyers and vendors of properties in the North Cotswold area. Let see what the Autumn brings.

The snow has brought everything to a stop in the country but us Search Agents have to continue to view for our clients. Is this property going to get snowed in? Is the local school likely to close due to the weather and therefore who is going to look after ‘little Jonny’ when I am meant to be at work?
Which local councils are good at clearing the roads – for instance South Warwickshire is much better than North Oxfordshire!

Within a day or two it will all be cleared and we will be wondering what the problem was. Now all we can wait for are those houses to be launched for the Spring market – or not!

There can be no better reason for hiring your Stacks Search Agent to get you to the head of the queue to secure you that one off property you have been dreaming of.

Happy New Year!
Yet again the agents are bullish for good 2018 but I am not so sure. Lack of stock due to Stamp Duty, Brexit, increase in Interest Rates – there are so many excuses why people do not move.

I think the reason is that families are not downsizing is due to us all being healthier. 20-30 years ago newly married had their children when they were younger and so by the time they were 50 their offspring had flown the nest and were settling down themselves. The elder generation then started thinking of downsizing – they did not need 5+ bedrooms, large gardens, stables full of ponies and horses. By the time they were in their 60s they were happy to move and release a good property onto the market. Now a days this has been delayed 15 – 20 years as we all are feeling in better health and have no requirement to move.

So the message is
Put your property on the market
Have lots of lovely holidays with your surplus cash!!

Where are these house launches??!! For the second time this year the traditional time to launch one’s house is being ignored as it was in the Spring.

There have been thousands of words written about George Osborne’s Stamp Duty increases being a major cause for the lack of transactions in the housing market – but the truth is that the vast majority are much better off than they were before the Ex-Chancellor’s meddling. If you buy a property under £937,500 you pay less Stamp Duty now than one did before.

There was a letter to the editor of The Daily Telegraph by a gentleman saying he could not afford to move to a house valued at around £600,000 due to the Stamp Duty ‘increases’. I wrote a reply, but sadly did not get published, pointing out that he was actually saving £4,000. Under the new rules he would pay £20,000 in Stamp Duty while under the old rules £24,000.

Various ‘Experts’ are calling on the Chancellor to re-examine Stamp Duty so we will have to wait and see what he does in his Autumn Statement.

After a slow summer due to the uncertainty of the hung parliament and the lack of progress with Brexit at least we have the Autumn house launches to look forward to. More stock is required.

With everyone living longer and healthier those larger houses that should be released for the next generation of young families are not being so. Part of the problem is this uncertainty and the concern that there are not suitable properties to downsize to. Far too many people are hanging on to what they have making a stagnant market.

A hung parliament – just what we need! We will now have to wait to see what the traditional Autumn market brings us. Good properties presented well and priced sensibly continue to sell with many properties never reaching the open market. Never has there been more of a time for the buyer to be properly represented.

HOW WRONG COULD I HAVE BEEN – an election has been call!
At a time we want stability more uncertainty is with us so the excuses can continue to why the property market stagnates.

There is to be no general election, no Brexit vote nor anything that should upset the 2017 property market so hopefully vendors will put their houses on the market, Estate Agents will value them sensibly and we will be able to buy them.

Had a very successful though wet Moreton Show on the first Saturday in September. As normal we ran our guess the price competition and even though we had numerous entries there were only two correct answers.

Having made a draw the winner of the bottle of champagne was Mrs Susie Dugdale of Stow in the Wold. The runner up was …… from Moreton on Marsh and she received a Stacks Mug!

Winner Mrs Susie Dugdale

Runner up Annabel Hesketh

The correct answer was:
A – The Broad Campden house – £995,000
B – The Poole house – £1,100,000
C – The Battersea house – £900,000


Property A.  Broad Campden, Cotswolds.   4 bed, 3 bath village house with large garden. Aga


Property B   Poole, Dorset. 4 beds 3 baths over three floors. Underfloor heating to ground & 1st floor.


Property C   Battersea, London. 3 beds, 2 baths, modernised, terrace.

The rest of the autumn was slow having had the surprise Brexit vote while individuals evaluated the results.

In April I celebrate 5 years with Stacks and I have to say I really enjoy it (apart for the terrible quarterly meetings!).

Two of my three new clients have had offers accepted. One will be relatively easy as there is no chain. The other is via ‘Purple Brick’. On line agents do not understand the role of the ‘Search agent’. For a start there is no-one to explain to the vendor why we may want to view their house and so they feel slightly miss led when we turn up and not the potential buyer. If it then proceeds there is no-one to hold the vendors hand so we end up having to advise them as well! This is not our role. We only buy houses on behalf of our clients – we do not sell houses!

It will be interesting to see if the Chancellors extra 3% stamp duty on second homes or properties bought to let will make any real difference to those markets. On the enquires I have had it seems not. There may be a slight reduction in price to take this into account but again I think this will be minor.

As always during the slow times of the Xmas break peoples thoughts turn to property and thoughts of moving. This has certainly been the case of those wanting to move to my local area with the increase of traffic on the website. Various meetings have now been set up and three new clients have signed! It looks like it will be a busy spring.

As always the agents are full of confidence for the ‘spring’ launch of lots of new properties to the market – we will wait and see. We have heard it all before and then nothing really happens. In 2015 we were told vendors were waiting for the election result. No doubt 2016 it will be waiting for the ‘Brexit’ result!

After a very quiet late summer and autumn the phones have started ringing again with potential clients though three of them have subsequently found houses – I must be giving very good advice over the phone or in meetings that have opened their eyes to other opportunities. All the houses they are buying have been on the market for a number of weeks.

There is still a shortage of good property though the good agents are expecting to launch some properties in the early spring. I am sure I said that last year and nothing happened! 

If you not already seen it then get a copy of the Cotswold Life Christmas edition. They have printed an article by me saying why this is a good time of year to buy.

See the article in full:

 ” Nobody wants to, but everybody should, says George Barkes of Stacks Property Search.

The fact that property looks so much better in spring and early summer is of course a very good reason NOT to buy at that time of year. Wait until the garden is bare; there are no leaves to block the view of the scrap yard, or to muffle the sound of the main road; the gutters are overflowing; the water’s pooling around the front door; and the condensation is streaming down the windows. This is a safe time of year to see property – warts and all. If you like it now, you’ll love it in May. But in the meantime, your head will be firmly in charge and your heart won’t get a look in.

Choose your viewing time wisely, factoring in the limited daylight hours you have available to you. There’s little point viewing a property in the dark. Take warm clothes – you don’t want the cold and wet to prevent you from having a really good look outside, not just at the garden, the surroundings and the view, but at the fabric of the property itself. Without the benefit of the sun, you’ll need a compass to establish the aspect, and check what trees and buildings will obscure the sun at various zeniths when it reappears next spring.

Once inside, ask the agent or vendor to turn out all the lights (they will have been instructed to turn them all on!) so you can establish how much natural light the property gets. And check whether the heating’s turned up to the max – it may feel warm and cosy, but at what cost?

Wait until the weather’s particularly bleak (snow and ice is ideal), and drag yourself away from the fire for a drive-by of the property you’re interested in.

There’s plenty of research that can play into your hands at this time of year. How long has the property been on the market? If it came on in the spring, there’s a fair chance that the vendor’s beginning to feel desperate, and a mid-winter chilly offer could receive a warm reception. There’s no better time for an aggressive offer than the second week of December.

While pre-Christmas is always a good time to negotiate a good deal, don’t be unreasonable about timing. There’s little benefit to trying to exchange and complete in limited time before the festivities. Solicitors close early for Christmas and remain closed for two weeks while stress levels will rise.

Do exchange before Christmas then let the vendors enjoy a last festive period in their house and look to complete at the end of January so there is no rush to pack those boxes over the holiday.  If you do complete and move before Christmas, you’ll spend the holiday staring at cardboard boxes and trying to figure out how to use the Aga and the central heating system.

Thank you for all those who supported the Moreton Show and visited our Stand. I am sorry I was not there to see you but I was on annual leave in Zimbabwe!

I am sure that you were well looked after by Stack’s Managing Director James Greenwood. If you require any further information about our services please do not hesitate to contact me.


A number of you entered our Competition to win a bottle of Champagne by guessing the valuations of three properties when they were launched for sale in May 2015. I am afraid no one got the correct answers

The correct answer is:

  • Property A – £925,000
  • Property B – £1,000,000
  • Property C – £1,100,000
  • Most of you put Property B as the most expensive
  • Better luck next year!

Spring is upon us, the daffodils are coming out and the lambs are enjoying the warmth. The only thing that is not really moving is the property market. For some reason everyone is blaming the election for the little movement. For most of us buying well under the £2 million level the result should not make a huge difference. Houses are there to be bought but some do not want to commit.

Come and see us at our Stand at Badminton. As The Game Fair is in Yorkshire this year we have decided to give Badminton a try out in May and The Country Life Fair in Battersea Park in London in September.

What an interesting year. Have completed on 7 properties (including one for my daughter!) and the happened in the first six months of the year. The second half of 2014 has been frustrating. One or two very interesting inquiries towards the end of the year but nothing signed up yet. More work to do in the New Year.

Agents report that there are some houses getting ready to launch in the New Year but most are waiting for the Spring market. There is general concern that not much will happen this side of the election. This goes for new clients as well as new properties.

I wish everyone to have a very happy Christmas and a good New Year.

After a very busy Game Fair late summer and early autumn have been very slow. Few clients and even fewer properties of any quality available. The expected rush of newly released properties is not forth coming. Went to the first ‘The Country Life Fair’ at Fulham Palace at the end of September. Mixed reports with some stand holders not getting the foot fall they were expecting. The 2015 show is being moved to Battersea Park at the end of September 2015 and we may exhibit there as the Game Fair is up in Yorkshire.

2014 CLA Game Fair. I will be hosting the Stacks stand at this years CLA Game Fair at Blenheim Palace, Woodstock just north of Oxford (OX20 1PP).

Do come and visit our stand ‘X0817’ which is in ‘Bond Street’ near the entrance to the CLA Members enclosure entrance.

I am being helped by various Stacks Regional Directors so whereever you are moving to the expert knowledge will be represented on the stand over various times over the week end.

Where has all the time gone. Having already Completed on 5 houses this year and Exchanged on a 6th I am now having a more restful time as I am only looking for one client who requires a home in Leamington Spa. One of the house purchases in the North Cotswolds was most interesting. Having been looking for over two years and never quite committing I was signed up in March 2014. The very first house I showed the clients on our Mystery Tour day was the house they eventually bought! This was no easy purchase as the clients had to pay 5% over the asking price plus other interested parties were trying to Gazump us (3 in all) up until the last minute.

One offered an extra £100,000 to try and take the property from us. The vendor gave us ten days to Exchange which we did! This is why you need a search agent. The Estate Agent recommended our offer as they knew that the purchaser was well represented, had the funds in cash and that Stacks would push the deal through on time.

Spring is here but the agents still don’t have the mandates to release the ‘Spring’ properties. After the wet weather they are waiting for the gardens to recover to get those all important photos. Speaking of which do look at my article in the March edition of Cotswold Life Mar 14 – Property news

A client of nearly two years have finally Completed on their search up the Chiltern Line. This great rail service means it is only 54 minutes from Banbury to Marylebone. The clients wrote me a charming testimonial (see Testimonials) and also wrote …. Thank you for all your superb work in helping us to secure Church Farm. We are really thrilled to finally have a home we love and we feel this is much to your ingenuity.”

Estate Agents are still not formally launching their spring portfolios making it harder for those buyers not using a Search Agent.

Good to get some publicity at the end of January. The Times picked up on some of my comments which you can read here https://www.stacks.co.uk/property-search-press-coverage/the-times-31-1-14/

The third of the three pre Christmas accepted offers is about to exchange with one of the others already Completed.

Potential new clients continue to get in touch with one family from Hong Kong signed up with myself and Jo Aldridge to cover all the Cotswold’s.

The Estate Agents are beginning to get new Instructions but a great number are not launching yet but we at Stacks are being told about them to give our clients an advantage.

Happy New Year!

In 2014 Stacks celebrates our 30th Anniversary. Various things will be happening over the year from sponsoring awards, to a celebration party in London and then various local activities.

2nd of the three Exchanged! This client visited our stand at the Game Fair in July, signed up in August, had mystery tour in October, made an offer in November and Exchanged in December and will be Completing in January – It cannot be done quicker especially between offer and exchange baring in mind a mortgage had to be found.

My Clients are delighted and wrote; “I wanted to say a big thank you in all your efforts in helping us achieve an exchange on our much wanted house.   George, well done in taking us to a house we did n’t know we wanted and then fell in love with,  plus managing to snaffle it from another interested party!”

1st of the three have Exchanged after a 2 1/2 year search! House bought for 76% of the original asking price saving my clients hundreds of thousands of pounds!!

A busy couple of months negotiating on three houses for clients with success in getting all three under offer. Now the hard work begins in getting them to Exchange!

They say that any publicity is good publicity so I am delighted that the October edition of Cotswold life has published my article on down sizing. See the link https://www.stacks.co.uk/property-search-press-coverage/cotswold-life-october-24-09-13/

I hope you saw the Sunday Telegraph article in the life section today. If not click on the attachment http://www.telegraph.co.uk/property/buyingsellingandmoving/10312302/Meet-the-downsizers.html

This story is about the Macnair’s who have down sized from a Warwickshire Farmhouse with 27 acres to an end of terraced house in Shipston upon Stour. Not only are they releasing good family stock but they are reducing their overheads substantially so can spend a few months each year travelling.

Took the stand with South Cotswold Regional Director Jo Aldridge to the Moreton show on Saturday and were luckily blessed with good weather – sadly my terrier Mole did not win the very competitive terrier racing!

New client enquirers continue to call with ones in Hong Kong, Canada and USA been in contact in the last week as well as local ones.

Where are the new houses? Most agents report that the lack of stock continues with relatively few new instructions. Press reports of price increases in 2014 mean that some Vendors are holding back. A local house photographer is busy taking photos for houses to be launched in the spring. Our service at Stacks is even more important now.

After a successful fair at Ragley – picked up a client who is looking close to Gaydon, things are quieting down for the August Holiday period. Thank you to all my Stacks colleagues who helped man the stand over the three days.

Just moved a client into their retirement down sized cottage. It was lovely to see the relief that means they do not need to struggle with a larger property. I wish them every happiness.

The sun shone over the two Bank Holidays but it did not bring out the vendors for property in the area. Some new properties have been forth coming but nothing to get really excited about. No wonder that purchasers are becoming depressed.

Getting ready for the Game Fair at Ragley Hall (www.gamefair.co.uk) from Friday 19th – Sunday 21st July. This year our Stand is in ‘Bond Street’ Stand number A0035. It is very close to entrance C. Do come and visit us.

Easter has come and gone, the wind is still coming from the East, nothings growing and I have just heard my first complaint from a farmer saying they need rain!

Agents report they are holding back the launching of properties so they can wait for better photos for the brochures. I still think there is a general lack of quality properties.

Have picked up a new client wanting to be within 20 minutes of Ilmington. They want a good family house with a bit of land.

Warwickshire life March edition has run myProperty Life after Divorce article. This gives advise to divorcees on their options in the property market in what is always a very difficult time.

Continuing to see off market properties and saw a absolute gem in Northamptonshire over the weekend. Sadly it was too big for my clients but it would be a lovely family home for some one.

Have been busy over the past couple of weeks.

Firstly The Sunday Times have been in touch three times and so I have been quoted in their ‘Home’ section twice , 27th January and 8th February. The first article was about the best 10 High Streets and they picked Shipston on Stour. This very pretty town on the edge of the Cotswolds deserves to be there. As there is no large out of town super market the towns many small retailers thrive. My quote was then picked up by  The Stratford Herald and repeated by them. The second article was an article about the London commute which included Banbury in Oxon. Banbury has very good communications as the train is now only 54 minutes to London Marylebone and the town sits on junction 11 of the M40.  I have also been asked for my views on Market towns and there is another Sunday Times article coming out in which Henley in Arden will feature.

House viewings continue and I have seen two very exciting off market properties in the last few days. These properties will come onto the market later in the year but my clients are having the first opportunity to snap them up before they do so. Viewings with them have already taken place and discussions continue.

Stop Press!!

I have just heard that Strutt & Parker are opening a new office in Summertown, North Oxford. They are taking over the former Carter Jonas offices, who have moved closer to the centre of Summertown. This new office is going to be run by Mark Smith, who formally ran the Knight Frank office in Oxford but who for the last few years has been a Search Agent like us.

Things are moving! Had enquiries from the UK and the USA and have signed up a new client who is looking for a Contemporary home in the Cotswolds or North Oxfordshire circa £1.5m. Knight Frank in Stratford report that they have had accepted offers of £5.4 million worth of property already this year! Snow has arrived so have had to cancel viewings today but hopefully will be back up and running early next week.

Happy New Year! The Agents are starting to be in touch over properties that will be launched in the Spring but I and my clients can see them now! Various different types especially Equestrian Properties with land.

Met up in Bicester Village with my new Associate Director for Buckinghamshire, Heidi Wright. Heidi will be reporting to Regional Director Catherine MacAllister. I very much look forward in working with her with those joint clients wanting to commute from Bicester North to Marylebone.

The Sunday Telegraph, 9th December, 2012, reports that ‘The Government’s main justification for its HS2 rail scheme has been demolished in secret figures released to the High Court last week’. it goes on to say that ‘… the business case for the line has already collapsed’.

What with the various legal challenges going on this is going to run and run!

HS2 has been in the December 2012 news again with Harry Cotterall the Chairman of The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) calling for a radical overhaul of the compulsory purchase system. The CLA Midlands Regional Director, Caroline Bedell, which covers Warwickshire says that the current system is inefficient and unfair.

I am delighted to welcome my new Stacks neighbour Rachel Johnson. Rachel has taken over Northamptonshire from Catherine MaCallister. Rachel and her husband Rob were clients of mine and so I moved them into the area. We are very lucky to have her on board as she has experience of both sides of the fence.

I signed off my last Marketing report by saying that while things were generally slow and would not improve before Christmas the Estate agents were reporting that they were valuing numerous properties that would be launched in January and February 2012.


Where are all the properties? Estate Agents are currently scratching their heads at the lack of properties coming to the market.

Normally at this time of year the agents are run off their feet trying to win mandates for the spring launch but in 2012 this is not happening. “After Easter” is the cry. “Do you know this is going to happen or are you hoping?” I reply. “Oh hoping” is their only answer. Country Life magazine would normally have double the pages of property at this time of year but this spring it is not happening.

And why is this? Some vendors are still hanging on for the pre 2007 prices while others cannot find what they are looking for to move on. Now it is more important than ever to be ahead of the game and keep on top of what is available and what may come to the market.

The same properties that were over priced last year are being re launched this spring at similar prices – they were too expensive then and are too expensive now. Don’t get me wrong a good quality property will fly off the shelf at a good price but at the moment they are few and far to be seen and it is more important than ever to be in a position to proceed and not be reliant on a sale or a chain. If you are serious buyer get yourself into a cash position and don’t miss the boat.

Now that the government have announced the HS2 plans and route vendors and buyers are in a position to make a much more informed decision on their future plans. Property on the route will be much more affordable and those that can put up with it will get much more for their money. One must not forget that there will be great disruption while it is being built and people who have to commute across the route to get to their work either directly or to a rail station will be inconvenienced for a few years.

Property values west of the HS2 and west of the M40 in North Oxfordshire and Warwickshire, but commutable to Banbury or Bicester North stations, will see their values held up.

Rental prices are holding up as more buyers are getting themselves into a cash position while current house sale prices are holding up due to a lack of good quality stock available.

More and more enquiries to me at Stacks give a school as their main requirement to live in an area. “…..no more than 20 minutes to Winchester House at Brackley” or “…..we are going to be using the Oxford Schools”. Therefore if you are not using these local facilities as your children have moved on or other then take advantage of the situation. I have buyers for your house!

What will a Stacks buying agent in North Oxfordshire, North Cotswolds and Warwickshire do for you?

Professional Expertise

We’ll talk with you about how you want to live, the demands of your work, and your plans. We’ll establish what you need from your next home… and why.

Finding a Property

We’ll scour the market, bend the ears of our contacts, and hound the estate agents. We’ll leave no stone unturned to find the right home for you.

Saving you Money

We’ll haggle hard and bring all that we’ve discovered to bear to agree the best terms on your behalf. Our clients enjoy preferred bidder status with estate agents. 

Trouble Free Completion

We’ll problem-bust, tackle obstacles, arrange surveys, and liaise with planners. A myriad of issues can raise their head at this point… we’ll deal with them all for you.

Call George or Emma Barkes to discuss what you are looking for.
Tel: 01608 661427

How We Do It

“You showed fantastic attention to detail, anticipated all eventualities, and provided timely and practical help and guidance every step of the way.  Above all, you supported me in making my own considered decisions, and I am so grateful to you for all your help in getting me to where I am now!”

“We firmly believe that without Rachel and her skilled negotiation we would not have secured the property.”

“We felt they genuinely wanted to help.”

“Stacks’ performance on this assignment has been absolutely outstanding and more than met my expectations. Her understanding of the brief and the ‘after-find’ service set a standard of professionalism that I have not met before.”

“It is not often that one is pleased to part with money but I can truthfully say that I am on this occasion. You have earned every penny of this cheque and what is more, you have done it with great courtesy and good humour. It has been very pleasant working with you. You really did take most of the stress out of our house hunting.”

“Encouraging me to think creatively about what could work for me.”

“Finding a plot not yet on the market and persuading the developer to enter into an exclusive contract with me to build to my specification.

“I was impressed by the efficient, kind and courteous service provided by Stacks”

“Stacks were a tremendous help and we would never have found our home without them. She is a lovely person with a great sense of humour which was essential during some of our tricky negotiations

“You gave a much-valued ‘younger’ perspective on our situation, which was a real asset”

“We found the service extremely helpful and professional at all times”

“I have been delighted with the service I have received from Stacks and will not hesitate to recommend Stacks in the future.”

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