You’ve won the Euro lottery! Your wealth advisor has recommended how much you should put away to pay for necessary and important elements such as pensions, investments, charitable donations and children’s education. They have allocated €30m of the remaining pot to invest in property. What would you buy?
The first property I’d buy would be a mews house off Eaton Square in Belgravia. My grandparents had a lovely two-bedroom mews house in Eaton Mews North and I have happy memories of staying there as a young boy. I’d love a base in London so that I don’t have to stay in hotels when in town and my children could use it when they’re in their teens. I love the location of these mews houses in particular because they are tucked away and private, yet you can walk to Sloane Square and The Antelope, one of my favourite pubs from when I was in my 20s, in just a few minutes.
For a London pied-a-terre, they are an ideal size, with two bedrooms and two bathrooms, a little sitting room and dining area and they usually come with a garage, too. Eaton Square itself is tree-lined and would be a nice place to walk the dog in the morning.
I’d ask my colleague, Philip Eastwood, to help with the search as I imagine they are rather difficult to find and anticipate that would use up approximately £5m of my budget.
The Buying Solution’s expertise—or specifically, my own—would definitely be needed for the main purchase which would be a small estate with a 10,000 sq ft Georgian manor house, set in between 100 and 300 acres, in the part of Wiltshire which stretches from Marlborough south to Salisbury.
I’m quite clear on what elements it would need to have, and top of the list are a good view and a bit of fishing on one of the lovely chalk streams in Wiltshire. I don’t mind which—it could be the Kennet, Avon, Itchen, Nadder, any would do. I’ve fished ever since great family friends introduced me to the sport when I was aged about 10. It’s my passion and my escape. You usually can’t get phone reception near the river, which is a bonus, and it’s not just about the fishing. It’s about being in a lovely, quiet place and having some time out from the noise of life—as well as the odd snooze on the riverbank without being disturbed.
On the estate, I’d expect there’d be about 50 acres (or more) of woodland where I could organise a really fun shoot. I’d want it to be as far away from a commercial shoot as possible. I’d invite friends for a walked-up day with some duck flighting in the evening but the main focus of the day would be a really good lunch that would take place in a converted barn—my man cave—with a big roaring fire.
Recently refurbished, the main house would have six or seven bedrooms, well-proportioned reception rooms and a large, open-plan kitchen, where my family and I would spend all our time. Outside, there’d be a number of outbuildings which could house my children’s ponies and quad bikes as well as a games room with all the toys–a table tennis table, snooker and darts plus a TV where my son could play on his games console. There would be a cottage to house a couple, who would help run the house and look after the land, and a guest cottage for visiting families to use—which is just a really comfortable arrangement for everybody.
After 20 years of working as a buying agent in this market, I know how rare these houses are. Last year, 72% of the houses that The Buying Solution bought were off market but in the estates market, that figure is closer to 90%. Opportunities to acquire something like this come along once in a lifetime. I’d have to focus a lot of energy and time in tracking it down. I suspect it will cost about £15m to buy.
With the remainder of my Euro lottery windfall, I’d buy a beach house in Salcombe, Devon. It’s where I’ve been on holiday all my life as my great-grandparents had a house there, and I love it. In a perfect world scenario, I’d like to have access to all the fun in the town but not be among the crowds so my perfect house would probably located up the creek towards South Pool or Kingsbridge as privacy is something I cherish. Ideally, it’d have its own private beach and a jetty for a small, wooden fishing boat which I’d use to go and buy the paper and groceries after an early morning fishing trip. There’s nothing more delicious for breakfast than freshly-caught mackerel on the barbecue with a squeeze of lemon and some pepper. There’d be a boathouse where we could store all the toys including windsurfers, a jet ski and small sailing boats for the children.
We’d probably avoid going in August, when the town gets too busy, but use it as a weekend or holiday escape for the rest of the year.