Liz Rowlinson

A house buyer’s guide to Bath

A house buyer's guide to Bath
1 Lansdown Place, Hamptons
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The pale honey-coloured Georgian terraces and elegantly colonnaded streets of Bath have seen a busy year. In the summer the crew for the Netflix Regency romance Bridgerton flew into town to film the second season of the hit series, whilst in October the Grand Parade was transformed into a winter wonderland for the forthcoming Warner Bros film, Wonka.

A dream for film-makers, the compact Somerset city has also been a magnet for Londoners continuing to decamp for a new life within its World Heritage walls. Whilst the first wave of the pandemic induced rural exodus saw a rush for the coveted villages on its fringes, this year townhouses and flats have been in demand as we voraciously rediscover café culture and the small-city buzz. To slightly rephrase Jane Austen, can we ever be tired of Bath?

Not yet, it seems. There have been more properties bought in Bath in the first six months of the year than in any year since 2016, according to the estate agent Hamptons using Land Registry data. And that’s not because the Bath market has been in a post-Brexit referendum slump - prices have been steadily rising since 2011. For the first time in their records, the average price in Bath has passed the £500,000 mark this year.

Superb state and independent schooling, its Roman and Georgian heritage, and the fact it punches above its modest weight in the arts, have long drawn escapees from bigger cities, with the Kennet & Avon Canal wending around it, the start of the Cotswold Way; and the sand-hued country manors of Somerset to its west, one housing the fashionable The Pig-near-Bath.

With the trainline to London fully electrified last year, Bath continues to benefit from the longer commute trend – an average journey time of 1hr 20 to London is perfectly manageable once or twice a week. For the agent Savills, 59 per cent of sales this year have been from outside the area, and there have been multiple offers on over a third of deals. Amongst these are first-time buyers and families as well as the downsizers who’ve traditionally favoured Bath.

'Everything in Bath apart from expensive apartments without outside space is selling this year, even townhouses with small gardens,' says Luke Brady, head of Savills’ Bath office. 'Last year it was all about country houses on the outskirts.' Sought-after villages offering easy access to Bath include Limpley Stoke, Freshford, Bradford-upon-Avon, Wellow and Hinton Charterhouse. Those close to good bus routes into Bath on the A36 have been popular with families with teenagers.

The return of a few international buyers has added to demand. He reports that a couple of properties in the £2.5m to £4m bracket have been bought by Americans who have never even set foot in Bath and purchased by video tour - perhaps after a lockdown spent watching Bridgerton. A number one hit in 83 countries, estate agents might feel assured that the ‘Bridgerton effect’ is being felt far and wide, yet the south-east Asian market is slower to return.

Somerset Road property, Savills, £3.8m

You can easily spend over £3m for one of the larger Grade I listed Georgian townhouses in central Bath – on Somerset Place, a listed crescent, Savills is selling a six-bedroom property for £3.8m, but also in Lansdown, one of the best locations, there’s a handsome four-bedroom end of terrace for sale at £2.25m. Just a pied a terre you’re after? A two-bedroom flat spread across the second floor of two Georgian townhouses nearby is available at £750,000, from Hamptons.

Lansdown Place, Bath with property for sale via Hamptons

Such is the shortage of homes for sale that some developers have launched phases of new-build schemes early to capture demand. Next to the canal on a former Ministry of Defence site at Holburne Park, new Georgian style terraced properties start from £580,000; whilst in a classically styled villa of just four apartments, Beckford Gate in Lansdown, new three-bedroom properties cost from £1.1m.

Families often tend to pick their area according to school access – the traffic across Bath is one of its downsides - with Oldfield Park and Bear Flat in the south popular choices. In the latter a four-bedroom Edwardian terraced house in Bath limestone is for sale at £845,000 – with Bath Spa train station only half a mile away for that part-time commute.

A 4-bed property for sale in Bear Flat, Wisden Homes

Bathwick – where there’s a three-bedroom end of terrace property for sale in at £665,000 - and Widcombe also offer good state schools. Says Chandra Devadason of Hamptons. 'The village atmosphere and the artisan shops of Widcombe Parade, the 10-minute flat walk into the centre and the canal on your doorstep all make it desirable.' Also, only a short promenade from the Holburne Museum, AKA Lady Danbury’s home in Bridgerton.

Written byLiz Rowlinson

Liz Rowlinson is a property writer and Editor of A Place in the Sun

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