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Anyone looking to expand their property portfolio may well have encountered the term “value gap”. It is a current favourite among estate agents to describe the price discrepancy between city and provincial markets. According to research from Savills, it can be substantial: in the UK the London property market is today about 35 per cent above its 2007 peak; in rural areas house prices are still 13 per cent down.

There is increasing talk about the bargains available by trading in a city bolt-hole for a place in the country. Oliver Knight, of estate agents Knight Frank, estimates that a well turned-out home in the Cotswolds will sell for about £500 per sq ft, while in inner London it is hard to find anything below £1,250 per sq ft. In super prime areas, such as Mayfair, that figure can be above £2,200, according to joint research from Lonres and Dataloft.

Overseas, the uplift can be even more pronounced. Diletta Giorgolo Spinola, head of sales at Sotheby’s office in Tuscany, says that the price per sq metre of an apartment in Rome is at least four times higher than that of a villa in the Marche countryside, and often a lot more. According to figures published by the Notaries of France, median prices in Paris can be up to seven times that of rural or provincial areas.

So, given £1m in spending money, is it better to go for a compact city pad or a sprawling country manor? The FT has compiled a list of five locations to show the difference. But before you decide which, it might be worth considering some words of warning from Roarie Scarisbrick, of the buying agents Property Vision. Earlier this year, he thought about trading in a three-bedroom house in Fulham and moving to the countryside outside London.

“I had dreams of gatehouses and lodges and rolling hills, and had to come back with my tail between my legs,” he says. “The reality is a tiny house in London is worth about as much as a tiny house in the home counties.” Only once you move beyond a commutable distance from the capital — Scarisbrick estimates about 70 miles away — does the value gap start to open up.

Still, with London fading — the prime market having dropped about 0.9 per cent in the 12 months to the first quarter of 2015, according to Savills — and the rural market holding steady, is now as good a time as any to buy a place in a remote corner of the countryside?

“It’s not a bad idea, but only if it works for you,” says Scarisbrick. “If you’re doing it for an investment play, then the chance of you making any money is a bit of gamble.”


Gloucester Terrace, Paddington, London, £995,000

One-bed flat in London

Where A short walk from Paddington station in central London, a 25-minute Tube ride to the City and a 40-minute drive from Heathrow.

What A one-bedroom apartment on the ground floor of a Victorian stucco-fronted building. The property has 753 sq ft of interior living space, featuring high ceilings, a good-sized living room and a separate kitchen.

Who Savills, savills.com, tel: +44 203 430 6604

Mill Hill House, Rake Lane, Eccleston, Cheshire, £995,000

Six-bed Mill Hill House in Cheshire

Where On the outskirts of the little village of Eccleston in rural Cheshire, 200 miles north-west of London and 45 minutes’ drive from Liverpool’s John Lennon airport.

What A grade II-listed, six-bedroom country house built in 1894 for Hugh Grosvenor, the 1st Duke of Westminster. The house, which has just under 3,000 sq ft of interior living space, has a large kitchen and breakfast room, three reception rooms and a large garden.

Who Strutt & Parker, struttandparker.com, tel: +44 1244 354880


241 Eldridge Street, New York City, $1.57m (£1.01m)

Two-bed Manhattan apartment

Where On the edge of the East Village in Lower Manhattan, a 10-minute drive from Wall Street and less than an hour’s drive from JFK international airport.

What A two-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment with more than 1,140 sq ft of interior living space. The apartment has a separate kitchen and an open-plan living and dining area.

Who Corcoran, corcoran.com, tel: +1 212 941 2561

Verbank Farm, 604 Verbank Road, Dutchess County, New York State, $1.52m (£974,000)

Verbank Farm in upstate New York

Where In a rural area of Millbrook, upstate New York, 80 miles north of Manhattan and about 60 miles from Westchester County airport.

What A three-bedroom converted barn with 2,400 sq ft of interior living space. The house, which dates from 1800, comes with more than six acres of grounds, including a large garden, an outdoor pool, an apple orchard and a three-stall stable with paddock.

Who Houlihan Lawrence, houlihanlawrence.com, tel: +1 845 677 6161


16th Arrondissement, Paris, €1.45m (£1.02m)

Two-bed apartment in Paris

Where Overlooking the Bois de Boulogne in the 16th Arrondissement, a 15-minute drive from La Défense business district and 35 minutes from Charles de Gaulle international airport.

What A two-bedroom apartment on the third floor of a modern building. The apartment measures 1,345 sq ft and features a large open-plan kitchen, dining and living space and a balcony overlooking the woods.

Who Chestertons International, chestertons-international.com, tel: +44 20 3040 8210

Honfleur, Calvados, Normandy, €1.57m (£1.12m)

Five-bedroom villa in Calvados, Normandy

Where In the hills outside the commune of Honfleur in Normandy, northern France, about 190km north-west of Paris and 35km from Le Harve airport.

What A five-bedroom, neoclassical villa with 3,024 sq ft of living space, including two bathrooms and two shower rooms. The villa has a large drawing room with parquet floors and a conservatory that opens on to one of two terraces. There is also a heated outdoor pool, a garden with a pond and a separate studio.

Who Chestertons International, chestertons-international.com, tel: +44 20 3040 8210


Via Margutta, Rome, €1.39m (£978,000)

Loft flat in central Rome

Where A short walk from the Spanish Steps in the centre of Rome, 15 minutes’ drive from Roma Termini train station and 35 minutes’ drive from Leonardo da Vinci international airport.

What A loft apartment with more than 750 sq ft of living space. The apartment has a double-height living and dining area and a bedroom on the mezzanine level above. There is also a roof terrace with lemon trees and views of Pincio hill and the Villa Borghese gardens.

Who Rome Sotheby’s International Realty, sothebysrealty.com, tel: +39 06 7925 8888

Villa Di Re, Ascoli Piceno, Marche, €1.45m (£1.02m)

Medieval hamlet with chapel in Marche

Where On the Via Romana between the villages of Mozzano and Rosaro in the Marche region of eastern Italy, 240km from Rome and 135km from Perugia international airport.

What A five-bedroom villa dating from the early 20th-century and built on the site of a medieval hamlet, offering a total 11,840 sq ft of living space. All of the medieval structures that remain on the 2.4-acre site are included within the sale, including a church built by Benedictine monks in AD898.

Who Sotheby’s International Realty, sothebysrealty.com, tel: +39 06 7925 8888

Hong Kong

The Pierre building, Central, Hong Kong Island, HK$13.3m (£1.09m)

One-bed apartment in Central

Where On Coronation Terrace, in the western Mid-Levels of Hong Kong Island, a 10-minute walk from Central MTR station and 35 minutes’ drive from Hong Kong international airport.

What A one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment with 307 sq ft of living space. The apartment comes furnished and features access to a shared terrace with an outdoor pool.

Who Savills, savills.com, tel: +44 20 7016 3740

Sai Kung, New Territories, HK$18m (£1.49m)

Villa in the New Territories

Where In the village of Wong Keng Tei in the north-eastern corner of the New Territories, 40 minutes’ drive from Hong Kong Island and 50 minutes’ drive from Hong Kong international airport.

What A four-bedroom villa with 2,100 sq ft of interior living space plus a garden. The apartment has an open-plan kitchen and living area, which opens out on to a terrace with views of Sai Kung East Country Park.

Who Savills, savills.com, tel: +44 20 7016 3740

Letter in response to this report

Joe Bradley couldn’t have afforded his tiny bedsit in Rome today / From Susan L Serbin

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