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County continues to lure buyers

PUBLISHED: 17:28 08 June 2006 | UPDATED: 10:59 22 October 2010

How do you judge quality of life? The question will, no doubt, elicit a different response from each of us, but most people who live in Norfolk and the majority of those who visit are united on one point - the county appears to have that elusive mix of options and opportunities essential for a good quality of life.

How do you judge quality of life? The question will, no doubt, elicit a different response from each of us, but most people who live in Norfolk and the majority of those who visit are united on one point - the county appears to have that elusive mix of options and opportunities essential for a good quality of life.

Estate agents continue to sell strongly to incomers, not only on the north Norfolk coast but in and around Norwich, in market towns, the King's Lynn area and in south Norfolk villages in easy travelling distance of Norwich.

Among this expanding “outsider” group are hundreds of returning sons and daughters, drawn back to their roots after establishing careers in London and elsewhere. They too are enticed by the standard of living, the splendid, unspoilt coast and countryside, value for money in period and new-build property, and expanding career opportunities in a vibrant city economy.

Chartered surveyor Tim Stephens, above right, is a good example. After a successful London property career, he came back to Norwich three years ago to establish a branch of independent national country house agency Humberts, and is glad he made the move. He admits establishing the Humberts name locally has been hard work, and pits him against other national country house agents with a higher local profile, but feels he is beginning to make inroads into the top-price sector.

“Humberts now has more than 40 offices nationally and a high profile elsewhere, but until relatively recently we were not particularly well known here,” says Mr Stephens.

While Humberts nationally has rebranded, Mr Stephens is expanding his Tombland office to include the land agency, commercial and country house expertise of fellow chartered surveyor Hugh Stimpson, above left, who will act as a consultant.

Mr Stimpson comes from a well-known Norfolk farming family - his late father John farmed at Hackford Hall, near Reepham - and has made his home here for some time, while still maintaining business connections forged in his metropolitan career. He worked in central London for many years, for John D Wood and other agencies, and helped set up the multi-discipline firm Egertons, dealing with everything from townhouses, through country houses to farms and commercial properties.

“I am at heart a farming and country person,” he declares. “Land agency, buying and selling farms and country properties is what I am particularly involved with, although I shall be assisting Tim on the residential side, too.

“Norfolk has a huge appeal, as evidenced by the considerable influx of people moving here from London and the South East; significantly at the top end of the market. I receive many inquiries from applicants who are seeking country properties with land for amenity as well as farming. There is a dearth of such properties.”

The two men have a bullish view of the local market, believing that confidence in bricks and mortar will remain high.

Mr Stephens adds: “I think the economy is on the right track, and what debt there is remains controllable, so long as interest rates are stable. The London market is very busy and the knock-on effects should filter through to this region in the latter half of the year. However, vendors still need to pitch their asking price at a realistic level to attract good buyers with cash who will move quickly for the right property.”


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