31 May 2002

Big-money estate to be sold in public

MULTI-MILLION £ estates are rarely sold publicly at auction, with most vendors preferring the secrecy of the private treaty system.

But if Strutt & Parker and FPDSavills fail to get away the Moyns Park Estate by July 2 that is exactly what will happen. The 417-acre estate on the Essex/Suffolk border, which comes with a 10-bedroom mansion, was launched with unfortunate timing just a few days after the World Trade Centre disaster last September and has languished on the market ever since.

"The vendor (Baron Steven Bentinck) has decided to set a deadline and an auction is the ultimate tool for getting a definite result. It is a very bold course of action, but fortune favours the bold," said S&P agent Mark McAndrew.

Even bolder is the reduction in guide price. Initially set at £7.5m it has now been slashed to £4.5m. Although to some eyes this may seem a little desperate, Mr McAndrew denied this was the case. "I know it may smell like a fire sale, but our client is a very wealthy individual."

He claimed the approach was working and had generated lots of interest. No doubt the two selling agents are secretly hoping that heated bidding in the auction room will send the eventual price achieved soaring close to the original guide.

Meanwhile, across the country some more modest smallholdings have been selling well under the hammer. In the midlands, after sending out 600 sets of particulars, Godfrey-Paton successfully disposed of a dilapidated farmhouse and 35 acres near Rugby last week for £551,000, a hefty £200,000 above the pre-auction guide.

Earlier in the month, Hereford-agent Williams Parry Richards knocked down Cothars Farm near Ross on Wye for £365,000. The property included 21 acres of pastureland and a four-bedroomed house in need of modernisation. &#42

Heading north, Hopes of Wigton reoffered the remaining lot of Brownrigg Farm, Seaville, Cumbria, that failed to sell when the holding was marketed privately last September. A family sized house, a range of buildings and 38 acres fetched £250,000.