Butler Sherborn News

25th April 2017

In our news article dated 14th March 2017 we reported the Government’s plans to significantly increase Probate Fees, the principle of which has been highly criticised.  It was reported at the end of last week that those plans have now been abolished so from now on at least there won’t be any changes with Probate Fees remaining at £215 per application (with a reduction to £155 if solicitors are acting). "This is very welcome news" comments Richard Greasby, head of Butler Sherborn’s professional valuation work.

Sam Butler of Butler Sherborn has welcomed news of the General Election on Thursday 8th June.


“By drawing a clear line under the uncertainty caused by the Referendum last year, Mrs May has set out to secure a mandate from the nation to press ahead and achieve a positive outcome for the United Kingdom post-Brexit. We know from history that at times like this we need strong leadership, and I admire her decision.


“This will be good news for the economy and consequently those wanting to buy and sell property, who will now be able to move home with renewed confidence.”

We are very lucky to work and live in the Cotswolds.  The countryside looks fabulous, particularly this Spring in the sunshine, and it is accessible to those who have to commute.  There is so much on offer from places to eat, things to do, cultural and sporting, and a wide variety of excellent schools.  What an area to bring up children!

The Cotswold country property market has not been immune from the uncertainties created by Brexit, the economy, global politics and the punitive increase in stamp duty at the higher end.  As a result, the reality is that we are in a buyers market.  Buyers know exactly what they want and what they will pay.  It is very expensive to move and this is exaggerated by house prices not rising at the moment.  This has had a downward effect on prices and supply.

Sellers want and need some certainly if they are going to move.  Currently the market is short of stock but as time goes on buyers and seller’s expectations should increasingly... more

6th April 2017

The valuation thresholds have reduced which means more properties will be caught by this tax net.

Like many of our farming and property owning clients, if you own a company that owns residential property in the UK then you have probably heard of ATED.  This is a tax charge that was introduced on the 1st April 2012 with tax payments based on the value of the properties owned.  When it was introduced it was only for properties in excess of £2.0 million however it now applies to properties worth more than £500,000.  The base date for values has been April 2012 (unless the property has been purchased since) however another important change is that the tax returns for 2017 through to 2023 will be based on values at April 2017. Reliefs for farmhouses, for example, are still available but returns are still required.

With the threshold falling and average house prices rising the revaluation will  bring more properties into the ATED net therefore in order to plan properly for next year’s return we advise thinking about commissioning valuations shortly.  This could be especially... more

4th April 2017

The London and Country Property Show

Promote your property effectivley in London at a dedicated Exibition in Chelsea, on Wednesday 10th May 2017 

Have you ever dreamt of owning the next Barters Hill or Raven’s Tower? Or watching your horse on a crisp Cotswold morning go through its paces on Ben’s gallops? And then listening as Ben gives his instructions to your jockey in the Parade Ring before a race? Then maybe, just maybe, welcoming your horse into the Winners Enclosure?

If you have, then we’re delighted to announce that for the start of the 2017-18 season we will be launching the Ben Pauling Racing Club.

Designed to be a low-cost ‘first foot on the ladder’ of horse ownership for anyone who is a jump racing fan, the club will initially be limited to 40 members and will own two horses. Ben intends to use his connections to buy for the Club one horse ready to race and a second who is yet to start his career. In that way, members can have both the excitement of a seeing their colours on the racecourse and also watch their young horse progress through the early stages of training towards its first race.

Membership will be available at two levels; there will be 35 standard members and 5 premium members.

All members will enjoy:

Two exclusive Club mornings on the gallops Invitation to the Ben Pauling Racing Owners pre-season event Regular Club updates on the progress of both horses Information about entries and declarations Entry... more
21st March 2017

‘Having had a brilliant run at Lincoln in the Advanced Intermediate this weekend on Galley Light, Ben is all set for Badminton.’

Both Ben and his fiancée Sarah Parkes are entered for this years Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials. This will be Ben's third time competing at the prestigious Cotswold event whilst it will be a debut for Sarah. Badminton is one of only 6 CCI 4* events in the world. As part of their preparation Ben and Sarah ran some of their top horses at Lincoln this weekend finishing in 2nd, 3rd and 4th in the AI, finishing close behind Kitty King and her Rio Olympics ride Ceylor Lan. Ben has provided us with the details of his principle horses and their plans for the current season which got under way earlier this month and runs through until the end of October

Current Horses for the 2017 Season:

Galley Light (14YO) – Aimed at Badminton in the spring and continue a 4* campaign.

Willows Tipster (13YO) –  Went to USA last season on British Nations Cup team, will at 3* with a 4* as an aim in the autumn.

Drumgooland (10YO) – Ex racehorse aimed at Novice /... more

20th March 2017

YES – Yes, of course they are!

Cleaning costs are the most common reason for deduction from a tenancy deposit, and while cleaning standards can be subjective, it is also the most disputed claim. 

It is important to bear in mind that tenants should return the property in the same state as it was provided to them, less wear and tear.   Fair wear and tear does not apply to cleaning, so the standard of cleanliness is the same.   An item can be worn and aged, it should still be clean.

For example, if your oven was brand new at the start of the tenancy or you had the oven professionally cleaned then you can expect to have this returned to the same standard on return.  If the tenant domestically cleaned the oven and it is not up to standard, they would still be responsible for the full cost to the landlord to have this professionally cleaned. 

You cannot expect the tenant to pay for the full cost of a professional clean if the property has been domestically clean at the start of the.   Landlords... more

17th March 2017

Tenants, it’s that time of the year when you need to ‘spring into action’ when it comes to your obligations with garden maintenance.


When viewing properties in the countryside, often a garden can have a deciding influence; however it’s worth bearing in mind that with a beautifully manicured garden comes commitment, dedication and spend in terms of what is required to keep it that way – especially if it is a second home! Grass grows at its quickest in the summer months and plants will need watering, meaning regular hours of upkeep is required.

It’s simple to keep on top of gardening chores if you know what you are doing and do them regularly. For those with green fingers spending time in the garden can be relaxing as well as rewarding, giving individuals and their families great pleasure spent outdoors during your tenancy (if your Tenancy Agreement allows).  For those that aren’t so gifted or don’t have the luxury of time, a low maintenance option of placing a few colourful plant pots outside can have an equally satisfying effect.


Garden maintenance and your responsibilities as a... more

14th March 2017

The Ministry of Justice has recently confirmed how it would like to reform fees for the Grant of Probate.  Currently there is a flat fee system of £215 where there is a personal application or £155 for those applying through a solicitor.

The Government is proposing to introduce a banded system.  Estates below £50,000 will pay nothing.  A minimum fee of £300 applies for estates worth between £50,000 and £300,000 rising to a whopping £20,000 fee for estates worth over £2.0 million.  There are a variety of bands in between, all of which see a significant rise.  These changes are expected to be implemented by May 2017.

These proposals not only add a potentially significant cost to a deceased’s estate however we understand that the fee will need to be payable upfront which could be a significant problem when there are not the cash reserves within the estate to pay it.  This will put Executors or beneficiaries in the position where they need to personally pay the fee and... more

14th March 2017


The RICS/RAU rural land market survey has just been published for H2 2016 which points to a further softening in demand for farmland during that period.  Demand fell across both mixed use and commercial farmland sectors during the second half of 2016 largely as a result of uncertainty over Brexit and future subsidies as well as low commodity prices. The bare land opinion based survey suggests that values at the end of 2016 were an average of £8,625 per acre for arable land and £7,250 per acre for pasture land.


The survey also confirmed that the availability of farmland decreased nationally, but despite that, the weaker demand is expected to lead to further decline in prices over the next 12 months.

Richard Greasby, Head of Butler Sherborn’s Rural Department, contributes opinion and market evidence to the RICS/RAUI survey.  Richard reports that for our Cotswolds and  Oxfordshire market, prices achieved for land sales... more

10th March 2017

Five Festival Chances for the Butler Sherborn sponsored Ben Pauling Racing

HighBridge – Supreme Novice Hurdle, 2 miles Tuesday.

He has won his three starts over hurdles this season and is going there in great form. He appears to have plenty of speed so should travel well through the race. He also stays well which is important as they go very quickly in this race, especially as it is the first race of the whole meeting and the jockeys are normally a little over excited!


A Hare Breath – Arkle Novice Chase, 2 miles Tuesday.

He has a very big task ahead of him, as Altior, the favourite in the race, is most people’s idea of the banker of the meeting. I couldn’t be happier with A Hare Breath and Richard Johnson has been booked to ride him. He won his first chase this season and then was third in a grade 2 at Doncaster, but the race didn’t work out in our favour at all with it being a slow early gallop. He wants a fast end to end gallop as he stays well and he has very good course form, which is always a big plus. If we ran into a... more



Saturday 25th March 2017 at Siddington, near Cirencester

First race at 1.30pm

Butler Sherborn requests the pleasure of your company for drinks at Car Park spaces 29 and 30.



3rd March 2017


The Hedgerow and Boundary grant is individually worth up to £5,000 and is designed to help farmers improve farmland boundaries.

The application window for the £5 million scheme is now open and closes on 28 April 2017. 

Farmers can apply for a one-off grant towards the restoration of a range of traditional boundaries including hedgerows, dry stone walls, stone-faced banks and earth banks. Payment rates are fixed for each item. These include hedge-laying or coppicing, hedgerow restoration through gapping-up, stone-faced bank repair and stone wall restoration, which can include a top wiring supplement.

It is important to note that the land parcel cannot, on the start date of the agreement, be in an agri-environment scheme. The application process is competitive. Priority is given to smaller holdings and restoring hedges or walls is preferred to stone-faced or earth banks. More points are awarded if the application is for more than £1,000, and if the... more

2nd March 2017


Butler Sherborn’s expert property valuations move to a higher level, with evidence recently being given in the High Court, London.

Richard Greasby, who heads Butler Sherborn’s formal valuation work, undertakes a significant number of expert valuation cases, however most are settled without needing to go to Court.  Many valuers therefore do not have any Court experience.   "I have been fortunate to have previously gained experience by giving evidence in the County Court for divorce purposes which involved protracted cross examination .  This undoubtedly helped in my preparation for my recent  appearance in the High Court in London" says Richard.

Richard 's recent case has involved a  complicated property dispute.  His role was to produce a substantial expert report last year, settling points of difference and producing a Joint Statement for the Court with the opposing expert valuer, attending meetings with legal teams and finally appearing at the High Court in... more

1st March 2017

Housing White Paper Aims to Deliver Growth

The government has launched last month its latest housing white paper;

'Fixing our Broken Housing Market'

The government believes that the lack of homes being built across the country has resulted in the sharp rise in house prices compared to average income.

Since the 1970’s, there has been an average of 160,000 homes built per year, with research suggesting the actual amount needed is in the region of 225,000 to 275,000 per year. Last year 190,000 new homes were completed.

The research states that between 1997 and 2010 the ratio of average house price to average income doubled, from 3.5 to 7.  The 5 years to 2015 has seen it creep up to just over 7.5 as illustrated on the graph below, taken from the governments accompanying report. (Source: DCLG live table 578)

The government sees the issue as primarily an undersupply of homes, and has targeted a number of areas to increase housing supply.

Local Authorities

The Government... more

15th February 2017

Richard Palmer Head of Energy and Estate Management at Butler Sherborn talked to BF & G about the future of renewables.

There are still opportunities for investment in energy and renewable projects for farmers but the key challenges still remain; balancing Government subsidy, planning and grid connection. - Richard Palmer, Butler Sherborn

Richard Palmer Head of Energy and Estate Management at Butler Sherborn talked to BF & G about the future of renewables.  

"There was no specific mention of Climate Change in the Autumn Statement, although £390 million worth of investment was pledged towards low carbon transport by 2020-21.  The Government also ratified the Paris Agreement at the beginning of November working towards a zero emissions economy by the end of the century.

"The 2015 Government Policy and Spending Reviews of the Renewables Obligation (RO), Feed-in Tariff (FiT) combined with uncertainty regarding the future of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), hit investor confidence and financial returns in renewable generation projects."

Mr. Palmer pointed out that the... more

31st January 2017

2016 was a successful year for the Butler Sherborn Land & New Homes discipline and it was a year in which the majority of our business was transacted with small to medium size developers building their product primarily in the villages across Oxfordshire and The Cotswolds.

One of the striking trends of the year was the sheer strength of the "down sizer" market place and the higher incidence of this characteristic amongst younger retirees and those approaching this time of life, so the 55 yr old - 65 yr old buyer. In The Cotswolds, this was clearly emphasised in the profile of
buyers introduced by Butler Sherborn to the Kearsey Court development on the periphery of popular Charlbury - a collection of bespoke built detached houses by H.Willis Ltd. 80% of the purchasers here fell in to this burgeoning demographic and the entire scheme was successfully reserved within 5 months of the marketing launch.

Architectural treatment of new homes has been very much traditional for decades, but it is evident that creative architectural treatments can attract buyers and moreover, buyers will pay more for a property that has had a more thoughtful / creative approach applied its architectural appearance. This was in evidence when Butler Sherborn acted... more

26th January 2017

Sensible pricing and being well prepared are key factors in ensuring a successful, smooth sale this year.


As we head into 2017, the property market is no different from any other sector.  There is inevitable uncertainty surrounding Brexit and things are going to be difficult to call, politically and economically. But whatever happens, life goes on.

The availability of good quality properties for sale will remain restricted - although we did see this beginning to ease towards the end of 2016 and now into 2017, and people will remain disinclined to pay more stamp duty than necessary. 

Some people will want to sell their home, either to move up to something larger for their growing family, downsize, or to move to another part of the country for whatever reason, so being sensible on pricing and very well prepared is the best advice we can offer clients to ensure the smoothest and most successful result.

Here are Sam’s seven ‘top tips’ for selling property successfully this year:


1. Prices are unlikely to rise by much, if at all, so sensible... more

25th January 2017

It is that time of year again, when weather bulletins report ‘it’s the coldest…; it’s the wettest…; it’s the whitest…'


With dipping temperatures across the UK, households are once again preparing their winter woollens and de-icer for their cars.  It is also important for home owners and tenants to efficiently heat their properties, to prevent damp, mould, cold draughts or other nasty issues.   With this, for some, comes the worry of cost implications, with ever spiralling energy bills. 

There are other ways to keep warm and your homes protected, whilst keeping the costs under control.  Here are a few handy tips:


1. Draw the curtains (or blinds)

When it starts to get colder and darker, keep as much heat in as possible, by closing the windows and drawing the curtains.  Good thick curtains that are lined will also act as a draught excluder. However, it is just as important to ventilate your home as much as you can. Failure to do so could lead to problems with condensation, damp and mould.

Don’t be tempted to keep the curtains closed all day – as any light... more

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