Lakes dream realised despite freehold barrier

A Liverpudlian couple has bought a Lake District farmhouse and private park in a leasehold deal arranged by hotel agents at Colliers International.

Elterwater Park is a 19th Century stone farmhouse surrounded by private parkland at Skelwith, Ambleside. The farmhouse has four letting bedrooms with five further letting rooms overlooking a courtyard in five converted cottages. The complex also features a traditional Lakeland stone barn recently converted into a tea and function room.

Neil and Lesley McCririe have left careers in teaching to realise an ambition of running a bed-and-breakfast in the Lakes.

Neil Thomson, associate director in the specialist hotels division of the North West office of real estate advisors Colliers International in Manchester, sold the leasehold interest from an asking price of £225,000. The vendors of the leasehold, Roger and Cornelia Leavesley, have retired to Scotland. The leasehold is for 10 years and runs from August 2009. The identity of the freehold owner was not disclosed.

Thomson said many buyers such as the McCriries have found it difficult to source affordable freehold bed and breakfast properties in the Lake District due to high property values and because their lack of experience in operating such businesses can deter banks from lending in some cases.

He said: "We were able to help them purchase Elterwater Park with cash at a fraction of the freehold value and without the need for bank funding. The sale demonstrates that despite problems with the current market, there are plenty of good quality and profitable leasehold opportunities being overlooked by potential buyers.

"Why encumber yourself with ownership of the freehold and a large mortgage when acquiring a leasehold investment can offer you the same rewards?

"Sellers who can't sell in the current difficult market could consider creating new leases to meet demand from likeminded buyers, while retaining their investment in the property which is likely to increase in value over the longer term."

Lesley said Colliers' expert knowledge of the property and assurances they received about the lease from the firm was "massive" for them. The said: "For the first time in 32 years of married life we were embarking on a big unknown in which all of our equity was being put into a business and not buying bricks and mortar. Our insecurities were addressed by Colliers and as things stand it is possibly one of the best things we have ever done.

"Paying rent is no different to paying a mortgage and we are living in a property that is beyond our wildest dreams. Colliers played a huge role in the realisation of this dream."

Elterwater Park, which had a turnover of £81,000 in the year to March 2011, was comprehensively refurbished by the previous operator including the installation of a geo-thermal heating system.

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