It’s not a formal term but the colloquialism “gone mad” is now the most oft used phrase to describe the housing market in Yorkshire. Homes are flying off the shelves within days thanks, in part, to a lack of stock, along with a strong desire to move now that people’s wants and needs have been changed by the pandemic.
On the scale of market madness in God’s Own County, Masham is right up there at the top in the “completely crazy” category. The quaint and historic market town has always been popular and its recent inclusion in the Sunday Times Best Places to Live guide 2021 has alerted even more would-be buyers to its many charms.
The guide put Masham in the top six places to live in Yorkshire, stating: “Masham’s magnificent location has given this picturesque Wensleydale market town an edge this year. It looks and feels like the deepest Yorkshire Dales but there’s nothing remote about it. Ripon, Yorkshire’s smallest city by dint of its cathedral, with its top selective school and Curzon cinema, is 10 miles away. Harrogate and York are under an hour away by car. It’s this best of both worlds combination that makes Masham a magnet for outdoor-minded downsizers and relocating families downsizers and relocating families.”
Estate agent Giles Edwards, whose eponymous agency is based in the historic market town, is evangelical about Masham’s charms and speaks with authority and from the heart, as he also lives there. He says: “It really is an incredible place to live. The only problem is that there are very few homes for sale here as they are being snapped up very quickly, especially attractive period homes. We put them on social media locally first and it’s not uncommon to have 12 viewings and three or four people bidding before we put them on the property portals.”
For a small town, Masham punches way above its weight in terms of amenities. It has a bank, a garage, a GP surgery, a beautiful Norman church, a community hub and visitor centre in the town hall, four pubs, markets on Wednesday and Saturday, a Co-op and a great selection of independent shops.
The latter includes two butchers, a greengrocer, a fish and chip shop, a deli, a bakery, a wine merchant, hairdressers and a sweet shop. The cafes include the popular Johnny Baghdad’s, and visitors often make a beeline for the award-winning Vennells restaurant. Tourists are also drawn to the Black Sheep and Theakstons breweries, which have visitor centres and the Masham Gallery on the square. To cap it all, the renowned Swinton Park country club and spa is a 10-minute drive away.
“Everything you need is here and it is a very friendly place. There’s always something to do and it is one of those places where you just feel relaxed,” says Giles.
Accessibility is also a selling point, as the A1M at Bedale is just six miles and a 10-minute drive way and you can get to Leeds in an hour. Property values reflect Masham’s attractions. The average house price is £358,294, which Zoopla say is 7.17 per cent higher than this same time last year.
“It’s difficult to get first-time buyers on the property ladder but there are one-bedroom flats on The Oaks, built in the 1980s, and there is a small amount of ex-council property. It is also difficult to find five-bedroom houses,” says Giles, who gives us the heads up on a rare new-build development. “I’ve just sold a field to a local developer who is planning to put five to six-bedroom houses on there.”