Househunter Thaxted, Essex

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Newbiggin Street in the old town of Thaxted consists of a higgledy-piggledy row of pretty colour-washed cottages, some large, some tiny, some listed, all quaint and beamed. One of the smallest is number eight (third from the left), basically a two-up, two-down cottage, with an Aga in the kitchen, two bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs and a small patio at the back. Listed Grade II it is for sale from Trembath Welch in Great Dunmow (01371 872117) for pounds 67,000. For a few thousand more the same agents are selling number 24, a slightly bigger cottage with a garden and garage.

For what it's worth

This year has seen more than a dozen new estate agents open up in London, while in the country they have been putting up the For Sale signs on their own offices, as a result of a 20 per cent fall-off in business. Foxtons, Knight Frank & Rutley, Winkworth and Olivers are just some of the firms which have expanded in the capital, hoping to poach business from already established rivals. In the country Hamptons is the latest corporate chain to follow Black Horse Agencies in cutting back its numbers. Hamptons has announced the closure of 23 offices across the south of England, many in wealthy towns such as Sevenoaks, St Albans, Epsom, Kingston and Weybridge. However, in Wiltshire, Hamptons' regional director Gordon Straker has sounded a note of confidence, by buying out the Devizes and Calne offices.

Who's moving

Simon Bond, whose 101 Uses for a Dead Cat makes essential lavatory reading, is leaving his splendid country house in the Vale of Belvoir. The magnificent gardens which surround the nine-bedroom house appear unscarred by the owner's cats. Savills in Stamford (01780 66222) is asking for offers over pounds 500,000.

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