Sales of £1m homes soaring

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The Independent Online

House price inflation is running at double-digit levels in a fifth of London boroughs, thanks to a surge in the number of million-pound homes changing hands, official figures showed today.

A total of 652 properties were sold for a seven-figure sum in the capital in the first three months of the year, a 62 per cent increase on the same period a year ago, the Land Registry said.

This helped push annual house price inflation in London up to 6.3 per cent from 4.5 per cent in the previous quarter, outstripping the 5 per cent for England and Wales. The figures are the latest in a run of reports to show London is the engine of the recent rebound in housing market activity.

The breakdown of the data, which is not adjusted for season or mix of sales, showed pockets of soaring prices within the capital. Hounslow posted the largest rise, 13.6 per cent, while Hammersmith & Fulham and Camden showed 13 per cent rises. Westminster, Kensington & Chelsea, Lambeth and Sutton were all in double digits. Seven of London's 33 boroughs had double-digit inflation.

The number of homes changing hands in the capital soared more than 40.7 per cent, compared with a 37.5 per cent increase in England and Wales.

One London estate agency, Haart, said yesterday prices in the capital were on track to post a 7 per cent rise in the first half of the year. Its price index recorded a 1.5 per cent rise in April while the number of sales was up more than 50 per cent on last year.

Knight Frank, a rival estate agent, said over the weekend annual price growth in "prime" central London had surged to 14.7 per cent in April, its highest since March 2001.

Demand was up more than 40 per cent on the year while the number of homes for sale had fallen 20 per cent, Knight Frank said.

Milan Khatri, the chief economist of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, said the turnaround in the economy in 2006 meant house prices would show further gains in the months ahead.