Guess who might be coming to dinner?

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The Independent Online

When seeking that perfectly situated new home, it is no longer sufficient to look only at transport links, the crime rate, local school league table results and future developments that may blot the landscape. In a world obsessed with fame, scanning celebrity gossip pages could prove a far more profitable exercise.

When seeking that perfectly situated new home, it is no longer sufficient to look only at transport links, the crime rate, local school league table results and future developments that may blot the landscape. In a world obsessed with fame, scanning celebrity gossip pages could prove a far more profitable exercise.

A recent survey of 1,000 British estate agents showed that the arrival of a notable neighbour will not only bring with it a host of gawping fans but also a healthy boost to house prices. But pick your celebrity wisely. Madonna or Mick Jagger will deliver a 20 per cent price increase in the house, with a next-door neighbour profiting by half that and the entire street averaging an 8 per cent boost.

But Tony Blair, despite his Prime Ministerial power, will get you only a 10 per cent rise, a mere 1 per cent more than actress Kate Winslet. Jamie Oliver, for all his TV exposure, will offer little immediate profit. The survey, by the internet property company Fish4homes, shows that a star at young Mr Oliver's level will merely "increase interest", not house value. The TV chef will no doubt be peeved to note that he allegedly commands no more property pulling power than any of the former Big Brother contestants.

Surprisingly, a non-Brit, Bill Clinton, seems to offer the greatest cachet as the bloke next door. Excited estate agents estimate that – should rumours of him buying a house in the UK prove true – a 35 per cent increase to neighbouring houses would follow.

Fish4homes researchers estimate that the Regency home in Marylebone, central London, recently bought by Madonna and Guy Ritchie for £5m could already have increased by £1m. A Conway Street neighbour of the Ritchies delightedly watched their house value rise from £1m to £1.3m in eight months, and a three-bedroom home in Park Square Mews, with an estimated value of £840,000, sold for £1m in 36 hours.

With Oasis guitarist Noel Gallagher also a resident, Marylebone is now fast becoming as popular as any of London's well-established upmarket neighbourhoods. "In London, Marylebone now joins Notting Hill and Hampstead to become an enclave of A, B and C-list celebrities," says Jonathan Lines of Fish4homes. "This makes the area more attractive to potential buyers who want to latch on to the celebrity scene and are happy to pay a premium to live in a trendy area."

Primrose Hill has been upgraded from quietly genteel to the epitome of cool, thanks to thespian ubercouple Jude Law and Sadie Frost, as well as Ewan McGregor, Ben Elton and Harry Enfield. Barnes in south-west London is also enjoying the limelight, with the highest number of Equity members in the capital.

Other hotspots in or around London include St Johns Wood (Sir Paul McCartney), Richmond (Mick Jagger), Chelsea (Hugh Grant), Buckinghamshire (Elton John and Spice Girl Mel B) and Hertfordshire (the Beckhams).

But Andrew Finc of DTZ Residential, developer of luxury apartment blocks in Manchester's burgeoning city centre, says those who can afford the million-pound penthouses are hardly swayed by the prospect of a star on their doorstep. "The people who buy these places are successful businessmen," he says. "It really doesn't make a lot of difference to them." And of course, the research offers scant consolation to those living in less affluent areas and unlikely to be targeted by the big hitters.

The phenomenon is undoubtedly London-centric, but there's one British backwater that's enjoying an amazing 20 per cent boost in property prices, thanks to the temporary residency of the heir to the throne – St Andrews in Scotland. And sleepy Southwold on the Suffolk coast has seen its prices rocket since Rowan Atkinson and Michael Palin both bought weekend cottages there.

So never mind all the late-night parties, hordes of visitors and paparazzi trampling through your back garden, it seems that stars make good neighbours after all.

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