Number of £1m homes hits record as prices keep rising

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The million-pound home, that former preserve of the super-rich, is becoming ever more common as house prices continue their remorseless rise. Despite increasing gloom in the City and fears of a global economic downturn, a record number of houses costing seven figures were sold in England and Wales in the third quarter of this year, Land Registry figures reveal.

The million-pound home, that former preserve of the super-rich, is becoming ever more common as house prices continue their remorseless rise. Despite increasing gloom in the City and fears of a global economic downturn, a record number of houses costing seven figures were sold in England and Wales in the third quarter of this year, Land Registry figures reveal.

In the three months to September, sales of million-pound-plus houses in England and Wales reached 715, compared with 491 in the same quarter in 2000, 327 in 1999, and 106 in 1996. These sales are concentrated in London, and especially in new "millionaire's rows" – typically areas populated by young professional families on the edges of the capital.

"Millionaire's row" is a term that will now need redefining. Twenty years ago it applied only to a couple of well-known roads in London: The Bishop's Avenue in Hampstead – a long stretch of Dallas-style mansions – and Kensington Palace Gardens, a leafy carriage drive.

Now "millionaire's rows" can be found dotted across the city. In some of London's prosperous suburban enclaves, especially on the south-western side from Clapham and Wandsworth to Putney and Richmond, £1m-plus is now the going rate for a desirable but unspectacular family house.

"The new hotspots south-west of London are pushing these figures up," said Yolanda Barnes, the head of residential research at the estate agents FPD Savills, which markets top-of-the-range properties. The firm identified Putney and Wandsworth as an area of "exceptionally high" growth in £1m plus sales. The area, home to a large proportion of City professionals, boomed in the 1990s due partly to the relocation there of fee-paying schools.

In the Land Registry's highest category (£2m plus), there was a 43 per cent increase in sales to 139 in the third quarter, although experts believe there will soon be a downturn because of a lack of confidence in the global economy.

Ms Barnes said: "At the top end of the market people buy with equity and are much less reliant on borrowing. Jitters resulting from 11 September have yet to filter into the highest category so the early part of next year will be interesting."

During 2000, 1,000 homes costing between £1m and £2m were sold in London alone, while more than 500 were sold for more than £2m. This year's totals are expected to be higher. In the first nine months of this year, 1,599 homes costing more than £1m were sold in England and Wales, a 32 per cent increase on the figure for 2000. Since Land Registry records began in 1996, sales of £1m-plus homes have increased fivefold, according to calculations by The Independent.

The slopes of Richmond Hill in south-west London fit the bill of a new "millionaire's row". Rock stars such as Mick Jagger and Pete Townshend live in multimillion-pound mansions at the top.

Stephen Davis, 65, an architectural illustrator, bought his five-bedroom semi-detached home in Mount Ararat Road for £27,000 in 1974. It is now valued at just over £1m. Mr Davis said: "It's always a nice feeling to know at the back of my mind that I could buy a big pile in the country for the price of this house. But I am genuinely surprised at how so much property in certain areas is breaking through the £1m mark."

His neighbour, Jane Small, who shares her five-bedroom home with her partner, Geoff Parsons, and three children, was less surprised. The family acquired the house a decade ago for just over £400,000 and it is now valued at about £1.5m.

Ms Small, 54, said: "It's really not that unusual any more in many parts of London.

"If we sold and moved to another fashionable area we would still be paying the same sort of money. If we wanted to live in Wimbledon we could be heading towards the £2m mark."

* Tokyo-based architects, Ushida Findlay, have won a Royal Institute of British Architects (Riba) prize for a 21st century interpretation of the English country home.

Comments