Sales of prime country homes across the UK have rocketed by 35 per cent in the year leading up to March 2014, compared with the previous year, with the numbers of potential buyers also rising an impressive 13 per cent, according to the latest analysis report published by Knight Frank.
Sales in regional towns have significantly outperformed targets, and are now only 3.3 per cent below the 2007 pre-crash peak, whilst sales in rural areas are still nearly 20 per cent below peak levels. There is particularly improved growth in commutable locations such as Oxford, Berkhamsted, Henley and Beaconsfield.
The sales recovery is significantly regionalised however, the firm’s report states that the turning point for the prime market outside the capital began in early 2013 and the recovery has carried on in to this year.
As the mainstream housing market continues to recover, with both sales and prices increasing, prime regional markets have also been lifted. Data from Knight Frank shows that the number of new applicants registering their interest in purchasing a country property has increased by 13 per cent over the year to May 2014, compared to the same period of time a year prior.
However, rising interest amongst potential purchasers only tells half of the story. Another way to measure the health of the market is by assessing activity. Across britain, excluding london, annual sales of luxury properties valued at over £500,000 have risen by 35 per cent year-on-year in March 2014.
Transactions have increased across all price ranges, including a 40 per cent jump between £1million and £2 million priced properties, a 35 per cent rise between £500,000 and £1 million, and a 22 per cent rise for properties worth over £2 million, according to data released by the Land registry. In Scotland, total sales were over 20 per cent higher than they were at the end of the first quarter the previous year.
Knight Frank explained that whilst rising sales volumes are certainly positive news, prime property purchases in england and are still significantly lower (10 per cent) than their pre-recession 2007 peak., and in many parts of the country, this percentage is much higher.
In contrast, the growing trend for prime market buyers to target target town and city properties outside of London has helped to fuel demand for homes in urban and city markets. Whilst both urban and rural markets have enjoyed a rise in demand there has still been a divergence between the two in terms of performance.
Town and city markets have indeed witnessed a much speedier rise in activity than their neighbouring rural counterparts. In fact at the end of Q1, annual sales of prime urban homes were just 3 per cent below their 2007 peak values, whilst rural properties of the same price bracket were 18 per cent behind their peak levels.
“There are several reasons why the urban homes market is in strong demand. Those with young families moving out of London want to take advantage of the significant price differential between London and the rest of the UK, whilst at the same time live in an urban area where their children can go to first rate schools within walking distance,” explained Rupert Sweeting of Knight Frank.
“There are similar recreational opportunities as they are used to in London such as restaurants, transport links, local amenities etc. In addition, we are seeing an older generation of buyers whose children have fled the nest, but are still fit and want to move to a town to be within walking distance of the shops, restaurants, GP surgeries as well as to have the ability to lock up and leave. Previously they have had to worry about the general maintenance of their rural properties,” he added.
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