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19 Jul 2019

Million-pound houses: where are buyers flocking for prime properties?

London lull seems prime postcodes flounder after a decade of growth

London's prime property market has flatlined, with buyers in the market for million-pound houses now looking to the Midlands. So, where are the new million-pound hotspots for property today?

A new report from Lloyds Bank shows that the prime property sales in London are coming to a standstill after a decade of unprecedented growth, yet other areas of the UK are picking up speed.

Here, we take a look at the areas where million-pound-house sales are on the rise, and offer advice on how to get a mortgage on a high-value property.

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Decline in million-pound house sales

Data from Lloyds Bank shows that 14,638 properties were sold for a million pounds or more across the UK in 2018, growth of just 1% year-on-year. This comes off the back of a decade of mammoth growth, with sales rising 194% between 2008 and 2018.

The drop is largely explained by prime sales in the London market grinding to a halt.

The English capital saw a 224% increase in million-pound sales between 2008 and 2018 (from 2,566 to 8,308 a year). Yet sales dropped 0.5% year-on-year in 2018.

Where are people buying million-pound homes?

London and the South East still make up the largest proportion of million-pound-house sales, though activity in both regions tapered off in 2018.

Instead, the biggest percentage increase in million-pound sales last year came in the East Midlands (38%) and Scotland (14%).

The table below shows the number of annual sales at £1m or more in reach region.

Region200820172018Year-on-year change
South East1,2803,3773,3900%
East of England3521,2081,33410%
South West236676668-1%
North West1282943209%
West Midlands6519822313%

London still leads the way at local level

While the capital's market might have slowed down, London still boasts nine of the 10 local authorities with the most million-pound sales, with Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea, and Wandsworth the top three areas.

Outside of London, the areas with the most sales were Elmbridge (South East), St. Albans (East) and Edinburgh (Scotland), all of which saw more than 100 prime sales.

RegionLocal authorityMillion pound property sales (2018)
South EastElmbridge429
East of EnglandSt Albans193
South WestPoole80
North WestCheshire East102
West MidlandsWarwick43

What can you buy for a million pounds?

Of course, how much value for money you can expect depends on three key words: location, location and location.

The East Midlands saw the biggest percentage increase in million pound sales in 2018, and it's no wonder. Prime buyers can enjoy luxury homes in a region benefiting from great transport links and its own airport.

According to current listings on Rightmove, you can buy a 7,600 square-foot five-bedroom property in Swadlincote, Derbyshire for £1.25m. Buyers with a budget of £3.75m, meanwhile, can get their hands on a seven-bedroom Grade I listed mansion in the village of Bunny, Nottinghamshire. With good negotiating skills, you might even be able to shave some cash off the asking price.

Then again, even a million pounds won't stretch far in some areas.

Seven-figures in Pimlico, London will stretch to a two-bedroom flat, while buyers looking for a three-bedroom semi will have to look further afield to Kensal Rise, North London.

At the other end of the scale, those with £20m lying around can secure a five-bedroom property in Notting Hill with its own swimming pool.

Can you get a mortgage on a million-pound home?

Some million-pound homes are cash purchases by the rich and famous, but others are purchased in a more conventional way, with a standard residential mortgage.

When we researched the million pound mortgage market back in February, we found that around one in four (23%) of mortgages were available with maximum loan sizes of at least £1m, with Barclays, Metro Bank, NatWest and Ulster offering the biggest mortgages, up to a maximum of £10m.

The vast majority of million pound mortgages required deposits of at least 25% of the value of the home.

There are also options available for buy-to-let landlords looking to take a leap into more expensive markets.

In May, Which? analysed buy-to-let mortgagesfound that investors could theoretically take out loans of up to £5m at 60-65% loan-to-value (LTV). This figure dropped to £3m for 70-80% LTV, and £1m at 85% LTV.

Are we in a buyer's market?

The lull in sales isn't unique to prime markets, with uncertainty around the UK's withdrawal from the EU causing a drop in transactions across the board.

According to data from HMRC, the number of properties sold in the UK fell to 1.19m in 2018, a decrease of 2.7% on the 1.22m recorded a year earlier.

And there are signs that this trend has continued in 2019, with fewer than 100,000 transactions recorded each month in the first quarter of the year.

This fall in transactions hasn't necessarily resulted in house prices dropping, however, with fewer homes coming onto the market.

Land Registry data shows that average house prices during the first four months of 2019 were consistently around £3,000 higher than those recorded last year. In April, the average price stood at £229,093, up around 1.5% on last year's £224,750.

Of course, there's no such thing as an 'average' house, with location, condition and local amenities playing a key role. This means that prices can vary significantly from street to street, let alone town to town.

How to find the best place to live

If you're searching for a new home, you might have a few different areas in mind, and making a decision can be difficult.

We're here to help, with an interactive tool providing key information about every local authority in England - including the number of good and outstanding schools, average house prices and happiness scores - to help you decide where to live.

To get started, simply type the name of an area or its postcode into the box below.