Market hots up for homes over a cool million

Million plus property''Blubberhouses Hall Carter Jonas
Million plus property''Blubberhouses Hall Carter Jonas
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The top end of the market is picking up as those with big budgets go shopping for property. Sharon Dale reports

The fabulous homes of the rich are an easy target when it comes to envy but millionaires’ row is not immune to the vagaries of the property market.

The top end is often the last to recover after a recession, which sees fortunes lost and companies kiss goodbye to those on big salaries

Now the self-made and the salaried are back shopping for property.

Patrick McCutcheon, of Dacre, Son and Hartley, says: “We have seen the number of seven figure-plus transactions double this year. It looks as if the improved trading conditions have finally reached the upper sector. More merger and acquisition activity and better business conditions are driving higher bonus payments and dividends, enabling buyers to enter the upper sectors with greater enthusiasm.”

Prices haven’t yet recovered as well as in the lower market, according to Dacres, so there are bargains to be had, including Lane End Farm at Denton, near Ilkley, at £1.895m (pictured).

Right at the top, Tim Waring, head of Knight Frank Harrogate, has the most expensive home in Yorkshire for sale. Loftus Hill, near Knaresborough, is “price on application”, so you have to make an educated guess at how much it is. There’s a good chance it will go to someone from out of the area. Last year almost half of all those buying a property through Knight Frank in Yorkshire were from outside the region

“We are seeing a slight increase in demand for homes at the very top end,” says Tim. “Properties between £5million and £10million are often sold very discreetly off market to buyers who are very specific about their requirements. There is no compromise.”

What they want is peace and privacy, which means a house sat in the middle of its own land. Security and proximity to good transport links are also important.

They rarely want an enormous, Downton-style pile, which is why anything over 20,000 sq ft looks cheap thanks to a “quantum price reduction for size”.

Hotspots for wealthy house hunters include Leeds, York, Harrogate and Wetherby, and Simon Wright, head of Leeds residential at Carter Jonas, says there is a lack of supply thanks to a post-election boost in sales.

Ed Stoyle, head of residential at the York office, suggests that canny buyers should widen their search to the East Riding. “Prices here have been reaching the £1million mark but you get more house for your money.”

Estate agent Simon Blyth beckons them to look at the Huddersfield and Holmfirth areas.

“This area not only offers good value and some fantastic former mill owners’ houses and farms, it offers great commutability via the M62 and M1.”

Over in Calderdale, Stewart Charnock-Bates, owner of the Charnock Bates agency, says interest from Manchester is driving the upturn in sales.

Barkisland, Soyland and Ripponden are favourites with those who work in the North West.

“Pre recession there was a big demand because salaried people could get large mortgages. Now, the majority of buyers are business people, directors of companies, those who have sold companies and those who have inherited,” says Stewart, who adds that investment is a driving force.

“These people want to put their money in property. It’s a safe asset that continues to perform well over the long term.”