'19% more' property millionaires

Kensington StreetThe number of property millionaires in Britain has soared by almost a fifth year-on-year despite the housing market's continued difficulties, a study has found.

There are more than 300,000 property millionaires estimated in Britain, showing a 19% annual increase, property search website Zoopla said.

Relatively strong price growth in London and the South East has helped to push the value of a further 47,024 properties over £1 million during 2012, bringing the total to 300,142, the study found.

London has had strong demand from wealthy overseas buyers looking for a safe haven from the eurozone troubles and prices have also been driven up by a limited number of homes in these markets for potential buyers to choose from, Zoopla said.

The website also pointed out that wealthier buyers were often less reliant on the need to raise a mortgage, meaning many of them have been more sheltered from the effects of lenders tightening their borrowing criteria amid the weak economy.

Almost two-thirds (64%) of Britain's property millionaires live in London, with the equivalent of 100 new property millionaires being created in the English capital every day last year, Zoopla said.

Kensington wears the crown for the biggest concentration of property millionaires in Britain, with homes there costing an average of £2.2 million. The value of the equivalent floor space in Kensington to an Amazon Kindle (228cm squared) is a staggering £389, researchers found. Despite its relatively small size as a London borough at 12km squared, Kensington and Chelsea contains 12% of Britain's property millionaires at 36,293.

Lawrence Hall, spokesman for Zoopla.co.uk, said: "The top end of the property market operates seemingly in isolation to the rest of the market. Wealthier buyers are relatively impervious to the economic problems affecting the rest of the market, most notably when it comes to getting a mortgage. Foreign buyers in particular have gravitated towards top-end property in London over the last few years, which has pushed up demand and prices on more expensive property as they try to secure a limited supply of top-end homes in the capital."

Some analysts have suggested that a 7% stamp duty rate on homes worth over £2 million which was introduced last spring could cause the top end of the London market to cool off slightly this year, although there is general agreement that prices in the English capital are likely to continue on an upward path in 2013.

Across the rest of Britain, the number of property millionaires in Scotland broke through the 7,000 barrier last year, while outside London and the South West, the East of England has the biggest concentration of property millionaires, with more than 20,000. Wales has the lowest number of property millionaires on a regional level, with Zoopla putting the figure at 844. The research was taken from Zoopla's own website, which uses various factors such as recent sales in the local area to estimate how much homes are worth.
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