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289 homes in Northern Ireland now worth a £1m-plus

Belfast has the bulk of our priciest properties

By Rebecca Black

The spread of Northern Ireland's million pound homes has been revealed for the first time - and there is not one in the Antrim and Newtownabbey area.

There are 289 homes with a rateable value of £1m or more, according to figures supplied by the Department of Finance. The rateable value is set by Land & Property Services for all buildings in Northern Ireland subject to rates.

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However, the price that homes sell for is often significantly higher than the rateable value -which is fixed by Government to determined how much in terms of rates the owner should pay.

The figures reveal a sharp divide across the province as regards property values.

Only two areas contain more than 100 properties listed as being worth more than £1m.

Belfast has the most £1m-plus valued homes at 128, closely followed by Ards and North Down (120).

Next is Newry, Mourne and Down (11), and Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon (8). Lisburn and Castlereagh, and Mid-Ulster, have six each.

There are four in Derry and Strabane, three in Causeway Coast and Glens, two in Mid and East Antrim, and just one in Fermanagh and Omagh.

The most expensive house currently advertised for sale is £2.2m Foxleigh Hall, a sprawling six-bedroom home close to Dromore, Co Down.

The steepest asking price for a home in recent years was almost £3m for The Grey House in Holywood, Co Down.

The current valuation list for domestic properties became operative on April 1, 2007 and is based on capital values as at January 1, 2005.

Estate agent Richard McCulloch said at the level which house prices were at in 2005 - before the boom - a property worth more than £1m was rare, and tended only to be in certain areas.

"The numbers seem low because they are based on house prices from 2005," he said.

"It took a couple of years to reach the real peak of the market after that - which was nearer 2007. I am aware of some properties that would have sold for a million in Antrim/Newtownabbey.

"But based on that time (2005), before we hit the real boom, most of the million pound homes were in the Belfast and North Down areas, and that is what we are seeing.

"It is unusual to come across a home of that value because it is based on location, and you tend to find those type of houses are in particularly affluent areas of Belfast such as Malone, and areas of North Down.

"It is still rare because our property market prices are well below England. You would find thousands of homes worth over £1m in the south of England.

"If that data had been collected for Northern Ireland at the end of 2006 that number would have been three times as high -you'd have maybe 1,000. That's when the bubble was at its biggest. But that wasn't a true indicator.

"I think we are in a more realistic market now. Any home that is over £1m needs to be very special."

Mr McCulloch added: "A lot of houses sell at the moment for well above rateable value, although some in areas that are more deprived can sell for below rateable value, so it is no real indicator, unfortunately.

"It is just to tell people what value they will calculate your rates bill on."

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