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Sales of million pound homes soar

Sales of homes worth over £1 million have soared to their highest level since the height of the 2007 housing boom, a report has revealed.

Top-end property sales increased by 2% year-on-year in 2012, with Scotland, the East Midlands and London all seeing rises, Lloyds TSB found.

Million pound properties out-performed the rest of the market in 2012, as sales of homes below this price bracket dropped off by 3% year-on-year, the report said.

Across Britain, 7,397 homes with a price tag of over £1 million were snapped up last year, marking the highest number seen since 2007. Almost one quarter of all these sales took place in the London boroughs of Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster.

By contrast, just four sales of million pound homes took place across Wales during 2012 and nine were made in North East England.

More than one in 20 (5.6%) homes sold in London in 2012 were worth over £1 million, with the English capital proving a strong pull for wealthy overseas buyers looking for a safe haven for their cash. London and the South East made up 85% of all million pound home sales last year.

However, in terms of percentage increases, Scotland saw the strongest uplift in sales of million pound homes last year, with 151 homes sold. This represented a 14% year-on-year rise. The East Midlands recorded the second highest surge, with a 12% year-on-year rise in million pound home sales and 47 transactions recorded.

Nitesh Patel, Lloyds TSB housing economist, said: "Strong demand from wealthy, cash rich buyers, from both the UK and overseas, as well as limited supply, has supported this sector of the market. As a result, sales at the very top end of the market are much closer to their peak levels than the market as a whole."

Wales saw the biggest year-on-year decline in million pound home sales last year, with a 71% decline, followed by the North East, which recorded a 40% slide. Despite the boost felt at the top end of the market, activity levels still have some way to recover before they reach 2007 levels, with million home sales still running at 10% below their 2007 peak last year.

The report also showed that sales of homes worth more than £2 million dipped by 2% year-on-year in 2012, with 1,584 properties changing hands. The Government imposed a new 7% stamp duty rate on homes worth over £2 million in March 2012.

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