Monday, 2 July 2012 8:52 AM
The price of prime country houses fell 1.5 per cent in the second quarter of 2012, according to Knight Frank.
The property consultancy said this was the fifth consecutive quarter of decline in the market following a 0.2 per cent fall in the first quarter. Prices are now down 4.8 per cent over the last year.
Prices in the country as a whole are now just slightly higher than at the low point of the market in 2009 whereas prices in London are 48 per cent higher.
And Knight Frank says that the gap is leading to interest from owners in London looking outside the capital: a family with a home valued at £2.4m in prime central London in 2009 now has £1.1m extra to spend.
That has led to several country hotspots in easy commuting distance of London. Prices in Oxford rose 2.5 per cent in the second quarter while prices in Henley were up 0.5 per cent and Guildford 0.2 per cent.
In contrast, places further away are seeing price falls with declines of 3.7 per cent in Sherborne and 1.3 per cent in Harrogate in the last three months.
However, properties at the very top of the market worth more than £5m are bucking this trend, with a rise of 0.8 per cent in the second quarter across the country and 3.5 per cent over the last year.
Grainne Gilmore, head of UK residential research at Knight Frank, said: “The very best properties are attracting increasing attention from overseas buyers, with Russian buyers noticeably active in the market.”
Rupert Sweeting, head of the firm’s country department, said: “Whilst we expect the market to slow for the traditional summer period and the Olympics, there will be pent up demand for the autumn and there should be fresh stock from those people who wish to take advantage of the buyers who have not been satisfied over the first six months of the year.”