Concern that house prices are beyond reach as sales of £1m+ properties in Wales double in a year

Picture by Sarah Williams. Abersoch harbour at low tide. (CC BY-SA 2.0).

There are fresh concerns that house prices in Wales are growing at a rate beyond the reach of most buyers as the sale of £1m homes doubled on 2019.

Rightmove revealed that there had been a 100% increase in the sale of £1m homes on last year, with only the South West and East Midlands seeing a greater increase.

Coastal areas in particular had seen a big increase in prices, they said. There are currently 50 houses for sale along the coast of west Wales in the £1m price bracket, including a five bedroom detatched house in Abersoch, Gwynedd selling for £3m.

The overall housing market was 41% busier in Wales in terms of the number of annual sales agreed.

The figures were published after the Senedd debated the need for controls on the sales of second homes in Wales this week.

Plaid Cymru member Delyth Jewell said the situation in parts of Wales resulted in communities being emptied for most of the year, not aided by the UK media’s portrayal as places in rural Wales as “boltholes”.

Reducing the number of second homes made economic sense, with young people who are otherwise priced out of their own communities being able to remain year-round instead of villages coming to life for one month a year, she said.

“The housing market shouldn’t allow people to buy secondary properties at the expense of the communities and the people who live in those communities,” she said.

“Last year, one in every three homes sold in Gwynedd and Anglesey were sold as second properties. 12% of Gwynedd’s housing stock are houses where the owners live outside the area. This rate is among the highest in Europe.”

Wesh Conservative member Mark Isherwood called for a balanced approach. Yes, there was an issue with the supply of affordable housing which the Welsh Government has failed to address, but there were potential unintended consequences from a blanket crackdown on all holiday homes, he said.

 

‘Biggest rise’

Rightmove’s Director of Property Data Tim Bannister, said people were being attracted to coastal areas.

“Houses in the million pound plus market have always taken longer to find buyers than the wider market because of their higher price points, but our new analysis shows that wealthier buyers who are fortunate enough to be able to move to bigger homes have been driving this sector of the market to a pace not seen since back in 2014,” he said.

“Unsurprisingly, the counties seeing the biggest annual rise for sales agreed of million pound homes all benefit from beautiful coasts and countryside. Available stock in this price bracket is up around 2% compared to this time last year, which is the first time since 2018 that there’s been an annual jump, meaning there’s a little bit more choice for this group of buyers.

“However, given the surge in demand it’s still likely they’ll find themselves up against a lot of competition when they’re putting in offers.”

The fastest-growing markets for £1m homes are in the counties of Norfolk, Wiltshire and Cornwall where annual sales agreed have jumped by a massive 244%, 174% and 165% respectively.

Lucian Cook, head of residential research at Savills, said: “The amount of housing wealth at their disposal and relative security of their household finances mean £1million-plus buyers have been quick to act on their changing housing needs and priorities. Driven by a re-assessment of their work-life balance, desire for more space and the expectation that they will work from home more often, they’ve led the surge in agreed sales seen since the market reopened.

“This has fed demand for good quality family homes along London’s established wealth corridors and, more noticeably, in towns such as Guildford, Winchester and St Albans, villages within striking distance of a main line station and lifestyle relocation markets such as Devon, Suffolk and north Yorkshire.”

Tom Bill, head of UK residential research at Knight Frank, added: “Demand in higher price brackets is more responsive to external events and we saw the same after the global financial crisis. Buyers who are less constrained by the mortgage market and negative sentiment around unemployment and the economy have been able to act on their desire for more space.”

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