Location, location, location; an Englishman’s home is his castle.
Sandbanks is a small spit of unremarkable land that stretches across the mouth of Poole harbour in Dorset. Since 2001 it has become a rather remarkable place. It started when an enterprising local estate agent sold a 111 m2 flat on the Sandbanks peninsula for £1 million. After Hong Kong, Tokyo and Belgravia in London, this made it the fourth-most expensive property per m2 in the world at that time.
It started a house-buying frenzy, with people dashing to buy into this location.
Today Sandbanks is ‘millionaire mile’, or millionaire km to be precise as it only 1 km long. One top listed price to date was £8 million for a property with its own mooring, while a weed-strewn plot of empty land went on sale for £13.5 million. But for how long can this last? According to one geologist, the area stands a good chance of being underwater by the end of this century.
The housing ladder
Home ownership - whether mansion or maisonette - is close to the British heart. And for good reason, since for home-owners most of their money is tied up in bricks and mortar. We watch house prices, we know which areas locally are improving and which not, and we even worry about who moves in next door, usually needlessly. Britons have 5 trillion locked up in the value of their properties, and almost 65% of us own our own homes.
This is not so in other European countries, where renting is much more common. The urge to get on the ’housing ladder’ here has been fuelled by the steady increase in house prices since the 1950s. In the last 35 years these have, on average, almost tripled in real terms (excluding the effects of inflation). The big question still remains, what would make the housing bubble really burst?
Although house prices vary between regions, all areas have their property hotspots. In northern England, Harrogate and Chester are often quoted; whereas in Wales prices are relatively high around Monmouth and in Scotland Edinburgh stands out.