Safe as houses

Despite an uncertain overall property market last year,, the property website, claims there are now 300,000 property millionaires in Britain.

Not surprisingly a significant proportion of those are based in London, making up 64 per cent of the 300,142 property millionaire across the country.

The most successful borough in terms of million-plus properties is Kensington and Chelsea, with the most expensive street being Kensington Palace Gardens where the average home on the street is worth more than £25m.

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Kensington and Chelsea has the most property millionaires - 36,293 or 12 per cent. This is closely followed by the borough of Westminster, which includes Mayfair and Park Lane, followed by Camden, which has Primrose Hill, housing millionaires such as Jamie Oliver.

The dominance of London on the list of property ownership is highlighted by Nationwide in its housing market figures early in January. Here the London average of £300,361 is nearly twice the national average of £162,924.

However, despite the recent history of billionaires buying up London’s expensive property, the reality is a little more prosaic.

Adam Challis, head of research for Hamptons International, said: “Increasingly the million pound-plus space is really about the successful middle class than the perception of the super wealthy. You could describe purchasers as regular folk and in many cases people who have been successful in business. Talking about very rich people is not necessarily the case.”

These are generally people who have made astute property decisions throughout their life, rather than being the recipient of a sudden windfall.

Mr Challis said: “With purchasers of high-value stock, it’s lower loan-to-value ratios. These are folk that have built up significant equity in other properties. The debt they take on is going to relate to how cheap it is, although there are plenty of high LTV purchases on high-value properties.”

Alex Dungar, director of West Sussex Compton Row Financial Services, has a number of high net-worth clients who have bought high-value properties. He has noticed an increase in the number of clients who want to invest more money into property since the financial crisis.

He said: “Everybody has noticed that property is a more secure, less volatile investment than it was prior to the crash. Before the crash people had a higher risk appetite than they do now. Property gives people an overall sense of wellbeing.”

This has extended to outside the million pound-plus property. He said: “We’ve certainly noticed that investors are incorporating buy-to-let properties into their portfolios for income generation as part of their diversification. With annuity rates being as poor as they are, returns on property are now a more important sector of their investment planning than they might otherwise have been.”

In his area, southeast England, the number of property millionaires is also substantial, with 61,586, coming second after London, according to the Zoopla survey. The lowest number was Wales with 844. But perhaps what is noticeable is that every region of England saw a rise in the number of property millionaires.