More properties are commanding prices above the £1million mark, new research from the Halifax has revealed.

According to the mortgage lender, there was a sharp rise in the number of £1million plus properties sold in the first half of 2004 following a decline in 2003. 61% more million pound properties were sold in the first half of 2004 than in the same period a year earlier.

Sales over the £1million mark account for just 0.3% of the British property market, totalling 1,938 between January and June of this year.

However there are now approximately 43,000 properties in England and Wales valued at least £1million, compared with only 3,400 in 1995.

Sales in London still accounted for the majority – 64% – of million pound property sales in the UK, with one in three of all of the UK’s million pound plus property sales during the first half of the year occurring in Kensington & Chelsea and the City of Westminster.

However, prices across the whole country are reaching new heights at the top end of the property market, with 10 new local authorities, including Barnsley, Coventry and Teesdale, recording their first £1m plus sale during the first six months of the year.

Halifax Chief Economist Martin Ellis said: ‘The number of properties sold for over £1million resumed its strong upward trend in the first six months of 2004 following a modest decline last year. The very top end of the housing market has strengthened.

‘While a small number of areas in London continue to account for the overwhelming majority of £1million sales, the incidence of properties valued above the £1million threshold continues to spread across the country.’