There is great rising interest in the country house market, as new buyers registering with Knight Frank rose 13% year-on-year to May, according to the agent. Activity is also on the up: Across England and Wales (excluding London) annual sales of properties valued at £500,000 and over rose by 35% in the year to March, with transactions higher in all regions.

There was a 40% jump between £1m and £2m, a 35% rise between £500,000 and £1m and a 22% increase for £2m+ homes, according to data from the Land Registry, while in Scotland, total sales volumes were over 20% higher at the end of March. However, purchases still remain almost 10% lower than the peak of the market.

Town and city markets have seen a much faster rise in activity than neighbouring village and rural locations. In fact, at the end of March, annual sales of prime urban homes were just 3.3% below their previous market peak in 2007. In comparison, sales of prime rural properties were 18% below peak levels.

Rupert Sweeting from Knight Frank commented: ‘There are several reasons why the urban homes market is in strong demand. Those with young families moving out of London want to take advantage of the significant price differential between London and the rest of the UK, whilst at the same time live in an urban area where their children can go to first rate schools within walking distance.’

The north/south divide is also reflected here with eight of the top 10 locations situated in either the south east or the east of England. As the wider economy continues to recover, Knight Frank expects the prime country market to grow this year. However, with an election in 2015, and property taxes likely to be high on the agenda, the market may be buffeted by some headwinds in the short term.

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