City bonuses are creating a two-tier country house market, according to new research from Jackson-Stops and Staff. Overall figures show above average supply and demand, including a 30% jump in new buyer enquiries in October. But the top end of the country house market is pulling away from the mainstream market, a situation Jackson-Stops & Staff believes is likely to become more pronounced in 2007.

The latest figures from Jackson-Stops & Staff offices point to a confident quality property market and prompt agents to predict average values will rise by 8% by the end of the year. ‘We have more cash buyers now than ever before, and the houses that appeal to those buyers, from the pretty seaside cottage to the grand manor house, are those that are in greatest demand,’ said Tim Dansie from Jackson-Stops and Staff, Ipswich. But according to Jackson-Stops & Staff’s research team, in both the south east and areas much further from the influence of City bonuses, the top end country house market has left the mainstream country house market in its wake.

The situation is at its most poignant in the areas surrounding London, which are directly affected by the impact of high City salaries and bonuses. Top end buyers for Jackson-Stops and Staff (above £1 million) are prepared to spend even more while mid range buyers (above £500,000) are feeling the pinch of inflated prices all-round. And with corporate profits, mergers and acquisitions activity and City bonuses all forecast to continue their current boom next year, Jackson-Stops & Staff predicts the two tier nature of the quality property market will become more pronounced.

The financial success of the City is also being repeated in other big cities across Britain, causing a two-tier market in the north, midlands and south west as well. ‘We have seen a marked increase in top end demand, principally from senior executives with the major financial and legal firms in Leeds and Newcastle who, in their search for value, are now more willing to face a commute of up to an hour,’ explained Robin Catterall from Jackson-Stops & Staff, Darlington. ‘This has pushed values for the best houses up to the point at which, for the first time in this area, there is an active market at over £1 million. At more mainstream country house levels ? which, for us, is around the £500,000 mark ? buyers still feel secure enough to go ahead but, being squeezed by creeping cost increases all round, are much more aware of their limits.’