Ultra-wealthy tycoons have triggered a boom in sales of U.K. mansions, taking advantage of softening property prices in the wake of uncertainty over Brexit.
Figures gathered by property lender Octane Capital show a surge in so-called “super-prime” purchases, defined by some experts as properties costing in excess of £10 million ($12.6 million), as the seriously rich, many from overseas, snap up bargains and take advantage of the weak pound.
Octane Capital had requested previously unpublished data from HM Revenue & Customs, the U.K. tax authority, under the Freedom of Information Act.
The data shows the number of homes selling for more than £10 million rose by a half in 2017, as uncertainty over the U.K. leaving the EU made property price tags at the highest end of the market significantly more attractive.
The figures reveal sales of the country’s most substantial dwellings spiked to 300 in 2017, up from 200 in 2016. In the first three months of 2018, the latest period for which data is available, 100 homes costing more than £10 million were sold. The lack of clarity over Brexit has touched almost every part of the UK economy.
The latest purchasing managers’ index, released on January 3, showed manufacturing growing at its quickest rate in six months. Factories have been boosting stock in anticipation of a no-deal Brexit in March.
Activity in the property sector was not only seen in the market for mansions. Octane’s HMRC data shows the number of second-home owners buying properties costing over £2 million ($2.5 million) more than doubled in 2017 to 1,900 from 800 in 2016.
Jonathan Samuels, chief executive of Octane Capital, said: “While many home owners sit on their hands during times of political and economic volatility, the ultra-wealthy often use these periods to acquire assets at a significant discount.
“Brexit had a particular impact on super-prime properties in the capital, so for many very high-net-worth individuals the fallout from the EU referendum vote was an investment opportunity. For investors based overseas, sterling weakness made the price falls even more attractive.”
The Brexit-fuelled boom in super-prime property has seen sales of some of the UK’s most stunning piles, according to Octane.
It cites a raft of examples including Lambourne Hall in Ascot, Berkshire, close to the racecourse frequented by the royal family.
Lambourne Hall, which is over two floors with a lift and two independent staff suites, sold for £21 million ($26.5 million). It includes an indoor swimming pool, gym, spa/Jacuzzi, sauna, steam and treatment room. The property has five reception rooms on the ground floor as well as a separate bar and library/cigar lounge. The five bedroom suites on the first floor all have dressing rooms and en-suite bathrooms.
Meanwhile, a four-story, seven-bed Victorian property in Oxford, once home to social reformer and novelist, Mary Arnold Ward, went for a more modest £10.5 million ($13.3 million).
Samuels added: “Some of Britain’s wealthiest cities became a goldmine for foreign investors seeking a bargain.”
The data also showed the number of homes costing £1 million ($1.3 million) and above exceeded 20,000 for the first time.