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City toffs are lords of the manor house; HOUSING.

The cost of prime country houses rose by 12 per cent during the past year as overseas buyers snapped up the most expensive properties, research showed yesterday.

The average cost of a manor house increased by 11.6 per cent during the year to the end of June, while other country houses saw their prices rise by 10.4 per cent, according to estate agent Knight Frank.

The group said the market was being driven by a combination of high City bonuses and increasing numbers of international buyers.

It added that overseas buyers bought 43 per cent of properties costing more than pounds 5 million in the South-east during the past year.

The average price of a country house increased by 3.3 per cent during the second quarter of the year.

Manor houses saw the strongest growth with their prices rising by 4.1 per cent during the three months to average pounds 3.1 million.

Farmhouses, which typically have at least five bedrooms and several acres of land, also saw above average price growth, with their value rising by 10.6 per cent during the past year and three per cent during the past quarter to average pounds 1.3 million.

The average price of a country cottage with three bedrooms and an acre of land reached pounds 562,000 at the end of June, 8.9 per cent higher than a year earlier and 2.8 per cent higher than in April.

The West Midlands saw manor house prices on the quarter rise 2.7 per cent, farmhouses by two per cent and cottages by 0.9 per cent on the quarter.

The annual equivalents were 8.2 per cent, 7.1 per cent and 4.9 per cent.

Liam Bailey, Knight Frank's head of residential research, said: "2007 is proving to be a strong year for the country house market.

"Payment of City bonuses together with an increasing international presence in the country house market has aided price growth."

The amount of English farmland coming on to the market in the second quarter of 2007 fell by 14 per cent to 49,000 acres compared with the equivalent period last year, pushing up values, according to new figures from property specialists Strutt & Parker.

So far this year, 57,000 acres has been up for grabs, a drop of 16 per cent from the equivalent period last year.
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jul 25, 2007
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