Who wants to be a (property) millionaire?
PUBLISHED: 08:00 22 August 2016
We do! Jane Howdle takes a look at what a million pounds worth of property looks like in the St Albans area
Ever wondered what £1million would buy you in and around St Albans? As one of the most expensive places to live in the country, the answer that immediately springs to mind may be ‘not a lot’.
According to a Santander study earlier this year, 14,976 (3.1 per cent) of homes in Hertfordshire were worth at least a million in 2015, with this figure expected to more than triple to 56,374 by 2030.
A quick browse of Right Move suggests that these figures are on the low side for our local area: of the 1,323 properties currently listed for sale within a mile of St Albans – including homes which are listed more than once, as they have multiple agents – 140 (10.6 per cent) are being marketed at £1million or more.
Nicky North, Director, North Estates, agrees that rocketing prices mean that owning a million pound home is no longer the rarity it once was.
“Years ago you would never dream that owning a million pound property would be possible,” she says – adding that it can still be achievable to savvy buyers who are prepared to work their way up the housing ladder.
“Lucky homeowners may own a few properties before buying their first million pound property,” Nicky says. “As their equity grows, it makes it a little easier to reach that million pound mark. I do think properties in the million pound bracket are still those that you aspire to own when you are first stepping onto the ladder.”
Nick Ingle, Head of Sales for Savills, Harpenden, says: “The increase in property prices in recent years has certainly contributed towards higher value properties becoming more the norm and, in the case of those who have owned a property for many years, contributed towards the creation of an asset rich, cash poor society.”
Nick notes that there are other factors to consider, saying: “We are currently in a market where vendors have very high expectations of the values of their homes, with many properties currently available at over-inflated prices.
“The other consideration is the cost of borrowing – do not assume that someone buying at £1 million is a millionaire. I understand from our mortgage brokerage service, SPF, that some lenders are currently willing to lend up to five-and-a-half times an individual’s salary which, even with a decent deposit, means many fall short of having £1 million sitting in their bank accounts.”
The down side of these ever increasing prices is that St Albans and the surrounding area is no longer affordable to a growing number of people, including many who grew up here.
Nick notes that the rise in prices will make certain areas less affordable for first time buyers, adding that this, in turn, “will lead to the gentrification of other areas surrounding the traditionally more popular towns and villages”.
Nicky says: “We are seeing more and more people moving out of St Albans to the surrounding villages so that they can find a more affordable family home, or compromising on the size of property they would ideally like so they can be close to sought after schools and train links.”
As for the future, it seems inevitable that prices will continue to rise, and perceived value for money will take even more of a tumble. “House prices on average double every 10 years,” Nicky says. “So while it seems unthinkable that we will ever be discussing 1-bed flats worth £1,000,000, I guess one day we probably will be.”
Here are three of the best properties currently on the market locally, and they’ll all set you back a mill.
4-bed detached house, Heath Road, St Albans, guide price £1,050,000
Strutt & Parker
Located in the Bernards Heath area of St Albans, this modern family home benefits from close proximity to the town centre and the City station. Full planning permission has been granted to convert the garage.
4-bed detached house, Sleapshyde, guide price £1,000,000
This spacious family home’s unique selling point is its self-contained adjoining annex, which can be accessed from the main house or used as a separate, self-contained living space. Located in the quiet hamlet of Sleapshyde, the property is set in 2/3 of an acre.
4-bed detached house, Lancaster Rd, St Albans, guide price £1,000,000
Including the garage, this home offers more than 2000 sq ft of accommodation, on one of St Albans’ most desirable roads. Within walking distance of both the town and the City station, a main highlight is its proximity to excellent schooling.
What a million buys you elsewhere
This stunning 8-bed converted watermill in Keswick, Norfolk, is on the market for offers in excess of £1,000,000
Jackson-Stops and Staff
This brand new 1-bed off-plan flat on Kensington High Street could be yours for £1,000,000
020 7481 1110
Meet a property millionaire
Emily, 36, paid £690,000 for her 5-bed semi in St Albans town centre in December 2007. The house has recently been valued at £1.2 million.
So how does it feel to be a property millionaire? “Good,” says Emily. “We’ve worked hard to move up the property ladder. We weren’t really surprised when we found out how much our house is worth – we thought it would be worth over £1 million from looking at other properties on the market. It’s in a prime location and it’s got lovely features.”
Emily admits that some of the half a million pound increase in her home’s value is down to a kitchen/diner extension and extensive redecorating, while the shifting market has also worked in her favour.
As Emily has no plans to move out of the area, she won’t be cashing in her £1 million just yet. “When we move it will be to somewhere bigger, so I’m not likely to have £1 million in cash any time soon,” she says.