By Max Clarke

Sales of million pound houses grew at their fastest rate last year, bucking the overall decline in the UK’s housing market.

There were 7,185 sales of properties valued in excess of £1 million in 2010- 54% higher than the previous year, while the total number of ‘property millionaires’ exceeds 184,000, the Lloyds Million Pound Property Report has revealed.

“The number of properties sold for over £1 million has risen substantially over the past year, reflecting the strength of the very top end of the housing market,” said Lloyds’ chief housing economist, Suren Thiru.

While million pound homes grew at record levels, there was a slight fall in sales of houses under £250,000. As million pound sales account for just 1% of total UK sales, this record growth is unlikely to alter the underlying property market.

Thiru continued: “A small number of areas in London still account for the lion’s share of all £1 million sales, with housing market activity in such locations continuing to benefit from strong demand from wealthy international buyers and limited supply. In contrast, the level of activity across the wider housing market remains subdued.”

Typifying the wealthy, international buyer’s interest in UK property is perhaps Ukraine’s foremost oligarch, Rinat Ahkmetov, who a fortnight ago purchased the most expensive apartment ever sold in the UK, for a staggering £136 million.

Regionally, the West midlands saw the fastest growth in million pound homes, more than doubling to 92. London grew by 56% to reach 4299- just shy of 60% of the UK total.