Poole property prices in the deep end

The Life: Few people in the Emirates will have even heard of the world's fourth most expensive place to buy property - a tiny peninsula in Poole, Dorset UK. But Sandbanks is a place where even a run-down bungalow can fetch 3 million pounds.

Harbour Watch is for sale for £7.4 million and comes complete with six reception rooms, a cinema, gym and a jetty.
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Q&A: Sandbanks

Why are houses on Sandbanks so expensive? The main reason is its proximity to London, which is a two hours' drive from the shore of Sandbanks. The views are also very good. Poole Harbour is the second-largest natural harbour in the world, and the area is excellent for water sports.

Has it always been as exclusive? No, believe it or not, the peninsula once looked more like a shanty town. Many of the houses, which were built at the turn of the 20th-century, had no drainage or water. The last disappeared in the 1960s. The whole peninsula was once offered for sale for £200 (Dh1,215). There were no takers.

So when did it become fashionable? In 2001 a local property agent sold a 1,200 square foot plot on Sandbanks for £1 million. He calculated the price made it the fourth most expensive home in the world per square foot and had it ranked accordingly. Property prices rose as a result. In 2005 a bungalow, which even the property agent who sold it admitted was run down, sold for £3m.

Ask anyone to name the world's most expensive places to buy property and they would reel off a list of the obvious cities. But among the likes of London, New York and Tokyo is a location that few in the UAE will have heard of.

Sandbanks, a small peninsula in Poole, Dorset, claims the fourth-highest land value by area, with average property prices at about £850 (Dh5,160) a square foot. One of the most expensive houses on the market at the moment is Harbour Watch, a six-bedroom waterfront property on a plot of less than a fifth of a hectare. The imposing white house is for sale for £7.4 million and comes complete with six reception rooms, a cinema, gym and a jetty.

"Sandbanks has a reputation for being one of the most expensive places to live in the world and Harbour Watch is probably one of the best houses on Sandbanks," says Keith Fensom, of Savills, a property agency. "There aren't many as big as this. It's about 11,000 sq ft and it was only built about seven or eight years ago."

The home has ample space for toys you would expect the super rich to own. One feature: a berth with hydraulic gates so the homeowner can park the boat. "You can park two boats in there," says Mr Fensom. "It also has an underground car park that can accommodate seven or eight cars."

When Harbour Watch came on to the market in 2006 the asking price was substantially higher at £11m, proof that even Sandbanks suffered during the global downturn. However, in September 2008, a Russian multimillionaire paid £5m for a house just to knock it down and then spend another £5m to build something else. And just a year later a 14,990 sq ft plot of land was put on the market for £13.5m - almost £10,000 per sq metre.

Top 5: most-expensive houses for sale on Sandbanks

1 Solaris, a five-bedroom beach-front home, £9.7m

2 A five-bedroom waterfront property, £7.9m

3 Harbour Watch, £7.4m

4 A double plot with planning permission for two houses, £6.2m

5 A plot with planning permission for a house, £5.9m

Source: Tailor Made Estate Agency

The Quote: This place makes the American gold rush of the 17th century look like an oasis of calm, measured prudence. Piers Morgan, the TV show host, on the Sandbanks peninsula