Nearly half of country homes in the south east worth £5m or more are being bought by foreigners, according to new research from Knight Frank. The Sunday Times

The record level of acquisitions indicates that Russian oligarchs and tycoons from Asia and the Middle East are rapidly spreading their influence beyond central London and many buyers are choosing properties with large estates.

In the year up to September, foreigners accounted for 42% of purchases of country homes in the south east

In 2005, the proportion of overseas buyers was less than a quarter. In Scotland, almost a third of properties valued at £5m and above are now going to foreigners.

Across Britain, up to 75% of country homes worth more than £10m have been bought foreigners over the past year. Liam Bailey, head of residential research at Knight Frank, believes this figure is likely to rise to about 90% within the next three years.

He said: “At the top end of the market this trend is only going to increase, with demand being driven by buyers from the commodity-rich economies of the Middle East and former Soviet Union. That’s where all the money’s at.”