London residential property market sees an increasing number of foreign buyers

More than 60 different nationalities have purchased in London in the last year

A rising number of nationalities are buying property in London with agents expecting an increase in French citizens as a result of higher taxes proposals from new President Francois Hollande.

London is regarded as one of the best places in the world to live and this, coupled with the widely held view that it is also one of the safest markets in which to invest, has meant that interest and transaction levels remain at a high level, according to Philip Selway, managing partner of the Buying Solution.

The firm’s latest London and Country market report shows that the main interest centres around the usual addresses such as Knightsbridge, Mayfair, Kensington and Chelsea and there are an increasing number of nationalities actively buying.

More than 60 different nationalities are known to have purchased in London in the last year, including those from the European countries affected by the euro crisis such as Italy, Greece and Turkey.

It was recently reported that the number of French nationals now living in London makes it France’s sixth biggest city in terms of population, and the recent political changes in the country means that more French citizens are expected to target London.

The Chinese are also beginning to see London as a significant place to buy but it is mainly the investment market that attracts these buyers and new high tech buildings close to the river are particularly popular.

‘It is clear that international and UK buyers are looking carefully at their position following the recent stamp duty announcements and perhaps drawing breath. This, together with funding issues means that there may just be a degree of caution entering the market,’ said Selway.

‘However, as always when changes are made, time is taken to reassess before new structuring can be introduced, and we do not anticipate that the markets, particularly in prime London, will be unduly affected,’ he added.

‘In the shorter term, the Olympics might be a factor in buyer activity; it maybe that during this time that fewer properties will be released to the market, but as the Games coincide with the traditional holiday periods, we again do not expect any long term damage to the prime London markets,’ he explained.

Although land is still see as a safe haven there are few international buyers interested in country estates, according to Mark Lawson, partner and head of Home Counties and Country Estates.

‘The bare land market has softened a little bit since this time last year. Prices are very dependent upon location and quality and whether there are wealthy neighbours determined to purchase,’ he said.

‘There are an increasing number of smaller farms being made publically available but they are behaving rather like the rest of the residential market; when correctly priced, they sell well and often under competition. However, where they are blighted or overpriced, they will struggle,’ he explained.

‘There are, a number of large country estates being offered privately, although there seems to be less appetite for country estates with large houses unless they are situated close to London and very special and/or correctly priced,’ he added.

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