London

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apartment-building-in-londonThe London rental market is booming. According to several sources including the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors soaring rental demand is leading to the fastest rent growth in years.

Unfortunately for the young professionals moving to the city, they really need the streets to be paved with gold to be able to afford somewhere to live. With mortgages out of the question for first time buyers, and rents also currently outwith their budget they are being forced to go down the route of a flatshare or choose somewhere downmarket, really really downmarket.

The Guardian introduced us to 23 year old graduate Aaron Frazer, who, after moving to London to take up a job with a charity, has found himself completely priced out of the market.

After attending a “flatmate party” in which those with rooms for rent and those looking for rooms are thrown together in the hopes of finding a connection, a dejected Frazer said:

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Homes in Belgravia, London

Research by leading London Estate Agent Knight Frank has revealed that the number of nationalities buying up prime property (£2 million+) in London has risen to 51, as buyers from far-flung destinations like Malaysia, Iran and Brazil join the traditional Russian and club-med buyers in taking advantage of the weak pound.

According to the data, Russian buyers were the dominant force in the market, accounting for 14% of all purchases by foreigners. American buyers were next with 11%, followed by Italians with 9%, and Indians with 8%. Knight Frank also said that the number of Greek buyers had doubled in the last year, which they put down to their desire to bring their money out of their debt-laden country.

Knight Frank’s head of residential research Liam Bailey said: Despite the fact that prices have risen 24 per cent since last March and stand only six per cent below their March 2008 market peak, the weakness of the pound ensures that effective discounts available to foreign buyers are still very significant.

Therein lies the key, prime property prices up 24% to just six percent below the March 2008 peak. This growth is undoubtedly largely because of the foreign buyers flooding the market on the weak pound, and it is this growth that distorted the picture of the UK housing market. This is being hailed as positive by Knight Frank; the question is what happens to the market when the foreigners stop buying?

The other interesting finding of the research was that the different nationalities have a tendency to buy in the same boroughs.

For instance, the Russians tend to buy in the traditionally fashionable areas of London; Belgravia, Mayfair and Knightsbridge, Nigerians have a preference for Bishop’s Avenue in Hampstead, while the Greek, Italian and French buyers — tend to favour Chelsea, Fulham, Hampstead.

Celine Pommier, of Knight Frank’s Chelsea office, said: The Greeks and Italians see Chelsea as a stable area with a long-standing international reputation.

Photo credits: Herry via Flickr

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There is a gaping hole at the heart of London’s financial district. Since 2002 plans have been getting drawn up for a skyscraper to fill that hole. The initial plans were scrapped and in June 2005 plans for the Pinnacle, Bishopsgate tower, by architects Khor and Petersen were submitted for approval (planning permission).

We are a nation obsessed by house prices, we are obsessed when house prices are rising, and we are even more obsessed when prices are falling.

Once again it is the season to be jolly, and none more jolly than the big-city bankers who receive multi-million Pound and Dollar bonuses if they have done well. This has been known for having a very positive effect on the central London prime property market, as the bankers spend their fortuitous fortunes on lavish homes. The question is, with so much regulation on the horizon, and so little supply on the market, will this year be the same?

squatters_london_hampstead Fancy being the owner of a £3m home on one of the richest streets in London but instead of enjoying your property with all its fancy dressings you find three squatters occupying the place. This is the stark reality at a Hampstead house in north London.

The Bishops Avenue property is being occupied by three guys from France and Romania. Close by lies Lakshmi Mittal’s £40 million gated home and down the road are properties of the Saudi Arabian and Brunei royal families.

The three squatters believe themselves to be of the friendly kind. They have linked up electricity, have running water, and plastered the ceiling in the rundown house since they’ve moved in.

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Raffaele Mincione, a former fiance of Heather Mills got the bargain of his life when he secured a Knightsbridge property for £18 million after £22 million was knocked off the asking price. The millionaire banker paid less than half of the original price for the refurbished Sloane Street property last month.

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Prince Charles has once again stepped into the media limelight after opposing the Chelsea Barracks design by Lord Rogers.

Rogers was “attacked” by the Prince years ago in regards to his proposed extension of London’s National Gallery. Prince Charles is not happy with the “unsympathetic” and “unsuitable” design for the area and has written a letter of complaint to site’s owners – Sheikh Hamad bin Jaber Jasim al-Thani, the Prime Minister of Qatar.