UK Property

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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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Knight Frank, one of London’s largest and most prominent estate agents has reported that once again foreign buyers are pushing up house prices in Central London.

According to the firm the proportion of foreign buyers in Central London stood at 68% in June this year, compared to 53% in June last year, with foreign buyers even more dominant in the top end of the market.

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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).

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Starting from today, Google will be adding 210,000 miles of UK roads to its mapping service – Google Street View. This would give Google Street View 96 per cent coverage of the entire UK. Prior to today, only about 28,000 miles of UK roads were shown via Google Street View. Google Street View’s introduction was a bit of a controversy initially, with a streams of privacy invasion complaints but Google ‘fixed’ these issues by blurring out faces and car number plates.

It has to be said that Google’s Street View service has been somewhat of a success since its inception around a year ago – 1 in 5 people use is to find their next home! 3 in 5 people use it to find their way and others use it to check out prospective holiday destinations. Google Maps (Street View’s parent service), has seen a 30% increase in usage since the Street View service was introduced.

Google Street View Car
Google Street View Car

Photo credits: Daniel Bowen via Flickr

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Investment Property Databank has revealed that the value of UK commercial property fell by 5.6% in 2009. This was the third consecutive annual decline; following a fall of 26% in 2008 and 7.7% in 2007 the London based research body said.

This means that commercial property in the UK has taken a far bigger bashing at the hands of the international downturn than the residential sector has.

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rightmove-house-price-index The UK’s largest property portal Rightmove has found that asking prices of UK properties for sale on the portal were raised in January, because, it says, demand outstripped the supply of homes for sale. According to the portal’s monthly index, people selling property in England and Wales on the portal, raised their asking prices by an average of 0.4% during January.