Half of all London homes selling for £2.5million or more are bought by foreigners. Italians are top of the overseas buyers league, attracted to Britain by the weakness of the pound. They represent 16 per cent of the overseas market sales, with American, Middle Eastern and Russian buyers close behind.
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Liam Bailey, head of residential research at Knight Frank, says the international stampede to London helped lift prime house prices in the capital by 1.3 per cent in September. On a property worth £2million, that works out at a daily price rise of £800.
London property remains good value for international millionaires in search of an investment. Prime property is still 18 per cent below its peak price of two years ago and the low-priced pound mean the price of central London property has fallen by almost 50 per cent in dollar terms.
'Italians lead the way with Americans, Middle East buyers and Russians close behind'
Schools also play a big part in area choices for different nationalities. Rich Americans love St John’s Wood because of its proximity to the American School. French buyers are attracted to South Kensington because of the presence of the Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle. Middle Eastern buyers traditionally prefer Knightsbridge for its glittering shops and status postcodes, while European buyers look to Kensington.
Chinese buyers are snapping up property in Canary Wharf because in their country expensive, high-rise new-build apartments give their buyers the greatest status.
"Victorian terrace houses in London just don’t suit them," explains Knight Frank partner John Kennedy.
Recent rich buyers include Kazakh billionairess Horelma Peramam, who bought Toprak Mansion in The Bishop’s Avenue, Hampstead, for £50 million; and US investment banker Paul Burdell, 50, who bought two homes at The Boltons in Chelsea to knock into one.