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Europeans snap up London property

Britain may be in recession, but business is booming for Rupert des Forges, a real estate agent in one of London’s most expensive neighbourhoods.

business Updated: Jun 05, 2012 23:13 IST
Stephen Castle

Britain may be in recession, but business is booming for Rupert des Forges, a real estate agent in one of London’s most expensive neighbourhoods.

He expects it will take just a few weeks to find a foreign buyer for a 1,530 square-foot apartment within a mansion, listed at £3.25 million, or $5 million. Someone recently bought two larger properties nearby for around £7.5 million apiece. The buyer was an investor eager to move cash out of the euro zone — in that case, Italy.

From Italy, Greece, Spain and other countries in the European currency union, the affluent these days are moving money into hard assets valued in something other than euros, which have been plunging in value.

Expensive London apartments, valued in pounds, fit the bill nicely.

“Interest from buyers is closely connected to the politics of Europe,” said des Forges, a partner at the Knight Frank agency.

Flight of cash now poses one of the big financial risks for the euro zone. According to Spain’s central bank, a net €66.2 billion flowed out of the country in March.

It is not only the euro zone’s biggest trouble spots that are sending money London’s way. French investors also are seeking havens in Kensington and Chelsea, so are buyers from Germany.

The New York Times