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Indians now power UK realty market

UK Govt and realty research show Indians as the largest foreign buyers of property in UK, reports Gurbir Singh.

business Updated: May 30, 2007 01:50 IST
Gurbir Singh

With growing Indian economic activity in the UK, Indians have emerged among the largest foreign buyers of property in that country, according to real-estate firms and British government research.

“Along with the Russians, Arabs and South Africans, Indians have emerged as the largest buyers of homes and property in the last two years,” said Sheetell Chantal Halai, who heads the India desk for estate agents Savills in London.

“Among prime central London properties, we have serviced Indian buyers in deals ranging from $2 million to $40 million (over Rs 8 crore to over Rs 162 crore).”

A statement from property-broking firm Knight Frank’s London office said the India desk had been doubled to meet demand.

Increased corporate activity in the UK by Indian companies and the Reserve Bank of India move to allow investments abroad up to $100,000 are some reasons cited by broking firms.

India was the UK’s third-largest investor in 2005-06 after the US and Japan. With the $7.6 billion takeover of Corus Steel by the Tatas in October 2006, India will emerge as the second largest investor for 2006-07.

“Projects from India increased by 111 per cent to 76 making India the UK’s third largest investor,” said the British government’s Inward Investment Report for 2006.

The UK is now home to more than 400 Indian companies. Nearly 23 per cent of these started their UK operations last year. Officials estimated that India’s business operations in the UK are now worth nearly $35 billion (over Rs 1.42 lakh crore).

“Investing in a London property is a status statement for successful Indians,” said Knight Frank India’s chairman Pranay Vakil. “Rich Indian families holiday in the UK, and some prefer to invest in London since its financial climate is more stable than India.”

Indians prefer exclusive central London areas, agents said. “There has been a shift away from the US, and the UK has emerged as the preferred education destination for Indians. When their children arrive, the parents ensure they have a flat to live in,” said Halai of Savills.