A Mark, A Yen, A Buck or A Pound...

There is always saturation coverage of London’s property market – it’s where prices are highest, agents win the largest fees, developers earn their largest margins and PR machines spin most rapidly. But little is known about just how much foreign buyers are benefiting from Sterling’s poor performance.

This is a London issue because although foreign buyers are popping up all over the UK, especially for large rural properties, they are predominantly interested in buying in London. One estate agent tells me that since March 2009 some 81% of properties sold in his patch (two central London postcodes) were to overseas purchasers.

And this is why:

• Anyone buying with US dollars will pay the equivalent of 33% less for a UK property now than in the final quarter of 2007 when Sterling was riding high;

• For those buying in Hong Kong dollars the figure is also 33%;

• Taiwan dollar buyers = 35%;

• Malaysian ringgit buyers = 36%;

• Singapore dollar buyers = 37%;

• Chinese yuan buyers = 39%;

• Jananese yen buyers = 41%.

These figures, collated by Savills, applied to the Sterling level just before the start of summer – the Pound has improved a little, but only a little, since then.

Things were even better at the end of 2008 and start of 2009 when some currencies were enjoying purchasing power about 50% stronger than in late 2007, but even these latest figures show exactly why foreign buyers are so interested in London.

What is less arguable is that this directly ripples out from central London to the rest of the south east and then the UK. Increasingly, overseas-owned homes in central London are being sold to other overseas buyers, so no longer are there so many Britons fleeing the capital with new-found riches to set up elsewhere in the country.

This sort of detail makes the central London market absolutely fascinating – but increasingly divorced from holding any direct relevance to the rest of the UK.

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