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7th September 2014

Global Economy & Global Real Estate

Asians grabbing hot London property

Prime Central London property transactions at highest level since 2007, despite increase in prices

Source: Straits Times / Invest

London property is hotter than ever, with Asian investors - especially those from Singapore and Hong Kong - and increasingly confident British buyers snapping up units, consultants say.

But though prices continue to rise, there does not appear to be a bubble forming.

Average prices in prime Central London have risen 10.09 per cent over the past four quarters to about £1.64 million (S$3.4 million), property consultancy London Central Portfolio (LCP) said last week.

Long-term growth has averaged 10.5 per cent a year since January 1996.

LCP noted that prime Central London transactions are at their highest level since 2007. There have been 6,546 transactions over the past four quarters, up 19.34 per cent year-on-year.

Prices in Greater London are also on the rise, posting an annual growth rate of 8.53 per cent, which brings average values to about £530,000.

Transactions here for London properties are at their highest level since 2007 as well, with 116,551 sales over the past four quarters, up 28 per cent year-on-year.

"People buying now can see the benefit of slightly fringe locations, looking at them for the longer-term prospects," said Mr Liam Bailey, global head of residential research at Knight Frank.

He added that while it has been a well-established trend for foreigners to buy in London, new buildings in recent years have seen especially strong take-up among Asian investors.

Singapore buyers have long been keen on London property.

"It's almost like a commodity that people buy and sell... Investors here like London as it's a tested and proven market," said Ms Doris Tan, head of international residential properties at JLL.

London developments continue to stage launches here because of the high level of interest they garner.

Principal Tower, a 50-storey, 243-unit luxury residential building located in the City of London, was launched on Friday.

The project is part of Principal Place, a mixed-use development that will feature a 15-storey commercial building and retail outlets as well as a piazza that could become a neighbourhood centre, said W1 Developments.

It is being jointly developed by W1 Developments, Brookfield Office Properties and Concord Pacific.

Principal Tower is being exhibited at the St Regis Singapore hotel. Apartments range from 500 sq ft for one-bedders to 2,500 sq ft for three-bedders, for about £1,450 per sq ft (psf). Prices start at £600,000.

As at Friday, more than 30 units had already been sold through pre-sales.

"It's unusual to have an exclusively residential high-rise building at a such a prime address," said W1 Developments managing director Christopher Murray.

The Landau, a 89-unit luxury building in Fulham, London, was also exhibiting yesterday, at the Regent Singapore hotel. Prices start at £915,000 for a one-bedroom apartment.

Overall, the pound sterling is likely to remain stable in the short to medium term, and should not strengthen significantly against other major currencies during the remainder of the year, noted Mr Bailey.

"As the major issue in Britain is deflation rather than inflation, the bank is unlikely to raise rates."

-By Rennie Whang