London: Italian safe haven?

Italians squirrel most cash into London homes

Italians squirrel most cash into London homes
Italian buyers typically favour the wealthy neighbourhoods of Knightsbridge, Chelsea and South Kensington. London photo: Shutterstock
Italians have overtaken Russians and Emiratis as the top buyers of luxury property in central London, with one expert telling The Local the UK capital is a “safe haven” for those facing economic uncertainty at home.

The Italian share of the market jumped from 2.7 percent to 6.7 percent in a year, figures from Knight Frank real estate consultancy show.

Meanwhile, London fell out of favour with rich Russians, whose market share fell from 6.5 percent to 3.7 percent. Buyers from the United Arab Emirates were also taking their cash elsewhere, with their share in the market falling to just 1.4 percent this year from 5.3 percent in the first seven months of 2013.

The change sees Italy top the list of foreign buyers in luxury property in London, ahead of France (4.1 percent) and Russia. The French now make up 27 percent of the eurozone buyers, below Italy’s 44 percent.

Italians have spent an average of £4.4 million (€5.5 million) buying a home in central London this year. They typically favour the wealthy neighbourhoods of Knightsbridge, Chelsea and South Kensington.

Tom Bill, head of London residential research at Knight Frank, told The Local that the city is seen as a secure option for foreign buyers.

"During bouts of economic uncertainty in Italy, prime central London property will be a safe haven," he said.

"It’s proven to be a good long-term bet over the decades, outperforming assets like gold over the past 30 to 40 years. Supply is not keeping up with the demand and so there is upward pressure on prices."

With Italy slipping back into recession in the second quarter of this year and Prime Minister Matteo Renzi struggling to get his reform agenda off the ground, London has additional appeal.

“The rule of law and relative political stability, transparency of ownership and the education system” were listed by Bill as just some of the benefits the city offers wealthy buyers.

Meanwhile, Italians are also flocking to the UK for work. Figures released in December by the British government showed a 52 percent increase in the number of Italians arriving in the country, as unemployment at home hit 12.5 percent.

READ MORE: Surge in the number of Italians moving to the UK

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