London set for property boom in wake of French and Greek elections as rich buyers flood to the UK to escape euro crisis
Estate agents are expecting a flood of buyers from the Continent if the euro is left unstable by elections in France and Greece.
Experts say the price of property in some of London's most exclusive areas is already being fuelled by an apparent exodus of the rich to the UK.
But if the socialist leader Francois Hollande wins the second round of France's presidential election it is claimed that flow could become a flood.
London's posh South Kensington has become an enclave for French buyers, estate agents say. Pictured is Lennox Gardens
He has promised a wide-ranging
left-wing programme, including a top tax rate of 75 per cent and the
creation of thousands of new public sector jobs, including 60000 new
Mr Hollande, who is ahead in the polls, says he 'dislikes the rich' and had already singled out 'the world of finance' as his principal enemy.
In Greece public opinion is opposed to further austerity measures in the lead up to Sunday's election and polls suggest a majority government is unlikely.
Estate agent Knight Frank told CNN that continuing fears the euro could collapse was contributing to the rise in property values in central London.
The brokers said in areas like South Kensington French investors were the second biggest group after British buyers in the first quarter, accounting for 8 per cent of property purchases.
So far this year they say enquiries from French clients have soared 19 per cent.
French Socialist Party candidate for the presidential elections Francois Hollande has said he plans a 75 per cent top rate of tax
At nearby Douglas & Gordon demand is so buoyant they are setting up a special French-speaking office.
The new branch is hiring four French staff and will be up and running this summer, just in time for the Olympic Games.
Ed Mead, director of Douglas & Gordon in South Kensington, said: 'The French have always loved this area but we are seeing more and more.
The Treasury has drawn up contingency plans to prevent investors shifting huge sums of cash from the Eurozone to Britain
Despite repeated attempts by the 17 eurozone countries to prop up the single currency, many experts believe the euro cannot survive the coming year intact
'They like the wide avenues and big apartments this part of town offers but also the quaint mews houses.
'To think some of these properties were
built as stables for horses originally but they are now they are worth
2-to-3million but demand is strong and now they are all being redone.'
Greeks have also been ploughing their money into parts of the capital since their country's first bailout two years ago.
Ben Board told CNN his family has
just accepted an offer to sell their two-bedroom apartment for around
1.6million from a Greek buyer.
'We had very strong interest. Perhaps 200 requests to view the flat, mainly from Southern Europeans,' said Mr Board.
officials believe that one or more countries, such as Greece and
Portugal, could be forced to drop out of the single currency in order to
tackle the dire problems in their own economies.
fear the break-up of the euro could have a devastating effect on
Britain, dashing hopes of a recovery and sending the economy back into
Treasury, which has a central role in drawing up contingency plans for
the euro’s collapse, believes a break-up could send international
investors scrambling for a safe haven.
transfer of huge sums of money to London could send Sterling soaring –
threatening to crush the fragile recovery in exports which is central to
the Coalition's plans to 'rebalance' Britain's economy.
Earlier this year the Swiss
government was forced to intervene after nervous investors transferred
cash there from the Eurozone, sending the value of the Swiss Franc to
The Swiss authorities moved to peg the currency to the euro.
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