London house prices linked to foreign politics

An Oxford University study conducted by two academics at the Saïd Business School has found that property values in the capital have benefitted for over 20 years as wealthy foreign buyers use property as a means to protect their money.The study showed that the impact of the foreign buyers was separable from other factors that affect house prices, such as the government’s Help to Buy scheme. The two academics who conducted the study, Tarun Ramadorai and Cristian Badarinza, said, “This goes a long way towards explaining why London house prices have continued to rise at a disproportionate rate compared with those in the rest of the country, and can also shed light on the well-known fat that capital flows appear to flow ‘uphill’ from relatively poor to relatively rich countries.”London has a status as a ‘safe haven’ due to the apparent tendency for properties there to retain or increase in value regardless of events in other parts of this world, making it an attractive city in which to invest in property. The research showed evidence for this effect in the countries studied, including southern Europe, Chine and the Middle East. Some students in Oxford are skeptical of the safety of investing in property in the UK. One PPE student from Oriel commented: “I think it ironic for the British housing market ever to be considered a safe haven. “The fact that the London market is dominated by foreign buyers is hardly new information. However it is interesting for such a link between political upheaval and economic trends, even between countries at opposite sides of the world, to be affirmed.” The methods used in the study to calculate the effects of ‘safe haven’ demand on house prices could also be applied to other assets, such as gold, and to other major cities. Millions of house price transactions spanning a 15 year period were analysed in the study.The Halifax and Nationwide say that house prices rose around 8% last year, much of which can be attributed to rises in the south-east. The house prices in areas with a high proportion of residents from a particular country were almost 0.5% higher in the months following an increase in that country’s political uncertainty.

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