openDemocracyUK

The top side of social cleansing

Who is buying London houses and apartments?
Anthony Barnett
Anthony Barnett
1 November 2010

There has been much talk of the cleansing of central London boroughs of those on housing benefits. But less coverage of what the rich are up to. Many are coming from overseas. According to Mira Bar-Hillel and Miranda Bryant reporting in the Evening Standard of 26 October, overseas buyers are pushing up sales of £1m plus homes by 134%. 1,880 properties sold for more than a million in the first six months of the year, of these 68 per cent were foreign buyers, "Buyers taking advantage of the favourable conditions include investors from America, Europe, Russia, Japan, India, China and the Gulf states — but also Nigeria, Iran, Lebanon and Thailand". The favourable conditions are the devaluation of the pound as well as the slight drop in massively over-inflated prices for domestic buyers. Note the word "investors". How many of them are living in these homes? Could we have a hypothicated tax on second homes with the revenues going to build social housing? Of course, this might drive down prices but that would be good too.

In August the Standard's Sri Carmichael reported

In the first seven months of this year, £1.6 billion of homes worth £5 million-plus were sold in areas such as Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster, Camden, and Hammersmith and Fulham.

She added that a penthouse in One Hyde Park was said to be going for £140 million (which I don't believe). Surely every inequality represents an opportunity.

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