French buyers have jumped to the top of the rankings for property purchases in prime central London as international investors cash in on the weak pound.
Property purchasers from France made up the largest group of buyers for prime spots in the capital in the first nine months of the year accounting for 11 per cent of all overseas transactions.
The figure marks a sharp increase on the same period last year, when French buyers were behind just two per cent of all deals, according to data from Knight Frank.
It also marks a major shift from the dominance of Chinese investors in recent years. Buyers from China accounted for 8.3 per cent of transactions over the nine-month period, down from 15 per cent in 2019.
Despite the interest from foreign buyers, UK purchases represented a larger proportion of overall sales — rising from 47 per cent to 59 per cent.
Travel restrictions and economic uncertainty caused by the outbreak of coronavirus have taken their toll on London’s property market, with total sales down roughly a third on last year.
But some investors have looked beyond the political uncertainty and cashed in on a decline in the value of the pound.
“Despite the background noise of Brexit, there is smart money in Europe targeting London,” said Tom Bill, head of UK residential research at Knight Frank.
“The combination of a weak pound, a looming stamp duty hike and less competition from buyers who need to catch a long-haul flight has created a buying opportunity.”
Knight Frank said Euro-denominated buyers had benefited from an effective discount of 30 per cent on prime central London property as a result of currency changes and house price movement.
“That is a big number, irrespective of the latest rhetoric surrounding Brexit,” Bill added.