As Europe's most exclusive place to live, it's hardly surprising that London attracts investors from all around the world. However, while the majority still hail from global superpowers including Russia, China and the United States, the past year has seen a notable increase in high-end buyers from Africa – particularly from the west of the continent. Citizens from Nigeria, Ghana, Gabon, Cameroon, Senegal and the Republic of the Congo all feature on lists of luxury property transactions in the capital, and the percentage by value of ultra high-end market sales attributed to West Africans has more than doubled in the past year.
Although this still represents a fairly small proportion of the total market, the sums involved are nevertheless significant, particularly when contrasted with the economies of the nations involved. In the World Bank's Development Indicators Database, only Nigeria falls in the top 25 countries when ranked by GDP. However, it may be that the relative instability of these countries is itself a key factor behind the focussed investment in London. In its summary of the trend, the Daily Mail hypothesised that the UK represents a safe haven, where large sums of money can be securely invested in prime properties whose value is only set to increase over the next few years.
High demand on the luxury market
The seemingly ceaseless global demand for luxury properties in Britain's capital has already prompted massive regeneration projects in previously undesirable areas such as Battersea and Kings Cross, transforming them into gleaming modern complexes complete with stunning architecture and top-quality facilities. However, for the new wave of West African buyers, west London still reigns supreme, with the traditionally high-end boroughs of Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea the most sought-after locations. These boroughs also contain the most expensive properties in the capital, with Engel & Völkers registering the sale of a penthouse next to Hyde Park for around €162,000,000. Folorunsho Alakija, a Nigerian businesswoman who made her fortune through oil, recently invested in the prestigious One Hyde Park development nearby, which will contain some of the most expensive homes in the world.
The influence of the west African contingent may not yet rival the dominance of more established foreign investors, but things can change quickly in the luxury market. In Manhattan, Russian oligarchs have seen their record-setting high prices matched or beaten by Chinese businessmen, and the Financial Times recently noted that Chinese investors are now “the biggest foreign buyers of property in New York City, London and Australia”. In London, Indian and Middle Eastern buyers have also traditionally played a greater role than African investors, but if this new trend continues, those rankings could soon be rearranged.
As the international experts in high-end real estate, Engel & Völkers maintains an extensive portfolio of luxury properties in areas such as Belgravia, Chelsea and Kensington. If you're considering investing in a London apartment or townhouse, visit us online or at our Chelsea store on Brompton Road to learn more.