Immigration from mainland Europe is fuelling the London property boom, according to research from Rightmove. Asking prices in Greater London increased by 19% last year – the biggest rise for four years. Meanwhile property prices in Kensington and Chelsea have experienced a 10% increase over the past four weeks – an astonishing £90,832 monthly increase. The London boom is driving the market across the rest of the country. Rightmove’s figures show that from September 2005 to September 2006, average prices have gone up by £53,580 and £6,900 in the past month.

Demand from founder members of the European Union such as France is helping push up prices in the capital. According to the French Consulate, 70% of French in the UK live in Greater London; and of those half work in financial services in the City. ‘City bonuses, Russian billionaires and new joiners to the EEC get a lot of high profile coverage when reasons for the London property boom are discussed,’ said Miles Shipside, Commercial Director of Rightmove, ‘However, nearly three-quarters of the 300,000 to 400,000 French workers in the UK live in Greater London’. Higher unemployment levels in France and the opportunity to earn more in the UK are compelling reasons to move across the channel, Mr Shipside explained. ‘Also, it’s an easy trip home for the weekend with the Eurostar leaving from waterloo to Paris Gare du Nord,’ he added.

The demand for London property continues to grow, ensuring properties spend less time on the market. Last month the average time on the market decreased from 78 days to 76. And with Bulgaria and Romania set to join the EEC at the beginning of next year, Rightmove predicts demand for housing in the capital will increase further, pushing prices higher again.