Property Blog: More for your Money?

A pesky estate agent called me a few days ago to talk about ‘an unbeatable opportunity.’

He had valued my London flat last March and wanted to let me know that prices had gone up and my humble abode would now fetch 15% more than earlier in the year.

‘Such an increase in just six months, would you believe it?’ he enthused. ‘You just have to take advantage of this opportunity and put your flat on the market.’

Right. Beyond the fact that I am old enough to remember the heady days when values grew 15% month on month, Mr Pesky conveniently forgot that?short of finding myself a cosy corner under Waterloo Bridge?I’d have to buy some place else in London. And since I would presumably face the same 15% price hike as a buyer that I’d enjoy as a vendor, I’d be in exactly the same position as I was last March.

Which is to say, not a very good one.

Although the Treasury says that the median house price in Britain still falls under the 1% stamp duty threshold, the value of my London flat?which falls comfortably within the penultimate stamp duty bracket?wouldn’t get me very far in England. Nor on the Continent, for that matter. According to figures by the Conseil Européen des Professions Immobilières, a flat of the same size as mine would fetch roughly the same price in London, Paris and Barcelona, and only marginally less in Madrid or Dublin. Even Amsterdam wouldn’t be that much cheaper. No, the only place where I could still make a sell-to-buy killing is Istanbul, where flats’ prices lag well behind the rest of Europe at £470 per square metre (£43.7 per square foot).

Maybe I should seriously consider cashing in on my London pad and moving there. After all, as Mr Pesky would say, Istanbul is just a convenient six-hour commute into work.