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Last Updated: Apr 15, 2014

The UK's property market has continued to strengthen, with the economy recovering and interest rates at their lowest-ever.  "Viewed in annual terms, price growth is continuing to run at a robust pace, with the price of a typical home 9.5% higher than in March 2013”, said Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist.

“There is little doubt that the recovery in the housing market is now firmly established, with activity levels picking up and house prices recording their fifteenth successive monthly increase in March."

But the national figures conceal wide regional house price disparities. All areas in the UK have experienced rising house prices, but some more than others.

London house prices continue to soar, sparking concerns of an impending property bubble in the capital.

According to Nationwide during the year to Q1 2014:
  • Biggest gainers were London, with house prices rising 18.2% y-o-y in Q1 2014, Outer Metropolitan Area around the capital (10.6%), Outer South East (10.1%), and East Anglia (9.5%)
  • Lowest gainers were the North (5.9%), Northern Ireland (5.4%) and Wales (5.2%)

Residential property transactions rose by 15.1% in 2013 from the previous year, according to UK HM Revenue and Customs. The number of units sold in the fourth quarter of 2013 - at 315,720 units - was the highest since the last quarter of 2007.   In 2013 the number of mortgages in arrears (10% or more of outstanding balance) dropped by 1.7% to 28,700, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML).  Repossessions fell 14.7% y-o-y to 28,900, the lowest since 2007.

UK house prices are being boosted by four factors:
  • Immigration and population growth have been strong, especially in London.
  • Interest rates have been at record lows, with a large expansion of the money supply through “quantitative easing”.
  • The City of London (London’s financial centre) continues to boom.
  • Construction activity remains weak. Dwelling starts fell 4.7% y-o-y to 127,680 units in 2013.  Dwelling completions fell 4.5% y-o-y to 139,350 units, according to UK’s Development for Communities and Local Government.

United Kingdom house prices“The upturn in the supply side of the market continues to lag far behind, with the number of new homes being built in England still around 40% below pre-crisis levels (and this was already insufficient to keep up with the increase in the number of households being formed)”, says Nationwide's Gardner.

Analysis of United Kingdom Residential Property Market »

Last Updated: Jun 18, 2014

London's residential prices keep rising, with daily press warnings that the city is overvalued. It is by any measure extraordinarily expensibe.

Prices per square metre (sq.m.) of apartments in Prime Central London (PCL) range from GBP 16,800 to GBP 25,000, with bigger apartments tending to cost more.

A 120-sq.m. apartment costs on average GBP 2,500,000

A 250-sq.m. apartment in Prime Central London costs around GBP 6,200,000.

Monthly rents per sq. m. range from around GBP 51 to GBP 64. This means that a 120-sq.m. apartment lets for around GBP 6,600 per month, while a 250-sq.m. apartment rents out for around GBP 16,000 per month. As a reminder, these are not typical London rents - this is Prime Central London.

Average square metre prices in the other luxurious areas of London range from around GBP 14,700 to GBP 19,000. A 120-sq.m. apartment here costs on average, GBP 18,800 per sq. m. or about GBP 2,250,000 to buy. Monthly rents per sq. m. range from around GBP 41 to GBP 44. Even so, a 120-sq.m. apartment in these areas can typical rent for around GBP 5,000 per month.

In Prime Central London, rental yields range 3.08% to 3.65%, whereas in the other luxurious areas of London, rental yields range from 2.72% to 3.20%.

However these figures may be somewhat misleading. because of London's size and its position as a global centre, its flavour-of-the-month quality with Russian, Middle Eastern and Chinese buyers, neither of these two central London zones that we cover are truly representative.

If you look the sources of the data in our table, you will see that some of these 'other luxurious areas' are very luxurious indeed. South Kensington for example is placed here.

A possibly more realistic impression is given by the figures from Association of Registered Letting Agents (ARLA), which suggest that gross rental yields in Prime Central London are 4.37%. Arla's estimated yields in the rest of London are 4.74%. These estimates are taken from a database of active buy-to-let landlords, and are likely to represent a good assessment of the real situation.

Foreign residential property investors in Britain face a rising rumble of dicontent from the British public about exorbitant housing prices in London, which rightly or wrongly is partly blamed on the large numbers of foreign buyers, as well as the continuous flow of immigrants into London. Both are hot-button issues.

One result is that foreign buyers will soon be liable to capital gains taxes when they sell their UK properties (previously they were exempt). Another is that stamp duty has been ramped up on higher-end properties. There is talk of further measures - it is widely agreed that Council Tax is too low on high-end properties, and the Liberal Democrats have been agitating for a mansion tax.

Round trip transaction costs are higher in the UK now than they were in the past, especially in London given higher stamp duties on expensive properties.  See our UK residential property transaction costs analysis and our Residential property transaction costs in UK compared to other countries.

Read Rental Yields  »

Last Updated: Dec 10, 2013

Rental Income: Unless non-residents take specific steps, they will be taxed on net rental income ssourced from the UK at a flat rate of 20%, which must be withheld by the tenant or letting agent. However, effective tax rates can be brought down to around 9% with all the allowable deductions.

Capital Gains: Capital gains are taxed are taxed at progressive rates, from 18% to 28%.

Inheritance: Estates or assets exceeding the current tax threshold of £325,000 (€371,429) are subject to inheritance tax at 40%. In calculating the amount of the estate, the value of any gifts made by the deceased within 7 years of death must be added (some small gifts are exempt).

Residents: UK residents are taxed on their worldwide income and on capital gains from disposal of their UK assets, and most likely on their overseas properties too.

Read Taxes and Costs  »

Last Updated: Dec 11, 2013

Total roundtrip transaction costs range from 3.88% to 12.26%. Almost all buyers, UK-based or not, employ lawyers as well as real estate agents. Legal fees are around 0.5% to 1% while agent's fees are around 2% to 3.5%, plus 17.5% VAT.

Read Buying Guide  »

Last Updated: May 25, 2006

Rents: Landlords and tenants can freely agree on rent levels. They can freely agree any mechanism of increasing rent levels. Deposits are lawful.

Tenant Security: Contracts naturally revert to a standard monthly contract which, after an initial six month's period of security of tenure, allows the tenant to be evicted at two months' notice. However in practice the eviction process can disadvantage the landlord.

Read Landlord and Tenant  »

Last Updated: Apr 15, 2014

IMF says UK will be G7’s best performer in 2014

United Kingdom luxury homesThe International Monetary Fund (IMF) admitted that it had been overly pessimistic when it warned George Osborne to ease austerity measures or jeopardize growth.

“I think it's fair to say that our forecast was too pessimistic. Part of our job is to ... warn when we see risks. Now fortunately, most risks don't materialize. And this was again a case in which it didn't,” said IMF chief economist Olivier Blanchard. The IMF originally estimated the UK economy to grow 1.9% in 2014, raised the forecast to 2.4%, and just recently increased it again. UK's GDP growth, according to IMF, would soar to 2.9% this year before returning to its long-term trend of 2.5% in 2015.

United Kingdom GDP UnemploymentThe IMF says that growth has rebounded more strongly than predicted primarily due to easier credit conditions and increased confidence. But it warned that the recovery relied too heavily on easy credit and that the recovery has been unbalanced, with business investment and exports still weak.

The IMF's forecast was supported by the latest UK economic data, which showed

UK manufacturing output grew by 1% in February from January, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The growth was driven by pharmaceuticals, transport equipment, food, beverages and tobacco. The year-on-year figure saw output 3.8% higher than in the same month of 2013, the strongest in three years.

The National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) said that UK growth in the first part of 2014 had been “robust”, and estimated that UK output grew by 0.9% in the three months ending in March.

The UK economy grew 1.76% in 2013, an improvement from 2012’s growth of 0.25%; and is now expected to steam ahead as consumer spending rebounds, inflation remains low at around 2% and unemployment continues to fall steadily.

  • Generally low transaction costs
  • Low to moderate income taxes
  • Very high prices
  • Affordability stretched
Price (sq.m): €25,575 For a 120 sq. m. property, usually an apartment.
Rental Yield: 3.21% For a 120 sq. m. property, usually an apartment.
Rent/month: €8,213 For a 120 sq. m. property.
Income Tax: n.a. Assumptions: Owners are a non-resident couple drawing US$ / €1,500 per month in rent, with no other local income.
Roundtrip Cost: 8.03% The total cost of buying and then reselling an apartment. Includes:

* all transaction taxes and charges:
* lawyers' and notaries' fees
* agents' fees

Assumptions: The buyers are non-resident foreigners. The apartment cost US$250,00 / €250,000.
Cap Gains Tax: 28.00% Assumptions: The property was bought for US$250,000 / €250,000, and sold 10 years later, after a 100% appreciation.
Landlord and Tenant Law: Pro-Landlord Rating is based on a detailed study of each country’s law and practice.

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