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Bargain prices in London attracting cash rich buyers from the Middle East and Russia

Currency fluctuations are also making the UK a better prospect for overseas property buyers, according to various real estate agents.

Up to 80% of people that Property Vision, a subsidiary of HSBC Private Bank, contacted in the Middle East said they were looking at potential deals in the UK and interest is also increasing from Russia and countries in Central Europe.

'The number of Middle Eastern buyers registering with Property Vision is fairly constant year-on-year,' said James Geddes, head of the property finding company's Middle East team.

'What is different is that before no one was interested in buying in the UK due to the property market peak and the weak US dollar. Recently I have seen a much stronger interest in the UK market due to the reversal of these two factors,' he added.

The advantage for dollar buyers is that prices in London have nearly halved over the last year and Property Vision reported that this has culminated with increased interest from Middle Eastern buyers.

London agency Douglas and Gordon has also seen an increase in interest from the Middle East, Italy and France. Director Ed Mead said that the company has seen a 20% rise in online registrations from overseas buyers.

'Currently 70% of our sales transactions in central London are to foreign buyers. Cash rich international buyers are now looking for bargains at all levels and in all areas,' he added.

The company has had to hire staff with language skills. 'Across our network of offices, our staff speak 14 different languages. In the Chelsea office alone we have five languages, and with the sharp increase in interest from the Middle East, Europe and some Indians and Russians, I rarely hear them in English,' explained Mead.

Estate agents Wetherell said they were seeing a 'significant' rise in foreign applicants. 'We are already seeing a significant increase in demand from overseas buyers who are attracted by properties that are, to them, now half price,' said Shaun Crocket, sales director at Wetherell.