In the week that the billionaire Roman Abramovich has confirmed he is selling Chelsea Football Club and rumours circulate that his homes in Kensington and Chelsea are also on the market, estate agents have reported that Russian buyers and sellers across the capital are considering their options as the war in Ukraine escalates and sanctions start to bite. Amid the swirl of misinformation and myth regarding Russians and their influence on the prime London property market, here’s what we know.
What’s happening now?
“A few Russians who bought at the height of the market in 2014 have been quietly trying to sell for the past few years; now they are lowering their prices in order to sell,” says Waleed Mohammed, the managing director of Merchants Row, an estate agency.
Several deals have fallen through while some Russians, who fear blanket sanctions in the UK, are now looking overseas — one source said Dubai was a favoured alternative. Agents also report that bargain hunters and wealthy individuals, as well as developers, have been circling, hoping for discounts on property from trophy homes to superyachts owned by Russians.
Others in the industry say there has been an increase in refinancing and sales inquiries from Russian owners. However, Ashley Thomas, a director of Magni Finance, a brokerage, says most lenders would be wary of taking on clients with any link to Russia while sanctions are in place.
Gary Hersham of Beauchamp Estates says that most of his clients were taking a “wait and see” approach but that he had been asked to sell two properties in central London valued at between £5 million and £10 million for Russian owners. “People forget just how embedded Russian investment is in London,” he says. “Russians have been buying property in the capital since 2008 and many have children and relatives who have come for schooling here and now live here as British citizens.”
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