London Luxury-home Values Climb At Fastest In Five Months

“At one point, it looked as though the boat wasn’t going to survive.” Amateur video showed several passengers jumping into the water as flames and smoke billowed out from the windows at the front of the London Duck Tours boat, a bright yellow vehicle that takes sightseers around the British capital by road and river. After reports of the fire were received late Sunday morning, firefighters, a police helicopter and paramedics rushed to the scene. Several people were pulled from the water, and the blaze was eventually extinguished. Police said all 28 passengers and two crew members on board the vessel were safe. No one was seriously injured, and three people treated at a London hospital for “minor smoke inhalation ailments” have all been discharged, London Duck Tours said. Most of the people on board the boat were foreign tourists, ITV reported. The company and the London Fire Brigade both said the cause of the blaze, which damaged one third of the vessel, was so far unknown. Borough Cmdr. Alison Newcomb of London’s Metropolitan Police said that the maritime coast guard is investigating. “At the conclusion of that investigation, I anticipate they will make a decision with regards to future tours,” she told ITV. London Duck Tours said it has stopped operating tours on the river until the reason for the fire has been established. The company was continuing tours by road on Sunday afternoon, ITV reported. “Should technical or safety modifications be required to our fleet, these will be introduced prior to the service recommencing,” Duck Tours said, stressing that it “operates to the highest safety standards.” “London Duck Tours operates a fully modernized fleet of nine vehicles that have been completely rebuilt and refurbished between 2002 and 2012,” it said.

The average value of a house or apartment in the citys most expensive neighborhoods climbed 0.7 percent from August, an index compiled by the broker showed. That brought the gain for the past 12 months to 7 percent. Homes selling for less than 2 million pounds in districts such as Chelsea and Knightsbridge have climbed 16 percent since the government in March 2012 raised a transaction tax known as stamp duty to 7 percent from 5 percent for properties priced above that level. By contrast, values for properties subject to the tax gained 8.7 percent, the broker said. The stamp duty issue is definitely in effect, Liam Bailey, global head of residential research at London-based Knight Frank, said by phone. Theres no doubt that investors have been concentrating their firepower in the 1 million-pound to 1.8 million-pound bracket. Thats been pushing that market. Prices in central London have climbed for 35 straight months. Although the rate has slowed, the markets strength this year has exceeded most brokers expectations. Knight Frank as recently as June said there wouldnt be a significant price increase this year. A month later, the firm forecast a 6 percent gain. Discretionary Market Theres a push-back from buyers, Bailey said. Its a discretionary market and people are looking for value. They arent desperate to buy anything at any price. Notting Hill and the City of London financial district led the increases with gains of 1.5 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively, in September. Belgravia, where values declined 0.2 percent, was the only neighborhood that didnt see a gain. Rents in prime central London fell 0.1 percent in September from the previous month, the fourth-straight decline, Knight Frank said in a separate report.

Surge in London house prices fuels bubbles fears

In China, by way of contrast, which has a population of 1.4 billion, there are about 3 million fans of the sport, or 0.2% of the population, according to managing director of NFL China Richard Young, who revealed the statistics in an interview with Ad Age in January. On yet another measure, the NFL’s main Facebook page has 8 million “likes”; NFL China’s Facebook page has a mere 199 “likes”; and the league does not maintain a separate Facebook page for the U.K. As an export concept, Fuller says, football is not without headwinds. “Whereas for basketball or soccer it’s relatively easy to put together a team, put two jerseys down for a goal, or find a basketball hoop and just start playing, there’s a lot of structure to football that makes it more difficult to transport to another country,” he says. “There’s the structure of the team, the structure of the officials. There’s also the cost of the equipment,” he says. The modest amount of padding permitted but not required, for example, for players of rugby pales in cost compared to a helmet, shoulder pads, leg padding and other accessories deemed absolutely necessary for football players. NFL titans Troy Polamalu (43) of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings met Sept. 29 as the NFL returned to London and Wembley Stadium. The Vikes outlasted the Steelers 34-27, thanks in large part to Peterson’s efforts. Kirby Lee, USA TODAY Sports Last Slide Next Slide Still, growth for the game at the grass-roots level at the field level does nevertheless appear to be taking place in the U.K. “It’s an upward trajectory in terms of participation,” says Andy Fuller, the director for student football at the British American Football Association, the national governing body for the sport here.

Game plan London: The NFL abroad

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The average cost of a home in the capital surged by 10 per cent between July and this month, compared with the third quarter of last year, British bank and major mortgage provider Nationwide said on Friday. It added that the average London home, including flats as well as houses, now costs 331,338 (S$672,000) – 8 per cent higher than in 2007 or during the run-up to the global financial crisis that eventually led to prices crashing. “The acceleration in house prices…reported by the Nationwide will fuel concern that we could be on our way to a new housing bubble,” said Mr Howard Archer, chief UK economist at IHS Global Insight research group. “On top of this, the Bank of England has indicated that interest rates are unlikely to rise before mid-2016, which seems likely to give many people greater confidence in their ability to purchase a house,” he added. The government launched a new programme called “Help To Buy” earlier this year, offering interest- free loans for a set time period to help buyers with only a 5 per cent deposit to purchase newly built properties. The scheme will be extended in January to offer mortgage guarantees for new and existing homes worth up to 600,000. People will not be allowed to benefit from the scheme if they intend to own more than one property. The current state of the housing market has meanwhile led to splits in the governing Conservative- Liberal Democrat coalition. Outspoken Lib Dem Business Secretary Vince Cable has warned that Help To Buy could fuel a new bubble. However, Conservative MP George Osborne, who as finance minister holds a more senior role in government, maintains that the scheme is needed to help homebuyers struggling to find sufficient deposits. Britain’s housing market has been bolstered in part by the country’s economic recovery in the first half of the year and on keen demand from cash-rich foreign buyers, particularly for investment property in London. Analysts also blame a shortage of affordable property for the current boost in prices.