No Greek-domiciled buyers of London luxury homes in 2013

By Patrick Gower

Home sales in London’s priciest neighborhoods climbed 37 percent last year as a rise in the number of U.K.-based buyers made up for dwindling investment from Europe, according to Knight Frank LLP.

Sales of houses and apartments worth 4 million pounds ($6.6 million) to 5 million pounds led the gains, rising by 88 percent, the London-based broker said in a report today, without giving specific figures. Transactions involving homes valued at more than 10 million pounds rose 42 percent.

Overseas buyers helped London’s luxury homes outperform other U.K. real estate for the last four years as investors sought safe assets amid economic turmoil in their home countries. That has fueled 39 consecutive months of price gains, according to the report.

Now, the prime London property market is “evolving beyond its safe-haven status as signs of economic growth return to the U.K.,” Tom Bill, an associate at Knight Frank, said in the report. “More people are spending more money in prime central London as global economic threats recede.”

The proportion of U.K.-based buyers increased to 74 percent during the year, from 72 percent in 2012 and 68 percent in 2011, according to the report. European buyers dropped to 11 percent last year from 16 percent in 2012. There were no Greek-domiciled buyers for the first time in four years.

Prices gained 0.4 percent in January, according to the report. The index has risen 135 percent over 10 years.

In 2004, “1 million pounds bought you a two-bedroom flat on the upper floor of a converted building on a garden square in Knightsbridge,” Bill said. “Today 1 million pounds would buy a basement-level studio flat on the same square.”