Experts are growing wary of UK and European property. The latest to call the top of the UK market is TV property guru Naomi Cleaver. She has sold her £1.6m London home and plans to rent until prices fall. "I think the whole market is going to drop. It might not happen immediately, but I think we are at the top of the cycle." So how are newspapers to fill their property sections? By talking about the latest hotspot' overseas.
But with Europe looking shaky these are becoming increasingly obscure. The Financial Times, for example, is now looking at the possible rewards of investing in property in Kabul in Afghanistan. No, we're not joking.
To be fair, anywhere else in the world Kabul's property situation might be appealing. The Afghan capital is now bigger than the country's next ten largest cities put together, and is "groaning under the weight of its own growth", says Rachel Morarjee in the FT. Housing is in high demand as both international workers and locals from outlying areas head into the region. Houses in desirable areas of town can go for over $500,000 and this is after a "correction" in the market. Right after the Taliban fell, prices of property in Kabul went "higher than Tokyo or New York" as aid workers and consultants piled into the city. Sounds tempting. But opportunities are limited. The political situation is of course unstable. A year ago riots tore through the city and crowds of young boys set about looting, with foreigners the main targets. "It really set the market back," admits Torialai Popal, a New York-based property owner. And now that the UK and US have renewed their attack on Taliban insurgents, the possibility of further unrest has grown.
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And even if life does return to a semblance of normality, there are the usual risks of buying in former warzones if things calm down you may find your house is not your own. For example, the district of Shir Poor is filled with new villas owned by government officials, but the original residents, "bulldozed out in 2003", have never been compensated, leading to potential ownership problems in the future. And, of course, Kabul is a fair distance to travel to go on holiday. All in all, we think we'll leave this one to the die-hard property bulls.
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