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The Ghost Streets of London Town

by Sarah Halloran

Halloween is the time for tales of ghosts, ghouls and things that go bump in the night.  Everybody loves a terrifying yarn about a haunted house and ghastly goings-on, but have you heard the one about the ghost streets of London?  There’s a problem in London being created entirely by its own success as a global capital city and it’s got nothing to do with paranormal activity.

Many northern and central prime properties are standing empty right now and continue to do so for months on end creating what could be seen as billion pound ghost streets that are lined with second and even third homes of the world’s super-wealthy country-hopping elite from Dubai, Hong Kong, Russia, Bahrain, Russia, and Singapore.

Many estate agents say that up to 70% of property sales in central London have been because of foreigners buying second homes.  That’s an astonishing figure and is a result of the favourable exchange rate and London’s popularity with the super-rich.

But in spite of these properties rarely playing house to their registered residents, the streets on which they are situated still tend to look busy, but how?

The simple answer is that the rich owners of these London properties turn to others to keep their homes running either by employing staff or hiring professional house sitters.

An extreme example of this is a large house in North London that is owned by the ruling family in Bahrain.  The house features 10 bedrooms and is located in a very salubrious district.  The family use it as their London address “should things get sticky back home” apparently.  Every morning the team of staff looking after this house clean and air the house, turn over the limo engine and retire back to the kitchen or elsewhere in the home to take care of things.

These second homes are a distinct contrast to the other side of the property market where first-time buyers and homeowners are struggling to manage one home let alone two.  Prime property like this is an investment however so it’s easy to see why the owners want to keep and nurture their homes even if they don’t live there.

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