Home hunters in London have flocked to Elephant & Castle to buy an apartment in Metro Central, a revamped office block on New Kent Road.

Within two weeks of launching its final phase, Metro South, St George, the developer has sold 35 of the 100 studios and flats. Not surprisingly, its position close to Waterloo and the City and its competitive prices have all contributed to its success, but so has the pink pound.

Apparently, word of mouth among the gay community has boosted its popularity. "It has an American lifestyle flavour to it," says a man who lives in nearby Brixton. "They can see themselves as living in an episode of Friends. The gymnasium and swimming pool under one roof would be irresistible. Gay men like to colonise and have definitely taken up south of the river. It has all the space you get for the money. You have to have somewhere to put your rowing machine."

Lorna Vesty, a partner at Knight Frank, says the gay buyer is a major buying force in central urban developments. "They mirror the rising importance of empty- nesters in rural new developments," she says. "In the case of London, the usual rules apply - affordability and location are the two crucial issues for all buyers. Single people or those without children often like to be within easy reach and nightclubs and and restaurants." Metro South prices start at pounds 67,950 and go up to pounds 218,950 for a three bedroom, three-bathroom duplex. Sales centre: 0171 967 0545.

There are people who have been waiting years for the perfect Hampshire house to come on to the market. So when the London-based Honeypot Home children's charity started its search there, it is not surprising it was met by gloomy faces.

But the organisation's relatively short house hunt has ended with that rare creature, a four-bedroom house in seven acres in the New Forest.

Compromise was the key. Four years of hard fund-raising to provide needy children with a break from home were a lesson on value for money. "The house is an unexciting Seventies building but it has a bungalow in the grounds, a flat above the garage, a swimming pool and a lake," the charity's founder, Lisa Nelson, says. "We paid pounds 430,000, pounds 20,000 under the asking price and the district council were brilliant about granting change of use. All we need now are a lot of fairy godmothers to help us kit it out."

Most people's dream home is a Georgian rectory, and a dream it usually remains, says Kevin Allen of John D Wood's Lymington office. "A period house in a decent garden is as rare as hens' teeth. Anyone after that kind of house in the New Forest has to compromise. Prices here are still largely fuelled by the shortage of good houses for sale." An Edwardian- built neo-Georgian house, minus nooks and crannies, with a cottage, would be around pounds 750,000.

Sunflowers have been doing good business this summer in west London. Rolfe East, the estate agency and lettings group, abandoned the traditional agent's board for one in the shape of a sunflower.

This unusual marketing campaign has met with approval, as well it might given the ugliness of a cluster of run-of-the mill boards. The agents are almost as keen to promote the real thing and have been running a competition for the largest sunflower grown on their patch.

It finished this week as sunflowers begin to droop. So far a seven footer from Ealing is leading the field. A pounds 200 prize will go to a school of the winner's choosing.

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