Bunhill: Russians invade Highgate

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The Independent Online
KEEP WATCHING: Karl Marx will soon be turning in his grave in leafy Highgate Cemetery. According to Trevor Abrahmsohn at Glentree Estates, one of north London's biggest estate agents, in the past year at least a dozen Russians and east Europeans have paid between pounds 1m and pounds 2m for houses in Highgate and Hampstead - even in Bishops Avenue, where house prices start at pounds 5m.

The Russian predilection for the area can be traced back to the building housing the Russian Trade Delegation in West Hill. 'A funny place,' says Abrahmsohn guardedly. 'Not a lot of trade took place there.' Apparently the New Russians are 'model purchasers'. He says: 'They decide quickly and exchange quickly, because they don't need to borrow.'

Abrahmsohn admits that most of his new clients are 'the middle people needed in any emerging consumer society'. But he strenuously denies that they are in any way disreputable. 'I would be astounded if these people came from the underworld. They're decent family people setting up home in this country.

'I've been dealing with this type of clientele for 18 years. Somewhere in the world there's political unrest, and that unseats a number of wealthy entrepreneurs. They want gardens and leafy roads, and they want freehold properties; they simply don't understand the idea of leasehold. There's generally a family member around and then it snowballs. It started with the Iranians. Then came the Greeks and Indians, the Japanese and the Scandinavians.'

And now, just as Abrahmsohn and his colleagues were wondering where the next wave would come from, 'Lo and behold, they arrived from eastern Europe, a most unlikely direction.'

(Photograph omitted)

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