Egyptian businessman finds exchange rate and London property prices in his favour

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Saturday March 7, 2009

An Egyptian businessman based in Cairo, is among the fortunate ones. Sammy Abd Kerim began looking for a London base in the summer of 2007 through estate agency Kay & Co and quickly found a perfect three-bedroom property on the third floor of a luxury block overlooking Hyde Park. “I come to the city four or five times a year so I felt it would be good to have a base where I could stay and bring my family,” he explains.

He offered £2.1m for the flat, slightly below the asking price of £2.35m, but London’s prime market was still at its peak at the time and the seller rejected his offer. “I walked away at the time and continued to look around,” Abd Kerim says, “but in autumn last year the sellers reduced it to £2.1m and we picked up our discussion. Now I am expecting to pay £1.9m, which amounts to a reduction of almost 20 per cent on the
original asking price.”

Crucially, since the Egyptian pound gained 26 per cent against sterling in 2008, he saved another £500,000. He recognises that the flat’s value could fall further but thinks now is the right time to buy. The market “may lose another 5 per cent but no more and prices will rise again in due course”, he says. “I don’t feel the need to wait longer. Even if the market falls another 10 per cent, I have saved a great deal of money on the currency exchange. In fact, I am thinking of using it to invest in a second flat to rent out, as a bonus.”

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