When it comes to real estate prices -- the source of much American, if not global, worry a year after the fall of Lehman Brothers -- it's worth pointing out "the band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light."
That place is London.
According to a story on London home prices published yesterday by Bloomberg's Svenja O'Donnell, asking prices in London have now passed the last peak of fall 2007. The city that someone once characterized as "a housing market built on an oil bubble" is low on inventory, so that prices increased by 6.5 percent, according to a report from Rightmove PLC, a which runs the U.K.'s largest property-for-sale website.
The market is being helped somewhat by the weakness of the pound, which according to Robert Green, a John D Wood real estate agent quoted in the story, has dropped 17 percent against the Euro in the past year.
Since New York is also a world-class city that tends to attract financial and business types -- and the dollar, according to Reuters, is at a 14-month low versus the euro -- it's a natural question to ask if Manhattan is next. I'm an NYC real estate agent, and have to admit that this report makes me more optimistic than anything I've seen in the past year. The flipside: Britain is trading on thin volume, with Rightmove reporting just half the number of sales of two years ago. So this data, which is a definitely as a ray of sunshine for some, might not justify hope for the great many.