Survey Finds London Homes Priciest

LONDON -- London is the world's most expensive place in which to buy a home, followed by Monaco and St. Jean Cap Ferrat in southern France, an annual global survey by real estate consultant Knight Frank showed.

The average price of a property in the best locations of central London was $6,191 per square foot, according to the firm's Prime International Residential Index, published Monday. Monaco averaged $5,888 per square foot and, eight kilometers west along the Mediterranean coast, properties in St. Jean Cap Ferrat cost $5,853 per square foot, the London-based firm said.

Moscow and St. Petersburg and were among the five locations registering the fastest growth for prime residential property, reflecting the country's position as home to more than 100 billionaires, the second-largest collection after the United States, according to Forbes magazine.

Surging commodity and property prices increased the wealth of Russia's "Golden Hundred" to $522 billion, or more than one-third of the country's economy, from $338 billion in March 2007, the Russian edition of Forbes magazine said last week.

Average prime residential prices rose 38 percent in St. Petersburg to $1,937 per square foot and in Moscow by 35 percent to $2,235 per square foot, Knight Frank said.

French ski resort Courchevel, a favorite with Russians, registered the fourth-highest prices, costing $4,710 per square foot, the study showed.

London benefited from its position as a global center for finance while its nearest contenders are attractive as Mediterranean second-home "hot spots," according to the survey compiled by Knight Frank and Citi Private Bank.

Growth in property values has been "strongest in the main global financial centers and those with benign tax jurisdictions," said Liam Bailey, Knight Frank's head of residential research.