Property prices in the Brighton-Hove area have risen by nine per cent since the start of the year as investors take advantage of an area that was among the hardest hit during the British property recession. The figure is nearly twice the five per cent increase the Nationwide Building Society predicted for British properties to rise during the year in its quarterly review of the housing market, published in July. The Brighton-Hove area has been attractive to buyers because of its proximity to London (about 51 minutes by train), transient population, undervalued properties and seaside setting. Russell Tyre, a property agent with RDA Estates which sells and manages properties in the Brighton-Hove area for Hong Kong buyers, said more flats and houses had been sold in the area during the first six months of the year than all of last year. Mr Tyre said about 40 Hong Kong buyers, including a dozen policemen, had purchased properties in the area in the past year. All rental properties provided yields of 13 to 14 per cent. 'The rental market is still good and, generally, older people who have been burnt before [with the property crash] are still more inclined to rent properties than actually buy. This leaves a good rental environment for property owners,' he said. 'Rental properties are ideal in the area because there are a lot of transient people. There are a number colleges nearby catering to foreign students and Gatwick Airport is only a 30-minute drive.' Mr Tyre said many mortgage holders in Brighton suffered from negative equity (when the mortgage is greater than the value of the property) and were keen to unload their property to cut losses. 'We recently bought a three-bedroom penthouse in Brighton for a Hong Kong client for GBP75,000 (about HK$903,000). The vendor bought the property in 1988 for GBP145,000.' Another property, a two-bedroom flat overlooking the seafront, was purchased in March for GBP45,000 and is rented for GBP130 per week. The vendor bought the property in 1988 for GBP80,000. Mr Tyre said studio flats that cost GBP18,000 last Chirstmas would now cost about GBP24,000.