World Cup Cheers U.K.'s Housing Market

Americans might scoff at the frenzy surrounding the World Cup soccer tournament, but for the rest of the world "the beautiful game" is serious business. So serious, in fact, that one British real estate agency expects the U.K. housing market to see a significant jump in activity immediately following the tournament.

Could something similar happen in the U.S.?

According to Your Move, a major U.K. real estate agency, statistics suggest that housing transactions will jump 8 percent in the month following the matches. The company's forecast derives from data collected by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (think of the royal equivalent of the IRS), which show that six of the last seven World Cups were followed by a month of increased housing activity.

On average, tournament years produced 7 percent more housing transactions the following month than in the same period the previous year.

It's unlikely American homebuyers will respond in comparable numbes, since there are far fewer soccer fans in the U.S.

During the 2006 World Cup, for instance, property transactions spiked 10 percent from 160,000 in June to 176,000 in August.

In 1994, even when England failed to qualify for the Cup, transactions rose by 5 percent. "When football fever grips the nation, many buyers are glued to their screens," explained David Newnes, Managing Director of LSL, the parent company of Your Move.

Historically, a flurry of buyers hit the streets in the month after the tournament, once the action has ended, Newnes said, but he doesn't expect the excitement to stall the market in the meantime, either.

"Consumer confidence has risen this year," he said, "and more buyers have been entering the market."

But before you judge our transatlantic kin and their nigh-obsessive fandom, know that British football has at least something in common with the beefier American sport of the same name.

A 2003 study showed that the presence of an NFL team in an urban area raises rents by 8 percent on average. It would seem the apple doesn't fall far from the colonial tree.
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