Foreigner investors eye UK property

FRENCH PRESS AGENCY - AFP
HONG KONG
Published 26.06.2016 23:36

With property prices in Britain expected to plummet post-Brexit, foreign investors, especially in Asia, are already poised for a buying rush.

It is an ironic twist to the shocking referendum result that was fueled by those who saw their vote to leave the EU as a deterrent to outsiders looking to take advantage of economic opportunities in the U.K. The aftermath of Thursday's vote resulted in the resignation of British Prime Minister David Cameron and the collapse of the pound to a 31-year low. There was pandemonium across the board, affecting currency, equity and oil markets. Property prices are also expected to take a hit, with reports of buyers pulling out of transactions due to market uncertainty.

But while there may be a "wait and see" approach for some, ambitious foreign investors are on the hunt for bargains while the exchange rate is so low.

"Several of my opportunistic investors have said we really ought to think about this seriously, and to think whether we should take advantage of this new window in the market," said Nicholas Brooke, chairman of professional property services for the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. Brooke, whose firm plays an advisory role for prospective buyers, said while many clients remained cautious, some in Hong Kong and China with "substantial" investment capabilities had voiced interest. London-based international property agent Knight Frank also said foreign investors would be wary as they assess the full impact of the Brexit fallout, but the drop in the pound means their buying power would "increase significantly." Interest would be especially strong from China, Hong Kong and Singapore, where investors have a long history of buying up property in Britain; especially London, the firm's Asia-Pacific specialist Nicholas Holt said.

Chinese international property portal Juwai.com predicted 30 percent more consumer enquiries this month than in May. The historic low of the pound against the Singapore dollar also constituted a "fantastic buying opportunity" for investors in the city, added Donald Han, executive director of Chesterton Singapore, a consultancy specializing in U.K. property. Property consultancy Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) said capital value adjustment could be down by as much as 10 percent in the next two years.

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