Arab property buyers target London as political, economic uncertainty hits market

PKONWEB NOTE: Research from Cushman & Wakefield, which analyzes contracts for exchanged deals, showed that London property investment was up 18.5pc from £7.45bn in the same period last year. Prices in London have been tumbling at the fastest and steepest rate since the 2008 financial crisis, and from the viewpoint of international investors, top-quality London homes have now entered bear-market territory — meaning a fall of more than 20% from the top. Britain’s forthcoming exit from the European Union, the political turmoil in the wake of the recent election, new taxes on transactions, and sky-high prices have all come together to send the London real estate market into reverse.

London luxury property brokers expect Arab investors to return to London this summer as political and economic uncertainties accelerate a slide in prices.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said the average number of homes on the books of estate agents fell to its lowest number since 1978 when it started its monthly survey.

Some 44 percent of contributors blamed political uncertainty for the subdued market while 27 percent highlighted Brexit as the most important factor.

But that has also created a buying opportunity for overseas investors, especially those from countries with dollar pegs, whose money now goes further because of continued sterling weakness.

The Knightsbridge office of Savills which handles some of London’s most expensive property transactions, reports a rise in activity from Arab investors this summer despite the wider market malaise.

“We are seeing more Middle East buyers take advantage of the current decline in prices and sterling weakness,” said Noel de Keyzer, a director in the Knightsbridge office of Savills.

He said that transactions had increased by a third since last summer when the property market was reeling from the surprise outcome of the referendum when Britain voted to leave the European Union.

Despite the rise in transactions, Savills reports that the overall stock of properties available for sale in prime locations such as Knightsbridge has fallen by as much as 40 percent since 2014.

Agents blame higher rates of stamp duty introduced by former Chancellor George Osborne which has deterred owners from moving home.

A 15 percent decline in prices since the market peak for prime central London property 2014 has also prompted some owners to withdraw their homes for sale in the hope of a recovery in prices.

The summer months are traditionally a busy time for property brokers in the prime central London locations such as Knightsbridge and Belgravia as wealthy Gulf nationals descend on the capital — some seeking to buy apartments for children studying in the UK capital.

The RICS Residential Market Survey for June said that the pace of decline in house price inflation in central London continued, with 45 percent more respondents seeing a decline in prices over the month.

Respondents also once again saw a decline in newly agreed sales in June, with 5 percent more respondents seeing a fall in sales over the month.

It represents the fourth consecutive negative reading and reflects both the lack of stock coming on to the market and a more cautious stance from buyers over recent months., the RICS said.

New instructions also fell again and for the sixteenth month in a row, with 19 percent more respondents seeing a fall rather than rise in property coming on to the market.

(Arab News)

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