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New UK Expat Buy-to-Let Investors to Profit from the City Centre

After last year’s depressed city centre rental market, city centre rents are steadily rising again. This trend is of particular interest to new UK expat buy-to-let investors, who are now starting to see the value to be had from city centre investments, whether off-plan or on a resale property.

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Pandemic Life Vs The ‘New Normal’.

‘What the pandemic created’ says Stuart Marshall ‘is a whole wave of people looking to move away from the city centre. During lockdowns where people were confined to their homes, the city centre lost out to rural and suburban areas as people searched out more space and proximity to green spaces. Consequently, the price of properties in the city centre fell a little in value, whilst rents also suffered from the falling demand. However, what this fall in cost has created is an opportunity for those UK expat and foreign national investors who recognise that normal life will eventually return to city centres – and in a big way. Along with the range of UK expat mortgages available to UK expats, city centre property is a very good way of entering the UK property market. Now that life is approaching the ‘new normal’, city centres are regaining some appeal. Their vibrant social scenes proving enticing for those who have been deprived for over a year. Workplaces are also welcoming back their staff for at least part of the working week, incentivising workers to move back to the city to avoid long commutes from the suburbs.’

How is the Rental Market Affected?

These changes are translating directly to the rental market and yields have risen because of a fall in the cost of city centre property and a subsequent rental recovery. For investors who bought in a city centre this year, the average gross yield has risen to 5.3% – up from 4.7% in 2020.

London.

‘London was of particular interest during the height of the pandemic. In effect a two-speed market came into being – with London growing negatively compared to the rest of the country. This was also true of London’s rental market. However, we did also note that the fall in the value of London property did present an opportunity for UK expat and foreign national investors looking to invest in the capital. Now that opportunity is beginning to manifest itself in the rental yields that investors are seeing. 35% of investors who purchased in London this year are reaping yields of over 5%, up from 30% in 2020. With prices still somewhat depressed, UK expats can still profit from a rental recovery in the capital. Rents fell to their lowest in London in April 2021, when they were 20.4% lower than the same time in 2020. However, by June rents had recovered slightly and were only 16.5% lower than the same time in the previous year. This upwards trajectory in rents points to a profitable future in the city for those UK expat investors canny enough to invest.’

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Across the Rest of the UK.

London is not the only area that is growing. The rest of the UK’s cities are also seeing growth similar to pre-pandemic levels. For new buy-to-let investors in cities outside of the capital, the average yield has risen to 6.2% from 5.9%. ‘And the future looks bright’ says Stuart Marshall, ‘with average gross yields in cities outside the capital at their highest level since 2016.’

New UK Expat Buy-to-Let Investors Take Note.

While cities are performing strongly, the areas outside of city centres have waned sightly as a result. New buy-to-let investors in areas outside of the city centre are also seeing 6.2% yields. However, this is down from 6.4% in 2020. Property is also more expensive in these areas with city centres still offering great bargains for savvy UK expat and foreign national investors, especially those who have access to some of the great funding deals available.

‘Expense and accessibility are the main thing for UK expat investors’ advises Stuart Marshall. ‘With Zoopla reporting that the average cost of a house has risen by 7.3% in the last year, desirable houses – typically a three-bed suburban family home – are getting harder to justify as an investment property. On the other hand, flats – typically in the city centre – have only risen by 1.4%. With many options available for flats including new build, re-sale and off-plan developments, city centre flats are a great choice for first-time UK expat investors. The lower cost of such properties only contributes to an easier investment and higher rental yields – especially as a return to pre-pandemic rental growth is on the horizon.’

Rental growth in the city is expected to continue to strengthen too. With the steep rise in property prices, prospective buyers are stuck in the rental market as they are unable to afford their own house. This shift means renting has become cheaper than buying and is the only option for many. Further, younger people are favouring renting in city areas to facilitate a strong social lifestyle revolving around clubs, bars, restaurants, live music, and many other attractions. Younger people are also living more fluidly, more willing to move, travel and change jobs, which is leading to a whole generation choosing to rent to avoid being ‘tied down’ with a mortgage.

Where to Look.

It goes without saying that city centre flats will be the properties of interest for new UK expat investors. They are affordable and there is good stock availability, along with good access to UK expat mortgages to allow funding of most property purchases. Further, they are currently being snapped up quickly in the rental market. However, the question remains where to invest. There is great regional variation in the price growth for flats and this will help to decide where to invest. The major UK cities are always a good place to start as they perform consistently well with rental yields and capital growth in those areas will contribute to the long-term profitability of the investment. In Wales, price growth for flats is only up by 0.9%, which presents an excellent opportunity for UK expats looking to invest – with Wales highlighted as a serious growth market in the near future. Other areas of interest are the North West, home to two of the most popular rental cities – Manchester and Liverpool – where price growth for flats is up only 3.4%.

Meanwhile, as noted above, London is in the midst of a rental recovery. However, price growth for flats in the capital is down by 0.5% – so London could present one of the best opportunities for UK expats looking to invest.

Source: EIN News

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Prime outer London premium property prices set the pace in 2021

A forecast made on Tuesday by estate agents Knight Frank suggests that property prices in prime outer London will grow by nearly 4 per cent over the rest of 2021, double the rate of prices in prime central London.

This trend is partly driven by the return of overseas buyers to the London property scene who have traditionally invested in more central areas.

It may defy precedent, but is not predicted to be a pandemic-induced one-off. Knight Frank’s five-year forecast shows growth in prime outer London will remain steady at between 4 and 5 per cent.

“Prime outer London” is defined by Knight Frank as covering Barnes, Battersea, Canary Wharf, Chiswick, Clapham, Fulham, Hampstead, Richmond and Riverside.

By contrast, prime central London spans the City of Westminster and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and parts of the boroughs of Hammersmith and Fulham, and Camden.

There had been little in the data to foreshadow this sudden growth, said Henry Faun, partner at Knight Frank Middle East.

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“There were some spikes in the market back in 2016 revolving around the EU referendum and Brexit, but since then things have been relatively steady,” he said. “The fluctuations were more in 2020 during lockdown.”

The same applies to offers accepted which, like prime prices, have gradually increased since March last year when the pandemic was declared, upending markets around the globe.

Yet the steady recovery from 2020’s initial Covid-induced shock has morphed into the “most active point in the market at any one time in the last five years”, said Mr Faun.

With many overseas buyers unable to fly to London owing to pandemic restrictions, domestic buyers have sustained the market for the past 18 months.

These buyers have acted like a centrifugal force, stretching London prime out of its traditional home within the SW1 postcode, and into areas of east and outer London not traditionally viewed as premium.

“A very large proportion of the prime central areas, those around Hyde Park, for example, do rely on overseas buyers,” said Mr Faun.

Their absence, along with the newly beefed up pound, has kept prices in and around Hyde Park “in check”.

Overseas buyers looking to London outer prime

The heat of pent-up overseas demand is now starting to be felt, however, and the inquiries aren’t solely about prime central London.

The trend was highlighted by Stuart Leslie, international sales and marketing director at property developer Barratt London.

“We have seen a lot of interest in east London, particularly from young professionals, in Canary Wharf – wanting to have a little bit better value for money than they will be getting in the west [of London] – and that value proposition has brought over [international] investors as well,” he said.

“So, whereas three or four years ago we wouldn’t have necessarily seen people from the Middle East investing in east London, now we’re seeing quite regularly both individuals and even family offices and institutional investments looking for real value for money and that strong rental demand, which is really driving the good rental yields” in the area.

Wherever this demand is focused, it is welcomed by Mr Faun, whose team has been increasingly busy.

“Prospective Middle Eastern buyers coming into the market are picking up the phone and sending through web inquiries or perhaps speaking with myself or the team in the Dubai office and saying: ‘We’re looking at buying real estate in London. Can you help us?’”

By Tim Kiek

Source: The National News

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UK Expat Buy-to-Let Investors Look North

In the search for higher returns, UK expat buy-to-let investors need to look beyond the capital to offset the impact of profit-eroding legislation.

Buy-to-let UK property has long been seen as a lucrative investment, often used to provide an inheritance for the investor’s children, as a pension alternative, or as an ancillary form of income. Buy-to-let investors are looking North. And UK expat buy-to-let investors need to be looking North too! There’s also been a clear growth in the number of buy-to-let landlords operating as a limited company compared to last year.

According to research from the BVA BDRC Landlord Panel for Q1 2021, this is the first time in over 4 years that a higher proportion of landlords are intending to expand their portfolio rather than reduce it (19% vs. 17%). The same research has also shown that 61% of landlords plan to use a buy-to-let mortgage to fund their next purchase and 29% of buy-to-let borrowers intend to remortgage in the next 12 months.

The Need for Higher Returns.

Due to legislative tax changes in the last few years, landlords are having to seek out areas that offer higher returns. In 2016, a 3% stamp duty surcharge was introduced for the purchase of second homes. In April 2020, it was announced that landlords could no longer claim mortgage interest as a tax expense. These changes have slowly eroded some of the profitability for UK expat and foreign national landlords. Despite this, landlord optimism in the near-term prospects for capital gains and rental yields has significantly increased year-on-year, by 26% and 24% respectively.

Landlords operating in London are most likely to have seen a fall in tenant demand in Q1 2020 and Q1 2021. So, where are UK expats and foreign national property buyers now looking? The answer is in so called ‘UK hotspots’ where higher returns offset the impact of the changing legislation and price entry points are a lot lower than some of the more traditional buy-to-let property areas.

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London Investors Looking Outside the Capital.

Between January and July 2021, 12% of UK property purchases were by investors. This was the highest since 2016 and is testament to the strength of UK property investment. ‘As a UK expat or overseas investor, it’s vital to see where investments are being made’ says Stuart Marshall. ‘Keeping track of these trends will help you to recognise where the most profitable areas will be when looking to invest.’

So, where should potential UK expat and overseas buy-to-let investors keep an eye on?

‘What’s really interesting to see’, continues Stuart Marshall, ‘is where the capital’s property investors are putting their money. 63% of homes bought by London-based property investors in 2021 have been bought outside the capital. This figure has been steadily rising for years – more than doubling from the 26% we saw ten years ago in 2011. The main driver for buying outside of London is obvious – the returns are higher elsewhere!’

Although a rental recovery is happening in the capital, it’s not enough to keep London-based investors there. Only 35% of investors who bought in London this year are seeing rental yields above 5%. Further, as of June 2021, rents in London were 16.5% lower than the same time a year ago, meaning investors who purchase in the capital are losing out on rental earnings. Though this has recovered from the 20.4% depression that we were seeing in April, it’s still not enough to keep UK expat and foreign national investors from looking elsewhere. For example, the average yield in cities across the rest of the UK is 6.2%. This figure is also the same for the average rental yield in areas outside of cities across the UK. So, London is falling far behind other areas of the UK and it’s forcing UK expat and foreign national investors to look elsewhere in the search for higher returns.

Where to Look for UK Expat and Foreign National Investors.

One area of interest, particularly when charting the behaviour of capital-based investors, is the North East. Here, landlords were responsible for almost a quarter of all purchases between January and July this year. ‘Both rental yields and capital growth in London are being far surpassed by Northern regions. And, increasingly, London’s investors are looking toward these areas for greater returns. For UK expats and foreign nationals looking to invest, taking note of this trend is important as it’s a strong indicator for where the best rental yields are going to be found. For example, in Middlesbrough and County Durham, London’s investors bought 28% and 25% of properties sold respectively in those areas in the last year. It’s clear to see why these areas have garnered such recent popularity with Middlesbrough and County Durham earning yields of 9.2% and 9.6% respectively.’

North West.

The North West continues to perform strongly when it comes to buy-to-let property investment. Though the average rental yield in the North West is currently lower than the North East – 7.8% compared to 9.1% – the North West is still a consistent favourite for UK expat and foreign national investors. ‘This may be to do with the incredible regional growth that we see in the North West’ muses Stuart Marshall. ‘In fact, the North West has the highest level of regional growth of anywhere in the UK. Regional growth in the last year has reached almost 12% in the North West, compared to the North East’s 9%. So, many UK expat and foreign national investors are favouring the North West because, in effect, you’re earning twice on your investment – once from the rental yield and once from the capital growth. As always, the best thing to do when looking to take out a UK expat buy-to-let mortgage is to talk to a specialist who can help to point you in the right direction and navigate some of the pitfalls.’

Source: EIN News

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China update – increased interest in UK resi buying and a demand bounce-back

Interest from China in the UK property is bouncing back, according to experts on the Chinese buying market in Britain.

Domenica Di Lieto, chief executive of Chinese planning and marketing consultancy, Emerging Communications, says a new round of restrictions designed to cool down China’s housing market is leading to growing interest in UK residential property buying despite the stamp duty holiday ending on September 30.

In total, over 300 new regulations have been introduced across Chinese municipalities, designed to limit investment in housing. Measures range from increases in loan rates to the issuing of official house buying coupons.

“The introduction of new regulations was understandable given the soaring prices seen in some areas such as Shenzhen, that witnessed increases in premium property values of 53% in less than four years. The damping measures are working with property sales growing weaker,” Di Lieto claimed.

“The result is more investment focus on overseas property that provides better returns, with the UK being a central point of interest.”

Di Lieto says that, among China’s wealthy middle classes, there is no shortage of funds to invest.

“They currently hold more than £27 trillion in investable assets growing at an annual rate of 13%, according to a report by China Merchants Bank. By 2025, it is predicted the amount will reach £33.5 trillion,” she said.

“China’s economic growth will continue to fuel demand to invest while at the same time generate greater numbers of high-income families wanting to diversify financial portfolios abroad. Bloomberg predicts economic growth of 8.9% for this year.

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“While this is not as fast as pre-pandemic levels, it is significant, and more than enough to fuel sustained demand for overseas property acquisition.

Another positive factor in maintaining Chinese interest in UK residential property is relaxation of overseas investment regulations, Di Lieto adds. She says there are significant signs that rules on savings will be loosened, with the Chinese Government giving approval in June for record amounts to be allowed out via an officially sanctioned investment quota.

“There has also been the launch of Wealth Connect, a programme that allows households in southern China to invest overseas,” Di Lieto said.

Terry Pan said: “Liberalisation is happening in front of our eyes. This is a very interesting time.”

Ye Haisheng, a Chinese official at the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (Safe), has said the Government is looking into whether the current $50,000 allowance for spending on travel and education could be extended to overseas investments.

Although the amount itself is not enough to have a major impact on house buying, Di Lieto says it is an important sign that Chinese authorities are relaxing financial restrictions on the outflow of money.

“Analysts predict a gradual move to liberalisation. While this is positive news in terms of opening official channels for property investment, it does not signify the closing of the options currently being used to fund Chinese buying of UK property,” she explained.

“The significance of deregulation is that it will simplify purchase and add further momentum to buying.”

Another factor in buying British housing, according to Di Lieto, is the new Non-Resident Stamp Duty Land Tax (NRSDLT).

“The new charge is not influencing Chinese buying interest. The increase in house prices of 13% during the pandemic, with new rises predicted for the future, more than offset sentiment over the 2% government levy,” she insisted.

She also claimed that some Chinese buyers will be able to avoid the tax. To do so, buyers have to remain in the UK for at least 183 continuous days in the year before purchase. Buyers can arrange buying as part of a half year stay in the UK stay, and with a high proportion of Chinese buying being for students, many families look at the potential to use university attendance as a way to circumvent the new charge.

“The high number of expat buyers will also be able to avoid the tax,” Di Lieto said, who said the new charge should also be seen in the context of the amounts set in other countries. “For example, the duty in Singapore is 20%, and in New York 15% is taken on sale alone. Many otherwise attractive locations have much higher property buying tax rates than the UK.”

Di Lieto says sellers can also look forward to a significant medium-term lift to Chinese buying. The latest report by Asian real estate technology group Juwai IQI, predicts activity will increase rapidly once international travel out of China resumes fully.

The travel trade in China believes tourist, and other international travel, will resume on a large scale in the first quarter of 2023 – not including student travel to study abroad that has already returned to normal levels.

“Still the biggest Chinese barrier to purchase in the UK comes from sellers themselves,” Di Lieto says.

“The reluctance to fully understand and communicate with Chinese buyers on their terms is a persisting trend. The majority of developers and agents opt for sales strategy based on overlaying Mandarin translations onto sales communication that works in the domestic arena, but generates little or no resonance among Chinese prospects who demand a different sales journey.

“One based on building trust, high levels of information, and assurance that is a far cry from the quick or hard sell.

She said there are a notable few developers and agents that have been prepared to learn, and tune sales strategy appropriately.

“But until the majority are prepared to commit to understanding and serving prospective buyers from China, the interest shown in buying in the UK will to a large degree, remain just potential, and sales will be lost to locations better prepared to engage with the Chinese market.

Chinese residential investment – will it be back?

Talking of the Juwai IQI report mentioned above, it aimed to analyse whether Chinese interest in residential property will bounce back now that restrictions have eased.

The report for Q3 2021 includes the latest insights on: tantalising news on Chinese capital controls, Chinese participation in UK education and the impact on property, how slower property markets in China push buyers to the UK, the UK market outlook and impact on Chinese buyers, and the impact of the non-resident stamp duty on Chinese buyers.

Georg Chmiel said of the report: “It looks at if and how quickly Chinese demand for UK property will bounce back. Our base case is that buyer activity will rapidly increase once travel fully resumes. Buyers eager to get on with long-postponed transactions will push investment levels higher.

“After this initial rush to transact is past, transaction levels will likely fall back and resume a more sustainable level of growth.

He added: “The appetite for overseas property is increasing among Chinese consumers and investors. They are turning their eyes abroad because of increasingly restrictive local property markets in China and relatively poor prospects for economic growth.

“Chinese demand for UK property has remained remarkably stable since 2014, with the UK’s market share of Chinese buyer enquiries changing just 0.4% in that time.”

He said the UK’s world-renowned education sector is the primary driver for the stability of Chinese demand for UK property.

“Chinese households will hold US$46.3 trillion of investable assets by 2025 and have a demonstrated preference for property investment. That gives them both the means and desire for investment in the UK,” Chmiel said.

“Signs of capital controls liberalisation are tantalising for UK real estate markets. They signal the possibility that more of China’s wealth may find its way to the country in the years to come.”

He added that the UK’s strong price performance attracts buyers from China and looks likely to continue. The new non-resident stamp duty is unlikely to deter many buyers, as the UK still offers relatively affordable prices and associated costs.

“For all these reasons, the desire for UK property has not fallen, even though the pandemic has made acting on that desire more difficult. As travel resumes and obstacles fall away, we expect a resumption of Chinese buyer activity in UK markets.”

By Matthew Lane

Source: Property Investor Today

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Overseas buyers’ interest in UK property soars again

There has been a significant surge in the number of overseas buyers and tenants expressing interest in UK property, the latest figures from property agent Knight Frank show.

So, why is demand for property rising among foreign buyers and tenants? And what implications could this have for the UK property market? Let’s take a look.

Why has overseas demand for UK property risen?

According to Knight Frank, almost a quarter (24%) of all web users looking at sales and lettings properties in the UK in August were based overseas. This is the highest the overseas figure has been since before the pandemic in January 2020. And it’s up on the average figure of 17% in the 18 months to June this year.

Further, the data shows that the number of overseas web users looking at lettings in August exceeded the number of users based in the UK for the first time since the beginning of 2020.

There are two main factors driving this increased demand. The first is a high number of overseas students who are beginning their property search ahead of the new academic year. The second is returning corporate tenants as more sectors and offices reopen.

Tom Bill, Knight Frank’s head of UK residential research, said: “International demand is undoubtedly building as the feeling grows that the worst of the pandemic is behind us.”

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What can we expect going forward?

In the lettings market, Knight Frank expects tenant demand to be more evenly spread over the year than normal as foreign students receive more clarity about face-to-face study.

In the sales market, the presence of foreign buyers is patchier, but numbers may begin to increase this month.

How could the demand for UK property affect purchase and rental prices?
The recovery of overseas demand, along with a relative scarcity of available properties, means that we might see house prices and rents go up in the foreseeable future.

Indeed, we are already seeing price increases in some parts of the country. Recent figures show that rents in London rose for the third month in a row in August after a year of decline. Further, research shows that the average monthly rent in the UK is now above £1k for the first time in history.

Property values, just like rents, are also expected to go up. For example, Knight Frank anticipates a 2% rise in prime central London by the end of the year. Next year, they think the rise could be as high as 7% as even more overseas demand kicks in.

What help is available for buyers and tenants?

Increased overseas demand for local housing and the resultant rise in purchase and rental prices means that prospective buyers and tenants might need bigger deposits in the near future.

If you intend to rent and rising prices mean you are having difficulty raising your tenancy deposit, there are ways to get help.

Your local council may offer a rent deposit scheme or rent guarantee scheme. This can help you cover the cost of your tenancy deposit. Additionally, you may be able to claim a Discretionary Housing Payment from your local council to help with your deposit.

Help is also available for those struggling to afford a mortgage deposit in light of rising property prices.

For example, a Lifetime ISA, which you can open using investing solutions providers like Nutmeg, can speed up the process of saving for your deposit. You can save up to £4,000 every year and receive a government top-up of 25%. You can then use the money towards a house deposit.

There is also the Help to Buy: Equity Loan scheme. Using the scheme, you only need to raise a 5% deposit. The government then supplements it with a loan worth up to 20% of the property value (or up to 40% in London).

By Sean LaPointe

Source: Fool

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Overseas investors ‘gearing up for return to UK property market’

More overseas investors could be poised to enter the UK property market following the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, figures from an estate agent suggest.

Knight Frank said its web traffic data showed nearly a quarter (24%) of users looking at sales and lettings properties in August were based abroad.

This was the highest number since its figures started in January 2020. The average proportion in the 18 months to June was 17%.

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The number of international web users looking at lettings properties in August also exceeded those based in the UK for the first time since the start of 2020.

Demand has been driven by overseas students acting before the start of the academic year and returning corporate tenants as offices reopen, Knight Frank said.

Tom Bill, head of UK residential research at Knight Frank, said: “As the feeling grows that the worst of the pandemic is behind us, normal service will resume in the UK property market and I expect overseas investors and tenants to make their presence felt in the final quarter of this year.”

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By Vicky Shaw

Source: Independent

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Overseas Property Investors Conclude the Best Potential Sits Outside of London Property Market

For years, overseas property investors have concentrated mainly on the London property market. However, this is beginning to change. Indeed, Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia investors saw the potential in the regional markets outside London and have taken advantage of excellent price gains since 2020.

For the last 30 years, overseas property investors have pumped money into the London property market. Lots of jobs, a robust economy, and a booming property market made it an obvious choice.

But across the country, a similar story is emerging. Investors evaluate the property market searching for value and conclude that Manchester, Newcastle, and Leeds offer great potential.

Where are Overseas Property Investors Investing Outside London?

Between April 2020 and April 2021, home prices across the UK increased by 8.9%. In London, properties appreciated by 3.3%. However, in the northeast of England, house prices rocketed up by 16.9%.

But it’s not just appreciation rates that are making investors sit up and take notice. London house prices are twice that of the national average. In a pre-pandemic world, these discrepancies could be justified by proximity to employment. However, several factors have changed the game.

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Work-from-home has caused buyers to exit London in search of properties with more space. With fewer people obliged to commute daily, suburbs and regional cities are more appealing.

Meanwhile, successive governments have committed to a policy of decentralisation. While much of this process involves granting power to local governments, there are grants to encourage companies to set up regional offices. Indeed, Goldman Sachs announced a technology centre in Birmingham this April.

Where are Overseas Property Investors Going?

The majority of overseas property investors are focused on private homes for rent, particularly homes for young professionals. The business model is relatively straightforward: develop the property and keep the asset for rent, or sell it on, generally within Asia.

According to Savills, the combined investment into the property market in Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds was over £1bn in 2020. This figure constitutes a staggering £630m growth in two years. Better yields offered in the regions are one of the most significant factors in these increased investment flows.

Indeed, as long as regional cities offer better investment opportunities, the pattern will continue. Many major UK banks and finance are not interested in regeneration because of the risks involved. Without the help of overseas property investors, the UK’s housing shortage would be much worse.

Conclusion

For investors, finding opportunities outside London is producing higher yields. For many professionals, work from home is here to stay, which will allow a more flexible approach to buying housing in different areas.

With many cities around the country benefiting from the work of overseas property investors, other cities have begun to take note. With many areas in need of regeneration, these investment flows could be precisely what the country needs.

Written by Kelly Geeson

Source: Property Forum

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UK named top hotspot for property investment by overseas investors

Overseas investors ranked the UK as the best residential property investment hotspot for 2021. What makes investing in UK property so appealing?

For a number of years, the UK property market has been a prime target for overseas investors, and this has continued at strong levels. Property investors from Asia, Europe and the US have particularly seen UK property as a solid investment choice in the past few years.

Recently, the UK was even named the top global property investment hotspot in a survey by international law firm DLA Piper. Of the 500 high-net-worth investors and asset managers surveyed, 33% said they wish to invest in UK property during 2021.

Investors headquartered in China and the US ranked the UK as the best for residential property investment. And investors in the UK, Germany, France, Spain and Italy named the UK the third best place for property investment.

Olaf Schmidt from DLA Piper comments: “The UK remains an attractive market for investment also post-Brexit which should provide confirmation and reassurance that the UK is a vital hub for activity and growth.”

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Investors continue to be optimistic

Despite uncertainty still surrounding the global COVID-19 pandemic, investors remain optimistic about property investment. DLA Piper’s survey revealed more than half of respondents feel positive about the outlook of the European property investment market. Additionally, only 11% feel negative.

Investors also shared why they remain so optimistic. The most common reasons stated were because of high demand and a shortfall in supply, strong yields and attractive prices.

Additionally, another recent study revealed nearly half of buy-to-let investors in the UK are remaining positive about the year ahead. According to Property Master, only 10% plan to exit the sector in 2021. And nearly 70% said they are not planning to sell their properties.

UK property market remains appealing

Foreign buyers and investors have been snapping up property across the UK before the additional 2% stamp duty surcharge comes into effect for overseas-based investors in April. However, many feel the stamp duty surcharge will unlikely deter overseas buyers in the future.

The fall in sterling, low mortgage rates and the UK’s strong property market will more than make up for this additional tax. The sector has strong long-term prospects for capital appreciation and increasing rental demand. And many overseas investors view the UK property market as a safe haven.

Additionally, interest from Hong Kong buyers and investors is set to surge with a new special visa opening to British National Overseas passport holders in Hong Kong on 31st January. This will likely lead to a significant number of Hong Kong residents emigrating to the UK and investing in property.

Throughout 2021, overseas and foreign investors are expected to continue investing in UK property at strong levels. In recent years, the UK property market has remained robust even during political and economic unease. Because of the sector’s resilience, overseas investors will continue snapping up UK property, even with the continued uncertainty of COVID-19.

Source: Buy Association

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Foreign investment drives rise in real estate deals

Overseas investors significantly contributed to a sharp rise in investment in Scottish commercial property in the first half, according to analysis from Knight Frank.

There was a 35% surge in deals to £688 million in the six months to the end of June, against £510m in the same period of 2020 – the height of the UK’s first lockdown.

Overseas investors have remained the biggest buyers of Scottish commercial property so far in 2021, making acquisitions totalling more than £300m.

Privately held property companies were involved in £115m of deals, while UK institutions accounted for another £60m.

According to Knight Frank, investment fell 15% between the first and second quarters of 2021, from £371m to £317m.

However, this does not include deals with undisclosed values, such as the sale of Neptune Energy’s Aberdeen headquarters in May – the biggest investment deal in the city since the pandemic began.

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Colliers’ Scotland’s snapshot for the second quarter of 2021 puts second quarter deals higher than the first – at more than £400m – though it says investment was about 20% below the five-year quarterly average of £528m, as the effects of the Covid-19 continue to be felt.

It says investment volumes over the first half were up by more than 50% on the same time in 2020.

Colliers says the four largest office deals in the second quarter were all recorded in Edinburgh, led by Rockstar Games buying its 75,000 sq ft building on Holyrood Road – the former headquarters of The Scotsman newspaper – for £31m, and the adjoining Holyrood Park House, home to Citigroup, for £17m.

Knight Frank lists alternatives and mixed-use schemes as the most popular asset classes in terms of investment volumes – including the £80m of funding for Moda’s Holland Park build-to-rent development in Glasgow – followed by offices and industrials.

Both agencies predict that, with a range of high-quality stock still being marketed, a flurry of deals could complete after the summer.

Alasdair Steele, head of Scotland commercial at Knight Frank, said: “Scotland’s commercial property investment market is still recovering from the effects of the pandemic, but there are signs we are heading in the right direction as the economy re-opens.

Oliver Kolodseike, Deputy UK Chief Economist, Research and Forecasting, at Colliers, said: “There is pent-up capital waiting to be deployed in Scotland. A number of deals are currently under offer and should complete in the coming weeks and months.

“We expect a further boost with remaining restrictions due to be eased in Scotland on 9 August and we should return to some form of normality.”

In the office market, Colliers expects a strong rebound in the second half of the year as lockdown restrictions ease further. In one of the largest leasing deals of the second quarter, BT signed a pre-let for 80,000 sq ft at Dundee’s West Marketgait scheme.

Elliot Cassels, director, national capital markets in Edinburgh, added: “There has been strong investor demand for Edinburgh offices, with keen prices having been paid. Footfall in city centres still remains low and investor appetite thin for high street retail and leisure.”

In the retail sector, which has been hard hit by the fallout from Covid, around £60m was invested in the second quarter.

Although this was double the first-quarter figure, it is less than half the five-year average of £130m. The largest retail deal was the sale of a B&Q warehouse in East Kilbride to an American real estate investment trust for £19m.

The industrial sector saw £70m invested in the second quarter, against £52m in Q1, and about 10% above the five-year quarterly average of £62m. The largest deal was DataVita’s acquisition of the Fortis data centre at Strathclyde Business Park for £45m.

By Terry Murden

Source: Daily Business

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UK’s Expat Demographics & Latest Mortgage Trends

Introduction

As of 2019, people born outside of the UK – typically referred to as expatriates or expats – made up around 14% of the UK’s residents. That adds up to just under 10 million people. Now, all of these people need somewhere to live, so there is a lot of movement in the UK expat mortgage market every year. At the same time, many of these expats come with a fair amount of money in the bank, and UK property has long been seen as a sound investment. As a result, the number of expat buy to let mortgages on the average expat mortgage broker’s books has been rising steadily.

But what do we know about these expats? Where are they coming to the UK from, how are they affecting the UK’s demographics, and how are they coping with a mortgage market that is reeling from both Brexit and COVID?

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Overview of Expat Mortgage market

Expat Mortgage Brokers, banks and other property market professionals are seeing growing interest in expat buy to let mortgages and UK expat mortgages generally. Brexit may have cooled the desire for EU citizens buying 2nd homes in the UK, but it has done nothing to discourage EU nationals, whether expats, expat-hopefuls or not, to buy investment properties in the UK.

There are many reasons for this. The pound is weak relative to many major world currencies at the moment, and those whose currencies are more bullish – expats and investors from East Asia, Canada and the US, among many others – are eager to take advantage of that. After all, when the pound recovers, the value of their investment in their own currencies will rise dramatically. Overall confidence in the UK’s COVID vaccination program and economic recovery are high.

Other factors driving demand for UK expat mortgages and expat buy to let mortgages include the political troubles weakening China’s markets and the UK’s new Visa scheme, which allows BNO passport holders from Hong Kong to relocate to the UK easily.

Specialty Expat Mortgage Brokers are seeing a sharp increase in demand

Many mortgage brokers, banks and financial professionals who specialise in serving clients who work primarily in non-GBP currencies or who hold primarily offshore assets have seen a spike in interest beginning around January or February and continuing into the summer.

Some expat mortgage brokers have reported 3 times as many Hong Kong-based expat buy to let mortgage completions in the first quarter of 2021 than in a typical first quarter. Specialty expat mortgage brokers are seeing a corresponding increase in interest. It is not uncommon for enquiries for Residential Expat Mortgages and Expat Buy to Let Mortgages to have doubled recently, even discounting the extra interest from Hong Kong. Many tell us that even EU mortgage inquiries are on the rise, with around 30% more interest from that region in the last 6 months compared to the 6 before that.

Expat mortgage clients need special support, as it can be tricky to find lenders who are happy to accept payments that aren’t in sterling, or who have the necessary expertise to appreciate the value of offshore collateral.

Beyond Hong Kong, Expat Mortgage Brokers are seeing a lot of East Asian interest

Many overseas buy-to-let and residential expat mortgage specialists have reported year-on-year increases of 10% to as high as 20% from East Asian property buyers. Part of the reason for this is a kind of ‘perfect storm’ effect between London property prices actually falling by 3.4% across 2020 (measured in GBP) and the strength of their own currencies.

Over the course of 2020 a South Korean expat mortgage customer would have seen an effective 6.8% fall in London housing prices in their own currency. The price of an expat buy-to-let mortgage in Chinese yuan fell by 6.2% over 2020. Likewise, the price in Japanese yen fell by 5.6%

There have also been quite a few enquiries about UK Expat Mortgages from property buyers in Canada and the United States. Contrary to what many experts had predicted following Brexit, many expat buy to let mortgage customers in North America seem to feel that the UK is a more attractive place for property investment than the EU.

 A large amount of Expat Mortgage interest comes for UK nationals living overseas.

Another growing source of expat mortgage customers are UK citizens currently living abroad and paid in foreign currencies, but prefer to invest in UK properties. Many UK expats live in places like Germany, Paris, the UAE or the USA, and wish to invest in UK property on a Expat Buy to Let basis or wish to buy a home for family members who do live in the UK. There is an especially high amount of interest at price points around £500,000. Many expat mortgage professionals also report a growing interest in buying flats, which had begun to fall out of favour early in the pandemic.

Because these customers are not paid in sterling, though, they have discovered that they need to seek out specialist expat mortgage brokers like Expat Mortgages UK.

Who are these Expats and where are they coming to the UK from?

There are more people who were born overseas living in the UK now than ever before. Even after Brexit, there has been a steady increase. In 2004, some 5.3 million UK residents were expats. That number had nearly doubled to 9.5 million in 2019. The growth of the UK’s foreign-born has slowed since around 2016 when many began emigrating, but the overall figures still indicate substantial growth.

Brexit has been responsible for a demographic shift, of course. The last decade had seen EU-based immigration rising more rapidly than immigration form other countries. However, the majority of UK immigrants came from non-EU countries, and Brexit has done little to slow it. In 2019, for example, around 38% of UK immigrants came from the EU.

Compared to the native-born UK population, immigrants tend to be in the 26-64 age range. As of 2019, 70% of immigrants fell into this ‘working’ age category, whereas only 48% of UK born residents did.

Around 19% of UK natives were age 65 or older, whereas only 11% of migrants were. However, this varies substantially with country-of-origin. 17% of EU-14 immigrants were age 65+, but only 1% of those from Bulgaria and Romania were 65 or older.

At the other end of the spectrum, the demographics are more similar. UK natives aged 16-25 make up 12% of the population, and 11% of the immigrant population. Again, this varies by place of origin. Some 15% of EU-8 and EU-2 immigrants were younger, whereas only 5% of immigrants from India were aged 16-25.

Where do Immigrant Expats come from?

As of 2019, the last date we have good figures for, most of the expats coming to live in the UK came from either India, Poland or Pakistan. India contributed around 9% of the total immigrant numbers, as did Poland. Pakistan was slightly behind, at 6% of the total. Poland had been solidly in first place until around 2018. Roughly 100,000 Poles left the UK in 2018 and 2019.

What brings Expats to the UK?

The most common reason given for non-EU immigration was ‘family reasons’, at roughly 49%. Another 21% of non-EU immigrants said they came to work. Many of these people entered on family visas, and therefore are more likely to settle permanently in the UK compared to those on student visas or work visas.

Among EU-based immigrants, 48% said they came to work. Those numbers are even higher for immigrants from new EU member states – 62% of EU-2 immigrants came to work, and 59% of those from EU-8 countries.

Where do Immigrant Expats tend to live?

Unsurprisingly, London has a higher immigrant population than any other region in the UK. In 2019 35% of all immigrants to the UK lived in London and a further 13% lived elsewhere in the South East – accounting for just under half of all immigrants, more than 4.5 million. By comparison, only 10% of the UK’s native-born population lives in London.

On the other end of the spectrum, Northern Ireland, the North East and Wales each received only 1-2% of 2019’s immigrants to the UK.

Summary

Expats make up around 14% of the UK’s resident population. Expat mortgage brokers – those who specialise in serving clients who either currently work or have worked primarily in non-GBP currencies, or who hold primarily offshore assets – are seeing growing interest in Expat Buy to Let Mortgages and UK Expat Residential Mortgages generally.

This may be because at the moment the pound is weak relative to many major world currencies, but confidence in the UK’s COVID vaccination program and economic recovery are high, so that trend is expected to reverse. In short, money spent on UK properties now will be worth more in the Expat’s home country soon. Expat mortgage clients typically need specialist advice and guidance, as it can be tricky to find specialist lenders who are happy to accept payments in overseas currencies and with different work and immigration statuses etc.

If you would like to speak with one of our Specialist Expat Mortgage Advisors today, simply get in touch via the Short Form below, or call us on Expat Mortgage Broker services.