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2022 Outlook for Expats & Foreign Investors Buying UK Property

There have been a lot of new factors that have impacted the UK property market in recent years, from Brexit and tax changes to the ongoing consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. For Expats and Foreign Property Investors, the UK still presents some profitable investment opportunities, as long as you are able to find the right types of investment.

From April 2021, overseas buyers have been required to pay a 2% stamp duty surcharge, which affected many property investment strategies. However, there are still many benefits of investing in the UK compared to other parts of the world, such as relatively low house prices, attractive interest rates and a very healthy property capital growth.

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The impact of COVID-19 on UK Property Market

The UK property market has remained strong, largely due to the stamp duty tax holiday that the UK government introduced. House prices have increased significantly, with the average house price having now increased by approximately £34,000 from the beginning of the pandemic. House price increases are expected to slow down in 2022, with the average UK House Price standing at £276,091 as of December 2021 (source: Halifax).

People want more space

Another major factor impacting property investment is the change in demand for housing stock that has more space. After spending so much time indoors during lockdown, many homeowners and renters decided that they wanted to find property that is in rural areas and has more space both indoors and outdoors.

Influence of Homeworking

London, which was always a highly popular place to live, saw record numbers of homeowners leaving to buy property outside of the capital in 2021. With more people working from home and less need to travel into the city for work, the trend for buying property with gardens and home offices emerged and is expected to only continue in 2022.

North of England continues as a Hotspot

Many other cities across the UK saw similar patterns and the North of England saw higher interest in properties, with areas such as Manchester and Liverpool becoming ever more popular for Property Investors & Landlords. The high rental prospects in the North, combined with the excellent capital growth have ensured that the North of England has become a hotspot for Property Investors.

The average rental yield in the Northwest was 7.8% in 2021 and the area saw a 12% regional increase in value, so going into 2022, we expect Property investors will increasingly be looking at buying in this part of the UK.

Student Accommodation in high demand

The large student populations in northern cities are keeping rental demand high and with large numbers of foreign students requiring student accommodation that is of a higher specification, this gives investors the opportunity to charge higher rental yields.

Many expats and foreign Property investors are seeing the great investment potential of buying student accommodation to rent in areas where there are numerous universities and where the average property value has grown significantly in recent years.

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Green efficiency requirements

As well as the additional 2% stamp duty surcharge, foreign Property Investors looking to buy property in the UK will also need to be aware of the new green efficiency requirements. From 2025, rental properties must have an EPC rating of C or above, or they will not be able to accept new tenants. 

This has resulted in many existing landlords spending money in home improvements such as installing new windows and replacing older boilers with new, more energy efficient ones. For foreign investors with existing properties in the UK, improving the EPC rating of properties will impact profits and investors looking to buy new property may have to pay more for properties that have a higher energy efficiency rating.

Around 13 million UK homes have an EPC of D or below, so this will be a significant factor to consider for foreign investors and expats buying in the UK property market.

Expats heading back to the UK

Since Brexit and the red tape involved in obtaining EU Settled Status became a problem, there has been a huge uplift in the number of expats returning to the UK, with people giving up on their lifelong dreams of retiring to live in a warmer part of the EU.

Some expats have been exploring the idea of buying property in the UK to rent out for periods of the year that they are not in the UK and living there themselves. With the new ruling that British citizens cannot stay in the EU for more than 90 days in any 180-day period, this has changed the needs for having somewhere to live in the UK, that can also be rented out if necessary.

Conclusion

In 2022, there will still be very attractive mortgage deals available for foreign Property Investors and expats buying property in the UK. Although house price growth is predicted to be much slower in 2022 compared to 2021, the many other benefits of buying UK property will ensure that foreign investors are still able to get a good return on investments in the UK by identifying the most profitable investments.

Get in Touch

If as either an Expat or Foreign Property Investor you are considering buying a new UK home, or even remortgaging your existing property in 2022, contact us today for free and independent mortgage advice. Call us now on +44 1494 622 555. Alternatively, you can complete this short online form now to request a call back from one of our Team of highly experienced Expat Mortgage Advisors who will gladly assist you with all your Expat and Foreign Property Investor mortgage needs.

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The Perfect Rental Storm Continues for UK Expat and Foreign National Investors

A shortage of rental homes and huge numbers of renters in the market are combining to create the perfect rental storm for UK Expat Investors.

The ‘Perfect Rental Storm’ continues for UK expat and foreign national investors in 2023 as a shortage of rental homes combine with huge numbers in the rental market to make for a very profitable rental landscape.

Shortage of Rental Homes

There are currently less than half the normal number of homes available to rent at the moment and this is contributing to fast-rising rents. This equates to the typical estate agent having only 8 available rental properties. The pre-pandemic average was 16, which shows how much rental availability has suffered in recent years.

The low number of rental homes is being driven by high consumer demand and high mortgage rates, which mean that prospective buyers are struggling to get onto the property ladder and are consequently stuck in the rental market. This situation means that rental prices are rising quickly amidst fierce competition. In practice, the average rents for those starting a new tenancy have risen by 12% in the last year.

With cities proving even more popular in the rental market, places like Manchester, Birmingham, and Cardiff have risen as much as 15%. Even renters who are choosing to stay put are facing increases of around 4%. This is largely because many existing renters are in fixed-period rental contracts and landlords aren’t looking to increase prices in a bid to maintain tenancies. Because of the much lower price-increases for renters who stay put, many renters are choosing to stay where they are to avoid risking higher rents. According to data from the English Housing Survey, the average length a renter stays in a property has now risen to 4.4 years, which is up from only 2.7 years in 2012. This means that the flow of available homes into the market is very slow and is further exasperating supply constraints.

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Sky High Rental Numbers

In addition to the shortage of rental homes, there are also sky high numbers of people in the rental market, with the proportion of people in the private rental sector jumping by 28% in the last ten years. According to the government’s latest housing census, 5 million households are now renting their home in the private sector. This is likely a result of affordability constraints caused by house price growth and lower first-time buyer numbers, as well as many of the factors mentioned above. Crucially, the number of households has also increased, with the number of new properties being built not matching this increase.

The huge numbers of households renting at the moment is good news for UK expat and foreign national investors, as the shortage of rental homes is being further exasperated by ever-increasing numbers of renters. These factors will both contribute to constant increases in rental incomes and rental yields, meaning big profits for UK expat and foreign national investors with the right property.

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What Does This Mean for UK Expat and Foreign National Investors?

‘The problem of high rents and low rental availability is unlikely to go anywhere as a huge increase in rental supply will be difficult as a result of higher borrowing costs and regulatory changes’ says Stuart Marshall, CEO of Liquid Expat Mortgages. ‘But for those who do manage to invest in property, the rewards are likely to be huge. The number of households in the rental market has grown massively over the last ten years and it’s likely to keep growing, with the number of new homes being built continually falling short. Rental demand is consequently bound to stay high, and this will feed big profits for UK expat and foreign national landlords.’

‘Competition is also lower for UK expat and foreign national landlords who choose to invest in UK property now. This is due to new tax and regulatory changes in the buy-to-let sector which have impacted landlords’ bottom lines and contributed to lower levels of investment into the rental sector. In turn, this has contributed to landlords selling their existing rental properties as investors look to cash in on capital growth profits, especially given the massive price rises in the last few years.’

‘While there are obvious difficulties for UK expat and foreign national investors to navigate when investing in UK property, things are not as difficult as they once were’ says Stuart Marshall. ‘The advent of specialist UK expat and foreign national mortgage brokers has been a hugely positive change for many UK expat and foreign national investors as these brokers can help investors to navigate the inherent difficulties of investing in UK property. Not only will they help to smooth the process and make completion as quick as possible, but they can also help to advise UK expat and foreign national investors in the process of choosing a property for their specific investment goals.’

To maximise the quality of the investment, UK expat and foreign national investors should keep abreast of the popular types of property and what is appealing to renters at the moment. In the most recent housing census, it’s clear that the popularity of flats has seen a huge increase over the last few years, with 500,000 more households living in flats compared to ten years ago. This demand for flats also lines up with the popular properties for UK expat and foreign national investors at the moment. Namely, energy efficient properties with lower management and running costs because they can assure a stability of rental income. In fact, much of the recent focus for UK expat and foreign national investors is shifting away from capital growth and back to solid rental incomes. This is because the rental market is booming but huge rises in property value over the last few years have contributed to low capital growth potential. City centres have also become incredibly popular for renters, which again favours flats in the rental market. Flats are also highly mortgageable, which is good news for UK expat and foreign national investors, as there are a range of excellent UK expat and foreign national mortgage products available at the moment.

Source: EIN News

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A buyer’s market for UK with demand from overseas purchasers

One Global Group predicts that the United Kingdom (UK) will experience a return to the buyer’s market in the coming year and that demand from Malaysia and other international markets will increase even more.

The company is optimistic about 2023 since the year’s market circumstances would be perfect for foreign purchasers wishing to buy a home in the UK.

“We’re seeing buyers from across Asia purchasing in UK locations that are offering the best value for money,” said Eli McGeever, director of research and technology innovation at One Global Labs.

“What ties these investors together is that they’re all purchasing for one of these four reasons, which is as a place for somewhere for their children to live while studying, as wealth preservation, to diversify their assets, or they are immigrating and need a home to live in,” he said.

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According to McGeever, although borrowing rates are higher than they were earlier this year, purchasers have a lot more options because there are still currency gains to be had and rising house inventory levels.

“That being said, buyers in Hong Kong have a broad interest, due to the diversity of buyers, from seasoned investors to BNO buyers looking to purchase a home to live in. There are many more types of properties demanded compared to a few years ago. These can range from apartments in inner London, to detached/semi-detached homes in the Home Counties.

“Hong Kongers have also been strong buyers in regional powerhouses, such as Manchester and Birmingham. Whereas buyers in Singapore and Malaysia are still more interested in London,” he said.

McGeever said there are five key areas that are going to make 2023 a buyer’s market and the ideal time for investors in Asia looking to purchase a home in the UK.

“These are price corrections in some markets, more home inventory, strong rental price growth, favourable exchange rates, and, mortgage rates lowering,” he said.

McGeever said that following the unsustainable real estate buying frenzy of the previous two years, sales volumes have returned to pre-pandemic levels.

Although costs are still rising in much of the UK on an annual basis, he said that they have started to decline in select markets.

“What’s likely to happen next year is that prices will correct by a couple of percentage points in some markets while staying pretty level or rising in others. Each city has its markets. For example, areas in London such as Harrow, Hounslow, and Newham will likely outperform the market, as will areas in Manchester, such as its city centre,” he said.

McGeever said that the housing stock is finally increasing, which will bring the real estate market some much-needed equilibrium.

He said that a lack of available housing has contributed to the dramatic price growth that has occurred since the Covid epidemic began.

According to him, building more homes will assist to slow the price increase.

The housing stock has increased by 40 per cent over the last year, according to Zoopla. But inventories are still 19 per cent below levels from 2017 to 2019.

According to McGeever, rental costs have increased quickly in the UK over the past year, and he doesn’t think this trend will slow down in 2023.

He said the high rental costs will probably encourage more people to look into purchasing a home, particularly first-time purchasers who would prefer to increase their equity in a brand-new residence.

“Investors who are looking for a buy-to-let property should not be concerned about demand weakening anytime soon. We expect the Pound Sterling to remain below rates seen only a year ago. This provides savings over any expected interest rate rise. However, One Global Group expects the Pound Sterling to strengthen for 2023 so early movers will benefit,” he said.

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Pent-up demand in off-plan projects

McGeever said that interest in off-plan projects has increased.

Buying off the beaten path enables purchasers who need financing to secure a mortgage close to the project’s completion date, he said.

He said this is a smart choice for people who anticipate that the interest rate will drop in 12, 24, or 36 months.

“Property developers are also currently offering more competitive pricing and lower deposits. This trend is expected to continue in the year to come,” he said.

According to him, notable projects in the UK with strong buying interest from overseas buyers include Graphite Square (Vauxhall, London), Fulton & Fifth (Wembley, London), and One Victoria (Victoria District, Manchester).

Graphite Square is a residential development by Third.i Group in London’s Vauxhall.

“The residences are just a short distance from the River Thames, the West End, Battersea Park, and Chelsea, so residents are never too far away from your next adventure in the capital. Prices start from £735,000 in the loft-style residences akin to what you might find in New York City’s Manhattan,” he said.

Fulton & Fifth, the newest development from Regal London is an upscale, “live-work-play” Wembley Park project comprising five apartment blocks set along Wealdstone Brook that will hold more than 800 homes on completion in early 2025. Prices start from £440,000.

One Victoria is a development by One Heritage Group PLC. Set over two blocks, it fronts Great Ducie Street. One East is a 14-storey building with 84 apartments while One West is 10 storeys high with 45 apartments, with prices starting from £199,000.

By Kathy B

Source: New Straits Times

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Overseas buyers will help avert a property market crash – claim 

A property tax consultant has hit back at suggestions of a housing market crash, suggesting that overseas investors will help sustain growth.

David Hannah, group chairman at Cornerstone Tax, has predicted that price growth will slow but said he is confident that it won’t turn negative.

It comes as a survey of 2,000 people by the firm found 55% were not deterred from purchasing property in 2023 – compared with 45% who said they would halt proceedings.

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Hannah said the 55% who will follow through with purchases in 2023 will most likely be buyers who are less dependable on interest rates.

Foreign investors will also seek to take advantage of the fall in the price of sterling, essentially, making the UK housing market 10% cheaper, he said.

He added that the 45% that will hold off on purchasing will be most likely first-time buyers, who now cannot afford the inflated mortgage payments.

Hannah said: “In early 2023 we will see slow demand. Only those people that are forced to sell will see a small fall in prices, however, over the whole of 2023, I expect to see low to mid to single-digit growth over the UK property market- between 5-8%.

“Despite the negative headlines we have been seeing, there is an underlying pressure on the market and that is leading to upward pressure on prices.

“We now have a growing number of people that want to move to the UK.

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“The first is the overseas investor who regards UK property as a safe haven for their money because the country they principally live in is not economically or politically safe.“The second are those who want to become second homeowners. The third and final group is those who want to leave their country of birth and are in need of a home.”

He suggests all of these factors over the course of the next 12 months will support the market, adding: “There will be no crash and no 10-20% fall in property prices that we saw in the noughties. The UK property market has tended to be more stable than any other global market in property.”

By Marc Shoffman

Source: Estate Agent Today

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Foreign property investors must be registered, says government

The government is urging all overseas entities who own property in the UK to register at Companies House.

The Register of Overseas Entities came into force in August this year and requires all entities in scope to register with Companies House before the deadline of January 31 2023. The registration process involved them declaring the beneficial owners and/or managing officers for properties in this country.

As the deadline nears, Companies House is urging overseas entities and agents to register in good time and avoid some common pitfalls.

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To make sure registrations are processed quickly, Companies House is recommending that agents  work with their clients to make sure all the information is correct before their registration is submitted , to file as early as possible before the deadline of January 31, and for agents to file on behalf of their clients – it’s likely to be easier and quicker for them than for the clients.

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Overseas entities must register on time to avoid prosecution or civil financial penalties. Overseas entities that fail to register will also find it difficult to sell, lease or raise charges over their land. 

Rachael Watts, Head of Register of Overseas Entities at Companies House, says: “We have seen a significant number of filings rejected with most of these due to errors in the agent information section. Common errors include the registry name being abbreviated or incorrect, and inconsistencies in the agent’s name, overall person with responsibility, address, and email address.

“By minimising these errors and registering in good time, overseas entities and agents can avoid running into issues later on.”

By Graham Norwood

Source: Letting Agent Today

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Overseas buyers are flocking to London due to dollar strength, says agent

Carter Jonas predicts that 2023 will be an exceptional year for the prime central London (PCL) market following a recent spike in the number of cash buyers registering to purchase property in the heart of the capital.

Most recently, the Marylebone and Mayfair office has seen all cash buyers, many of whom are dollar buyers utilising the good exchange rates to purchase in prime central London, Next year is expected to continue on this trajectory, the estate agency says.

Carter Jonas predicts that the prime central London property market is set to out-perform the rest of London – and the country – in the coming months as overseas Dollar buyers from the US, Middle East and Asia flocking to the Capital to take advantage of the weak pound.

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Samuel Richardson, head of sales at Carter Jonas in Marylebone and Mayfair, commented: “We are anticipating that 2023 will be a very good year for the prime London property market. At the end of September this year, UK property was 25% less expensive for these buyers than in June 2021 and this is a trend we expect to continue. 80% of those that purchased via our Marylebone office in prime central London in the last quarter of 2022 have been from overseas. 50% have been Dollar buyers, the majority from America, followed by those from the Middle East and Singapore. Interestingly, 90% of American buyers were Californian.

“The major prime central London boroughs will remain desirable investment locations next year. Mayfair, Marylebone, Kensington and Chelsea are set to outperform all London markets as these buyers are purchasing in cash for purely investment purposes.

“Areas such as southwest London will likely be more heavily impacted, as those who bought there in recent years will be affected by the rising interest rates. This could see a drop in property values, as many people may sell up.”

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Richardson added: “I am almost certain that prime central London will outperform all other London areas in 2023. Despite there still being high demand and lack of supply, the soaring rental market will see the return of the investor as they take advantage of better rental yields. Savvy investors are also taking advantage of discounts from developers who are selling remaining units in new build developments and are happy to discount to cash buyers.

“Buyer demographics are varied from international and domestic professionals buying pied-a-terres in convenient, high traffic areas, to those purchasing short-term investments or properties for children whilst studying in London. We’re also seeing many families looking for a more permanent and long-term abode. These buyers are spending anywhere from £800,000 to upwards of £70m.

“If the dollar remains strong, I believe that prime central London will outperform the rest of London next year. The reason for this is due to high demand and a soaring rental market which will appeal to investors taking advantage of the good exchange rates.”

By Marc Da Silva

Source: Property Industry Eye

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Hong Kong Buyers Rushing to Buy UK Property

There are increasing numbers of Hong Kong residents who are looking to buy UK property. This is largely as a result of the evolving political situation in Hong Kong. Many Hong Kongers seeking UK property are taking advantage of the UK’s visa scheme for BNO passport holders, which was introduced in 2021. The visa programme provides a fast-track to British citizenship and was announced as a reaction to Beijing’s newly imposed national security laws which were seen to breach the 1984 Sino-British declaration which guaranteed certain freedoms to Hong Kong citizens for 50 years.

Between June 2021 and 2022 alone, Hong Kong has seen 121,500 people leave, with many of these taking the UK government up on its offer of fast-tracked British citizenship. In fact, the UK government has received 140,500 applications already.

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Hong Kong Buyers Looking to the UK
‘The UK has been a popular location for Hong Kong investors for a while. This is because it’s extremely affordable for most Hong Kong buyers compared to their expensive domestic market. The exchange rate from Hong Kong dollars to British Sterling also makes this a favourable purchase, especially given the current state of the Great British Pound. Strong rental yields and capital growth offered by UK property have also served to compound the attractive nature of UK property for Hong Kong buyers. But with so many Hong Kong residents looking to move to the UK, at least on a temporary basis, the demand for UK property from Hong Kong has grown even more’ says Stuart Marshall of Liquid Expat Mortgages.

‘We’ve seen a huge increase in enquiries from Hong Kong. But there are a number of common issues that Hong Kong buyers encounter. One of the most common early hurdles that Hong Kong buyers come across is that they are trying to use a high street lender. Such lenders are usually not equipped to properly serve a borrower from Hong Kong. A specialist mortgage broker, on the other hand, will have the infrastructure to put Hong Kong borrowers in touch with specialist lenders who have foreign national – and, in some cases, Hong Kong – specific deals.’

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Mortgage Deals Available for Hong Kong Buyers
A positive for Hong Kong investors in the UK is that, because of the demand at the moment, lenders are creating deals specifically for Hong Kong investors to satisfy the need for specialised products in the marketplace. ‘Lenders have been working with brokers to understand the specific needs of Hong Kong borrowers and work on crafting products that meet these needs. These products are available for a wide variety of uses on both residential and buy-to-let properties, new purchases and re-mortgages.’

Source: EIN News

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Weak Pound Encouraging Overseas Investors To Buy UK Property

When the mini-budget tanked the pound to record lows against the dollar, overseas buyers again began circling UK property in increasing numbers.

While many overseas investors are better off when buying UK property compared to the start of 2022, the same is not true for domestic buyers who are contending with a number of difficulties including energy prices, high inflation and heightened interest rates.

For those foreign nationals paying in US Dollars, the average UK home now costs 14.8% less, with the average London property costing 16.5% less.

The huge savings UK expat and foreign national investors are making because of a weak pound are doing a great deal to offset the rising mortgage rates.

A weak pound is encouraging overseas investors to buy UK property for comparatively cheaper prices as domestic buyer competition wanes.

Domestic investors will be forced to watch on as house prices continue to climb while the weakening pound is presenting excellent investment opportunities for UK expat and foreign national investors.

Economic and political turbulence has continually contributed to a weaker pound in recent times. When the mini-budget tanked the pound to record lows against the dollar, overseas buyers again began circling in increasing numbers. And though the turbulence seems to be stabilising somewhat, international buyers are still keen to purchase UK property. Here’s why it’s important for UK expat and foreign national investors.

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What Does a Weak Pound Mean for Overseas Investors?

For those foreign nationals paying in US Dollars, the average UK home now costs 14.8% less, with the average London property costing 16.5% less. ‘This is the kind of difference that currency fluctuations can make’ says Stuart Marshall of Liquid Expat Mortgages. ‘While domestic buyers will feel the effects of a weak pound across the board on any imported item them buy, a weak pound is leaving property comparatively cheaper despite house price growth. For example, in London, prices have risen by 4.9% so far in 2022. However, foreign nationals buying in US dollars are paying a sixth less than at the start of 2022. Buyers in the UAE are benefitting to almost the same degree saving 14.5% on the average UK property and 16.2% on the average London property, while buyers are saving 13.9% and 15.6% in their native currency.’

What Does a Weak Pound Mean for Domestic Buyers?

Domestic investors will be forced to watch on as house prices continue to climb while the weakening pound is presenting excellent investment opportunities for UK expat and foreign national investors. While many overseas investors are better off when buying UK property compared to the start of 2022, the same is not true for domestic buyers who are contending with a number of difficulties including energy prices, high inflation, heightened interest rates and low confidence in the economy and housing market.

Domestic buyers will see their buying power reduced further, as their day to day lives become more expensive since the weak pound will mean that imports cost more. This, in turn, pushes up inflation and is likely to cause interest rates to be raised again in an effort to curb soaring inflation.

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The Bigger Picture.

‘Of course, currency rates are not the be-all-end-all, but they are certainly a big win for UK expat and foreign national investors. However, the huge savings they are making because of a weak pound are doing a great deal to offset the rising mortgage rates. And while the higher mortgage rates are adding to the cost of investment, rental profits are also incredibly high due to the large numbers in the rental market. In fact, each property available to rent currently has 11 prospective renters trying to secure tenancy on the property. This competition is pushing up rental prices and rental profits for discerning investors and these higher yields are also lessening the effects of the higher mortgage rates.’

‘Because of the dampened domestic market, UK expat and foreign national investors are also finding it easier to pick up a bargain as the number of properties on the market has been growing over the spring and summer, leading to greater choice, slower sales, and an increased number of price reductions. Further, though house price appreciation over the pandemic is translating to affordability constraints now for domestic buyers, the types of properties that are popular for UK expat and foreign national investors are quite different. Namely, many UK expats and foreign nationals have been opting to invest in city centre flats, as these properties are particularly popular in the rental market. This is good news, considering the fact that the average house price has grown five times more than the average cost of a flat since 2020.’

‘Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that UK expat and foreign national investors will be shopping in a different mortgage market than domestic investors. While domestic buyers saw a third of all mortgage products removed from the market after the mini-budget, the UK expat and foreign national mortgage market is constantly trying to introduce new products to meet specific customer demand. With the weak pound lending strength to overseas buyers, it’s likely that lenders will be trying to introduce new products to entice business from this lucrative sector. This means that UK expat and foreign national investors will frequently see lower rates and better deals, compared to domestic investors.’

‘Investing in UK property is one of the best financial decisions that UK expat and foreign national investors can make – and the enduring popularity of this form of investment is testament to this. The weak pound is only making this proposition more inviting and, along with a competitive UK expat and foreign national mortgage market, is doing a lot to offset the damage done by house prices and mortgage rates. For canny UK expat and foreign national investors, it’s important to keep track of the market developments as things are changing every day, and the turbulent political scene is influencing a lot. For example, the recently announced stamp duty break is good news for first-time UK expat and foreign national investors and will further add fuel to the investment fire. A specialist UK expat or foreign national mortgage broker can help their clients to keep abreast of this situation and invest at the perfect time for them.’

Source: MENAFN

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Overseas buyers look to snap up London property as weak pound takes demand to ‘new levels’

Demand in London property from foreign investors is at “new levels” as they rush to make the most of the weaker pound.

The pound steadied in early trading in Asian markets on Tuesday, recovering ground slightly from the record low of 1.0327 against the dollar on Monday morning.

Sterling was standing at around $1.08 early on Tuesday but this is still significantly lower than before chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-Budget, which sent the currency spiralling last Friday.

One London estate agent, Chestertons, has said that the dip in the value of the pound has driven interest from overseas buyers, who can now get more with their dollars.

“London already attracted overseas buyers back to its property market since the easing of travel restrictions but the weaker pound is taking demand from foreign investors to new levels,” Matthew Thompson, head of sales at Chestertons, said.

“Bearing in mind the dollar’s beneficial exchange rate against the pound, our branches have registered a particular boost in buyer enquiries from US citizens or residents of country’s where the dollar is a primary currency.”

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He continued: “To maximise the saving that can be had due to current exchange rates, buyers are especially drawn to some of London’s priciest neighbourhoods such as Knightsbridge, Mayfair and South Kensington.

“Only 6 months ago, a property that is on the market for £4million, would have cost around $5.23million. At the current exchange rate, the same property costs around $4.32million which is a saving of almost $1million.”

Rory Penn, head of London sales at Knight Frank, said that there has been “a pick up from international buyers who see a buying opportunity in London.”

“US buyers are either looking for best-in-class turnkey residential development or family houses and apartments,” he said, “particularly lateral space with high ceilings and period features.”

Arthur Lintell, who works in Knight Frank’s Notting Hill office, said that the North London residential area had seen particular interest from US buyers.

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“Favoured amongst Americans, Notting Hill has seen a recent surge in interest from US or dollar pegged buyers all keen to take advantage of the recent buying window,” he said.

“One in particular, an ex-Notting Hill local who relocated to New York 15 years ago, is now returning, as the opportunity is too good not to miss as their children start Notting Hill Prep next year. In their words: ‘The timing could not be better for us right now’.”

Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at AvaTrade, said: “Given the weakness of the British pound, we may see foreign investors buying property in the UK as the currency has depreciated that much. For many, this could be a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

In an attempt to steady the markets on Monday, the Bank of England said that it “will not hesitate” to raise interest rates. However the pound fell after the joint statements from the Bank and its governor Andrew Bailey amid concerns that they had ruled out an emergency rise in rates.

The next interest rate decision is scheduled for 3 November.

Following the fall in the pound, some mortgage deals have been withdrawn by banks and building societies. Virgin Money and Skipton Building Society halted offers for new clients and Halifax said it would stop mortgages with product fees.

By Holly Bancroft

Source: The Independent

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Pound’s weakness could boost overseas investment in ‘resilient’ Scots property market

Sterling’s weakness could boost overseas investment in a “resilient” Scottish commercial property market, industry experts believe.

Property consultancy Knight Frank found that investment volumes in commercial property north of the Border rose by 37 per cent during the first nine months of 2022 compared to the same period last year, increasing to £1.46 billion from £1.06bn.

Offices were the most popular asset type, accounting for just over one-third of total investment volumes. Investment in industrial property almost doubled, from £157 million to £300m, as interest levels in the sector continued to increase following the pandemic.

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The research found that overseas investors remain the most active buyers of Scottish commercial property, accounting for 53 per cent of investment volumes. UK property companies increased their investment levels from £312m last year to £518m in the latest nine-month period.

Investment volumes in Aberdeen more than doubled from just over £54m in the first nine months of 2021 to £116.9m, buoyed by the sale of two retail parks. Edinburgh saw investment volumes increase 24 per cent to £415m, while Glasgow increased by 6 per cent to £377m.

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Alasdair Steele, head of Scotland commercial at Knight Frank Scotland, said: “There has been a great deal of uncertainty this year, starting with the complications of the ongoing pandemic, the conflict in Ukraine, and rising inflation and interest rates, but Scotland’s commercial property market has continued to fare well. This is particularly true for assets that are in high demand, namely prime offices and industrials – but alternatives, particularly hotels, are increasing in popularity.

“The summer period was relatively quiet after a flurry of deals were completed in the lead up to June. However, as we move into the final quarter, there remains a significant amount of dry powder waiting to invest and commercial property is traditionally seen as offering a good hedge against inflation – particularly for overseas investors, with the pound’s current weakness. We could see them take an even more active interest in the market in the remainder of 2022 and into next year.”

He added: “We anticipate a busy end to a challenging year, provided the macro-economic situation does not change materially and the right stock is made available.”

By Scott Reid

Source: The Scotsman

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Truss to announce stamp duty cut – report

UK housebuilders rallied on Wednesday following a report that Friday’s mini-budget could include a plan to cut stamp duty.

According to The Times, prime minister Liz Truss will announce the move in the mini-budget in an attempt to drive economic growth. It was understood the PM and chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng have been working on the plans for more than a month.

Truss believes that cutting stamp duty will encourage economic growth by allowing more people to move and enabling first-time buyers to get on the property ladder, The Times said.

It cited two Whitehall sources as saying that cuts to stamp duty were the “rabbit” in the mini-budget, which the government is billing as a “growth plan”.

Under the current system, no stamp duty is paid on the first £125,000 of any property purchase. Between £125,001 and £250,000 stamp duty is levied at 2%, £250,001 and £925,000 at 5%, £925,001 and £1.5m at 10% and anything above £1.5m at 12%. For first-time buyers the threshold at which stamp duty is paid is £300,000.

During the pandemic, then chancellor Rishi Sunak lifted the stamp duty threshold to £500,000.

At 0910 BST, Persimmon shares were up 5.4%, while Taylor Wimpey and Barratt were up 4% and Berkeley was 3.5% firmer. On the FTSE 250, Redrow was 5.6% higher, while Bellway and Crest Nicholson were up 3.6% and 3.4%, respectively.

Tom Bill, head of UK residential research at Knight Frank, said: “Nobody can accuse the new government of lacking an economic vision. If its low-tax approach extends to stamp duty, recent history tells us it will trigger higher levels of demand in the housing market at a time when mortgages are getting more expensive, which will support social mobility.

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“Prices could move higher in the short term if supply initially struggles to keep up but more balanced conditions will return provided the cut is immediate and permanent.”

Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at Markets.com, referred to the potential stamp duty cut as “the old Tory trick of juicing the housing market in its heartlands to boost confidence (wealth effect) whilst doing not a lot for housing supply”.

“I’m not for concreting over the green belt at all, but there will be questions about the economic soundness of this policy, as there always is. However, with interest rates rising so quickly, an offset to the cost of buying a home would grease the wheels of the market -without higher rates could cause the housing market to seize up.”

He added: “Clearly a stamp duty cut is good news for housebuilders who can expect higher selling prices as a result.”

Sarah Coles, senior personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, argued that a stamp duty cut could do more harm than good.

“Buyers are unlikely to be unhappy at the prospect of a tax cut, but if the government chooses to cut Stamp Duty in an effort to stimulate the housing market, there’s a risk it could do more harm than good.

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“It’s easy to see why the government is concerned about the housing market. We’ve seen demand fall consistently since May, when rocketing bills, rising house prices and ever-increasing interest rates started to take a toll on buyer enthusiasm. There’s a risk that if rate rises accelerate, pressure on buyers could reach a tipping point, where demand dries up.

“We know from very recent experience that a Stamp Duty holiday can stimulate demand. However, the only reason these holidays work is because people feel they have a small window of opportunity to take advantage, otherwise they’ll miss out. The point at which they think they can just wait for the next one, they will start to become less effective.

“Even if it does stimulate demand, it overlooks the fact that the real brake on the property market is a severe shortage of supply. With an average of 36 properties on each agent’s books, we’re still close to an all-time low in the availability of property for sale. Driving demand without addressing supply would risk more buyers chasing a tiny number of properties, which would push prices up.

“By ramping up prices at a time of rising mortgage rates, the end result would be higher monthly mortgage costs, which would be increasingly unaffordable. And the Stamp Duty holiday wouldn’t help on this front. This in itself could be enough to put buyers off, and if it deters enough of them, it could end up having the opposite impact to the one that’s intended.”

By Michele Maatouk

Source: Sharecast