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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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Scottish property snapped up by ‘wall’ of overseas investment

A “WALL” of overseas investment is continuing to target Scotland’s “best long-income assets”, according to a report which underlines the recovery of the commercial property sector.

The volume of commercial property transactions jumped by 71 per cent in the second quarter versus the quarter before, with £300 million of deals traded.

While activity is still 30 per cent below the five-year average, as a result of the impact of the pandemic, the second half is expected to be more positive, according to the latest quarterly review by Edinburgh-based Lismore Real Estate Advisors.

Lismore said it understands there are three transactions worth more than £50m combined in the pipeline. Its report found there continues to be demand for space from life sciences companies and retail businesses looking for warehousing, though activity remains muted in city centres.

Chris Thornton, associate at Lismore, said: “Activity in the last quarter has continued to see the wall of overseas equity targeting our best long-income assets.

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“This has included the emergence of American REITs (real estate investment trusts) in the Scottish market, mainly focused on longer-income retail warehousing, with schemes anchored by food stores and value retailers being particularly liquid.

“We have also seen the continual growing appetite for anything close to the life sciences sector. On the downside, city centres are taking time to regain momentum with footfall remaining fickle and retailers and restaurateurs having to work very hard to attract customers back through the doors. Retail re-purposing has started in some of the strongest streets but there remains significant challenges for those city centre locations unable to attract alternative use investment.”

The report flagged “strong impetus” in the Scottish logistics market, where it said speculative developing is “becoming more feasible”.

It highlighted plans by Knight Property Group for a speculative development of 250,000 square feet of high specification and sustainable accommodation at the former Devro site in Bellshill.

By Scott Wright

Source: Herald Scotland

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Hong Kong buyers rush for properties in the capital

There has been significant increase in the number of people from Hong Kong purchasing homes in the capital since the UK government announced a new visa welcoming residents from the former British colony, earlier this year.

According to new figures from Chestertons, which has 31 branches across London, sales enquiries from Hong Kong buyers have risen by 20% over the past 18 months whilst demand for rental properties is expected to increase ahead of September, when students head to London’s universities.

Transactions by Hong Kong buyers have risen by 115% in London since May last year, the agency said.

Chestertons expects the uplift in Hong Kong investors to continue following the UK government’s recent visa offering to the 2.9 million Hongkongers with British National Overseas (BNO) status.

Guy Gittins, CEO of Chestertons, said: “Historically, the UK has always had a strong bond with Hong Kong, and London has been a key destination for Hong Kong property investors.

“Whilst the number of foreign investors in London fell dramatically during the height of the pandemic, the new visa regulations and imminent easing of travel restrictions has revived London’s appeal as an investment and lifestyle hotspot.”

A visa scheme to allow Hong Kong residents to come to the UK opened earlier tis year, with some 300,000 people expected to apply.

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The visa, which is open to holders of a British National (Overseas) passport and their immediate dependents, will offer a fast track to UK citizenship.

The UK launched the new visa after China imposed a new security law.

Those who apply and secure the visa will be able to apply for settlement after five years and then British citizenship after a further 12 months.

Richard Davies, head of lettings at Chestertons, commented: “A significant proportion of tenants in city centres are international students and corporate tenants. However, due to Covid-related travel bans, the number of these sorts of tenants declined considerably last year but we are now witnessing a clear increase.

“Inevitably, the return of renters from Hong Kong and other countries will drive rental prices across the capital. Areas such as Canary Wharf, Kensington, Covent Garden and Mayfair are likely to benefit the most, as they are especially popular with our international clientele.”

By MARC DA SILVA

Source: Property Industry Eye

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Middle East buyers step up UK property purchases

Buyers from the Middle East are playing a more active role in the UK property market, snapping up 16 per cent of all real estate by volume sold to overseas buyers in the first three months of this year, according to property consultancy Knight Frank.

The proportion of properties bought by Middle Eastern investors was lower than those from Europe (who made up 59 per cent of overseas purchasers) and Asia (18 per cent), but was the highest since the onset of Covid-19 and is expected to tick up further when travel restrictions ease, the consultancy said.

“The relaxation of international travel rules will provide a boost for the prime central London property market but prices are on the up anyway,” Henry Faun, a partner at Knight Frank’s Middle East private office arm, said.

“Things are picking up where they left off after the general election in December 2019 and Middle Eastern buyers can recognise good value after five or six years of falling prices [in central London].”

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Property prices in prime central London areas rose for the first time in five years during the first quarter, but only marginally – by 0.3 per cent, the consultancy said.

Prime central London prices had declined by 20 per cent between 2014 and the first half of last year, and “looked ripe for recovery in early 2020 after five years of price falls”, Frances Clacy, associate director at consultancy Savills, said last month.

“The pandemic put that on hold but does not appear to have dented the appeal of the city’s very best residential real estate,” she added.

Savills is forecasting 3 per cent price growth for prime central London residential prices this year, followed by a 7 per cent hike next year. Over the next five years, it expects prime central London prices to grow by 21.6 per cent.

“It now looks as though buyers are themselves calling the bottom of the market,” Ms Clacy said.

Buyers of UK properties in foreign currencies had already seen the discount available to them in other currencies being eroded by the rally in the UK pound, Knight Frank said.

The combined price and currency discount for buyers of prime central London property in US dollars, compared to the period before the Brexit vote took place in June 2016, fell to 19.2 per cent at the end of May, from 24.3 per cent at the end of last year, Knight Frank said.

The pound has gained more than 12 per cent against the US dollar over the past 12 months to $1.4109 at 12.25pm UAE time.

Transactions for prime central London properties soared in March, as buyers attempted to complete deals before two deadlines – the end of a stamp duty (a UK property tax) holiday (although this was subsequently extended until June) and the introduction of a 2 per cent surcharge for overseas buyers from April.

This led to the highest number of offers being accepted and new prospective buyers being registered in London for almost 10 years, according to a report by Emirates NBD’s private banking arm.

“There have been some encouraging signs in the prime central London market over the first months of the year and the return of international travel and therefore buyers should have a galvanising effect on prices,” the Dubai-based lender said.

By Michael Fahy

Source: The National News

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Rising numbers of expats and foreign buyers eye UK property market’s opportunities

Mortgage brokers, banks and property market professionals have reported rising interest from foreign buyers and expats looking to snap up homes here in the UK.

UK nationals living or working abroad and foreign investors from the US, Canada and East Asian countries are cashing on a weaker pound, a price slump in London’s new-build market and renewed confidence in the UK’s economy and vaccine programme.

Meanwhile political turbulence in China and the UK government’s new Visa scheme, open to holders of British National Overseas (BNO) passports in Hong Kong giving citizens the chance to relocate, has also driven up overseas interest in UK property.

Since the start of the year, bank’s say they have seen foreign income mortgage business rise.

Skipton International reported a trebling of mortgage completions from Hong Kong residents purchasing buy-to-let properties in the first quarter of 2021. Furthermore, between January to May the bank saw a 34 per cent increase in enquiries from residents in the EU compared to August to December 2020.

For Hong Kong buyers, both London and the South East of England were the most popular locations closely followed by the North West and Midlands.

Roger Hughes, Skipton International’s business development manager, said investors saw the UK as a “solid and stable jurisdiction”.

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Mortgage brokers have also reported more interest from overseas buyers.

Richard Campo said between March and April he saw a 137 per cent rise in enquiries about foreign income mortgages.

“We noticed a huge spike in enquiries from buyers living abroad wanting more information about getting a mortgage supported by foreign income, way above what we have seen elsewhere in the business,” he said.

“It’s logical as lockdown restrictions ease and pent up demand is released coupled with the vaccine roll-out going well. What’s interesting though is that they are not super-high-end buyers. We’re seeing a lot of expats and new buyers looking around the £500,000 mark.”

East Asian interest

New-build snagging and property management firm BuildScan said in May it saw an 18 per cent year-on-year rise in enquiries from East Asian buyers who had recently purchased new-build properties in London.

According to the firm’s analysis, the impact of a weaker pound and lower new-build property prices dampened by the pandemic offered opportunities for East Asian investors.

Between January 2020 and December, the health crisis caused new-build property prices in the Capital to fall by 3.4 per cent to £488,371.

But fluctuating exchange rates meant South Korean homebuyers would have benefitted from a 6.8 per cent fall in prices when compared to the average price at the start of the year. Chinese buyers saw a 6.2 per cent drop and Japanese buyers a decline of 5.6 per cent.

Homebuyers from Thailand, Malaysia and Hong Kong would have secured smaller discounts of between 0.9 per cent and 1.8 per cent.

Harry Yates, founder and managing director of BuildScan, said: “Despite the problems posed by the pandemic, we’ve continued to see a high degree of interest in the London market from East Asia.

“This has been driven, in part, by factors such as BNO visa availability for those relocating from Hong Kong, as well as the opportunity to cash in on a stamp duty saving.

“Fluctuating exchange rates have also boosted the affordability of London new-build homes which has also caused many savvy investors to act sooner rather than later. Although the pound has rallied of late, the London market remains an area of focus for many foreign buyers.”

Oxford estate agent Wallers has also reported a rise in enquiries in non-European overseas buyers over the past six to nine months, particularly from the Far East. He also noted a significant proportion of the enquiries were from families from Hong Kong who want to relocate to a different part of the world because of political troubles.

He added: “We have also seen more enquiries than normal from buyers in the USA and Canada, and there has been a sense that they are seeing the UK in more attractive terms now that it is out of the EU, which has been contrary to my own preconceived ideas about what Brexit might do to our property market.”

Safe bet

David Baker said his firm was being contacted by UK nationals who work or live overseas in the US and Dubai and they want to buy in the UK either for a family member or to rent it out. He is also seeing interest around the £500,000 price point. They have also had enquiries from British citizens working in Paris and Germany.

“We’re seeing lots of business from people not paid in sterling who want to buy in the UK,” said Baker. “I’m doing more of this type of business than ever before.

“The feeling is that the UK is a good place to have your money, and London is a safe bet.”

Baker said while there was a lot of interest in houses with gardens, he was seeing a gradual shift towards flats, which fell out of favour during the height of the pandemic.

He added: “Buyers are seeing the potential for deals to be had because they are not as popular as they once were. And those who are buying to rent out aren’t as concerned about garden space.”

By Samantha Partington

Source: Mortgage Solutions

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Middle East investors begin to return to UK’s property market

Investors from the Middle East are beginning to return to the UK’s property market, according to the latest data compiled by global property consultancy Knight Frank.

The firm’s data highlights that 16 per cent of all sales to overseas buyers in the first three months of 2021 were to Middle Eastern buyers, up from less than 10 per cent in the second and third quarters of last year. This is the highest proportion of Middle Eastern interest since the outbreak of COVID-19 in the UK.

Despite early signs of a recovery, the firm says Middle Eastern investment is still some way off pre-COVID levels, yet it expects activity to tick up further as international travel restrictions ease.

The data highlights that buyers from the GCC are currently ranked third most prominent in the UK, only surpassed by buyers from Asia (18 per cent) and Europe (59 per cent).

“International demand for London property has been building over the last 12 months despite global travel restrictions,” said Tom Bill, head of UK residential research at Knight Frank. “It has led to frustration on the part of some prospective buyers, particularly against the backdrop of the UK’s successful vaccination programme. Once travel rules are relaxed, we expect normal service to resume, including London’s long-standing relationship with buyers from the Middle East.”

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Despite lower-than-normal levels of investment from GCC investors, Knight Frank’s Global Wealth Ambassador to the Middle East, who works closely with the region’s high net worth individuals and family offices, has completed almost £90m worth of sales since the UK went into lockdown.

Moreas Madani, Middle East Global Wealth Ambassador at Knight Frank, said, “There is a particularly high demand from GCC investors for best-in-class new build projects in and around Mayfair.

“We are seeing steady interest from the Middle East; however, the biggest challenge remains restrictions on international travel. As this eases, and post-Ramadan, we are expecting to see more activity from the region as pent-up demand is released.”

Lodha, the developer behind No.1 Grosvenor Square, the former US Embassy and the Canadian High Commission, is witnessing first-hand the uptick in demand from Middle Eastern buyers. No.1 Grosvenor Square offers 44 Grade I listed apartments, through Knight Frank (+44 20 7861 5461).

Gabriel York, Co-CEO of Lodha UK comments, “We have seen a steady increase in enquiries from prospective purchasers from the Middle East since the start of the new year, and we expect this to continue through the summer as London re-opens and international travel resumes. We are now meeting numerous GCC families and business people who may have previously stayed in a hotel suite when travelling to London but are now looking to acquire a permanent residence in the city.

“They are attracted to No. 1 Grosvenor Square by the prestige and grandeur of the building, the central Mayfair location, the quality of the amenities and the desire for exceptional services that are personalised for them. The unique automated parking system, known as the vault, has also been a particular draw for customers from the Middle East with special car collections who want a total security for their vehicles.

“Health and wellbeing are increasingly important factors in property decisions, and purchasers are seeking residences close to garden squares and parks with exceptional health facilities and easy access to health services. No 1 Grosvenor Square is located on London’s second-largest garden square and within walking distance to central London’s largest park, Hyde Park. The building contains its health and wellness centre, including 25m swimming pool, gym, pilates room, treatment and consultation rooms, and is supported by health advisers from a range of wellness and medical disciplines.”

Source: Times of Man

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