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Overseas investors target Scotland as property volumes rebound over summer

Property experts are banking on a strong end to the year after investment volumes in Scotland rebounded over the summer following a “Covid quarter” wipeout.

Investment volumes in the third quarter of 2020, covering July, August and September, reached £477 million, according to property consultant Colliers International’s latest snapshot.

That marked the highest quarterly figure in a year, though it was still almost 20 per cent below the five-year quarterly average of £564m. It comes after investment volumes slowed to a near standstill in the second quarter of this year, when the figure plummeted to just £35m.

The firm said there was hope for a strong end to the year with pent-up demand driving activity.

Oliver Kolodseike, associate director, research and forecasting, at Colliers International, said: “It is positive to see that transactional volumes have started to pick up again and we are now expecting a strong end to the year in Scotland as we recover from the ‘Covid quarter’.

“An annual investment total of £1.5 billion across all sectors would be a positive result given the nationwide lockdown earlier in the year.”

The firm’s analysis found that the office and alternative sectors accounted for three quarters of all activity by value, while investment volumes in the industrial sector were 40 per cent above its five-year quarterly average. Given the ongoing impact of the pandemic, activity in the retail segment was limited, Colliers noted.

There was a renewed interest in Scotland from Asia Pacific-based investors, who accounted for over half of all investment volumes. This included the quarter’s largest deal which saw South Korean Hyundai Asset Management purchase 1-3 Lochside Crescent in Edinburgh for just over £133m. The 247,500 sq ft asset is currently let to insurer Aegon.

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The deal marked Hyundai Asset Management’s second Edinburgh purchase in less than 18 months, having already bought Gyle Square in April 2019 for £55m in one of Scotland’s other largest office deals that year.

Looking in more detail at investment in the office sector, a total of £186m was invested during the third quarter, only slightly weaker than the £196m transacted a year ago and marginally below the five-year quarterly average of £193m.

In one of Scotland’s other largest office deals this year, Singaporean Elite Partners Capital bought 150 Broomielaw, the 97,000 sq ft building completely let to Scottish Enterprise, for £40m.

Industrial investment activity picked up during the past quarter, with volumes reaching £80m, 40 per cent above the five-year quarterly average of £56m.

The figure was boosted significantly by the sale of Amazon’s one million sq ft logistics centre to Korean-based KB Securities for £66.8m, representing the second-largest industrial deal ever recorded in Scotland.

Patrick Ford, director, national capital markets, Colliers International in Glasgow, said: “It was good to see this relatively strong investment performance in the industrial sector in Scotland’s two biggest cities in Q3.

“Overseas investors, particularly those located in Asia, remain very interested in the Scottish industrial sector and large deals continue to be done, despite global economic uncertainty on the back of Covid.”

By Scott Reid

Source: Scotsman

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Hong Kong and Chinese investment in London properties soars to new levels

According to up-market estate agency, Beauchamp Estates, Hong Kong and mainland Chinese investment in luxury Prime Central London residential property has soared to new levels, despite the global COVID-19 pandemic.

This group now accounts for 15% of international buyer home sales above £1million across pime central London and 20% of deals above £10 million.

The figures could to go higher with the proposed Hong Kong visa changes set to open the door to UK citizenship and further property investment for thousands more Hong Kongers.

Since the UK General Election of 12th December 2019 Beauchamp Estates has sold over £300 million worth of luxury London residential property to Hong Kong buyers in locations including Knightsbridge, Belgravia and Islington.

In rank order their largest groups of overseas clients investing in London luxury property are Chinese/Hong Kong buyers followed by Russians and Indians.

Last year the Office for National Statistics (ONS) data shows that Hong Kong and mainland Chinese buyers invested £7.69 billion in London property including over £750 million invested in residential property in the City of Westminster and the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea.

ONS data shows that there are now some 218,975 properties in London owned by Chinese/HK buyers comprising 98,725 owned by Hong Kongers and 120,250 by mainland Chinese making London property the most popular investment destination for Chinese capital in the world.

Beauchamp Estates says that there are five distinct types of Chinese investors purchasing property in London.

The first group are purchasing one and two bedroom new build rental-investment apartments priced up to £2 million in locations including Canary Wharf, the City, Islington and the River Thames in Battersea, Chelsea and Fulham.

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The investors are looking at a 3-5% yield and often purchase off-plan and in bulk in order to gain a price discount/advantage.

The second group of buyers are affluent upper middle class Chinese and Hong Kong families typically spending between £5 million to £10 million for a London family home/luxury pied-a-terre in locations including St John’s Wood, Marylebone or Regent’s Park or £750,000 to £1.5 million for an apartment in Aldwych, Soho or Fitzrovia for their student offspring studying in London.

For these middle class families proximity to a good school or university is paramount and they like Marylebone and St John’s Wood because both are close to the Chinese Embassy at 49-51 Portland Place around which the Chinese political elite working in London are based.

The third buyer group are mainland China and Hong Kong’s super-wealthy business elite who will spend upwards of £15 million on a trophy property, typically something with a prestigious history or ultra-luxury design, located in London’s most prestigious addresses.

Beauchamp Estates say that this elite group prefer to buy either mansions in Knightsbridge, Mayfair, Belgravia or Avenue Road in St John’s Wood priced from £25 million to over £200 million or penthouses in trophy apartment buildings such as Clarges Mayfair, One Hyde Park, 20 Grosvenor Square or No.1 Grosvenor Square priced from £20 million up to £80 million.

The fourth buyer group are China and Hong Kong’s large corporations and property developers.

These corporations either invest in commercial property in the City, Canary Wharf or West End, or undertake direct or joint venture residential projects in the UK capital.

Over 40% of London’s office investment deals by international firms over the last two years have been done by Hong Kong corporations including CC Land, CK Asset Holdings, Nan Fung Group and Sino Group.

Beauchamp Estates observe that in addition, Chinese property corporations have undertaken joint ventures with domestic London developers examples include Sun Hung Kai Properties with Ballymore, Vanke with Galliard Homes and CC Land with Finchatton.

The fifth buyer group are Chinese Sovereign Wealth entities such as CIC which has been a major investor in London real estate.

Gary Hersham, Founding Director of Beauchamp Estates says:

“Since the 2019 General Election we have sold over £300 million of luxury London residential property to clients from Hong Kong.

“Over the last 12 months mainland and Hong Kong investors have become the leading overseas buyer group purchasing luxury London property and their dominance in the market has grown despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There are five different types of Chinese investor in the capital but sometimes these groups overlap, for example a large Hong kong corporation buys commercial property in the City, followed by the CEO buying a £100m mansion in Belgravia.”

“The Chinese believe that living on high ground or in homes where you are elevated above others brings good fortune, hence their preference for penthouses or landmark buildings.

“For the Hong Kong super-rich buying a trophy London mansion or penthouse is good for their personal profile, generating columns of profile boosting PR in traditional media and a storm on social media.”

Marcus O’Brien of Beauchamp Estates Private Office says:

“Wealth creation and the development of the property markets in Europe has taken 200 years, in China the same process has taken just 20 years.

“This huge acceleration of wealth creation and property development in China – some cities take just six months to construct – has provided China and Hong Kong with a “new money” middle class and a new money super-rich elite.”

“Because China’s wealth is so new, Chinese and Hong Kong buyers in London like purchasing either new homes or historic properties which have newly refurbished super-luxury interiors.

“The Chinese middle class life is focused around family whilst the business elite have a very consumer-concentric culture, they need to be seen to be successful when benchmarked against their peers, so if one buys a London property a business rival needs to acquire an even better one.”

Beauchamp Estates highlight that because of the poor Chinese bilateral relationships with the USA, Canada and Australia where the Chinese/Hong Kong elite would have formerly purchased property in Malibu, Los Angeles, the Hamptons and Toronto they have now retreated from these locations and prefer to invest in London.

Overseas buyer tax rates in Canada (20%) and Singapore (20%) are much higher than London and mainland and Hong Kong buyers often await getting UK residency visas before buying homes, thereby avoiding additional Stamp Duty.

Source: Property Industry Eye