Foreign Investors Eye UK Property After Brexit Fallout

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Hong Kong: With property prices in Britain predicted to plummet post-Brexit, foreign investors, especially in Asia, are already poised for a buying spree.

It is an ironic twist to the shock referendum result – many who opted to leave the European Union saw their vote as a deterrent to outsiders looking to take advantage of economic opportunities in Britain.

The aftermath of Thursday’s vote to leave the EU saw the resignation of British Prime Minister David Cameron and the collapse of the pound to a 31-year low. There was pandemonium on currency, equity and oil markets.

At around 2100 GMT Friday (2:30 30 a.m. Saturday in India), the sterling was down about 8.8 per cent against the dollar compared with Thursday night, and foreign exchange experts predicted more weakness ahead.

Property prices are also expected to take a hit, with reports of buyers pulling out of transactions due to market uncertainty.

But while there may be a “wait and see” approach for some, ambitious foreign investors are on the hunt for bargains while the exchange rate is so low.

“Several of my opportunistic investors have said we really ought to think about this seriously, and to think whether we should take advantage of this new window in the market,” said Nicholas Brooke, chairman of professional property services for the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

“Anyone who’s not dealing in sterling would see an opportunity.”

Mr Brooke, whose firm plays an advisory role for prospective buyers, said that while many clients remained cautious, some in Hong Kong and China with “substantial” investment capabilities
had voiced interest.

London-based international property agent Knight Frank also said foreign investors would be wary as they assessed the full impact of the Brexit fallout, but the drop in the pound would mean their buying power would “increase significantly”.

Interest would be especially strong from China, Hong Kong and Singapore – where investors have a long history of buying up property in Britain, especially London, the firm’s Asia-Pacific specialist Nicholas Holt said.

Besides established investors into Britain, some areas might see new blood join the fray.

JLL predicts more buyers from India, which is already an established source of property investment into Britain.

“It is very likely that many more Indians will seek to invest there,” said Anuj Puri, JLL chairman and country head for India.