Since the shock Brexit result was announced in June, and the consequent drop in value of the pound, there has been significant increase in overseas investors keen to secure what some may perceive to be a bargain in the London property market. However, simultaneously, foreign investors have become the scapegoat for London's housing crisis.
They have been blamed for increasing house prices and for contributing to the housing shortage. But what is important to remember is that many new developments in the capital depend on money from foreign investors; it keeps London building much needed new homes.
Not only is foreign investment providing a boost for the London property market, particularly when it comes to new developments, but it also creates opportunity. It leads to increased employment across the sector, for estate agencies, architect firms and property management teams, as well as the various service providers and retail outlets that are required to cater to the needs of the new tenants and homeowners.
In the UK, people want to physically see a residential development and get a feel for the home and its surroundings, whereas overseas buyers are much more susceptible to buying property off-plan, sometimes before a shovel has broken the ground. Therefore, if developers were reliant only on UK investment, many new developments would simply never get off the ground.
We see investors from South East Asia, mainland China and the Middle East expressing interest in our new developments, particularly those with good transport links, situated in familiar locations such as Canary Wharf. Usually this is enough to secure a sale, without the buyers visiting the development in person.
However, there are clear differences in buying habits among investors from different parts of the world.
Those from Asia tend to go to events where they can hear more about their potential purchase and spend time making an informed decision on what to invest their money in. In contrast, Middle Eastern buyers are more likely to visit the UK with the intention of picking up multiple properties whilst they are in the country. These buyers often purchase in bulk for themselves and family members. If strong relationships are formed with a developer, which is more common with those who own multiple properties, investment decisions can be made based on recognition and trust ina particular developer’s products.
Typically, UK based investors tend not to buy off-plan properties, so showcasing a development overseas is an extremely important means for attracting investment.
A developer with a good product, targeted at the right investors, significantly reduces the length of the sales process, meaning more time can be spent on developing further homes to address the UK shortage.
Clynton Nel is the residential director at JOHNS&CO.