London’s prime property market likely to be attractive regardless of EU vote

Taylor Scott International News

The prime property market in London is likely to retain its attractiveness to wealthy international buyers regardless of what happens in the forthcoming referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union. However, prices may soften after April as there has been a demand from buyers of second homes to complete before a new 3% stamp duty surcharge comes into force on 01 April, according to independent property buying agency Black Brick. However, one immediate impact of the prospect of a Brexit, the term coined for the UK leaving the EU, has been to hit sterling. Camilla Dell, managing partner at Black Brick pointed out that between the end of 2015 and late February, UK currency lost 6% against the dollar and, over 18 months, the currency has slid almost 20% against the greenback. ‘This serves to make UK property more attractive to dollar based buyers. As is so often the case, opportunity is the other side of the coin to crisis and, if you add currency moves to the 7% to 7.5% falls we've seen in prices in Knightsbridge, for example, then prices are more than a quarter lower in dollar terms than they were 18 months ago. It's certainly tempting some overseas buyers back into the market,’ she explained. ‘London is going to retain its attractiveness to wealthy international buyers regardless of whether the UK remains in the EU. Its cultural attractions, geographic location, legal system, and concentration of talent mean that there will always be demand for prime central London property,’ said Dell. The firm has seen that with just weeks to go before the introduction of a 3% hike in stamp duty payable on buy to let and second home acquisitions there is a rush among buyers to complete transactions before 01 April. ‘Certainly, for buyers who have had offers accepted, or who have exchanged, there's still time and obvious motivation to get deals signed and sealed before the tax rise. However, we should sound a note of warning as people yet to find the right buy to let investment should weigh up the costs and benefits of trying to rush through deals this late in the day,’ Dell explained. ‘We have seen cases of vendors seeking premiums in exchange for getting transactions done before 01 April, premiums that, in some cases, substantially erode the tax benefit involved. It's also worth bearing in mind that, as with previous increases in stamp duty, we expect this latest rise will feed through into asking prices and would expect prices for buy to let properties to soften after 01 April, as vendors' expectations align themselves with the yields demanded by investors,’ she added. Taylor Scott International

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