Overseas investors reap the benefit of domestic political uncertainty
Property developer Click Properties says it has witnessed a marked increase in enquiries from investors from both the US and the Far East, with the current political turmoil seen as an opportunity rather than a deterrent.
Although ongoing political uncertainty is casting a ‘cloud of indecision among many domestic investors’, this isn’t the case for international buyers, according to Click.
In the past six months, the firm – which has developments for sale and in the pipeline in London and Slough – has seen a rise in interest from overseas investors, with the summer months alone leading to a surge in enquiries from interested purchasers in the Far East. Interest from this region rose to account for 20% of all leads, while interest from the US also continues to grow and now accounts for roughly 10% of sales leads.
Anthony Moubarak, head of sales, marketing and communications at Click, said the current weakness of the pound means that global currencies, not least of all the dollar, go much further ‘making an investment in the UK good value for money’.
Moubarak says Slough, where Click will soon launch its Aspire development, is one area that is laden with a multitude of benefits which appeals as much to the international investor as to those who are priced out of central London.
The area, once unfavourably linked to John Betjeman’s poem ‘Slough’ – come friendly bombs and fall on Slough, it isn’t fit for humans now; there isn’t grass to graze a cow. Swarm over, Death! – and arguably best known for its appearance in BBC comedy The Office and its shabby, industrial appearance, has been undergoing something of a facelift in recent years to dramatically improve its image and reputation.
“It [Slough] is the focus of a significant regeneration programme,” Moubarak said. “It is located within close proximity [to] London, Heathrow and Windsor; over 2017 and 2018 it enjoyed house price growth of almost 30% and the [planned] arrival later this year of the Crossrail service that will slash commuter times to the capital will extend growth further.”
Click Properties is set to start work on site constructing 238 high-end studio, one, two and three-bedroom apartments in Slough later this year as part of its Aspire development, but is already securing off-plan sales.
“We are receiving almost ten enquiries a day which, given we’re yet to officially launch, is a hugely encouraging figure that supports the strength of Slough and Aspire as an exciting opportunity for first-time buyers and investors,” Moubarak said.
“Interest is from a real mix of domestic and international investors, as well as first-time buyers. Whilst many domestic purchasers are adopting a ‘wait-and-see’ approach around the Brexit situation, savvy overseas investors view the political climate as an opportunity and are strongly influenced by the capital growth and rental yield potential of Slough.”
When it comes to domestic interest, meanwhile, Moubarak says there is an ever-increasing number of renters moving out of Central London in order to purchase and achieve a lot more for their money.
Interested investors, from the UK and beyond, keen to find out more about the benefits of investing in Slough can visit Click’s dedicated Aspire website. Prices for homes in the development begin at £199,999, while Help to Buy is available.
What is the makeup of investors in Slough?
According to Click, the breakdown of investors who appreciate the appeal of somewhere like Slough can best be categorised as those who are seasoned investors, ‘well-versed with the benefits of investing in an area undergoing significant regeneration’, along with those who are younger and likely to be professionals.
“Amongst this second group, there is a growing percentage who, ideally, wish to live close to or invest in the capital but can see that there’s significant capital growth and rental yields to be enjoyed by moving slightly further out and, in fact, these are now the majority of younger investors,” Moubarak concluded.
Slough’s proximity to London has long been its main source of appeal – with research earlier this year from estate agent Jackson-Stops revealing that it was the third best London commuter hotspot – and this is set to improve further when Crossrail 1 (or the Elizabeth Line) finally opens in full.
It’s been beset by delays – it was originally set to open in December 2018 but was delayed to allow for more testing – and was earlier this year given an opening window of between October 2020 and March 2021. There are still no guarantees it will even open by 2021, but bosses are optimistic.
When it does eventually start running, it will take only 23 minutes from Slough to Heathrow T5, 31 minutes to Bond Street, 46 minutes to Canary Wharf and 41 minutes to Liverpool Street.
Slough has been one of the main beneficiaries of the popularly known ‘Crossrail effect’, with significant price growth in recent years and more set to come as and when the Elizabeth Line arrives.
This growth is not only due to strong transport links and closeness to London, with Slough also home to the largest trading estate in single ownership, which plays host to a business district of more than 4,600 business including Unilever, O2 and Ferrari – making it both an employment and commercial hub. Plans are now well underway to make it a residential one, too.
By Matthew Lane
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