Weak Currency Props Up London Property Prices

International property buyers from Asia and the Middle East are taking advantage of price cuts stemming from weaker currency in the United Kingdom. Cluttons reports that no sign …

International property buyers from Asia and the Middle East are taking advantage of price cuts stemming from weaker currency in the United Kingdom. Cluttons reports that no sign of an improvement in sterling is imminent and short supply of properties in the capital are pushing up prices for prime real estate. Properties prices on the lower end are also getting some help from a relative easing in mortgage availability, and the projected growth across the spectrum of the market should help push growth to 3.2% despite the unforeseen lag caused by the Olympics and people’s subsequent decisions to hold off on moving or buying. For more on this continue reading the following article from Property Wire.

International cash buyers benefitting from weak Sterling are contributing to demand for homes in the prime central London property market, according to the latest report from Cluttons.

Compared to the price peak in the third quarter of 2007 buyers from the Far East are now benefitting from price discounts of as much as 60% and buyers from the Middle East as much as 30% as a result of currency changes.

Cluttons predicts that with no immediate appreciation in the value of Sterling expected this advantage looks set to continue.

Its report says that cash buyers, both domestic and foreign, are still very much in evidence in the prime central London market, which continues to be perceived internationally as a safe haven for cash.

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At the lower end of the market, demand is also being sustained by the greater availability of mortgage finance for first time buyers, particularly in the higher loan to value ratio brackets. In the first seven months of the year, the number of first time buyers purchasing with a mortgage has more than doubled on the same period in 2011.

The report says that these factors combined will maintain demand in the prime Central London market and supersede the 0.5% contraction in GDP expected this year. For this reason, Cluttons predicts annual growth of 3.2% despite the impact of the Olympics, which saw buyers and sellers delay moving plans, dampening the pace of growth.

It adds that expectation of weak global economic conditions, however, will suppress the rate of growth next year, with prices rising 2.5%. Growth of 4% is expected to follow in 2014 and 2015 as domestic conditions improve, lifting the performance of the capital’s housing market. Meanwhile, the wider UK market will see price falls of 1% this year with marginal falls again in 2013 and growth of 1% in 2014.


‘The prime central London property market continues to buck the national trend, putting in a slightly stronger performance than we had previously anticipated. Strong annual growth of 3.2% is forecast in spite of significant downward pressure on prices as the economy continues to muddle through,’ said Sue Foxley, head of research at Cluttons.

‘International buyers have long bolstered demand for property in the capital, pushing up prices as the supply shortage continues. However, a growing mortgaged first time buyer market means that we are likely to see increased competition for properties at the lower end, which will have a far reaching effect on the whole of the supply chain. The Bank of England’s Funding for Lending scheme also appears to be re-energising the debt financing market, which is very positive news,’ she explained.

The Central London rental market did not experience the much anticipated Olympic boost from tenants and a moratorium on corporate moves during the games compounded this. However, evidence of a rise in recruitment in June and July suggests a flurry of activity in the autumn. Despite this, a rental growth readjustment is still underway, with a 1% contraction forecast this year.

The report says that this is largely in response to the unsustainable rental growth seen in 2011. Cluttons expects positive growth of 2% to follow in 2014 and annual rises of 3.5% to 4% in 2014 and 2015.

This article was republished with permission from Property Wire.


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