Investors are shrugging off Brexit concerns to eye purchases of London buildings
International buyers are still aiming to pump as much as £40 billion into central London property despite the shadow of Brexit and new taxes hanging over the capital, experts said on Monday.
Bullish commercial property agents said the majority of demand for West End and City buildings is from overseas funds, including Asia and the Middle East. There is also a queue of private investors from China, Europe and the UK.
Plans to invest come despite fears that Britain’s vote to leave the bloc has forced some businesses to delay office move decisions.
There are also concerns about plans revealed in last month’s budget to force overseas investors to pay capital gains tax in the UK on commercial property.
Data compiled for the Standard by agent Cushman & Wakefield shows that year-to-date sales of office and retail property in the City and West End have reached £16.37 billion.
In addition, there are a number of deals in lawyers’ hands and due to complete imminently, “which means full-year sales will comfortably surpass the total £16.96 billion spent in 2016”, according to Cushman & Wakefield’s Fergus Keane.
He said: “Whilst the recent budget changes to commercial real estate capital gains tax have been unwelcomed by investors, in reality it does bring the UK in line with the majority of other jurisdictions, and it is expected that London’s appeal will outweigh these concerns in 2018.”
Keane claimed London’s safe-haven status, legal structure and the weaker pound since Brexit remain attractive to buyers.
Sales agreed since the November Budget include a Bond Street retail property being sold for £140 million to Italy’s Maramotti family, which is behind fashion label Max Mara.
Brian Bickell, the boss of West End landlord Shaftesbury, confirmed demand is holding up “particularly for smaller buildings and those close to Crossrail. They offer security and long term growth prospects and are unlikely to be affected by Brexit worries.”
Gregor Wallace, of property investment group Coldwell Banker Commercial, said: “Worries of political stability overseas mean that London is still seen as a safe place to diversify if you are from places like the Gulf states.”
CBRE’s Stephen Pearson said: “As we enter the final month of 2017, there is evidence that the level of investor demand focussed on London’s commercial real estate market remains high.”
Buildings expected to sell before the end of the year include Great Portland Estates’ 30 Broadwick Street.