Article / 30 June 2016 at 2:03 GMT

Weaker GBP spurs demand for high-end luxury property

First in Business Worldwide. /

  • Buyers reportedly coming in wanting to "pile in now" as GBP remains low
  • Some estimate GBP could decline to $1.20 or $1.25, below the low of $1.315
  • Some warn Brexit could damage growth of residential and commercial sectors


S&P Global Ratings forecast on Monday that UK house prices would fall by a mid-to-high single-digit percentage over the next year, with a decline in consumer confidence, economic output and possibly growth in new households hitting the market.

However, foreign investors play a big role in the top-end of London's expensive property market and a decline in the British pound may prove a draw, real estate agency Knight Frank said.

"We believe that over the longer-term, London will still provide value to many investors and, indeed, the devaluation of the pound provides some opportunities for those overseas investors," said Nicholas Holt, head of research, Asia-Pacific, at Knight Frank.

GBP tumbled against the USD and other currencies on Friday through Monday, after the surprise victory of the "leave" vote in the UK's referendum to leave the European Union (EU).

"We have had buyers coming to us over the weekend, saying, we want to pile in now; we think that currency devaluation is good news for us," Miles Gibson, head of UK research at commercial realtor CBRE, told CNBC on Tuesday.

The pound has since pared some losses, but analysts and investors say the rout may have further to run. For instance, Mike Amey, head of sterling portfolio management at PIMCO, told CNBC on Tuesday sterling could decline to $1.20 or $1.25, below the 31-year low of $1.315 reached on Monday.

Meanwhile, Julius Baer economist, David Meier, saw the euro rising to £0.93 versus sterling over a three-month horizon, with parity possible within the next 12 months.

"House prices will likely fall in some areas as market confidence falls, but could rise in others due to the massive discount now available to foreign buyers," Andrew Teacher, managing director of Blackstock Consulting, which works with construction companies, said in a note on Friday.


UK real estate agents are hoping for a rise in housing demand due to the
 massive discount now available to foreign buyers. Photo: CNBC

FTSE 100-listed real estate firms were among stocks hardest hit on Friday, with stocks like Taylor Wimpey and Persimmon knocked by as much as 27%.

Teacher warned Brexit might damage the perception of London property as a "safe-haven" investment, driving international investors' "golden bricks" elsewhere.

On Wednesday, the CEO of BLP Insurance, which specialises in property, highlighted that the decline in sterling versus euro would make construction materials from Europe more expensive.

"Coupled with the uncertainties of access to free movement of labor and the fact that London may not prove as attractive a location to financial services businesses should we lose our passporting rights, there is a considerable challenge to the continued growth of residential and commercial construction sectors in the UK," Kim Vernau said in an emailed statement on Wednesday.

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-- Edited by Adam Courtenay


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