Historically, London has been a key location for GCC investors looking for property opportunities, but there’s been a shift in interest to the north west of England in recent months.
The UK housing market remains one of the most attractive investment centres in the world for foreign buyers, with its track record for holding its value over the long-term and providing strong returns for those who also choose to let out their properties.
For buyers from Hong Kong, the US, the Gulf countries and Europe, among others, London has often been the obvious choice as the economic centre of the country. However, in recent years, property markets away from the capital have outperformed, catching the eye of investors.
GCC investors in particular, according to Sean Gilchrist, chief executive officer of Nomo Bank, have been increasingly attracted to parts of the north west, particularly Manchester and Liverpool, drawn by the football talent of the cities as well as their strong investment prospects.
Why are GCC investors looking to the north west?
The celebrity status of Manchester and Liverpool with their world-renowned football clubs, are just one element attracting customers from the Gulf Corporation Council (GCC), consisting of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, to the areas, says Gilchrist.
Aside from this, the cities are home to some of the most renowned universities, fantastic amenities for all age groups and some of the best rental yields available across the country. While he acknowledges the pull of London due to its “longstanding relations” with GCC investors, Gilchrist says demand is growing.
“We are seeing a lot of demand for property in some of our northern cities such as Manchester and Liverpool from our GCC customers and also investors from that region, generally,” he said.
“The bonus of them [the two cities] being home to some of the most famous football teams is among the major factors for the [rising] GCC investments,” Gilchrist added.
GCC investors are looking to Manchester and Liverpool both for rental property investment for long-term gains, as well as for second homes to use for themselves, or accommodation to house their children or relatives while they study or work in the UK.
In terms of their property investment credentials, both Manchester and Liverpool are highly regarded for their housing market potential. Manchester was recently named the best city to invest in in 2023, while Liverpool is regularly touted as the top city in the country for rental returns.
Getting finance as an overseas investor
Acquiring a mortgage for property investment can be more complex for overseas buyers, including GCC investors, but it is certainly possible with help from a broker or through a specialist lender.
With strong interest coming from foreign investors into the UK property market, lenders are continually opening up products specific for this buyer group. While the requirements may be more stringent, many buyers find the process relatively straightforward.
Nomo Bank is one such lender that provides specific services and runs a property financing scheme for a range of buyers, including GCC investors, making acquiring finance to fund a property purchase easier.
“Customers using our app in Kuwait or through brokers in the UAE and Saudi Arabia are eligible to apply for property financing – whether it’s for them to live in or a rental home,” Gilchrist said.
He also points out that customers do not need to be in the UK to apply for borrowing, as the company’s app can take care of it. Nomo Bank is an Islamic Bank, meaning it meets “all the requirements that customers expect from financial institutions”.
“Given that many of them are looking to buy a second home, we feel they should take a long-term view on property investments,” Gilchrist said.