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UK property: Fall in sterling makes up for stamp duty for overseas buyers

Buyers from overseas, particularly China, are still attracted to the UK’s strong property market, and the stamp duty surcharge is unlikely to deter them, say experts.

In the latest spring Budget, new Chancellor Rishi Sunak made some announcements relating to the housing market. One of these was a 2% stamp duty levy to applied to foreign buyers of UK property. This will take effect from April 2021.

However, rather than deter buyers, many in the industry believe it will have little effect over the long term. Likewise, others think it could cause a short-term boom in property-buying by overseas investors. Coupled with the fall in sterling making UK investment an even more attractive option, this could provide a certain boost to the property market.

According to Hiten Ganatra, managing director of Visionary Finance. He believes we could see a “flurry of activity to close deals” with foreign investors over the next 12 months. He also adds that mortgage lenders who have pulled some of their products will be “seeking to make up for lost time and offer very competitive rates”. Specialist lenders to foreign investors could fall into this bracket.

Competitive currency rates outweigh stamp duty

The ongoing Brexit uncertainty, followed swiftly by the coronavirus outbreak, has kept the sterling low against the dollar. This has made the UK a more attractive place for holidaymakers – both national and international – as well as for investors.

Therefore, even after the new stamp duty hike comes in, the UK property market is likely to still be enticing. Domenica Di Lieto, CEO of Emerging Communications, believes we could even see a Chinese buying boom because of the currency situation.

“The fall in sterling more than makes up for [the stamp duty levy], and the UK still compares well with overseas buyer tax rates in competing locations, such as Hong Kong (15%), Canada (between 15 and 20%), and Singapore (20%).”

Chinese buyers keen to do business

It seems the already high number of property investors from China is still looking to move forwards.

Di Lieto adds: “Smart property sellers are keeping up engagement and sales momentum with Chinese buyers. With only essential shopping and work travel taking place at the moment in China, buyers are more receptive than ever to receiving sales propositions.”

“However, developers and estate agents should be wary of using quick-fix, low budget marketing.”

Areas like Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham are particularly popular with overseas buyers. This has particularly been the case in recent years as London has fallen slightly out of favour. While still a top place to invest, the capital’s house prices have stagnated somewhat, along with yields. By contrast, the UK’s second-tier cities have shown better capital appreciation prospects as well as better yields. As more businesses move away from the capital, rental demand in these areas is also on the rise.

At BuyAssociation, we specialise in up-and-coming property investment locations. Our clients include both domestic and overseas buyers. Call our UK office on +44 (0) 333 123 0320 or our Hong Kong office on +852 2554 5509 for more information.

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