Over two weeks on from the UK’s momentous Brexit vote the talk on the streets for property investors, professionals and indeed the general public is still (and not surprisingly) what impact the decision will have on the real estate market in Britain.
In the first instance it is obviously recognised that there is a period of uncertainty ahead with certain property funds already barring investors from withdrawing monies, a situation which is not helped of course by the current political machinations, albeit a new Prime Minister is now to be anointed (thankfully somewhat sooner than expected) who will obviously need to appoint a team to head up the Brexit negotiations as soon as is practically possible. In the meantime though it is not all doom and gloom by any means and despite the attempts of some to talk the market down the reality on the street (where the real money is being spent) is rather different, the maxim for many being ‘if the yield is still there; we’ll still buy it’.
For example last week Allsop sold 80% of its commercial lots at its July Auction with Acuitus selling 75% of the lots at their July sale, lots which included a Clydesdale Bank branch in North Yorkshire, two industrial units in Manchester, a row of shops with flats over in Essex and a parade of five shops in Luton. The Acuitus sale raised £55.75 million of receipts against a combined guide price of £48.2 million, the Luton lot achieving a price of £1.35 million versus a guide price of £1.25 million based on a solid 10% yield. Compare that yield with a bank rate which has stood at 0.5% since 2009 (and is likely to fall further) and you can see why property still has a bright future.
Also last week and very close to home AVIVA investors purchased the freehold of the forward funded student accommodation building at Godiva Place in Coventry for £74.5 million (representing almost £97,000 per bed) in one of the largest deals to have been completed so far in the wake of the EU Referendum vote.
Otherwise while for those of us who are hoping to enjoy a foreign holiday this year are perhaps ruing the fall in the value of the pound, on the bright side it has to be recognised that overseas investors are likely to see this as an opportunity. Mike Hussey, former Land Securities Executive and boss of Alamcantar illustrates this perfectly by pointing out that the weakness of the pound (which hit a 31 year low of $1.279 last Wednesday) meant that overseas buyers would now be able to buy UK property 20% cheaper than they could a week ago.
Specifically in this new post-Brexit vote world it has been suggested that there is currently between £3 billion and £5 billion ‘sitting there on the side-lines waiting to pounce’ if good properties go on sale - and they will. Indeed on Thursday it was announced by British Land that it had sold the long leasehold interest in their flagship Oxford Street Debenhams store for £400 million, illustrating the continuing demand from foreign investors for quality property and indeed the high prices still being generated for the right investment. In this case the Debenhams sale (based on an estimated yield of 2.75%) was one of the most expensive deals struck in London in recent years.
Of course not all of us live in London or are disposing of £400 million properties on a daily basis but even at a local level the demand for property investments remains strong and will continue as more opportunities present themselves. Indeed with bank rates as low as they are (and likely to fall further) why wouldn’t investors want to still aspire to potential yields of say 10% as against what they could currently earn in their bank.
So the EU Referendum has happened, the public has voted and Brexit it is. Irrespective of which way individuals cast their vote the decision has been taken and we all now need to get on with it and seize the day in terms of the opportunities there still are out there. Far better that certainly than to talk down the market (unnecessarily) and deliver what could otherwise become a self-fulfilling prophecy benefiting no-one.
So Carpe Diem it is then !