I was interested to read an article the other day which highlighted the amount of overseas interest in Georgian and period property in London. Foreign buyers are becoming more and more interested in London living, and with currency exchange rates that produce discounts of up to a quarter on purchase prices, the Eurozone debt is not the only thing that the Chinese are snapping up.
Prime London real estate is seen as a gold mine to foreign investors and buyers, and from my research online I have discovered that in just the last 12 months alone overseas buyers purchasing prime London property have spent £4.3 billion. Overseas banks can beat the finance terms offered by their UK rivals and this has led to a sudden surge of foreign investment in UK property, especially of the luxury London kind.
There has been a recent trend in foreign buyers purchasing luxury London homes for themselves and their family long term, being attracted by our impressive education and medical systems.
I’ve found that Georgian property appears to be particularly in demand, with most foreign investors purchasing in luxury areas such as Chelsea, Mayfair and Kensington, which I’d put down to the classic English design. The Chinese are notably understated and this clean architecture and regal English feel seems to have an appeal, as does the idea of a Georgian property being strong and ‘built to last’, adding to the premise of a safe investment.
“Houses with history are hugely popular. Many of these buyers are looking to make a dynastic purchase for their family and if they are only the second person to own a property in its lifetime or the first buyer in one hundred years the appeal is significant,” he says. “Buying a piece of England and into status is important.” – Charlie Wells, director of Prime Purchase.
Recently I read of Hong Kong businessman Joseph LAU, who purchased a £33 million Georgian home in London’s Belgravia. Vivian Imerman, a UK-based South African investor was the previous owner of Lau’s new home, who bought the house in December 2005 for £9.5m. Selling this Georgian property has made Imerman a huge profit of over £20 million in just under 6 years!
If you’re the owner of a Georgian or Regency property and think you may want to sell some time in the next few years then thinking about aiming your property to the foreign buyer may be a smart move. It’s worth considering how you present your property for sale, as foreign buyers love historical, classic British buildings but will still want the interiors to balance this with the needs of modern day living. Think about how you decorate, you may want to mix the styles of classic Georgian pieces, furnishing and decoration with on trend elements, such as furniture and wallcoverings in period style but in modern fabrics and colours – see my earlier blog post on the Goring for examples and suppliers.
Try installing a statement chandelier in a hallway or dining room, combined with subtle contemporary halogen or LED spots in the ceiling to give the ability to light for every occasion.
Bathrooms and Kitchens can be updated to contain the very latest in technology, sanitaryware and appliances whilst being styled with a classical taste in mind.
It may also be of interest to hire a home staging company. They will dress your property in the right furnishings and transform your living space into an area that tenants or prospective buyers can really ‘see’ themselves in. Home Staging companies aim to maximize the sales potential of your property to the market and stand out in a saturated market. They offer advice on quick and low cost improvements combined with furniture that’s available to hire for short periods and will be delivered quickly and easily. It may mean the difference between your property being on the market for a matter of weeks rather than months.
Latham Interiors offer this service along with a number of other companies depending on where you are based. Another company I’d happily recommend is Emblem Furniture.
Please don’t feel that it’s only the luxury London market that overseas buyers are investing in – the English countryside has had a huge influx of buyers in the last few years as purchasers look for more privacy and land space offered by properties in the countryside.
If you are interested in putting your property on the market and would like to angle it towards the overseas buyer, choose the agent you use to sell carefully. Some will be more experienced in selling to foreign buyers and have a better international reach.
Knight Frank would be the agents I’d recommend as they are known for high end property sales and can be found throughout London and across the UK as well as in 43 countries worldwide.
It’s hard to ignore the pattern in overseas buyers investing in Georgian style property, and I’d suggest that now could be a great time to take advantage of the fact, maximizing your interior and home styling to really appeal to that market.
If you have found this article useful or interesting – or both, then please do leave me some feedback so I can understand what you might be looking for in future posts. If you’ve come across similar cases to the ones outlined or have a view to the contrary then it would also be great to hear from you.