An artist's impression of the London City Island project which is jointly developed by Malaysian developer Ecoworld and UK-based Ballymore. Photo: JLL
As the dust begins to settle on Britain's shock vote to leave the European Union, some real-estate agencies here are starting to market British residential property again.
One key lure: the greatly weakened British pound.
As agencies test the post-Brexit appetite for British properties in the coming weeks, one key focus is on homes in London and Manchester.
The Brexit vote in June caused uncertainty in global markets and sent the British pound tumbling – catching the eye of some investors.
Property consultants told The Straits Times that while some investors have turned more cautious, others are looking to seize investment opportunities, owing to the fall in the British currency.
Ms Vanessa Chan, associate director of international residential property services, Singapore at JLL, noted: "We have noticed a marked increase in inquiries… These enquiries have come from not only one particular country but also dollar- and euro-based buyers taking advantage of a weakened sterling."
Some worry about UK economy
The pound fell by 4 per cent to around S$1.85 on the day Britons voted to leave the EU. At S$1.7437 yesterday afternoon, sterling has plummeted by about 16 per cent to the Singdollar this year, having started this year at S$2.0847.
JLL has a few projects in the pipeline in London and Manchester, including apartments at London City Island, near Canning Town station, to be launched here on Aug 27 and 28. The project is being jointly developed by Malaysian developer Ecoworld and Britain's Ballymore.
Next month, JLL will market another project, Atria, in Slough, west of central London. Comprising 108 studio apartments, it is being built by British developer Galliard Homes, in which Oxley Holdings holds a 20 per cent stake.
Real estate agency OrangeTee plans to launch Downtown – a residential development comprising 368 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments in Manchester – at the end of the month.
Select Property Group, which is launching a project in Manchester, has seen greater interest in British properties. Mr Elliot Vure, its sales manager for Asia, said the 318-unit Affinity Living Riverview in New Bailey Street in Manchester will be launched for sale here and globally next month.
For the whole of last year, Select said it sold 16 British properties to buyers in Singapore; it has moved 10 units so far this year.
While the weaker pound may have stoked investment interest, consultancy Knight Frank Singapore noted that transactions of properties in Britain were down by 30 per cent, based on the deals it closed from January to July this year, over the same period in 2015.
"The investors are concerned about the UK economy and also potential significant drop in UK property prices," said Ms Linda Chern, its director for residential international project marketing.
ECG Group of Companies also saw a drop in sales in the first seven months of the year. CEO Eric Cheng said transactions for London homes halved to 20 units, compared with the previous year.
Individual Singapore investors bought real estate worth some £180 million (S$327 million) in Britain last year, said CBRE.
Responding to a Straits Times query last month, the Monetary Authority of Singapore said investors should be aware of the risks – particularly around currency exchange rates – when it comes to buying overseas property.
WHAT'S ON OFFER
AFFINITY LIVING RIVERVIEW
No. of units: 318
Developed by: Select Property Group
No. of units: 368
Developed by: Mcgoff & Byrne
No. of units: 108
Location: Slough, west of central London
Developed by: Galliard Homes
Written by Wong Siew Ying for The Straits Times