Conservative victory will boost demand

Two leading Central London real estate agents say a Conservative victory at Thursdays UK election will boost overseas property demand.

Beauchamp Estates believes the Conservative Party is on track to gain a working majority, or lead a coalition, which will open the floodgates of pent up demand and the market will see a rapid acceleration in sales volume.

If the Labour Party wins and introduces a Mansion Tax on properties worth more than £2million as well as abolishing the non-domicile rule that allows wealthy UK residents born overseas to limit tax paid on earnings derived outside the UK, "it would cause a major issue for such Ultra High Net Worth Individuals, which would impact on the luxury housing market and Prime Central London economy generally, " says Beauchamp Estates.

Boutique estate agent, Rescorp Residential, which specialises in selling London property to Indian buyers, says a Conservative win could unleash a pent up multi-million pound wave of Indian investment into the prime London residential property market.

Rescorp Residential Managing Director Vic Chhabria says, "Once the election results are known it will bring clarity to the London housing market, and a win that is favourable towards the property sector is likely to release significant pent up demand and lead to an upturn in property acquisition from overseas investors.

"There will be a collective sigh of relief from investors if David Cameron retains control. When news of the proposed Mansion Tax hit the market it came as a shock to buyers, which resulted in a cooling period. At the moment, investors are keeping a keen eye on the political scene waiting to see what variables will come into play following the election and how soon the winning party will put their housing promises into practice."

Gary Hersham, Partner at Beauchamp Estates, agrees. "Currently there is a massive amount of interest in Prime London property but purchasers are adroit and are holding back until the results of the election are known. Its clarity that the property market needs, uncertainty is neither good for sales nor new instructions. A Conservative Party win or led coalition will reassure purchasers and investors that London remains the place to invest in real estate in the world."

Beauchamp Estates, has published analysis by Dataloft that analyses the potential impact on Prime London and wider UK residential property market of four scenarios for 7 May General Election, a Conservative-led government; Labour-led government; coalition and a double election.

If election Labour, may end up making changes to the Council Tax band rates rather than implementing the Mansion Tax, Beauchamp Estates believes.

"If there is a Labour Party majority or coalition and the abolition of Non-Dom status is implemented, it would cause a major issue for such people, which would impact on the luxury housing market generally. However, Ed Balls questions abolishing the Non-Dom rule, and if in government, Ed Milliband could very well step back from this once he understands the damage it could cause to the UK economy and employment in the financial services, hospitality and retail sectors in particular.

"If the Mansion Tax is implemented then, like the 1970s era of high taxation, we would see a rise in house extensions and new interior design projects in the luxury housing market as the wealthy simply seek to enhance their existing property assets rather than commit to additional purchases or sales.

"The spectre of a double election is the scenario that the property industry would wish to avoid as it would create a significant period of uncertainty in the housing market."

The research also analyses housing starts under previous administrations. Since 1945 the three Conservative governments have delivered 7.3 million new homes. During the four Labour governments since 1945, a total of 5.9 million new homes have been constructed, it says.

UK election second new homes totals a typical Conservative administration whilst in power delivers an average of 213,469 homes per year. The majority, 131,752 homes (62%) are private sale homes built by the private sector.

Under a typical Labour administration, 198,967 homes are built, and of this 118,085 homes (59%) are for private sale.

The current Conservative-Lib/Dem coalition, saw 77% of all new housing has been private sector-delivered homes for open market sale.

"There has been a strong reliance by successive governments of all parties on private sector developers to deliver the housing required, especially in the "austerity era" under the current government.

"Therefore, any future government that seeks to attack or dismantle the private sector or stop private developers delivering housing is likely to further undermine the ability of the UK to deliver the new homes required to meet housing demand," says Beauchamp Estates.

Since 1974 residential prices have risen at a marginally higher rate (8.7%) under Labour governments, compared to Conservative administrations (8.6%).

Under the 2010-2015 Coalition government just 112,916 new homes on average per year were built. In London the number of housing starts was 24,806 in 2014, only 59% of the target level.

The Liberal-Democrat promise to build 300,000 new homes is extremely unrealistic, claims Beauchamp Estates only the Labour administration of 1964-70 has achieved that level of new residential development.

House price rises under the coalition government of 2010-2015 has been just 3% way below the average since 1945 which has typically been around 6%-9%.

Beauchamp Estates believes that the housing shortage, at least in the south of England, is significant and deep, and cannot, with any sense of realism, be fixed in a single Parliament. As long as the economy holds up, house prices will follow, it predicts.

Meanwhile, Rescorp Residential, which sees half of its overseas sales going to Indian buyers, says for homes priced above £5million Indian purchasers are now the second largest group of overseas buyers in Central London.

Over 70% of the firms sales are to international buyers, with Indian purchasers consisting of the largest (50%) overseas client group. St Johns Wood, Mayfair and Marylebone are the most sought after addresses with Indian buyers accounting for up to 25% of all sales annually in each district.

But since the start of 2015 interest has plateaued as wealthy Indian investors are now awaiting the election results and currently 40% of deals outstanding are awaiting the election outcome.

Rescorp Residential, which operates across St Johns Wood, Belsize Park, Mayfair, Maida Vale, Little Venice, Hampstead, Primrose Hill, Marylebone and Swiss Cottage, says there has been a big rise over the last two years in Indian buyers purchasing homes for investment rather than personal use.

Almost 60% of the properties the firm has been selling over the last 12 months to Indian buyers has been bought purely for investment purposes, with the most originating from Delhi and Mumbai. Before 2013, around 70% of Indian clients bought homes in London for personal use.

Vic Chhabria, says, "The Indian buyer market in London has matured and become increasingly sophisticated and important.

"When I first started Rescorp Residential in 2008, most of our overseas clients were looking to buy Prime London homes for their children who would be attending universities in the capital. They wanted to give their children the very best that life had to offer, opting for luxury homes instead of crammed residence halls.

"In time, this grew into a much wider buyer group who were looking to escape the heat of Indian summer by staying in luxury family homes in some of Londons most desirable addresses across Mayfair, Marylebone and St Johns Wood. Now the market has expanded from family homes into the pied-a-terre and investment markets."

St Johns Wood is attracting a large group of urban young professionals, from many nationalities, including Indians, and investors from Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Indonesia, Singapore and Hong Kong. Some are as young as 35 years old, who have family wealth behind them and work in the City of London. They are typically looking to spend £1.5million to £3million on an apartment with two or three bedrooms.

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