The dual impact of Brexit and tax changes in the UK are going to be felt in 2017. It’s going to be a very interesting year for the property sector, with the usual laws of supply and demand encountering some significant interference from external political and economic factors. This means some new winners when it comes to popular asset classes, although of course some traditional investment opportunities will never go out of style (at least, not for the foreseeable future!).
With changes to the buy-to-let investment rules brought in under ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, Properties of the World has found that investors are finding the residential buy-to-let market to be less profitable.
The company experienced a surge in buyers who already have traditional residential buy-to-let portfolios moving to purchasing hotels, student accommodation and care homes for the first time in 2016.
We also found that buyers who were just starting their property portfolio were choosing these emerging asset classes over residential buy-to-lets, due to the substantially higher returns on offer and the lack of additional costs during ownership. This trend is expected to ramp up significantly in 2017.
The remaining of second home stamp duty for buy-to-let investors will also continue to impact buy-to-let investors in 2017 as it has done in 2016, with lower priced properties of Greater London and areas beyond the M25 increasingly drawing investors away from the centre of the capital. Areas such as Luton and Slough are set to benefit, as are cities further north (most notably Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield and Bradford).
When it comes to Brexit, one area of impact will be the interest of overseas investors in the UK in 2017. Sterling is languishing at its lowest rate against the dollar for decades, which creates opportunities for property investors buying in foreign currencies to make substantial savings by purchasing in the UK. With further currency fluctuations expected around the Article 50 triggering process in 2017, overseas investors are likely to be poised and ready to pounce.
Brexit is also likely to impact on property sales in the UK in 2017. Despite the interest from overseas, the Properties of the World team believes that the number of residential property sales in the first six months of 2017 will be lower than in the first half of 2016.
Despite a forecasted lower number of sales, there is likely to be positive news when it comes to prices. Although residential buy-to-lets will be more heavily taxed than before, there continues to be a chronic shortfall of properties in the UK, coupled with increased demand. Put simply, there are not enough properties being built to fulfil demand. This under-supply is expected to lead to increased prices in 2017 or, in the worst-case scenario, properties prices remaining flat.
Finally, and again showing the effects of the Brexit process, Properties of the World believes that developments offering a fixed rate of return will boom in 2017. Fixed returns, along with no additional costs during purchase and ownership, provide investors with peace of mind and mitigates risk in an increasingly uncertain world. When investors are buying to supplement their income, knowing how much money they’re going to be getting is essential.
Whatever happens, 2017 is certainly going to be a testing year for the UK property sector, but challenging circumstances can create exciting new opportunities for investors. Political change can have a big impact on property markets, but that doesn’t mean the impact will necessarily be negative.
Where one asset class or location may miss out, another will surely come along to reap the benefits!