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‘The Right Time to Buy in London’ – Hussain Sajwani, Founder & Chairman, DAMAC Properties


Hussain Sajwani, Founder & Chairman, DAMAC Properties, tells us why it is the right time for investors in the Middle East to invest in London.

Over time, my relationship with London has evolved at many different levels. From a business, as well as a personal perspective, I have come to love this city; and I am not the only one. London is loved by millions of people all around the world, especially in the UAE and the Middle East. Its property has long been considered as a prestigious and worthy asset and has attracted global investors for decades. The city has been a top choice for real estate investors from the UAE; and recently, it has become even more attractive and achievable. Recent arguments suggest that it is perhaps the best time to invest in London’s illustrious real estate market and I would have to agree.

 

In recent times, political uncertainty arising from the long-drawn Brexit situation has cast a shadow on the economic outlook of the country. Moreover, stagnating property prices and taxes are adding to what some may see as reasons not to buy. However, for smart investors, these very uncertainties offer the right conditions to strike great property deals. While the short-term uncertainty from Brexit may seem like a deterrent to many investors, those who invest now stand to benefit once the UK’s economy is back on track. Industries that are expected to be affected the most will eventually adjust considering that historically, the UK has demonstrated the ability to be flexible and bounce back.

 

Additionally, London is facing a disparity between diminishing rental supply and rising demand, a scenario that is favourable to both first time buyers and those looking at further diversifying their investment portfolios. With rents estimated to grow 15% by 2023*, long term rental returns for buy-to-let investors look very promising.

 

The fluctuations in the value of Sterling against the greenback, to which the UAE dirham is pegged, is another impetus for investors to buy in London. At the start of 2016, before the Brexit vote, one GBP stood at the USD1.4 mark. Today, the pound hovers around USD1.27. The GBP’s relative weakness is a great opportunity for residents of the Middle East to buy property. Even in this case, as the pound recovers over time, investors will start raking in the gains. Owing to the strong dollar, UAE investors invested nearly USD132 million in London properties in 2018*. I suspect that many investors are playing the waiting game in anticipation of the pound further weakening depending on the eventual outcome of Brexit.

 

While the falling GBP and uncertainties around Brexit have certainly created a favourable environment for UAE investors looking to buy in London’s real estate, the city’s growth, its vision and efforts to reimagine itself are perhaps the most substantial reasons to invest. As London grows, urban regeneration in and around the capital is at an all-time high. Areas such as Wood Wharf, Hackney Wick, Greenwich Peninsula, and Nine Elms are prime examples of a new wave of real estate developments in the city. Nine Elms, which is emerging as London’s newest district, is one of Europe’s largest regeneration projects covering an area of 227 hectares. Touted to be the final piece of the Central London Jigsaw, the project is designed as a response to the growing demand for co-living spaces featuring commercial and retail facilities, new schools, lush green parks, Thames river frontage and over 20,000 residential units.

 

DAMAC Tower Nine Elms London is our landmark project in this upcoming neighbourhood. Rising 50 storeys, the ultra-modern tower is all set to stand out as the latest addition in London’s iconic skyline. For this project, we have signed an exclusive partnership with Versace Home to offer residents the ultimate in branded living experiences. More importantly, DAMAC Tower Nine Elms London symbolizes our faith in London as an evergreen destination for real estate investments.

 

Real estate investment decisions, which are primarily driven by price and promise of returns, are also about the investors’ level of comfort in a market. In my opinion, one of the main reasons why investors in the UAE are so comfortable with investing in the UK is the uncanny similarity between the two countries and their markets. London, like Dubai, is a multicultural, diverse and tolerant city, encompassing more than 200 nationalities and 300 languages. Both the UK and the UAE share strong business fundamentals and encourage transparency when it comes to governance. I see 2019 as a year of opportunity in London. Soon, the Brexit dilemma will be over, and London’s appeal as a haven for global investors will burn brighter than ever before. For investors who have been on the fence about making their decision, now may be the time.

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