Brexit could make UK property the pick for Aussie investors

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The decision by the British public to vote in favour of leaving the European Union may hold some positives for Australian real estate investors looking to make an overseas play.

With the British Pound having weakened against the Australian Dollar in the aftermath of the Brexit decision and some speculation of a possible correction for house prices to come, the UK may very well be a market for Australian investors to keep an eye on.

“It’s certainly something I’m going to keep my eye on. I definitely think there will be some opportunities there at some stage, but right now there’s a still a lot of uncertainty and a lot of things are still up in the air,” Todd Hunter, founder of buyer’s agency wHeregroup, told Your Investment Property.

“At the moment there might be some opportunities at the higher end of the market where people just want to get out straight away, but for the everyday mum and dad investor it’s a market they should monitor for a little while longer before making any decisions,” Hunter said.

While global share markets dived following the Brexit result, Hunter said investors shouldn’t expect the property market to follow suit.

“You don’t usually see price corrections of 30% or 40% overnight. Outside of the GFC we haven’t really seen anything like that,” Hunter told Your Investment Property.

“It’s going to take a little while for things to settle and to really see what will happen with prices so you’ll need to have a little bit of patience.”

While Australians may have to wait things out a while before conditions really suit them, Hunter, who is an experienced overseas investor having been very active in the market in the US in recent years, said they should put that time to good use in researching the market in the UK.

“You do need to do your research. It’s more than just saying you want to buy overseas; you need to really know the market. Really know where over there are the good areas to buy and which aren’t.

“There were thousands of Australians who were burned buying in the US recently because they’ve bought in the wrong areas.

“They’ve bought in neighbourhoods that are dangerous and they’re just never going to see any improvement from what they’ve bought.”

While researching the actual property market is vital, Hunter said any investor considering entering an overseas market needs to go further in that and ensure they are working with quality operators and that they have a comprehensive understanding of other aspect such as the lending market of the country in question.

For Australian investors with dreams of a UK property in their portfolio, that last point in particular will likely be important as UK lenders currently have little appetite for foreign borrowers.

While Australian investors looking to buy in the UK won’t have the same hoops to jump through that foreigners looking to buy in Australia face as there is no British equivalent of the Foreign Investment Review Board, British lenders are even less welcoming to offshore buyers than Australian lenders are.

“The four or five major lenders won’t lend to Australian residents for a number of different reasons. Some of the smaller regional lenders might, but then you’re getting into a real patchwork of different arrangements then,” Shane McNally, director of Exfin, told Your Investment Property.

“The way the Australian lending market is now, it is trending towards becoming as difficult here for foreign borrowers to get access to finance as it is in the UK now,” McNally said.

“This was all pre-Brexit as well. With the uncertainty that is around now we would anticipate that arrangements would get even tighter.”

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