We all know the short to medium term challenges facing the London property market, we know that prices have softened of late but is London really in danger of being replaced as the luxury property market capital of the world by the French Riviera? There are signs that international investors are redirecting or even switching their funds from the London property market to France. It would appear that President Macron has given the country a new lease of life and a louder voice on the international stage. Is it too soon to write off London?
London has seen this all before
While there is no doubt that London is experiencing a slowdown in light of the Brexit concerns, and the “high” property prices of years gone by, do not be too quick to write off this international property mecca. Many people seem to have forgotten about the significant devaluation of sterling on the currency markets and the extra power this has given overseas investors. So, is there really evidence of international investors switching their funds from London to France?
Luxury properties moving again on the French Riviera
A number of estate agents have come forward to confirm increased interest in luxury French properties many of which have been on the market for a number of years. Historically it has proven extremely difficult to match buyers against sellers, with often large price differentials. However, Brexit and the potential emergence of a new Euro superpower in the world of property has led many to the French Riviera.
We know that sales of properties in the €8 million bracket have increased this year compared to last year. The TV drama Riviera has casts a very interesting light on the region with budgets of €10 million now more commonplace than ever before. There is also talk of numerous high-end rollers with in excess of €50 million to spend in the South of France. Against this background it is difficult to plead the case of London property in the short to medium term although who knows what the long-term holds?
Capital growth and rental income
While much of the focus of late has been on long-term capital growth there are some interesting rental opportunities in places such as Cannes. Even though property is relatively expensive in this area of France there are an array of all year-round events leading to “money no problem” rental arrangements. So, it is not only possible to acquire a property with long-term potential for capital growth but with research you can also factor in relatively high rental income all year-round.
In many ways the luxury end of the London property market has never really been a goldmine for buy to let investors – more a play thing for millionaires and billionaires. Only a couple of years ago we saw rental yields momentarily dip below the yield on short-term government bonds. It is also worth remembering that the “Eurozone” which many people seem to be hanging their hat on of late was described by these same “experts” as a basketcase just a few years ago. How times have changed?
It would be foolish to suggest that Brexit has not had an impact upon the London property market but the devaluation of sterling on the currency exchanges has counteracted some of this. Time and time again London has been written off as a luxury property market leader and indeed as one of the leading financial centres in the world. True, we may see some major changes in light of Brexit but at this moment in time nobody really knows what the final outcome will be.
As we touched on above, investors tend to have very short memories because only a few years ago the Eurozone was described by many as a “basket case” waiting to collapse. Internal fighting, problems with immigration and indications that the hardline stance of late towards the UK may be about to soften does not suggest the UK is totally out of touch. Will Brexit really go through? Could politicians still go against the will of the British people? Time will tell…………but demand for property on the French Riviera is improving.