No Comments

UK Student Property in 2016

Phase II of London Spring Place which launches in Kuala Lumpur end of February. Phase 1 sold out within the year of launch!

UK student property is the strongest investment platform today, surpassing other traditional real estate classes. In 2015, the UK student property sector saw investments to the tune of £6 billion – twice the amount invested in the sector in 2013 and 2014 combined. Experts say the sector is likely to see more investment in the years ahead.

UK Student Property

Formerly reserved for institutional investors, UK student property has become one of the most popular investment vehicles to date in the world of property investment. From a mere £500 million in 2010, direct investments in the sector reached £6 billion in 2015, surpassing the £3 billion in 2013 and 2014 combined. More significantly, this marks an increase of more than 300% over the £1.7 billion invested in 2014 alone.

Is Growth in the Sector Set to Continue?

The answer is yes.

The fact remains that there is still an acute under supply of purpose built student accommodation (PBSA) in the UK due to restrictions in building permissions, a challenging planning environment and the government’s support for housing development. Meanwhile, the number of foreign students continues to rise due to recently abolished restrictions in foreign student numbers, which comprise the traditional mix of new first year students and second- and third-year returners.

To illustrate, the number of foreign students at Britain’s top universities doubled between the 2005/2006 and 2013/2014 academic years. These students tend to come from wealthy families who are able to afford the soaring cost of tuition for non-European Union residents and demand a high-class standard of living. The Higher Education Statistics Agency reported that the number of residents living in private halls more than doubled between 2007 and 2014—from 46,000 to 102,000—a trend predicted to continue. The dramatic upswing has been fuelled by the inability of university-managed accommodation to keep pace with student numbers.

London’s full time student population alone is expected to rise by 50% in the next 10 years, whilst student cities, particularly where there is a Russell Group university, is expected to see dramatic increases in student numbers. EU and non-EU students are the fastest growing segment, bringing a net benefit of £2.3 billion per annum to London’s economy supporting 60,000 jobs in the capital.

But, beyond the fundamentally undersupplied market, one reason for the success of PBSAs is that students have become more discerning, especially in light of increased tuition fees. Unite Group reports that 85 per cent of second year undergraduates are now looking for quality, purpose-built student homes that fulfill all their needs (including peace and quiet and access to night life), and with the CBRE statistics showing that student accommodation generally has occupancy rates of some 99%, it’s easy to see why people put their money into this area of the market.

Conclusion

The structural undersupply in purpose built UK student property has caused prices to skyrocket. Student housing charity Unipol, for example, reported a rent rise of 25% in purpose-built student accommodation between 2010 and 2013 – nearly double the rise in the rental sector as a whole in that period (13%).

Experts predict that student housing will experience a continued strong demand but with significant supply side challenges in London and key student towns. With this demand from students for more luxurious space, coupled with rising student numbers and strained supply, there is certainly potential for all sorts of investors to get top marks for their shareholders and earn strong income and profits from the sector.

Global investment into UK student housing. Source & credit: Savills Research file:///C:/Users/Marketing/Downloads/spotlight–uk-student-housing-2015.pdf

Ultimately it’s not just about what you invest in; it’s also where you invest in. In a recent report in the Property Wire, several student cities were highlighted as the next investment hotspot including Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham and Brighton. Looking ahead, it is also likely that London will continue to be an attractive city for students from across the UK and around the world. However, there is the risk that prospective students will be put off by the cost of living in the capital (house prices have risen by 46% and private sector rents by 19% over the last five years according to the ONS).

‘So long as demand outstrips supply, upward pressure on both rents and capital values will continue to make the market an attractive proposition for investors, and we don’t expect the market to come off the boil for some time,’ says CBRE head of student housing advisory Jo Winchester.

CSI Prop proudly promotes international investment property with high yields at low risk. Our portfolio comprises residential and purpose-built student property in cities across the United Kingdom (London, Luton, Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle, York, Glasgow, Scotland; Sheffield, etc); Australia (Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane) and Thailand (Bangkok). Our projects are concentrated in high-growth areas with great educational, infrastructural and job growth potentials. We aspire to make a difference in the lives of our clients by helping them achieve their investment goals through strong market research backed by third party experts and due diligence. 

Disclaimer: CSI Prop does not provide tax & legal advice and accepts no liability. Readers are encouraged to consult a qualified tax or legal advisor for a thorough review.

Need advice or clarification? Call us for more information and/or to find out about our projects! Hotline: 03-2162 2260

No Comments

The Malaysian Investor & UK’s New Buy-to-Let Policies

Good news for Buy-to-let Investors

British housing prices have risen sharply in the last two years, thanks to record low interest rates, an under supply of property (vs. demand), and a strong employment market. Thus, annual rental returns are attractive, which bodes well for the buy-to-let investor.

There are nearly 2 million private landlords in Britain, owning almost 20% of homes, and the positive environment has only added to the appeal of buy-to-let property, also known as rental property.

However, the government is taking steps to cool the market in a bid to protect the interests of potential first-home buyers by introducing new tax rates on buy-to-let property. In a budget statement in November last year, Chancellor George Osborne announced that buy-to-let investors will have to pay a 3 percentage point higher rate of stamp duty than residential buyers due effective from April this year. Meanwhile, come 2017, landlords’ abilities to deduct mortgage interest from rental income before working out a tax liability, will be phased away. All this on top of a predicted rise in Bank rates.

Some doomsayers are anticipating an extreme downturn in the property market, suggesting that investors purchasing mortgaged rental properties today are set to lose money within 5 years. There are also suggestions that potential buyers could turn into sellers, flooding the market with additional supply and slamming the growth of the rental property sector into reverse.

What do these measures mean for the Malaysian Investor?

It appears that the new cooling measures will mainly affect UK residents, as the presumptions are that UK landlords fall within the 40%++ tax bracket.

Foreign investors, i.e. Malaysian investors do not earn salaries in the UK, which means they naturally fall within the lowest tax bracket to begin with, i.e 20% tax for income below £31,865 p.a. Additionally, Malaysian investors have an extra £10,000 as an annual tax-free exemption on rental income. This means that the Malaysian investor will hit the 40% tax bracket and therefore start experiencing some differences only upon earning £41,865 p.a. in rental income.

Assuming a nett yield (after deduction of all expenses) of 4% for rental properties, the Malaysian investor would need to own investment properties worth more than £1,000,000 before he/she hits the 40% bracket. Currently, as most London properties are only raking in 1% – 2% yield, the reality is that you would need to have £2,000,000 to £4,000,000 worth of properties before you hit the 40% tax bracket.

In other words, you won’t feel the pinch unless you are ultra-rich

Meanwhile, the removal of mortgage interest in tax deduction will affect investors buying rental properties in their personal names. In order to get around that, more individuals are resorting to buying rental property under a company structure.

Under the new measure, landlords will not be able to deduct mortgage interest from their rental income before it is assessed for tax but will instead get a flat-rate 20% tax credit. This means those paying higher-rate tax will lose half of their relief, while some others will be moved up into this bracket and so see their tax bill soar.

As such, using a company structure means interest, which is classed as a business expense, can still be deducted. Corporation tax would also apply which would reduce a higher-rate taxpayer’s rate from 40% to 20%.

(Remember, unless you own properties worth £2,000,000 – £4,000,000, you would be hard-pressed to hit the 40% income tax bracket. Mostly, Malaysian investors are within the 20% bracket which means the removal of mortgage interest in tax deduction will not apply, as they automatically get a 20% tax credit under the law. Again, only the ultra-rich are affected).

Student Property Investors

Student property investors are not affected as mortgages are typically not offered for that investment type.

According to CSI Prop spokesperson Virata Thaivasigamony, these latest measures are part of a populist stance as Britain gears up for the elections.

“The biggest domestic issue is the affordability of housing in the UK and how it has affected first-time house buyers. Landlords, especially foreign landlords, are blamed for the hike in house prices. These housing measures seem like a political move,” says Virata, adding that heavier restrictions would have been imposed on the investor if the market were headed for a collapse.

“In the Autumn Statement, George Osborne also announced a 40% interest-free help-to-buy loan for first-time house buyers. This shows that he isn’t really trying to cool down a market that is on the verge of a crash, rather, it gives mileage to his political cause by appealing to the interests of new British home buyers.

“If you look at the fundamentals, it is clear that the UK has a shortage of housing due to low levels of construction since the recession in 2008. This has choked housing supply, causing house prices to inflate. And while building of homes is picking up now, it takes time before that translates into sufficient homes.

“Overall, UK house prices won’t crash. The government will certainly be taking more measures like Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia to slow down the market to orchestrate a soft landing because if the markets crash, everyone is affected.”

What about the London property market, specifically?

“London has always been deemed as the international safe haven, which is why foreigners tend to diversify their wealth in London. Because of that, it’s hard for property in London to crash either. The prices have gone up steadily in the recent past, but I foresee a plateau (in prices) and, in the meantime, areas like East London — previously previously seen as undesirable — will experience major construction and subsequent price growth due to gentrification,” Virata adds.

“Ultimately, life goes on. Look at Australia: it got hit with 3% stamp duties last year, which hasn’t really slowed down the foreign purchaser. But it certainly has made the locals feel good that their government is doing something for them…”

CSI Prop proudly promotes international investment property with high yields at low risk. Our portfolio comprises residential and purpose-built student property in cities across the United Kingdom (London, Luton, Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle, York, Glasgow, Scotland; Sheffield, etc); Australia (Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane) and Thailand (Bangkok). Our projects are concentrated in high-growth areas with great educational, infrastructural and job growth potentials. We aspire to make a difference in the lives of our clients by helping them achieve their investment goals through strong market research backed by third party experts and due diligence. 

Disclaimer: CSI Prop does not provide tax & legal advice and accepts no liability. Readers are encouraged to consult a qualified tax or legal advisor for a thorough review.

Need advice or clarification? Call us for more information and/or to find out about our projects! Hotline: 03-2162 2260

No Comments

UK Property Outlook 2016

UK property outlook 2016. London at sunset. Credit: wikipedia

Summary:

  • Overall positive outlook across the UK, but central London growth subdued.
  • Growth in the Northern cities due to governmental initiative and overall affordability amid high growth
  • Student property remains a good investment option given structural under-supply

The year started on a bleak note, no thanks to the current global economic climate. On the property front, the beginning of 2016 in the UK was headlined by policies to be imposed by the Chancellor on home-owners and landlords,such as future tax and stamp duty increases, and the abolition of mortgage income relief in 2017 – all this on top of predictions of a rise in Bank Rates, prompting doomsayers to predict an extreme downturn in the property market with projections stretching to 2021.

Read how the rates increase affects the Malaysian investor here

But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Forecasts are essential in helping the investor strategize, but it is crucial to take a closer look and weigh the predictions against the facts and what we already know:

Raising taxes and other rates are usually measures used by the government to protect the welfare of its house-buying citizens by preventing skyrocketing property prices and overarching speculation resulting from uncontrolled property-buying by wealthy local and foreign investors. The CGT in Singapore and Hong Kong and the RPGT in Malaysia, as well as FIRB taxes and stamp duty hike in Australia are a good example. We’re not saying you should ignore it; we’re just saying it’s not a deal-breaker.

To illustrate, a survey by the Council of Mortgage Lenders found that despite the negative outlook, landlords are confident that they will be able to absorb the impact of tax changes while over 80% are confident they won’t have to raise rents in order to cope.

As for all that talk on Bank Rate increases: the trend for pushing forward forecasts for the rate rise into the future has been going on since rates were cut in 2009; the prediction keeps getting pushed back in the end.

Currently, Bank Rates stand at 0.5%; the prediction for a rise was set for Dec 2016 or Jan 2017 following the first rate rise in the US in 9 years, last December. But with the global economic gloom of 2016 and comments of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) along with dramatic market movements, money markets imply that the first increase is poised for Aug 2019. Bank of England chief economist Andy Haldane said last year that the case for UK raising interest rates was “some way from being made” and that negative rates may still be needed.


CSI Prop proudly promotes international investment property with high yields at low risk. Our portfolio comprises residential and purpose-built student property in cities across the United Kingdom (London, Luton, Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle, York, Glasgow, Scotland; Sheffield, etc); Australia (Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane) and Thailand (Bangkok). Our projects are concentrated in high-growth areas with great educational, infrastructural and job growth potentials. We aspire to make a difference in the lives of our clients by helping them achieve their investment goals through strong market research backed by third party experts and due diligence. 

Disclaimer: CSI Prop does not provide tax & legal advice and accepts no liability. Readers are encouraged to consult a qualified tax or legal advisor for a thorough review.

Need advice or clarification? Call us for more information and/or to find out about our projects! Hotline: 03-2162 2260