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Press Release – Silver Lining Behind Brexit for Malaysian Investors

For Immediate Release

Silver Lining Behind Brexit for Malaysian Investors

European Referendum holds many advantages for Malaysian investors

Brexit-silver-lining-malaysian-investors-csiprop.com
The European Referendum holds many advantages for Malaysian investors. Image taken from: http://bit.ly/1U8K0dS

Investors of UK property can take comfort that there is a silver lining behind the impending European Referendum.

In the weeks leading up to Brexit, investors have been waiting with bated breath to see the outcome of the referendum on the UK economic and investments market should Britain exit the European Union (EU). Negative speculation has been rife with investors taking a wait and see approach, resulting in subdued demand in the property market especially in London.

For CSI Properties (Cornerstone International) spokesperson Virata Thaivasigamony, however, Brexit offers a number of advantages to investors.

“True, the market has been subdued because of uncertainty leading up to the referendum. However, the Brexit uncertainty presents great buying opportunities especially for buyers from countries with weak exchange rates, for example, Malaysia. In this short term, there are amazing gains for investors as the weaker pound has worked to our advantage,” he said, adding that Britain has always enjoyed a strong and stable economy while London has been a leading global financial centre even before the EU was formed.

Cornerstone International is a leading real estate consultancy marketing foreign real estate to Malaysian investors. The company is based in Kuala Lumpur.

Research by JLL has revealed that some 58% of investors were on the hunt for opportunistic investments, with a number of Asia-based investors looking to capitalize on the weaker pound and slower property market.

While acknowledging that London will take a hit in the event of a Brexit, Virata is confident that the UK will regain its economic and political strength in due course.

“If Brexit occurs, there will be a period of uncertainty and the pound will take a beating. As a result, the UK will be ‘on sale’. Again this is advantageous to investors, particularly those investing in UK student property because UK education will remain strong regardless of Brexit. Malaysians and other foreigners including those from the EU will not stop sending their children to study in the UK – people still want a degree from a UK university,” he added.

The UK’s university system is oversubscribed with 7.3 applications from overseas for each EU student accepted in 2015 and 7.9 for each place accepted by a non-EU student. With demand in purpose built student accommodation superseding supply, the student accommodation market will be more resilient to Brexit than other commercial property even as the demand for UK education remains unabated.

A JLL survey had revealed that a significant number of UK investors remained confident of the student accommodation sector.

“Eventually the uncertainty from Britain’s exit will level off as London makes its own treaties with other countries. London will get back on its feet, and the pound will strengthen again, offering great returns to savvy investors who had taken advantage of the weaker pound. Irrespective of what happens on June 23rd, UK will remain a safe haven for investors,” said Virata, adding that UK is facing a general undersupply in housing.

Conversely, Virata foresees a rapid strengthening of the British currency if Britain chooses to remain in the EU, again benefiting savvy investors who had chosen to take advantage of the weaker pound.

Malaysia is the third largest investor to the UK and Australia property markets in 2014 and 2015, with Singapore and China in first and second place, respectively.

-ends.

CSI Properties (Cornerstone International) proudly markets 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: Cornerstone International 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

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Keeping a Close Watch on Perth Property

Property in Melbourne and Sydney often hog  the limelight, but savvy and seasoned investors are keeping a close watch on the West Australian city of Perth.

West Australian property is proving its broad appeal, with new figures from the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) revealing a total of 2043 approvals for foreign buyers, an increase of almost 30% from the 1572 in the previous financial year.

To recap, Victoria topped the list with 16,775 approvals, followed by NSW with 12,349 and Queensland with 5023, with a big number of approvals for overseas buyers from the Chinese.

The Numbers are Looking Good

In the not too distant past, news had circulated of the mining slump adversely affecting Perth’s economy and softening the housing market. However, sales volume data up to March 2016 show signs of a bounce in consumer confidence. It appears that the property market is close to or at the bottom of the cycle with industry experts predicting a cautiously optimistic outlook for Perth in 2016.

This chimes with official figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) which show a 0.5% jump in Perth’s residential property prices in the December 2015 quarter, marking an end to the trend of sliding property prices recorded since late 2013.

“The performance of the housing market is tied to the economy, which is reflected in unemployment rates/employment opportunities,” says CSI Properties (Cornerstone International) spokesman Virata Thaivasigamony.

“And, here’s the thing: all that negative predictions of a boom or bust in the WA economy that has been going around, has not been reflected in employment stats. In reality, Perth’s economy is more diversified and not solely driven by the mining industry as people make it out to be.

“ABS’ labour force figures for March 2016 show WA’s unemployment rate had fallen to 5.5% — which is below the national unemployment rate of 5.7%. Of course Australia’s economic performance in general is tied to the global economy, but from these numbers, the WA economy isn’t a lost cause and the reason why the Perth property market hasn’t tanked drastically as has been predicted,” Virata adds, citing Melbourne as yet another city that has defied years of doomsaying.

According to ABS, WA’s unemployment rate is lower than Victoria’s (5.7%), Queensland’s (6.1%), South Australia’s (7.%) and Tasmania’s (6.8%), and marginally higher than NSW’s (5.3%).

Meanwhile, Perth’s population is expected to increase by 70% to 3.5 million by 2050. ABS statistics show that Perth’s population growth is scheduled to overtake Brisbane by 2028, becoming the third largest city in Australia. Wise investors are looking to leverage on this growth by investing in strategically located property at currently affordable prices (while there is little competition among buyers) in order to achieve strong capital growth in the coming decades. Note that prices of inner city property is far more affordable than a similarly located project in Sydney.

10 Years Rental Assurance

Investors looking to also benefit both in the short term (rental income) and long term (capital growth) can apply for the National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS), a joint Australia and WA Government initiative to increase the supply of new affordable rental dwellings in WA.

Under the NRAS, applicants can apply for annual incentives to buy and rent their homes to low and moderate income households (tenants must be approved by Australian Government).

NRAS landlords rest assured that their property will be the first pick among the rental community as the property must be rented at a 20% discount. However, this amount is paid back by the government to the landlord as an incentive. These incentives, totalling over A$100K, is tax-free.

In fact, these incentives are worth more than the discount given, which essentially means the landlords benefit a great deal at the end of the day.

Landlords end up with a 7.2% gross rental yield vs a typical property which generates only 4% – 5%. This also means that investors are essentially assured of rental for 10 years at a higher return.

Call us at 03-2162 2260 to learn more about Perth property, discuss options or how you can be part of the NRAS programme.

CSI Properties (Cornerstone International) proudly markets 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: Cornerstone International 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.

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Foreign Investment in Australia Property at Record High

Approvals for foreign investment in Australian property hit a record high of  A$61bn, an increase of 75% in the 2014-15 financial year, possibly accounting for approximately a quarter of new developments Down Under.

This increase is on the back of a 102% spike on the year before.

The Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) records 36,841 (60% more than FYE 2013-14) applications by non-citizens and non-permanent residents to buy residential properties, representing 81% of total value of residential building approvals in 2014-15.

According to UBS economists, 75% of these new properties are located in NSW and Victoria, with data strongly suggesting that most were concentrated in the inner-city high-rise markets of Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

“From these approvals, it is estimated that roughly about 1 in 3 convert into actual investment which means foreign investment accounts for about 25% of the new developments in Australia. The highest proportion of real estate investments by foreigners into Australia comes from China while Singaporeans and Malaysians have also been identified as some of the top investors in Australian residential real estate,” said CSI Properties  (Cornerstone International) spokesperson Virata Thaivasigamony.

“Australia’s popularity amongst investors is not unfounded due to its sound economy and policies. However, investors should study the markets well and find out which states and sectors general investment monies are going into before putting money down on property for investment. We place a lot of emphasis on research and we cannot stress more how important knowing the market is.”

Newsflash: Victoria Doubles Foreign Buyer Stamp Duty

“Victoria’s surcharge on foreign owners of residential real estate has been in effect since July 2015, but it has had little impact on foreign demand. Similarly, we don’t see a significant impact with this new surcharge increase, but we are bracing ourselves for a surge in demand over the next two months as investors rush to save on the surcharge hike,” said Virata.

With the increase in foreign investment in property in Victoria, the government is taking action to ensure foreign buyers of residential real estate contribute their fair share to the liveability of the state.

To this end, the Australian government is increasing stamp duty surcharge on foreign buyers of residential property from 3% to 7%, applicable to contracts signed on or after 1 July 2016.

Additionally, land tax surcharge on absentee owners will also rise from 0.5% to 1.5% from the 2017 land tax year.

“Australia is headed for an election and one of the biggest challenges the government faces is the complaint from voters that foreigners are buying and pushing up prices; this could be a form of appeasement.

“Victoria’s surcharge on foreign owners of residential real estate has been in effect since July 2015, but it has had little impact on foreign demand. Similarly, we don’t see a significant impact with this new surcharge increase, but we are bracing ourselves for a surge in demand over the next two months as investors rush to save on the surcharge hike,” said Virata.

CSI Properties  (Cornerstone International) proudly markets 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: Cornerstone International 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

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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 Properties (Cornerstone International) 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 Properties (Cornerstone International) proudly markets 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: Cornerstone International 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