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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.

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