Brexit hasn’t impacted overseas property investors’ confidence in England’s buy-to-let sector, according to a London agency that specialises in property management for clients based in Hong Kong and Shanghai. It could be a valuable opportunity for letting agents and property managers who are concerned about local landlords leaving the market as a result of increased legislation and tax changes.
“We’re finding a lot of overseas landlords aren’t concerned about Brexit and we haven’t seen any slowdown in them buying properties to let,” says Jordan Axten, Head of Operations at Regent Property. “I’m incredibly optimistic about the sector.”
Soaring house prices in Hong Kong, in particular, where prices have increased by more than 200% in the past decade, combined with high stamp duty rates of up to 30 per cent for non-residents, means that the UK remains an attractive prospect for property investment.
Axten’s optimism is reflected in Regent’s increasing investment in technology to make communicating with its overseas landlords even more efficient. “Overseas landlords tend to expect a response instantly,” she says. “We have to keep in mind that, although we might respond within 24 hours, that could actually be over two days for them.”
Technology, says Axten, “makes life so much easier”. “One of the things we find about Goodlord that’s very useful is as soon as a tenancy agreement is ready, they’ve got it and they can deal with it there and then.”
Expectations for communication do tend to differ between Regent’s overseas landlords and those who are based in the UK, particularly “accidental landlords”, notes Axten, though both need to be kept in the loop “We find a lot of the UK-based landlords we have here are ‘accidental landlords’ - they’re renting out their second homes - and it becomes a lot more personal when it’s your home. They want to be much more involved, to make sure it’s really looked after and they tend to look at it with more emotion than investors do,” she says. “Overseas landlords want to know their profits and expenditures and, if there’s a problem, what it will cost to get it fixed.”
The hands-off nature of overseas landlords means that, in addition to utilising technology that provides 24/7 updates, Regent also offers a complete management service that covers everything from licensing to maintenance and refurbishment to collecting the mail when the property is vacant, says Axten.
“There’s nothing that the landlord ever needs to do,” she says. “The idea is we will do everything - come to us and we will get you sorted.”