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'Brexit blip' failing to discourage overseas buyers, says top London agent

A top London estate agency says interest in the capital's residential property from US and Indian buyers has soared over the last three years. 

Guy Gittins, managing director of Chestertons, says overseas buyers generally regard Brexit as a 'short-term blip' and that it is not detracting from London's pedigree as a world city and safe haven for property.

Analysis by the agency has revealed the US as its most active hotspot for overseas buyers in the first quarter of 2019, with visits to its website from the country up 85% on the same period last year.

It adds that interest from India in the London property market is also growing, with website visits from the country up 94% during the same period.

While the prospect of Brexit may not be putting off buyers from further afield, Chestertons' research shows that activity from buyers in EU countries is on the wane. It recorded falls in visits from Austria (34%), France (16%), Spain and Denmark (both 13%) in the first quarter of 2019 compared to the same period in 2018.

Chestertons reports that visitors from the US now account for 10% of its total website traffic, up from 3.3% in 2017. It says the reason for this is the ongoing weakening of sterling against the US Dollar. 

The average sterling/dollar exchange rate in Q1 2019 was 6.4% lower than in Q1 2018 and is 24% below the last peak, when it touched 1.72 in July 2014. 

The agency says the rise in interest from India is down to an expanding middle class, growing economy and favourable currency exchange rates. 

"There has been a noticeable increase in interest in London property from the US and India, mainly thanks to the weakness of the pound, coupled with the fact that prices have come down by as much as 20% since the peak, therefore making London property a very attractive investment opportunity," says Gittins.

"Our Mayfair, Hyde Park and Canary Wharf [offices] have seen an increase in enquiries from Indian buyers, while our Hyde Park and Westminster offices have seen some increase in enquiries from US buyers." 

"A common theme among both nationalities that we are dealing with is that they are taking a longer-term view about London and the UK," he says.

Chestertons recently released a statement claiming the company's strongest start to a year since 2014. It said it has been able to buck the poor market in the capital thanks to 'bold structural introduced last year by Guy Gittins'. Meanwhile, last week the agency launched a franchise offering for businesses outside of London.

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