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  • Writer's pictureInvestment Synergy Team

Where the super-wealthy are buying property now

The Sunday Times - Cathy Hawker


From New York to London and Dubai to Sydney, prime global property markets are surprisingly resilient. The rich continue to invest in property, buying up homes across the globe, despite (or maybe because of) the backdrop of international conflicts, volatile interest rates and a faltering global economy.

The double-digit highs of post-pandemic years might be gone but predictions are for positive price growth in 2024. On average global property prices are predicted to rise by 2.4 per cent in 2024, according to the estate agency Knight Frank. Meanwhile in prime central London, which includes neighbourhoods such as Mayfair and Belgravia, Savills says price falls slowed significantly at the end of 2023, making the area’s overall performance the strongest of all UK prime residential markets. Even in the Alps, where overall prices fell 4 per cent, they remain 40 per cent above pre-pandemic levels.

 

One explanation is that buyers in prime markets, the top 5 to 10 per cent most expensive properties in any given location, are less reliant on borrowed money than mainstream markets: 76 per cent of prime central London purchases in 2023 were by cash buyers. It is not the only factor at play. 

 

Prime markets have been strong since 2021 as people reappraise how they live,” says Justin Marking, head of global residential sales at Savills. “Remote working has made second homes somewhere to spend extended periods, places for living not just for holidays. The combination of low stock levels and continuing international demand helped to steady prices, while the re-emergence in Europe of significant numbers of US buyers in the [French] Riviera, Algarve and Italy was also key.”

Notable 2023 super-prime global property sales (those at or above $10 million) include an estate on Aspen Mountain, Colorado, for $76 million and a ten-bedroom property at the Ocean Club in the Bahamas for $37.5 million, both through Christie’s International Real Estate. 

 

In New York, where interest rates reached 8 per cent and overall sales transactions significantly reduced in number, the estate agency Olshan Realty reports 240 sales at or over $10 million, making 2023 New York’s third highest year for trophy sales in the past decade. “The rich,” Olshan notes in its 2023 Luxury Market Report, “got richer.”

Where will affluent buyers be scoping out value in 2024? Australia features on several agents’ lists. The substantial numbers of people moving there post-pandemic meant that anticipated property price falls in Sydney and Melbourne failed to materialise in early 2023, says Liam Bailey, global head of Knight Frank’s research department.

 

As well as the cities, Sotheby’s International Realty suggest looking at popular holiday destinations such as the Whitsundays in Queensland. It’s a boating paradise close to the Great Barrier Reef where condos start from AS$1.2 million and island houses reach up to AS$20 million.

“Australia is considered a safe haven because of the stability of our economy and the Australian dollar and Queensland offers amazing value for luxury properties compared to many global markets,” says Paul Arthur, chief executive of Sotheby’s International Realty Queensland. With the Australian dollar weak compared with the euro, sterling and the US dollar, the opportunity for value is clear, he says.

 

Along with Sydney, Knight Frank’s prime price rise predictions for 2024 are headed by Auckland, with Dubai and Madrid among the top five. “In Singapore, New York and London, where 2023 saw low sales transaction levels and prices soften in general, prime rentals powered away, demonstrating people’s real desire to be in those locations,” Bailey says. “Look also at governmental policies to attract international talent and wealth. Italy is doing well here. Hong Kong has had a tough four or five years but the government is trying to spur confidence and win back some private and family offices lost to Singapore.”

 

Prime ski resorts and leisure resorts are among Marking’s tips. Verbier and Quinta do Lago, for example, where year-round appeal is matched by low stock levels, and also the Spanish cities of Madrid and Barcelona. “I would buy in London and the French Riviera because the diversity of buyers there gives me confidence,” he says. “Dubai is compelling for the same reasons.”

As for the perils and pitfalls of the year ahead, a shortage of prime homes for sale, changes to countries’ tax and residency laws, restrictions on short-term holiday rentals and climate risk are all risks to monitor, Bailey says. There’s potential for political uncertainty, with 2024 predicted to be the biggest election year on record as citizens from 70 countries head to the polls, with India, USA and the UK among them. And of course all eyes will be on what the International Monetary Fund described as the “limping” global economy.


Need to know

• Canada is midway through a two-year ban on foreigners buying residential property.• Hong Kong has introduced tax concessions for investments managed by some family offices.• In 2023 Los Angeles introduced a mansion tax of 4 per cent on properties over $5 million and 5.5 per cent on those over $10 million.• The French parliament voted in December 2023 to allow British property owners to stay for six months visa-free. The decision must be ratified by the courts and no date has been set for implementation.

 

Investment Synergy - There appears to be some significant world wide changes coming, and potential changes within the whole Europe / Brexit stage... none of these though, should impact significantly on the super-wealthy, but will effect the "the common people"




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