Investment rule change drives marked increase in Indian interest in central London

Buying agency Black Brick has flagged a noticeable rise in the number of Indian buyers engaging its services this year.

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The Mayfair-based firm tells us that Indian clients now account for 13% of its central London deals, up from just 2.6% in 2015. The relaxation of withdrawal allowances by the Reserve Bank of India – enabling families to take $250k per family member out of the country instead of $100k – appears to be behind the shift, which was also highlighted by another agency last month.

According to Cluttons’ latest PCL research, Indian buyers now account for 22% of total sales in Central London, up from 5% in 2012. Most are buying for primary residences or to have a bolt hole in the city, said the firm, with the exchange rate providing an extra sweetener for investors.

New-build flats in Shoreditch and White City have apparently been proving popular with those looking for a return, whereas owner occupiers are tending to choose Mayfair for a primary residence, and period conversions in Regent’s Park as second homes.

Black Brick added that 50% of its Indian clients follow the Vastu system, with many choosing to engage the services of a pro buying agent in order to source the limited supply of properties that comply.

Camilla Dell, Managing Partner at Black Brick: “We have seen a marked increase in Indian buyers using our services and this is down to the amount of money that Indian’s are allowed to transmit out of India. The Reserve Bank of India sets exchange control limits with today’s amount $250,000 per family member, per year. This is a significant improvement from a few years ago, when the amount allowed was under $100,000 per family member, per year. It means that a family of four, after one year, will have $1 million to spend, and after two years $2 million. It quickly adds up, an explains why a lot of our Indian clients are buying in the £1m to £2m range.

“Vastu can be challenging as it makes the property search tricky. If a kitchen is in the wrong position within a house it can scupper the whole deal. Investors are less worried about Vastu but if there is something specific about an apartment being unlucky, even if it’s a buy to let, that will influence their buying decision. We recently had a client who bought two apartments in one development. They bought off plan so they could ask the developer to move doors to comply with Vastu. Therefore, often new build, off plan homes appeal as they can be tweaked accordingly.
“Now is the time to buy property in London. People are saving more and spending less and with the favourable exchange rate, International investors can save thousands on their purchase. Indian’s mostly buy apartments for a second home or as Pied a Terre. Regents Park and St John’s Wood are hotspots and Mayfair is popular with super rich Indians. We are currently working with a Bollywood actress who is looking for a London base in Marylebone, Knightsbridge or Mayfair.”

The rest of the agency’s client base is made up of buyers from the Middle East (20%), UK (20%), France (13%), Nigeria (13%), Russian (13%) and Switzerland (7%).

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