President Trump’s idiosynchratic take on diplomacy – such as attempting to ban citizens of several Middle Eastern countries from entering the USA – could be good news for property agents in the UK, and in prime London in particular, argues Black Brick’s Camilla Dell.
President Donald Trump has certainly begun his presidency as he promised – with a blizzard of activity that is doing much to up-end Washington and the established way of doing things. The UK offers residence and citizenship to entrepreneurs and investors who meet certain conditions, and 68 such visas were issued last year to citizens from the seven countries affected by the travel ban, namely Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen (according to law firm Collyer Bristow).
The UK in general, and London in particular, has long been an attractive destination for international investors, especially those from more volatile parts of the world, offering as it does, a stable political and legal system and a multicultural and tolerant environment. As Brexit looms, the UK will be redoubling its efforts to remain open to international investment and high-net-worth residency.
Indeed, the effects of the US ban are likely to be felt much more widely than the seven countries targeted. This move is likely to create concerns across the Middle East and beyond – it generates enormous uncertainty. Not only is it going to discourage investment, but lots of our clients from the region send their children to US universities – a lot of them will be thinking twice.
It is not only those from Middle Eastern and Muslim countries that may feel targeted by a more hostile US administration: China has come in for considerable criticism from Trump on the campaign trail, and Chinese investors may rethink their plans if they feel the risk of arbitrary or ad hoc measures in the US has risen.
According to research from the Hunan Research Institute, almost two-thirds of Chinese high net worths plan to buy overseas real estate in the next three years, with a view to get at least a third of their wealth out of the country, and the UK is a likely target.
Chinese buyers have long favoured investment in London, whether for reasons of diversification, cultural attractions or to send their children to our universities. If they perceive the US as becoming less welcoming, London can only benefit.
Camilla Dell is Managing Partner of Black Brick