International investors poised to strike in Scotland

International investors poised to strike in Scotland

Derek Nash

International investors are prepared to play the longer game when it comes to property purchases in Scotland, according to Lindsays partners Derek Nash and John Bett, who have said there remains “definite” interest from potential overseas buyers in the Scottish market.

But the two anticipate that many are holding off from entering into talks over opportunities as they wait to see how prices pan out against the backdrop of elevated interest rates and the impact of wider cost challenges.

Lindsays helped fly the flag for the Scottish property market at MIPIM, the annual global real estate event in Cannes, France.

There were many conversations with international delegates, drawn from 90 countries.

Mr Nash, head of commercial property at Lindsays, explained that, while the ripple effects of former Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-budget last year continue to affect the market, potential purchasers are actively assessing their options.

He said: “It was clear that a lot of delegates at the conference are looking beyond the immediate to what lies several years hence. There is an expectation that there will be some movement in prices - possibly downwards - during the next phase of the economic events in which we find ourselves.

“There remain, though, serious investors out there with significant amounts of money - and definite interest in Scotland. They are just waiting to see how the ongoing effect of high interest rates and market turbulence affect prices in the months ahead.

“For those who have borrowed aggressively, it’s a tough environment.”

Lindsays advises on property-related matters from its offices in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee, with Perth and Crieff being added to the portfolio when Miller Hendry merges with the firm next month.

While acknowledging that raising funds is challenging in the current climate, Mr Nash says there was a “good vibe” at MIPIM, adding that delegates were “good natured and focussed”.

International investors poised to strike in Scotland

John Bett

Mr Bett, who works with property clients as head of dispute resolution and litigation at Lindsays, agreed, saying: “There was a feeling that there are transactions to be done. The banks are still lending and there was a steely determination and confidence that there would be transactions.

“Across the countries represented, there was an expectation that some people will find themselves in a situation where they have to sell properties. But there’s a timing issue, where people don’t want to move in at the wrong time and find themselves - for reasons of price - with the deal not being quite what they would expect.”

Earlier this month, the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee lifted interest rates from 4% to 4.25% - their highest in 14 years.

In a speech to the Graduate Institute in Geneva last week, the bank’s chief economist, Huw Pill, hinted at a further interest rise in May, saying the central bank needed to “see the job through and sustainably return inflation to target”. Financial markets reportedly expect interest rates to peak at 4.5%.

Mr Nash added: “It will be a good moment when we feel that interest rates have peaked. Had interest rates been held earlier this month, property markets might have felt that was an attempt to flatten things out.”

At MIPIM, European investors were joined by those from Japan, Canada, the USA, Brazil, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and others.

A key focus of the event was examining how to build sustainably to create better cities and places.

Speaking afterwards, Lord Dominic Johnson, the UK government’s minister for investment, added: “With the majority of UK real estate capital coming from overseas, it’s vital that we remind global investors of the UK’s leading position as an investment destination.”

The other members of the Lindsays team at MIPIM were Alastair Goodman and Louise Norris, partners in commercial property, and Gavin Buchan, partner in Lindsays’ banking team.

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