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London Topples New York As Top Pick For Big Global Investors

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Forget what you have read about Brexit, London is now the No. 1 investment destination for the big beasts of global real estate investment, knocking New York off the top spot for the first time since 2014.

London
London Skyline

According to the Association of Foreign Real Estate Investors (AFIRE), London was the top pick for investment among its members, which control $2 trillion of real estate assets.

The sentiment toward London is born out of the numbers — in October Savills estimated that Central London investment would be near or even surpass the record £21.6B invested in 2014. 

“A year later, foreign investors are less concerned about the ramifications of Brexit,” AFIRE Chairman and Aviva Investors Real Estate Chief Executive Ed Casal said.

“At the same time, the London market has been buoyed by several large sales over the last year.” Ironically concerns about Brexit have helped those sales — it has caused the value of sterling to fall, making London real estate cheaper for overseas investors.

New York skyline
New York skyline

The results of the survey were not brilliant for New York: The city tied with Los Angeles when AFIRE members were asked which was their top pick in the U.S. This is the first time New York has failed to claim the No. 1 spot on its own for seven years.

Again, the numbers support these rankings. According to Cushman & Wakefield, Manhattan investment volumes were $14.4B in the first nine months of 2017, 45% below their 2016 levels. An equally slow fourth quarter could mean annual volumes were below those of 2008, when Lehman Brothers collapsed.

Port of Los Angeles,  sunset
The Port of Los Angeles

Los Angeles is benefitting from the fact that it is a hub for the hottest sector of real estate among AFIRE members, in addition to its thriving logistics business.

“With the growth of online shopping, foreign investors continue to rank industrial properties as their number one investment opportunity,” AFIRE CEO Jim Fetgatter said.

“The cargo coming into the Port of Los Angeles represents 43% of all cargo coming into the United States. Respondents also say online shopping is likely to have the biggest effect on real estate over the next five years. With these as benchmarks, it’s easy to see why investors would be bullish on Los Angeles.”

Among other significant moves, Berlin broke into the top three global cities for the first time. San Francisco dropped out of the top five to No. 11, while Washington, D.C., dropped from 15th to 25th.

AFIRE members said that the U.S. offered the best opportunity for capital growth in 2018, but this endorsement came with a lot of caveats as they expressed concerns about where the industry is in the typical real estate cycle.

They cited concerns about interest rate risks, high valuations, the impact of emerging technologies on retail and other property sectors, and oversupply in some markets and property types. In addition, possible economic and political missteps which could affect real estate by triggering an economic slowdown or disruption in the financial markets are also a concern.

The U.K. was seen to be the fifth best market in terms of capital growth, with many of the same concerns applicable.