As the British pound is reduced to a 31-year low after Britain voted to exit EU, Asian investors are looking to scoop some UK property bargains, but the capital isn’t expected to directly land in Cambodia.
Nicholas Holt, head of research for Knight Frank Asia Pacific said, “[The] significant drop in the value of the pound, as in 2009, could lead to an uptick of interest by Asian investors, who, over the last few months have adopted a wait-and-see approach to the referendum – and will now see their buying power increase significantly.”
“Chinese, Singaporean and Hong Kong investors especially, looking at both residential and commercial properties – most likely in London – will be monitoring the market carefully and looking for opportunities to potentially increase their exposure over the coming weeks and months,” Holt added.
Meanwhile, UK and European investors may begin to look outside the region to seek more stable property investments, with Asia and Australia most certainly on the cards.
According to a recent Bloomberg article, Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia are likely to see increased real estate investment spending post-Brexit, as investors seek safer assets outside the UK and Europe.
“Capital will look for safe havens, countries that offer stability,” Henry Chin, head of research for Asia-Pacific at CBRE, was quoted as saying.
While the spotlight is on Asia, commentators are dubious as to whether or not the speculative real estate money could make its way into Cambodia.
“Probably not a great deal,” James Padden, surveyor at CBRE Cambodia, said on the topic, adding that “it will continue to fill many headlines, however, the fact remains that the UK is not a major source of investment into Cambodia.”
“The major sources of direct foreign investment include China, South Korea, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore. Therefore, Cambodia should be insulated from any direct effects of a Brexit.”
Alexander Evengroen, chief executive of Key Real Estate and vice-chair of Eurocham’s Real Estate & Construction Committee, nevertheless, believes “things are going to change.”
“Other countries will follow this UK example and leave the EU. For now it means that many real estate investors are jumping into the UK in order to benefit from the dropping prices in the market and gain from the decline as soon as possible,” he said.
“It also means that the long-term investors will start looking for potential new markets, and one of these markets is Cambodia, with a lot of opportunities waiting to be picked up and exploited.”
Bobby Peoples, country manager of expat home search company HomeConnect (Cambodia), agrees, saying, “Brexit will have little or no effect on the property market in Cambodia.”
“With the majority of foreign investment coming from other Asian countries, changes within the political landscape of Europe may affect the international money markets but shouldn’t influence property speculation here.”
Meanwhile, Ross Wheble, Cambodia country manager at Knight Frank, said there should be minimal implications for Cambodia.
“However, if indirectly it adds to global macroeconomic uncertainty then it could have a marginal impact on demand for real estate in the Kingdom,” he said.
Padden said wider impacts on the global economy could indirectly impact Cambodia, as was the case during the Global Financial Crisis.
“But these implications really remain uncertain and unquantifiable,” he said.
“Cambodia remains a rapidly growing emerging economy that will no doubt see reasonable volatility due to a number of factors inherent in frontier economies but growth outlooks remain very positive ... real estate is likely to remain one of the growth pillars of this economy along with textiles, agriculture and tourism,” concluded Padden.
James Whitehead is director of content @ www.realestate.com.kh