Weaker pound may spur UK luxury real estate after referendum

The U.K.’s housing market is seen taking a knock in the wake of the Brexit vote, but the forecast depreciation in sterling may spur investment in luxury and commercial real estate, say realtors.

S&P Global Ratings forecast on Monday that U.K. house prices would fall by a mid-to-high single-digit percentage over the next year, with a decline in consumer confidence, economic output and possibly growth in new households hitting the market.

However, foreign investors play a big role in the top-end of London’s expensive property market and a decline in the British pound may prove a draw, real estate agency Knight Frank said.

“We believe over the longer-term, London will still provide value to many investors and, indeed, the devaluation of the pound provides some opportunities for those overseas investors,” Nicholas Holt, head of research, Asia-Pacific, at Knight Frank, told CNBC on Sunday.

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Sterling tumbled against the U.S. dollar and other currencies on Friday through Monday, after the surprise victory of the “leave” vote in the U.K.’s referendum to leave the European Union (EU).

“We have had buyers coming to us over the weekend, saying, we want to pile in now; we think that currency devaluation is good news for us,” Miles Gibson, head of U.K. research at commercial realtor CBRE, told CNBC on Tuesday.

The pound has since pared some losses, but analysts and investors say the rout may have further to run. For instance, Mike Amey, head of sterling portfolio management at PIMCO, told CNBC on Tuesday sterling could decline to $1.20 or $1.25, below the 31-year low of $1.315 reached on Monday.

Meanwhile, Julius Baer economist, David Meier, saw the euro rising to £0.93 versus sterling over a three-month horizon, with parity possible within the next 12 months.

“House prices will likely fall in some areas as market confidence falls, but could rise in others due to the massive discount now available to foreign buyers,” Andrew Teacher, managing director of Blackstock Consulting, which works with construction companies, said in a note on Friday.

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FTSE 100-listed real estate firms were among stocks hardest hit on Friday, with stocks like Taylor Wimpey and Persimmon knocked by as much as 27 percent.

Teacher warned Brexit might damage the perception of London property as a “safe-haven” investment, driving international investors’ “golden bricks” elsewhere.

On Wednesday, the CEO of BLP Insurance, which specializes in property, highlighted that the decline in sterling versus euro would make construction materials from Europe more expensive.

“Coupled with the uncertainties of access to free movement of labor and the fact that London may not prove as attractive a location to financial services businesses should we lose our passporting rights, there is a considerable challenge to the continued growth of residential and commercial construction sectors in the U.K.,” Kim Vernau said in an emailed statement on Wednesday.

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—With contribution from CNBC’s Matthew Clinch. Follow CNBC International on Twitter and Facebook.