Local insight maximises London property investment returns
Overseas investment in British property is booming. Historically, London has been a magnet for international buyers seeking security and stability, and the city has never been more attractive to savvy international investors. Hugh Obbard founded London property investment company Obbard more than 20 years ago. As a passionate believer in London as the world's first truly global city, Obbard aims to ensure clients maximise the potential of their London property investment.
"There are exciting opportunities awaiting Hong Kong investors," says Obbard, the company's director. "London property prices have performed extraordinarily well over the past 30 years, particularly through the more challenging economic cycles. The very best have more than doubled since the global financial crisis of 2008. Prices are predicted to rise by around 25 to 30 per cent over the next five years in certain locations. If you're thinking of investing in London and you want to get your slice of that growth potential, you need to understand the pitfalls and nuances of this very varied market."
The company's distinct approach is to add value to its clients' investments. "We never recommend buying at top market prices, speculating on new developments and paying developers' premiums," Obbard says. "We look at opportunities where we can create or achieve value so that our clients' investments are working from day one."
Obbard's most recent projects have returned more than 30 per cent on cash invested for clients. The team has bought more than 400 properties and redesigned or developed more than 250. Clients have been advised on GBP215 million (HK$2.8 billion) worth of residential acquisitions over the past five years.
Having property specialist Patti Patrick and former banker Mike Roberts as fellow directors and co-owners means the team has more than 80 years' combined experience supported by an excellent team of specialist staff. This experience, insight and commitment lead to long and trusting client relationships.
"Most clients return repeatedly because they know how hard we make their money work and how our experience manages their risk exposure. Our clients want us to listen to them and counsel them very honestly about what's achievable. They want us to use our contacts to find the right property before anyone else does, do the feasibility appraisal, negotiate the deal and manage the purchase," Obbard says. "If interior design, refurbishment and property management are needed, they want to know these are in capable and trusted hands. When holding for long-term investment, clients want a company that optimises returns, securing quality tenants and providing full asset management. We offer this seamless service. Everything is integrated. We do it all."
Aside from maximising returns, investors are acutely aware of the need to manage risk and avoid losses. The London property market is diverse and hugely complex. There are massive variations in property age, style, tenure and pricing.
"For those more familiar with investing in new build or judging potential on a simple price-per-square-foot basis, the London property market holds numerous opportunities for costly mistakes," Obbard says. "Many new developments have sprung up where buyers are dangerously speculating. Plus, it is all too easy to forget that estate agents are acting on behalf of their client, the seller. As a buyer, you need to match their firepower."
Obbard's advice to prospective investors is simple. "Be in the right place to hear about the best properties, understand the market both short- and long-term, factor in all your costs to work out real returns, negotiate the best deals, and use design and refurbishment appropriately to create spaces people just can't wait to live in," he says. "Always remember: the best properties, which are the hardest to find, make the best investments."