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Home truths: Is now the right time to invest in property?

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Summary

Real estate experts pondered the pros and cons of property investing at our most recent debate.

1 min read

From an impassioned speech about the benefits of property investing to a stark warning about the market’s future – Coutts clients heard all the angles at a recent debate on UK real estate.

Four experts took part in the heated discussion on whether or not now was the right time to invest in property in Britain. The panellists included a presenter of BBC One’s property auction programme Homes Under the Hammer, and the chief economist of industry body the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

 

Missing out

BBC broadcaster and property expert Martin Roberts told the audience of Coutts clients they would be “missing out” if they didn’t invest.

In his opinion you only had to pick the right parts of the country, and look at where the smartest people were investing, to see that real estate remained a compelling investment option.

“In ten years’ time, we’ll look back on this moment,” he said. “Even in the current Brexit chaos, if you invested in property you’ll think you made a great decision. And if you didn’t, you’ll have missed out.”

He added, “Property is in our blood. It’s one of our intrinsic beliefs as a nation – we all want our own homes.”

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“Property is in our blood. It’s one of our intrinsic beliefs as a nation.”
Martin Roberts, property expert and broadcaster

Fractured society

Simon Rubinsohn, chief economist at RICS, disagreed. He spoke of “the fracturing of society” which he said had potentially huge, negative consequences for the property market. He suggested that, whoever was in power, whether Conservative or Labour, they were likely to introduce tough policies for property.

“The political discourse around property has changed,” he argued. “We even had a Conservative chancellor dramatically increasing taxes on property.

“We’re living in a remarkable period for the economy but this can’t continue indefinitely. Do we really think we’re going to see another seven years of economic expansion?”

 

Fantastic long-term investment

Yolande Barnes, chair of the Bartlett Real Estate Institute at UCL and former director of world research at Savills, was next at the podium.  

She claimed that property could be a fantastic long-term investment – but today’s climate required a different mind-set from investors.

She told the audience, “We all need to pay a lot more attention to how real estate is managed, and to think about what inhabitants actually want. After all, you can’t have capital growth without rental growth. And understanding that, while others don’t, is when you can make a truly great investment in property.”

 

Politics and the ‘B’ word

Panellist number four, Anne McElvoy, senior editor at The Economist, then talked about the implications on property of the current political climate.

She argued that we still face years of Brexit-related uncertainty and said that, if we were to leave the European Union without a deal, it would produce a short-term shock for the economy and “have severe effects for the property market”.

The panel debate was moderated by Stephanie Flanders, senior executive editor for economics at Bloomberg.

 

The results are in…

The audience was asked to vote on whether now was the right time to invest in property before and after the debate. Both times, ‘yes’ was the answer that came out on top, but slightly fewer people were convinced after hearing the arguments – 56% compared to 60% beforehand.

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Key Takeaways

Coutts recently hosted a heated debate on whether or not now was a good time to invest in property. After hearing all the arguments, the audience of Coutts clients decided that it was.

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