London Will Be Fine
U.S. Clients with Commercial Real Estate in London Should “Sit Tight”
NEW YORK CITY — Jahn Brodwin has guided some $5 billion of UK commercial property transactions in recent years. That sum is all the more remarkable when, as the senior managing director at FTI Consulting tells GlobeSt.com, properties don’t go on the market in London all that often. Against that backdrop, he would question recent reports that there has been a slowdown in that city’s investment sales market, even prior to the shock of the UK electorate’s decision to leave the European Union. However, Brodwin does see some near term implications of the so-called Brexit vote, although in the long term, London will prevail, as will property owners there with patience.
“When there are trades in London, the prices are steep, steeper than in New York and they have been for as long as I can remember. In certain areas, like higher-end residential, New York may have taken over. But historically, London properties don’t trade as frequently and rapidly as properties in New York. The market there has never been as liquid; there’s a lot of very long term real estate holders and there are land leases on London properties that go for 300 years. People may say the London market is slow now, but it has never been robust. Some of my clients have bought properties where the last time they traded hands was, well, never. The owners’ ancestors built them.
“With regard to Brexit, I think there was a big knee-jerk reaction. We certainly saw it here in US markets, where the Dow Jones dropped by about 600 or 700 points the day the vote became known. What they don’t tell you is that the markets were up 300 points the week before, in anticipation of a positive vote. So net-net, it was a 300-point move, and now we’re higher than we were the week before the vote. That just shows how sensitive the markets are to uncertainty. People in the EU, more so than in the UK, were nervous and came over here and buoyed the market up to what may be a new high watermark.