UK could benefit from US immigration policy as buyers seek safe haven

US President Donald Trump’s controversial immigration policies could lead to property investors from Arab countries looking for safe havens to buy property, it is suggested.

Buyers from Middle Eastern and African countries, including those named in Trump’s executive order who might have invested in real estate in the US are now likely to look elsewhere.

Even although the ban has been halted while a legal hearing takes place and it was due to last for 90 days, it is likely that immigration policy in the US is set to get tougher. The UK, and London in particular is regarded as a safe haven for international investors and could benefit.

Independent property buying agency Black Brick believes that London’s prime property market is in the front line to benefit from high net worth individuals and investors who no longer want to invest in the US or in other countries where they may not feel welcome in the future.

Black Brick managing partner Camilla Dell explained that the UK offers residence and citizenship to entrepreneurs and investors who meet certain conditions, and 68 such visas were issued last year to citizens from the seven countries affected by the travel ban, namely Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen according to law firm Collyer Bristow.

‘The UK in general, and London in particular, has long been an attractive destination for international investors, especially those from more volatile parts of the world, offering as it does, a stable political and legal system and a multicultural and tolerant environment. As Brexit looms, the UK will be redoubling its efforts to remain open to international investment and high-net-worth residency,’ said Dell.

‘Indeed, the effects of the US ban are likely to be felt much more widely than the seven countries targeted. This move is likely to create concerns across the Middle East and beyond, it generates enormous uncertainty. Not only is it going to discourage investment, but lots of our clients from the region send their children to US universities and a lot of them will be thinking twice,’ she added.

It is not only those from Middle Eastern and Muslim countries that may feel targeted by a more hostile US administration. China has also come in for considerable criticism from Trump on the campaign trail, and Chinese investors may rethink their plans if they feel the risk of arbitrary or ad hoc measures in the US has risen.

According to research from the Hunan Research Institute, almost two thirds of Chinese high net worth individuals plan to buy overseas real estate in the next three years, with a view to removing at least a third of their wealth from the country and again the UK is a likely market for them.

‘Chinese buyers have long favoured investment in London, whether for reasons of diversification, cultural attractions or to send their children to our universities. If they perceive the US as becoming less welcoming, London can only benefit,’ Dell pointed out.

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