London has overtaken Washington, D.C., as the preferred city for commercial real estate investment, primarily because investors believe that prices have bottomed out and the time to get into that market is now. The British capital has overtaken the previous favorites of Washington, D.C., and New York, according to a survey conducted by the Association of Foreign Investors in Real Estate (AFIRE).
“London currently offers investors the advantage of a ‘re-priced’ market,” says James Fetgatter, AFIRE’s CEO. “The re-pricing began sooner than it did in other cities.” London’s score is 31 points higher than the perennial favorite Washington, D.C., and 40 points ahead of New York City. A year ago, London occupied second place, ranking four points behind Washington. The survey of the association’s approximately 200 members was taken in the fourth quarter of 2009 and represents ownership of more than $842 billion of commercial real estate. Of that, $304 billion is invested in the United States.
London, along with the rest of the United Kingdom, has rebounded with investment rising 56 percent from the first to the second half of 2009. Property values rose 2.4 percent in November, the largest monthly increase in 15 years. Savills, the real estate advisory firm, is predicting London will eclipse New York as the fastest growing global financial center.
Despite London’s success, the United States is still preferred as the “most stable and secure real estate investment environment,” according to 44 percent of survey respondents. This is the first time the United States ranked below 50 percent in the survey. It ranked 53 percent in 2008 and 57 percent in 2007. Germany occupies second place with 21 percent. In terms of price appreciation, the United States ranks first, followed by the United Kingdom and China.
The preferred property for investment is multifamily residential, followed by office, industrial, retail and hotel.