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Management consultants Nikki & Brian Walker hail from the UK. Currently based in Dubai, they recently purchased an apartment in the striking new-build waterfront development – in the heart of Manchester. We hear more about their thoughts on property investment, the market and their experience so far.
How would you describe your level of investment experience?
We have investments and we have property. However, property investment is not something we had thought about in a sense other than buying a property when you need somewhere to live, and then when you move on keeping it as an investment. Our experience with IP Global is the first we’ve had where we are using property purely as an investment vehicle, rather than a place we might live.
What most appealed to you about property investment?
If we were to compare it to taking a broker and an investment portfolio of currency, bonds and stocks, in the current climate there is something more concrete about the idea of capital appreciation with property rather than with world markets. What has really driven us is the fact that in a very insecure global investment market, this is something we can put money into and be pretty certain that it will ride out some of the shocks of the current world global investment picture which isn’t fantastically rosy at the moment.
What are the top factors you look for when investing in a development?
Our mantra is to go where demand is high and supply is low. If you look back over a number of markets, the market that stands out over the last 20 years, that fulfills those criteria, is the UK.
Demand in the UK is driven by local people, not like, for example, in Dubai where there is a good demand for accommodation and a massive oversupply of property that is centred around people who are only going to be there for a few years. In the UK, from an investor’s point of view, there is an imbalance of high demand and low supply and that is what directed us as investors back to the UK.
What drew you to invest in Manchester?
We were originally interested in Berlin because we are more Europhile than we are Anglophile. We were also interested in Chicago, but having dug around and done our homework, we decided to look to England. And even there, we started off looking at London’s Royal Victoria Residence. However, that wasn’t completing until late 2017 and we wanted to get underway with this project in 2016. We looked at Manchester. This turned out to be a government backed growth area dubbed "The Northern Powerhouse". Given the demographics of the region, and the local political messaging, we considered that there was a significant possibility of positive growth over the lifecycle of our intended investment.
Investing in the UK also appealed. We’re both English and although we left when we were in our youth, it’s still recognizably a market that moves. We’re also UK citizens, so we understand the language – we can do our own research easily and in investing, that makes a great deal of sense. The UK is also a regulated market so you can find the information and the information is there to be found. We may well go back to Berlin if we have a bit of cash to spend and another project comes up, but right now the UK seems to have good opportunities and Manchester seems like great value for money. And that’s what we’re talking about here – value for money in terms of what you spend now and what the projected growth might be.
Tell us about your Manchester investment?
Rivergate House is in a great location in Manchester’s city centre. We first looked at one-bedroom apartments in the development but in the end decided that a two-bed property matched our strategy more closely. We plan to keep it for five to seven years.
What would you say to someone considering Manchester?
We’ve done a lot of digging around on Rivergate House and on Manchester. We’ve looked at the area, looked at the views you might get from different floors. We feel positive about where this particular project is: its proximity to the city centre and the supply and demand dynamics. Quality accommodation that close to the city centre – I don’t know exactly how much there is but there isn’t a huge amount in Manchester, not that close in – if you work downtown in the financial sector you could walk or bike there. So it appeals to a certain sector of the market and to us, it seems like a good opportunity.
In fact, the product that IP Global has, with its idea of using property as an investment vehicle purely and simply for capital appreciation over a period of time, allows good leverage, particularly as right now the liquid investment market – capital, currency, stocks, mutuals – doesn’t have quite the same possibility to leverage an opportunity as this does and right now, that’s a winner.