The Queen’s Pick

Here’s a bit of trivia: Did you know that HM Queen Elizabeth’s personal fortune is estimated to be worth up to £360m? We take a peek at the properties belonging to the world’s longest-reigning living monarch.

Some of the most aristocratic people of all time are the monarchs of England. The royal family, which traces its origins as far back as the 10th century, is the embodiment of some of the strongest empires the world has ever seen.

Like the game of Chess, which is modelled after the British royal family, the UK is one of only two kingdoms in the modern world where the Queen holds the highest form of authority.

As the Sovereign of an enormous empire that has historically conquered most parts of the world, one has to wonder: does the longest-reigning Queen have investments of her own?

The short answer? Yes, she does. The sovereign can own real estate in several ways — through the Crown and, privately, through the Royal Family.

The Crown Estate

The Buckingham Palace. Source: Independent

The Buckingham Palace. Source: Independent

A vast number of land in the UK known as the Crown Estate is owned by the Crown where it belongs to the reigning King or Queen. This property is usually run by independent organisations that the monarch hires.

An interesting fact is that any profit or yield that comes from these properties is directed towards the government treasury. However, the Queen receives 25% of the revenue generated from the Crown Estate in the form of a Sovereign Grant, which is used to fund her official work and the maintenance of her residences.

Many of the royal palaces and parks are owned by the Crown. According to the Land Registry, the Crown owns land in approximately 217 out of 342 districts in England and Wales — that is about 7,936 plots!

The Queen’s Collection

The Queen also has properties that she owns personally. The privately owned properties of the Queen can be divided in the form of two duchies: The Duchy of Lancaster and the Duchy of Cornwall. Some of these properties include grand hotels, iconic race courses and historic castles.

The Duchy of Lancaster, a 18,433-hectare estate, holds a number of historic properties, including the Lancaster Castle in Lancashire and Pickering Castle in Yorkshire. The Duchy generates an approximate annual income of £18m which is paid directly to the reigning monarch.

Lancaster Castle in Lancashire. Source: Business Insider Malaysia

Lancaster Castle in Lancashire. Source: Business Insider Malaysia

A major part of the Duchy of Lancaster is the Savoy Estate, located in central London. It is home to one of the world’s most luxurious and exclusive hotels — the iconic Savoy Hotel. The Duchy had a net worth of £519m and delivered a net income of £19.2m in 2017.

The Duchy of Cornwall consists of 53,000 hectares of land in 23 counties, mostly in the southwest of England. The Isles of Scilly and Dartmoor, which includes Highgrove, the private residence of the Prince of Wales and Camilla, are among the properties that fall within the Duchy of Cornwall. Unlike the Duchy of Lancaster, revenues generated are passed on to the heir of the throne — Prince Charles (currently).

Beyond the Duchies

Beyond the bounds of the duchies, The Queen also has a number of private properties located in Greater Manchester and its surrounding areas. These properties are worth billions.

Here are some of the properties owned by the Queen herself in areas within and surrounding Greater Manchester:

Altrincham Retail Park, Broadheath, Trafford
Altrincham Retail Park, Broadheath, Trafford
Part of Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet
Part of Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet
Oldham County Court
Oldham County Court
Chester Castle
Chester Castle

Manchester’s staggering development and rising population growth makes it an attractive place for investors looking for the next big thing to invest. Property, in particular, is a secure choice as the demand for housing in the city continues to grow.

This adds to the numerous indisputable reasons why investing in UK property now is a smart investor’s move. From profitable returns, lucrative rental yields and the more affordable pound, property in the UK is a viable opportunity for anyone looking for a promising prospect to plonk their pennies.

Theresa May’s Brexit plan has failed. What next?

Theresa May’s Brexit deal has been defeated by 230 votes — the biggest government defeat in history.

MPs voted down Theresa May’s Brexit deal yesterday — by a stunning 432 to 202 votes.

The proposal on Britain’s future relationship with the European Union came out last November, after almost 2 years of negotiation.

It provides for a transitional period until the end of 2020, with many of the existing arrangements staying in place. The deal also includes the Irish ‘backstop’, which proved controversial and may have contributed greatly to Mrs May’s defeat in the Commons.

The ‘backstop’ is a measure designed to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the Irish mainland. It ensures that there will not be any physical border infrastructure on the island, even if future talks fail to produce a free trade agreement.

Following the historic loss, opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn tabled a motion of no confidence in Mrs May’s leadership. The vote will be held later today.

If she wins the vote, it’ll be business as usual.

But if she loses, things will escalate quickly. The Cabinet would have to resign and there would be a period of 14 days in which a new government can be formed.

The new government would have to get the confidence of the Commons for business to go on.

Mrs May could attempt to hang on and try to form a new government. She has greater support among her own Tory MPs after a party revolt failed last December. Party rules do not allow another challenge for the next 12 months.

However, she may decide it is time to hand the reins over to someone else. A new Tory leader would then have the chance to form a government, as would opposition parties.

The current makeup of Parliament allows Tory MPs to easily gain control of the House with their numbers, so it is unlikely that opposition parties will stand a chance.

On the off-chance that no government is able to get confidence of the Commons in those two weeks, then Parliament will be dissolved, and a general election called after 25 working days.

The UK is running out of time to work out Brexit terms, making it more likely to ask Brussels for an extension. The EU has expressed a willingness to grant one, but penalties may be involved on the UK’s part.

There is also an increased chance of a no-deal scenario, if ultimately all efforts at negotiation fail.

The UK is now forced back to the negotiating table to try to get a better deal, even though EU leaders have made it quite clear that the deal is not up for renegotiation.

European Council President Donald Tusk suggested that the UK should stay in the EU after the results were out.

“If a deal is impossible, and no one wants no deal, then who will finally have the courage to say what the only positive solution is?”, he asked on Twitter.

Property consultancy CSI Prop projects a positive outlook for the long-term future of the UK property market after Brexit, even in the case of a no-deal, and says that the current situation is an opportunity for investors.

The Sterling rose 1.5% against the dollar to $1.29. Could this be the final chance for investors to take advantage of the low pound?


Hong Kongers Turn to UK Property as House Prices Increase Unabated

Housing unaffordability continues unabated in Hong Kong's uber-expensive property market. Image from
Housing unaffordability continues unabated in Hong Kong’s uber-expensive property market. 

It’s no secret that the housing market in Hong Kong is the world’s most expensive. Data by the Rating and Valuation Department reports that as of July this year, property prices on the island had risen for the 27th consecutive month.

According to Demographia, the average house in Hong Kong costs 19.4 times the local gross income — a clear explanation why homeownership levels in this city are among the lowest globally.

Its luxury developments, in particular,  are worth hundreds of millions, and the higher the redevelopment value of an area, the more expensive it is. The Deep Water Bay development, for instance, costs approximately £576m. Upon redevelopment, houses built on the site could fetch a whopping £13,518 psf!

The price of property in Hong Kong has been on a steep trajectory causing many Hong Kongers to look to UK property instead. Image from South China Morning Post.
The price of property in Hong Kong has been on a steep trajectory causing many Hong Kongers to look to UK property instead. Image from South China Morning Post.

Homebuyers are betting that Hong Kong’s property prices will continue their upward spiral, despite the government’s effort to tackle affordability and enable people to afford their homes.

With a population of 7.3 million and limited space, the city is facing serious housing issues. Which is why Hong Kongers have increasingly been looking to the UK property market given its relative affordability and high investment returns. In 2017, Skipton noted a 65% rise in buy-to-let mortgage completions from Hong Kong investors compared to 2016. This number seems to have increased further this year.

Skipton International is a financial institution and bank wholly owned by Skipton Building Society. Skipton offers a wide range of offshore savings accounts and mortgages for buy-to-let investments in the UK.

Interestingly, even though London remains the top investment choice for some, a growing number of Hong Kong nationals have begun casting their sights on Manchester for better investment opportunities and returns.

As a core city of the Northern Powerhouse, Manchester, as well as other northern cities like Liverpool, are major beneficiaries of the UK government’s various master plans to boost the economy. These city centres are evolving and expanding rapidly with new business districts and residential areas – enticing Hong Kong and other Asian investors.

At the moment, UK’s house prices are rising at the slowest annual rate for almost five years according to the Office for National Statistics, yet, until now, the government has failed to ensure  that housing supply meets the demand.

As Manchester and Liverpool continue developing and creating more jobs, it is expected that demand for housing will increase, thanks to the growth in internal and overseas migrants.s. Thus, big opportunities for investment into the housing sector — and its profitable returns — continue to abound.

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