Real Estate

Never mind the Brexit: The 'screaming,' 'rock n' roll' trade that is going long London property

A screaming Brexit trade
A screaming Brexit trade

Stop and you may hear it: that faint sound of Big Ben ticking in London. The minute hand will make more than 17,000 revolutions, the hour hand more than 1,400 between now and March 30, 2019, when Britain is expected to stop being a member of the European Union.

In that time, negotiators for both sides will hammer out the shape of the new U.K.-EU relationship, determining the rules of engagement on everything from trade and tariffs to security and immigration. And let's not forget the price tag, with estimates the U.K. may have to pay 55 billion to 60 billion euros ($58.73 billion to $64.07 billion) to leave the bloc — even though the U.K.'s Brexit minister David Davis said they don't expect to pay anywhere near that amount.

So what to do if you're an investor?

"One of the best trades you can do right now is something you'll only see every few decades, and that's basically going long London real estate," Kay Van-Petersen, global macro strategist at Saxo Capital Markets, told CNBC.

The London skyline is seen from the Shard, the tallest building in the European Union, as the sun sets on March 28, 2017 in London, England.
Jack Taylor | Getty Images

Property prices in London have surged by more than 85 percent since 2009, according to data from Hometrack's U.K. Cities House Price index. But look back to 2015, before Brexit fears set in, and you'll see prices in London were already trending down from 2014 highs.

Knight Frank flagged declines in prime central London real estate, blaming in part the introduction of a stamp duty on high-value property, which has since been extended to include second homes and buy-to-rent properties. And so, while price increases in London are beating the national average in the U.K., according to the Office for National Statistics, the headlines are all about a collapse in house building in the British capital and prime property bargains for foreign buyers.

That's why Van-Petersen said going long London property is one of his high-conviction trades over the next five-to-ten years. According to his research, the average GBP/USD has been about 1.74 over the last 45 years, a 40 percent lift from the current levels.

"Why you messing around trying to catch the last 3 or 5 percent down, right? So from my perspective, that to me is a rock n' roll kind of trade. I would be more inclined to actually look to upside on sterling. I actually think we'll make the lows in the first half of this year, if we've not already made the lows."

Van-Petersen said he believes the U.K. will emerge from its EU exit "leaner, meaner, and just much better." Investors who go long London property, he argued, aren't just getting real estate in one of the capitals of the world at multi-decade lows on the pound. They're also betting on the world's wealthy.

"In essence, what are you being? You're being long emerging-market billionaires, you're being long emerging-market new wealth because London always ends up being a trophy city, right, at the end of the day," he said. "To me it's the screaming, screaming kind of trade. You're not going to see something like this again for a long time."

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