Hong Kong investors keen to ‘safeguard money in reliable London market’

7 August 2020 | Investment

Demand from Hong Kong buyers looking to ‘safeguard’ their money in London’s ‘reliable’ property market is on the rise, according to Houzen.

The property consultancy, with operations in both Asia and the UK, is the latest firm to indicate that recent events in the semi-autonomous region are encouraging buyers to turn their attentions to the UK property market.

Last week, London agency Chestertons reported that the number of new buyers from Hong Kong between June 1 and July 7 doubled when compared to the same period in 2019.

The agency also said that investors from Hong Kong are expanding into areas they haven’t targeted in the past.

The increased demand from Hong Kong buyers is thought to be a result of unrest in the semi-autonomous region where protests have been ongoing since last summer.

A bill which would make it possible for people in Hong Kong to be extradited to mainland China sparked the unrest, but has now been withdrawn.

Since returning to Chinese ownership in 1997, Hong Kong has enjoyed ‘special freedoms’ under the ‘one country, two systems’ arrangement which is set to expire in 2047.

Residents are worried that activity from the Chinese government could lead to Hong Kong losing its autonomy and becoming ‘another Chinese city’.

Meanwhile, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson reacted to a recent change in security law – which is suggested could reduce Hong Kong’s autonomy further and make it easier to punish protestors – by offering UK citizenship to three million Hong Kong residents.

It is thought this combination of factors is driving rising interest in London property.

Houzen says Hong Kong investors are attracted to the UK due to its strong economic fundamentals, well-developed judicial system and globally-renowned educational institutions.

This has resulted in an estimated £2.5 billion of property investment from Hong Kong buyers to date, with the new citizenship program expected to cause the figure to rise further in the coming years.

According to Houzen, weak sterling, the stamp duty holiday and the citizenship program means Hong Kong buyers are looking to act quickly.

It echoes Chestertons, saying that Hong Kong investors are now looking at developing London boroughs and sub-£500,000 properties. In the past, they tended to stick to prime locations in the capital, with purchases more often than not sitting in the £2 million to £15 million bracket.

The attentions of Hong Kong buyers are slowly shifting from opportunities in Singapore to the UK, with investors picking up properties for as low as £300,000 and no longer solely focusing on new builds.

“The main problem [Hong Kong investors] commonly face is one of trust and finding good deals,” says Megan Wang, Houzen’s Asia lead.

“We believe independent international investors tend to not get the best deals since they don’t have an established presence and hands-on knowledge of London’s market.”

“Investors in Asia should also be able to participate in exciting high yield property opportunities in a safe environment, all while benefiting the local UK economy,” she says.

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–> This post has originally been featured in Property Investor Today.