There has been a sharp increase in Hong Kong investors buying up properties in London ever since the UK announced a new British National Overseas (BNO) visa for Hong Kong residents last year.
Since July 2020, there has been a 144% growth in property deals made by Hong Kong investors in London, according to Reuters.
A total of 1,983 properties were sold to Hong Kong investors in London between July 2020 and April 2021, the UK’s Land Registry records show. There were 793 properties sold over the same period just a year back.
UK takes measures to attract investors to the country
Benham & Reeves Director Head of Hong Kong office, Widya Lestaluhu, pointed out that apart from the new BNO visa, the British government’s fresh measures to return the country to normalcy following the rollout of vaccines in the pandemic-hit country also helped the surge in Hong Kong buyers into the UK real estate market.
“Since the beginning of March, shortly after the UK Government announced a detailed roadmap for getting back to normal, our Hong Kong office saw a surge of interest, with London property investment the primary focus,” Lestaluhu said in a blog post.
She noted that the “London property, in particular, remains at the top of the list (as ever), and we’ve also seen a surge of enquiries because of the BNO Visa scheme which provides a route to British Citizenship.”
Different types of Hong Kong investors interested in the UK visa
There are two types of Hong Kong investors who were buying up properties in the UK: the seasoned investors, who are quite familiar with London, and the Hong Kong residents who plan on using the purchased UK properties themselves following their migration on the BNO visa, Lestaluhu stated.
“There has always been an affinity in investing in London due to the long colonial history but especially so with the new BNO system which allows BNO holders and their immediate family members to live and work for an extended period of time, and the possibility of applying for the British citizenship,” she added.
Lestaluhu also noted the differences in areas of London where these two types of Hong Kong buyers were putting in their money. While the posh Zone 1 area in central London is preferred by the seasoned investors, those on BNO visas who usually plan on bringing their families along prefer to go further out in London in the Zones 3-4.
“Families looking to relocate to London are also on the increase with high importance on a friendly neighborhood with quality amenities and schools for their children. Family friendly areas outside of Zone 1 such as Barnet, Harrow and Greenwich are top choices for current investments,” she wrote.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the new BNO visa for Hong Kong in July 2020, pointing out that the recent changes in the Chinese security law in Hong Kong had prompted the UK government’s move. The UK’s Home Office began accepting applications for the new BNO visa, which could also lead to a path to British citizenship for Hong Kong residents, on Jan. 31 this year.
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