THOUSANDS of houses and luxury London apartments are being snapped up – yet while many are being purchased by Hongkongers in light of the UK opening its gates to the former British colony, Chinese investors are exploiting the move to line their own pockets.
Hong Kongers and investors from mainland communist China became the fifth largest foreign investors in central London as of last August and have been driving up prices in popular districts in and outside the capital – many with no intention of living in them, but to make cash from immigration.
The new wave of buying also includes some Hong Kong residents who are pooling money to invest, a trend property agents expect to continue as more middle-class Hong Kong residents consider leaving for Britain.
“It’s become much more of a trend in the past six months or so,” said Guy Bradshaw, head of London Residential at Sotheby’s International Realty. “I’ve certainly been involved in a lot more conversations and Zoom calls with people in Hong Kong and funds in Hong Kong.”
The UK government is offering a new visa to Hong Kong holders of British National Overseas (BNO) passports that gives them a chance to become British citizens – a change it made after China’s national security law for Hong Kong.
However, the move comes at a time when millions of Brits still wait anxiously on council housing registers or are struggling to find private property to rent or buy.
According to the Hurun Chinese Luxury Consumer Survey 2020, Chinese high-net worth individuals (HNWI) are currently putting 12.5% of their wealth into overseas assets, with London ranked as the most popular investment destination.
London estimates that over 300,000 Hong Kong residents could emigrate over the next five years, and Bank of America expects Hong Kong residents moving to Britain could trigger capital outflows of $36 billion in 2021, yet lead to further house shortages.