Hong Kong residents buy up UK properties ahead of expected immigration surge

British National (Overseas) passport holders can now apply for a special visa to work and study in the UK for up to five years

Hong Kong residents bought four times as many luxury London properties in the previous year amid an expected immigration surge.

Property buyers from Hong Kong purchased 8 per cent of homes sold in London’s wealthiest areas in 2020, according to a report by Hamptons International – four times 2019’s figure.

And they became the joint second most common buyer nationality in Prime Central London, tied with Middle Eastern buyers and behind those from the EU, the estate agent said.

The trend comes as the Government’s new visa pathway for Hong Kong residents opened in January, following China’s tightening of national security laws.

Hong Kong’s British National (Overseas) passport holders can now apply for a special visa giving them the right to work and study in the UK for up to five years, after which they will be able to apply for settlement, and seek citizenship after a further year.

“The bespoke new Hong Kong BN(O) Visa route recognises our historic and moral commitment to BN(O) status holders in Hong Kong, giving them the option to live in the UK if they decide that is an appropriate choice for them,” the Home Office said.

Around 2.9 million Hong Kong residents currently hold BNO status, with a further estimated 2.3 million eligible dependants.

The Home Office predicts more than 300,000 BNO status holders will come to the UK over the next five years.

James Dempsey, Sales Director at BuyAssociation, said they have seen a “big upturn” in property investors from Hong Kong in the UK market.

“Compared to the past five, six years, our Hong Kong office has grown significantly in transactions over the past year,” Mr Dempsey told The Telegraph.

“It’s not just the city centres, it’s branched out as well,” he added, with locations such as Birmingham and south Manchester also of key interest to buyers.

One estate agent in south Manchester told Mr Dempsey that six in 10 viewings they are holding are with Hong Kong buyers, with residents expressing interest in local schools and Ofsted reports.

Typically the Hong Kong market dips after Christmas, Mr Dempsey said, but this was not the case this January and interest remained level as the new visa programme came into force.

“Ultimately, I think we’ll see a continued increase over the next six to 12 months and certainly as the BNO arrangements progress,” he added.

Source: telegraph.co.uk
Published: 1 March 2021

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