The last few weeks have seen some political turmoil in the UK but when it comes to London property, one driving force in the market has remained strong – Hong Kong and Chinese buyers. In fact, the weakness of the pound means that for Hong Kong and Chinese professionals, around 85% of whom are cash buyers, this is an excellent time to invest in London property at prices that are, in effect, significantly cheaper than at this time last year because of the current exchange rate.
Hong Kong and mainland Chinese professionals and students continue to wish to make a home in London – whether they are buying or renting a property. This desire for a new life in London, one of the world’s major hubs for careers, business, education and culture, is undiminished.
Buyer demand from Hong Kong BNO passport holders remains strong, with areas including Beaufort Park in Colindale, Hendon, Mill Hill, Finchley and Barnet all in high demand. Areas such as Harrow on the Hill, Kingston, Canary Wharf and Chiswick are also popular amongst Hong Kongers looking to put down roots in London and the South East. Meanwhile Chinese students have been driving demand for rental properties in London as they move to the city to start their university education, with numbers appearing to be back to pre-pandemic levels.
With so much buyer interest, we recently held a property talk in Colindale called ‘Buy to Let/Buy to Live’ specifically for Hong Kong and Chinese professionals and their families, and over 50 delegates attended. Presentations were in Cantonese and Mandarin and included subjects such as UK buying procedures, taxes (Stamp Duty, Income Tax, Capital Gains Tax etc.), buy-to-let opportunities and the legal aspects of letting a property. Finance specialist, Rachel Wong, from Oriel Finance, also came to talk about mortgages.
The event was a resounding success and has demonstrated the strong level of interest from Hong Kong professionals who continue to move to the UK.
Hong Kong professionals usually have good budgets, having already sold their Hong Kong property. Typically, buyers showed keen interest in two bed properties priced at £500k and three bed properties at £700-£800k in popular developments such as Beaufort Park and Colindale Gardens, both of which have strong Chinese/Hong Kong communities.
As I mentioned earlier, around 85% of these are cash buyers, already living and renting in London and keen to buy as soon as possible. And as a result, they are not affected by interest rate rises so they remain very motivated to buy and have been unaffected by recent interest rate rises. Their main objective is to find a home for their families so demand for properties is less impacted by recent political uncertainty.
Chinese students starting new university courses in London this autumn have been a driving force in the rental market, focusing on areas such as East London and generally locations close to their chosen universities. Areas and property developments such as Nine Elms Point, 250 City Road in Shoreditch, Beaufort Park in Colindale, Fulham Reach and Sovereign Court in Hammersmith, Wembley and Kings Cross have all been attracting interest from Chinese students looking to rent homes in London. Many were paying 12 months rent upfront to secure a property. And at London Dock Wapping and Royal Arsenal Riverside in Woolwich where we have on-site branches, our staff report a 19% increase in applicants due to the Elizabeth Line, making it quick and easy to get across London.
Lack of rental stock across London has been a challenge for us though so many students have had to rent an Airbnb or other short-term accommodation in London while they wait for a long-term rental property to become available. We’ve been working hard to overcome these challenges and find suitable homes for students, where possible using virtual tours and WhatsApp tours to help them find accommodation before they reach London. Most are happy to rent a property on the basis of a virtual tour, signing a tenancy agreement immediately and paying their holding deposit to secure their chosen property.
Since the pandemic, virtual tours are much more common and most applicants are happy with this new, streamlined way of finding a home. So this has become an invaluable way for us to let properties quickly and efficiently in this highly competitive and challenging rental market.
If you’re planning to move to London, whether renting or buying a property in the city, we can help you navigate your way through the challenging property market.
Please call me, Penny Cheung, Head of China Desk, and I will be able to explain how I can help you find exactly the right property. We also have international offices in Hong Kong and China so please get in touch if we can be of any assistance.
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