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Hong Kong investors own 13% of foreign-owned UK property

The UK property market has always been popular among buyers from overseas, but Hong Kong investors remain the most prolific owners. 

Foreign investors own an estimated £90.7bn worth of property across the UK, with London still a firm favourite place to buy and invest as the economic centre of the country. In the capital, around £45.3bn worth of property is owned by non-residents.

Once again, the latest research has found that Hong Kong investors are the most prominent buyers and owners of UK property from abroad. This has been the case for a number of years now, but some agents have noted an increase since the BNO visa was introduced.

The research from London estate agent Benham and Reeves, using Land Registry data, found that 13.2% of all foreign-owned property in the UK was owned by Hong Kong investors, the highest of a list of 50 of the most prominent nations to invest in UK property.

Combined across England and Wales, the report found that 187,275 residential properties were owned by buyers from overseas across the top 50 countries from which to invest.

How much do Hong Kong investors own?

According to Benham and Reeves, Hong Kong investors own 24,759 homes in England and Wales. Hong Kong investors have also increased their presence by 11.6% since the same figures were looked at in 2022, showing how the popularity of the UK housing market has grown.

One of the reasons for Hong Kong investors choosing the UK, aside from already having links there, is the introduction of the BNO visa, which has made it easier to buy property here.

Hong Kong is also an extremely expensive place to own property, so for those looking to invest in bricks and mortar that is more affordable – and with strong yield and capital growth opportunities – the UK housing market ticks a lot of boxes.

While London is of course a go-to destination, the rest of the UK has also begun to increase in popularity for overseas buyers, including Hong Kong investors. The likes of Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool are all attracting more interest due to their strong housing and jobs markets.

Other countries snapping up UK property

Singapore was next on the list as the top place from which to purchase UK property, with buyers owning 15,752 homes, making up 8.4% of the total.

Next on the list was US investors with 6.4% of the market share, followed by buyers from the UAE (5.7%), Ireland (5.3%), Malaysia (5.2%), China (4.6%), Australia (4.4%), Kuwait (4.3%), and France (3.7%).

UK property ownership across the 50 top foreign nations rose by 3.8% between January 2022 and January 2023. Many may have been drawn to the UK due to the favourable exchange rate, which essentially can equate to a good discount from the price paid compared to when the pound is performing more strongly.

The strongest increase came from China, where investors have purchased 18.8% more property than the previous year, and now own 8,763 homes. Next comes Hong Kong investors (11.6%) and Israeli buyers with a 9.8% increase in purchases.

Next on the list are Gibraltar (6.7%), Austria (6.7%), Turkey (6.7%), Egypt (6.3%), Norway (5.1%), Germany (4.8%), and Sweden (4.7%).

Highly attractive market

Marc von Grundherr, director of Benham and Reeves, said: “It’s no secret that England & Wales is a hugely attractive market for overseas property buyers, with London being a particularly desirable location.

“The stability of our property market offers reliably a profitable space for investment buyers, and our country, with its rich history and culture, has long held great appeal for people looking to buy outside of their home countries.

“Many experts believed that Brexit would result in there being fewer overseas owners as access to the EU was reduced and the anticipated economic struggles removed some of the profitability of investing in our great nation.

“Our exclusive research reveals that none of this has come to fruition and that, in fact, our market has only become more popular.

“While this popularity isn’t limited to one single nation, it’s certainly being driven by Hong Kong buyers who continue to be the most prominent foreign nations operating within our bricks and mortar market.

“This is certainly no new trend and Benham and Reeves has had a local Hong Kong office since 1995, helping those who are looking to purchase in England and Wales. However, it’s fair to say that our team of experts in Hong Kong have never been busier and we expect this to remain the case going forward.”

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