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With many Hong Kong citizens expected to take advantage of recent events by relocating to the UK and buying property, which cities will be the most attractive?
A landmark offer in extraordinary times.
The UK government has launched a special visa for around three million people in Hong Kong, with the offer of permanent citizenship after five years.
2020 had already prompted global investors to make decisions to protect their wealth. UK property has long been one of the most popular investments for buyers across Asia. Its proven track record of long-term stability and growth has attracted a wave of new and returning buyers from the Far East in response to wider uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now the situation in Hong Kong could trigger an additional influx of investment in UK property.
So, where is the best place in Britain for Hong Kong British National Overseas (BNO) passport holders to invest their money?
Prime Minster Boris Johnson first formally announced the plans for a special visa on 1st July.
In the House of Commons, he declared: “This is a special, bespoke, set of arrangements developed for the unique circumstances we face and in light of our historic commitment to the people of Hong Kong.”
From January 2021, any of Hong Kong’s 2.9 million BNO passport holders – and their immediate dependants – will be able to apply for the visa.
Under current legislation, BNO passport holders can visit the UK for up to six months at a time without needing a visa. This will be updated from next year, with BNOs able to acquire the new visa which gives them the opportunity to travel to the UK with the view of permanently settling in the country.
After holding the visa for five years, BNOs will be able to apply for settled status.
UK Home Secretary Priti Patel has said she will “welcome warmly all those who decide to take” this offer.
Of course, the close historic and diplomatic ties between Britain and Hong Kong naturally make UK real estate appealing to buyers.
But property in Britain has been one of the most popular investments for generations of Hong Kong investors. Indeed, Mei Wong, Head of International Sales with Knight Frank, told the Financial Times that she believes it’s the top overseas investment market for Hong Kongers.
The quality of the UK’s universities makes it an important centre for thousands of Hong Kong students each year. In turn, parents buy property in the UK as a place for their children to live while studying.
There’s also better affordability. UK property – with an average price of GBP 230,300 (HKD 2.27 million) – offers a significant saving over average prices in Hong Kong. The fall in the value of the pound in recent years has further underlined the potential savings to be made.
But above all else, it’s British real estate’s history of resilience, stability and – crucially – growth that makes it the asset trusted by so many investors. Average property prices in the UK have increased by 300% over the last 20 years alone.
These qualities were already a draw for buyers in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Now, for many Hong Kong BNOs, UK property has just become an even more important investment consideration.
Of course, deciding on the best place to buy property in the UK for Hong Kong citizens now needs even greater thought.
For many, this may now be a question of where they personally want to live in the UK.
That’s a really important, personal decision for Hong Kong citizens to make. This takes into consideration job factors, proximity to family already in the UK, as well as simply where can they envision settling down and making a life for themselves.
Naturally, London is regularly the number one destination for investors when they think of the UK. The country’s capital city. World-famous landmarks. Large, luxury homes. Hong Kong citizens are regularly among the biggest buyers of high-end real estate in London.
But the capital isn’t necessarily the best place for investment.
Given the significant affordability of property in the UK compared with Hong Kong, some BNOs may even consider buying multiple properties; one for personal use and one for investment.
And when you begin to look outside of London, there are several attractive options for Hong Kong citizens looking for the best affordability, highest yields and strongest long-term growth.
Cities such as Manchester, the UK’s largest regional economy. Culturally, it’s a city as rich and diverse as any in Europe. One that is passionate about art, music and, of course, its two football teams. Home to some of the UK’s finest restaurants, retail, and nightlife, it is increasingly becoming one of the go-to cities for Britons looking to relocate to away from London.
For investors specifically, it’s Manchester’s growth figures that are most appealing:
Furthermore, with average property prices in Manchester considerably less than those in both Hong Kong and London, it’s little wonder why many buyers are looking to the north-west city for property investment.
Select Property Group is one of the UK’s leading developers and investment specialists. From our office in Hong Kong, our team has helped thousands of investors across the region invest in the UK’s strongest new projects.
Our latest guide looks specifically at London versus Manchester for property investment.
Find out which city will work best for you and your investment goals. Download your free copy now.
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