12 Jan 2022
The number of properties in London being bought by Hong Kongers has quadrupled since the UK’s visa scheme has allowed many to relocate. Hong Kong buyers now account for 4% of transactions in the UK capital, up from1%, according to client data from Benham and Reeves. Since the British National Overseas (BNO) visa allowed applications in January, around 300,000 residents from the former British colony are expected to make use of the visa over the next five years. “We’ve not only seen a surge in enquiry numbers coming from Hong Kong nationals since the announcement of the BNO visa offer last year, we’ve also seen a number of buyers committing to transactions,” Benham and Reeves director, Marc von Grundherr, said. With Hong Kong maintaining its title as the most expensive city in the world for property, interest in luxury London properties from Hong Kong buyers rose fourfold last year.
London Central Portfolio told The Telegraph that 28% of its current buyers are Hong Kongers. Of these, two-thirds are seeking to buy a property in prime central London for personal use. “Historically their real estate requirements were focused around investment property with the principal aim of letting,” CEO Andrew Weir, said. “The change we have witnessed recently is a refocusing of their priorities to purchase properties that could eventually be used for their own personal use.”
What is a BNO?
British National Overseas (BNO) citizenship is a type of British nationality created in 1985 that people in Hong Kong could apply for before the 1997 handover to China to retain a tie with Britain. The lifelong status, which cannot be passed down to family members, did not give holders any special rights. It meant only they could visit the UK for six months without a visa. But the new system, in place from 31 January 2021, allows these BNO citizens and their close family to apply for two periods of five years to live and work in the UK. The new visa gives 5.4 million Hong Kong residents - 70% of the territory's population - the right to live in the UK, and eventually become citizens.