There are UK agencies, banks and investment schemes dedicated exclusively to the Asian market, and the interests of Chinese buyers are often an important consideration for developers. So with all the current uncertainty in the world, what is happening in this market now?
JiangJiang Feng is Head of Winkworth’s Asia Pacific office in London and his report is positive. He says that there is strong demand from clients, many of whom are buyers motivated by the fact that their children are studying at school or university in the UK.
In his experience, there are two peak times for these buyers: in August, before term begins, and in early October, coinciding with a Chinese national holiday. “We did six deals in four weeks. According to the deals we made, 70% are for living and 30% are for investment. International investors, especially from Asian countries, still have strong confidence in the UK property market. Buyers from Singapore and China are very positive,” he says.
While interest rates have had a somewhat dampening effect on demand from some quarters, he is expecting this to be short-lived. “Some potential buyers are keeping quiet currently, but we need to get ready for their renewed demand for both new build and resell properties. I reckon that the next peak time will be coming during February and March 2024.”
Much of this activity is focused on the capital. Recent figures show that as many as five per cent of property buyers in London are Chinese, and as much as 50% of UK property transactions involving Chinese buyers are in London. Chinese investment in the UK has increased significantly year-on-year since 2015, and since 2021, Chinese buyers account for a fifth of all transactions worth more than £10 million. Moreover, Chinese investment in commercial property in the UK has more than trebled since the UK voted to leave the EU. There are lots of reasons why Asian buyers are interested in the UK, among them the fact that buildings here are cheaper per square metre than those in Hong Kong, but can command higher rents. Many people are simply looking to invest in an international property portfolio without visiting or living in their properties, while others intend to migrate to the UK, and others, as already stated, are focused on housing their children during their international education. Just as British schools and universities have a reputation for excellence in China, so does the British property market.