The UK’s education sector is set to contribute some £700 million (US$900 million) over the next 12 months to residential property purchases in prime central London, with Hongkongers seeking to send their children to British universities likely to represent the fourth-largest group of buyers in the district, according to Knight Frank.
“Education has always been a key driver for residential property purchases in London, especially for students based overseas,” said Liam Bailey, global head of research at the property consultancy. “Covid-19 may have altered the way clients view their children’s education as well as their property investments, but the fact remains that the UK offers some of the best education in the world and this isn’t deterring clients from Hong Kong looking to invest in prime London property for their children’s future.”
Hongkongers have always been among the largest foreign investors in London property, but recent political developments, particularly Beijing’s imposition of a national security law, appear to have spurred further demand for homes in the capital and other British cities. Starting January 2021, some three million Hongkongers who hold British National (Overseas) passports and their dependents will be allowed long-term stay in the UK to work or study, creating a path to citizenship.
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Inquiries for London property from Hong Kong this month were 30 per cent higher than they were at the start of the year, said Mei Wong, executive director, head of international residential sales at Knight Frank.
Students from Hong Kong were also the third-largest applicants for UK universities this year, up 14 per cent to 6,600, after mainland China’s 24,400 and India’s 7,600, according to a CBRE study released this month, citing data from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, which processes student applications for British universities.
“We have seen continued demand from parents buying for their children for educational purposes,” said Andrew Hawkins, international residential director at Savills.
Four of the world’s 20 best universities are in the UK, with the University of Oxford ranking No 1, according to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2021, released this month.
“Hong Kong buyers have remained one of the most significant buyers of residential property in London, accounting for around 3 per cent of all central London purchases in recent years,” Knight Frank’s Bailey said, adding that they continue to remain one of the critical buyer groups this year too.
James Burrows, director at CBRE, said that interest in London property was predominantly from China and Hong Kong, with buyers from Thailand, Malaysia and Taiwan in the mix.
However, the focus last month was on a Saudi billionaire who paid £18.6 million for a luxury property in Mayfair’s Grosvenor Square for his daughter studying in London. The property was the former London home of Artemis Onassis, sister of Greek shipping magnate and billionaire Aristotle Onassis.
Meanwhile, investors are also eyeing opportunities in the purpose built student accommodation segment in the UK. Since March, eight deals amounting to £280m have been agreed. An investment pipeline of between £750 million and £1 billion is also likely to be finalised before the end of the month, according to CBRE.
More from South China Morning Post:
- Hongkongers’ interest in overseas property elsewhere has more than halved after UK announced BN(O) policy, immigration consultants say
- UK’s offer of a citizenship path for Hongkongers reignites demand for London homes
This article Hongkongers eye prime London homes to accommodate their children studying in British universities first appeared on South China Morning Post