Royal Docks’ home prices may outpace London, rest of the UK, offering BN(O) emigrants option for investments and growth

·3-min read

A riverside development in East London could become a potential investment and residential option for Hongkongers, as property prices in the area may outstrip the rest of the British capital in the coming years, according to property consultancy JLL.

Home prices in the Royal Docks, one of London’s regeneration areas, may jump by 30 per cent over the next five years through 2026, outperforming London’s 25 per cent estimated growth and the UK’s 20.5 per cent increase.

The area’s five-year annual average rental growth is 3.2 per cent for a 17.1 per cent compounded growth rate between 2022 and 2026, said JLL, the sole agent for the Riverscape development on the River Thames, developed by the UK’s Ballymore Group and Singapore’s Oxley Holdings.

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“Many Hong Kong investors are looking to diversify their wealth and are looking into the potential of properties that they may rent out now and wait for capital appreciation,” said JLL’s head of international residential property division Mandy Wong. “New developments offer a community atmosphere, and are particularly attractive to the younger generation because the property price is relatively lower than the central location of London.”

Hong Kong is the first city outside the United Kingdom where the project was launched. A third of the development’s first phase, or 83 units out of 249 apartments, offering between one and three bedrooms, were allocated to Hongkongers.

Apartments range in size from 549 square feet to 1,214 sq ft (112.8 square metres), selling for at least £399,000 (US$546,000). That offers a better value for money than residential property in Hong Kong, the world’s costliest urban centre for more than a decade, where micro-apartments measuring between 186 sq ft and 333 sq ft found buyers last weekend for between HK$3.3 million (US$310,000) and HK$9.08 million.

View of Riverscape project. Photo: JLL
View of Riverscape project. Photo: JLL

Hongkongers have always been one of the largest groups of London’s property investors, but recent developments have further increased their interest in UK real estate.

The UK last year made it easier for 3 million Hongkongers who qualify for a British National (Overseas) passport and their dependents to relocate to Britain and stay and work for extendable periods of 12 months, creating a path to citizenship.

About 123,000 to 153,700 BN(O) passport holders and their dependents are likely to move to the UK in the first year of the scheme, which began accepting applicants in January, and between 258,000 and 322,400 are likely to purchase a home there in the next five years, according to estimates by the British government.

The show unit of a three-bedroom apartment at the Riverscape development. Photo: JLL
The show unit of a three-bedroom apartment at the Riverscape development. Photo: JLL

About three in every four applicants under the BN(O) programme were given their visas in the first five months of the scheme, according to official data released in August canvassing nearly 65,000 Hongkongers who have applied.

After the announcement of the BN(O) visa scheme in July last year, 2,203 homes in London worth £1.1 billion were estimated to have been bought by Hongkongers, according to the London-based property agency Benham and Reeves, citing data as of April.

Hongkongers have also looked at other UK cities for investment. Last weekend, Savills held an exhibition for developments near universities such as Oxford, Greenwich and Winchester, getting an “excellent” response from Hongkongers.

“We sold well,” said Hong Kong-based Mark Elliott, head of international residential at Savills. So far this year Savills has sold £120 million worth of UK homes in Hong Kong.

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