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Wealthy overseas investors are still honing in on the UK property market as a key investment location, with Hong Kong buyers leading the trend.

Property investors based abroad are continuing to see the benefits of the UK housing market as a “safe haven“. New data based on HM Land Registry statistics shows that foreign ownership of UK property has gone up by around 180% in 11 years. Furthermore, it found that almost a quarter of a million homes were registered to buyers with a correspondence address abroad in August.

The research also shows that more of these overseas investors are individuals rather than companies. The buyers were spread over 20 different countries, with Jersey, Guernsey, Isle of Man, British Virgin Islands, south-east Asia and the Middle East all top locations for foreign investors.

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Hong Kongers still investing in UK

The UK housing sector has long since been a popular option among Hong Kong residents looking for investments abroad. The latest statistics show that the biggest spenders in UK property from overseas are from Hong Kong, purchasing more than 21,300 homes since 2010. In August, a total of 51,866 property titles were registered to those with addresses in the region.

Since the recent changes to the UK BNO visa, there has been more interest from overseas investors from Hong Kong seeking property in this country. The new system gives nationals more opportunities to live and work here, as they can apply for two periods of five years to stay in the UK. For many, this makes purchasing property in the country even more appealing.

Favourable exchange rates are another attraction for investing in UK property right now.

Stephen Ludlow, chairman at Ludlow Thompson, said earlier this year: “Fears that Brexit might dampen the appeal of UK property amongst overseas investors have been unfounded, with the number of overseas landlords reaching a record high.

“Many canny investors took advantage of the temporary drop in Sterling’s value to purchase properties in the UK and benefited from both an increase in property prices and a recovery in sterling.”

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Which areas are overseas investors targeting?

According to the Centre For Public Data (CFPData), who compiled the research from HM Land Registry, more investors than ever are branching out from the traditional London market. While a decade or more ago, London was the go-to spot for a lot of foreign investment, many are seeing the value of backing new areas elsewhere.

The data shows that, in particular, Liverpool, Manchester, Salford and Leeds are attracting bigger numbers of overseas investors now. All of these areas are notable for their regeneration, redevelopment and investment overhauls in recent years, making them a genuinely attractive alternative to pricier London. The CFPData believes most of the foreign investment in these cities is in flats, supporting the thriving rental demand in these areas.

“Rising house prices in the UK are often attributed in part to purchases by overseas buyers. However, gaps in published official data hamper our understanding of such purchases, with previous analysis of the number and effect of overseas buyers being based on small samples or anecdotal reports,” CFPData added.

By Eleanor Harvey

Source: Buy Association

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