Hong Kongers moving to UK may sell $25.6 billion of homes in 2021

Hong Kong is expected to see about 13,100 to 16,300 households move to the UK via their British National (Overseas) visas in 2021. PHOTO: AFP

HONGKONG (BLOOMBERG) - Hong Kong home owners may sell as much as HK$150 billion (S$25.6 billion) worth of property this year when residents emigrate to the UK.

The city is expected to see about 13,100 to 16,300 households move to the UK via their British National (Overseas) visas in 2021, Bloomberg Intelligence said in a report on Tuesday (April 27). The number represents 0.9 per cent to 1.1 per cent of households living in privately-owned homes.

If all of them sell their properties to fund their move and living costs, they could generate a maximum of HK$150 billion in 2021 alone, Bloomberg estimates show.

The UK government's plan to make it easier for Hong Kong residents with BN(O) status to obtain citizenship is prompting a migration and rise in home offers. Property listings at Centaline, Hong Kong's largest real estate agency, surged by 44 per cent from a year earlier to more than 40,000 homes.

That's not to say Hong Kong's property market will fall into an abyss anytime soon. Buyers are absorbing the increased supply in the market. As an indicator of robust market activities, used-home-sale value in April is on track to hit a 23-year high at HK$50 billion, according to Centaline.

Meanwhile, prices remain resilient with current values just 5.4 per cent lower than the historical peak set in mid-2019. Mortgage rates also dropped to the lowest in more than a decade, boosting appetite from home buyers.

Wealthy Hong Kong buyers are looking to snap up homes in the UK. They quadrupled their proportion of home purchases in London's most expensive areas over 2020, according to agency Hamptons International, accounting for 8 per cent of luxury homes bought last year.

More than 35,000 eligible Hong Kongers have applied for the BN(O) program, The Times reported earlier this month.

Those Hong Kong residents who are seeking to invest in the UK may face fierce competition. Lifestyle changes during the pandemic and a tax break on home purchases have pushed UK's property market to new heights this year, with the proportion of homes available to buy at its lowest, according to property website Rightmove.

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