News Articles
RSS-2.0RSS-2.0

25/01/2011

"I'm not buying the high-end property. I just bought one close to the tube line and that's a pretty safe investment," said the 40-something business executive who paid 215,000 pounds ($322,500) for her apartment.
Chu isn't alone.
 
Over the past year, Asians have invested a total of 761 million pounds, or more than $1 billion, in newly built apartments in central London, up from around 250 million pounds a year earlier, according to real estate company Knight Frank.
 
Asian property investors are lured by the a confluence of positive factors, a weak British pound, sluggish property prices in Britain, down over 10 percent from a record high in 2007, and low interest rates.
Coupled with that, there is also familiarity with London. Most of the top buyers are from ex-British colonies Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia.
 
Their interest has been duly noted.
Since late last year, a steady stream of British developers, such as Barratt (BDEV.L), Berkeley Group BKG.L and Ballymore Group, have been wooing affluent Asians like Chu by hosting swanky exhibitions complete with lawyers and agents on hand.
 
The proportion of Asian investors buying new apartments in central London has increased to 50 percent, up from about 30 percent in the previous year, Knight Frank said.
 
There are some worries that Britain could be headed for a double-dip recession but Asian buyers still deem London properties a good buy given housing prices in their home markets, have risen sharply, creating bubble fears.
Investors also think there is room for growth in Britain's housing prices after the global crisis.
"The last 12 months have been the strongest in selling London property to Asia in 15 years," said Darien Bradshaw, regional director for international properties at Colliers (COLL.L), which has been marketing flats in Asia via exhibitions.
 
Colliers sold around 200 million pounds worth of British apartments in Asia so far this year, already outpacing the 150 million pounds for the whole of 2009, to buyers in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and China.
Colliers, which helps market projects for developers, has held 26 exhibitions throughout Asia this year marketing mainly London apartments, and has plans for another 20.
Developers say Asian buyers are used to purchasing off the plan, meaning that they are willing to place orders before the construction of the apartments are complete.

At the exhibitions, housing agents usually hand out glossy booklets that list all kinds of information ranging from flat prices and rental yields to the nearest parks and subway stops from major spots, such as London Bridge and Canary Wharf.

"The Hong Kong Chinese market and the wider Asian market are very strong at the moment. I think exchange rates are very favorable," Simon Howard, group sales manager of Genesishomes, said at the company's exhibition in Hong Kong, its first ever outside Britain.

At its exhibition over a weekend this month, visitors peered at floor plans and a model of the residential complex, mulling whether to buy the apartments with prices starting from 245,000 pounds, equivalent to about HK$3 million.

"That practically buys you nothing in Hong Kong," said Amous Lee, a director for international investments at Knight Frank.

source: www.reuters.com



Bookmark and Share

Back