Chinese and Hong Kong billionaires take top spots as real estate wealth skyrocket worldwide

The surge in wealth is coupled by Hong Kong investors’ move to the mainland and Chinese developers’ focus on the latter’s border districts  

Our long term view is Shenzhen will be the centre and Hong Kong the periphery. JOT1988/Shutterstock

According to Forbes, real estate billionaires across the globe added USD151 billion to their fortunes, propelled by the uptrend in Asian markets throughout the past year.  

Combined, the 215 real estate tycoons listed in the 2021 Forbes Billionaires rating hold a net worth of over USD800 billion, constituting eight percent of the total billionaires on the list. In the last year, only 30 of them experienced a net worth decline.  

Among the individuals in the ranking, six were citizens of China and Hong Kong — and most notably, topping the list as the world’s richest real estate mogul, is Hong Kong’s Lee Shau-kee, boasting a USD31.7 billion fortune under his name.  

Lee manages Henderson Land, which constructs award-winning commercial properties and residential projects that recently took home some of the highest accolades at the 2020 PropertyGuru Asia Property Awards (Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau) for The Consonance, Novum Point, Square Mile, and 2 Murray Road developments.  

A couple of Chinese tycoons followed in the 2nd and 3rd spot. Meanwhile, the cofounder and chairperson of Chinese developer Longfor Group, Wu Yajun, took the 4th spot, whilst his co-founder Cai Kui got the 14th spot. In 2018, their Glorious Mansion project nabbed the Best Condo Architectural trophy at the PropertyGuru Asia Property Awards (China).  

Wheelock and Company Limited’s Peter Woo, Shimao Property Holding’s Hui Wing Mau, and more PropertyGuru Asia Property Award-winning developers also took their spot in the ranking.  

And as these billionaires’ wealth prospered, so did their respective territories.  

Hong Kong entrepreneurs see potential in the mainland 

The surge in wealth among the real estate leaders despite the pandemic has opened up more opportunities for the market. 

Investors from Hong Kong, for instance, have expressed their interest in China, having witnessed the swift recovery of the business environment, the drive for innovation, and the advantageous policies.  

Michael Wong, now chairman of international forwarder M&S International Forwarding, told Global Times that he decided to set up his business in Shenzhen instead of his hometown in Hong Kong because of the high quantity of dynamic young workers in the city.  

Wong added that the local government’s welcoming attitude, as well as their show of support to his company, has made him feel more accepted locally.  

The discounts being offered and the policies that they have set in place — such as the CNY100,000 (USD15,000) monthly travel reimbursement for companies registered in Nanhai District, Foshan, Guangdong — have ignited the interest of Hong Kong businessmen.  

“We used to take much interest in Western businesses, but we’ve now turned our eyes to the mainland where new business models and ideas are booming,” continued Wong.  

As of end–2018, Hong Kong funds made up for 54 percent of the overall overseas investment consumed by the mainland.  

More: Hong Kong tumbling office rents attract companies back to Central 

Chinese property developers target Hong Kong borders 

Fox Business reported that the border districts in Hong Kong have caught the attention of Chinese developers as residents in the nearby thriving city Shenzhen view the area as a prospect for more low-cost, long-term housing projects.  

Some regard the development plans as crucial since buyers used to consider Hong Kong’s cheaper industrial backcountry now as Shenzhen’s “backyard.”  

“Our long term view is Shenzhen will be the centre and Hong Kong the periphery,” explained an executive at a Chinese development firm that bought land in the once less attractive north.  

“People who work in Shenzhen may choose to commute from Hong Kong where home prices will be cheaper.”  

Data from Hong Kong Land Department reveal that Chinese developers bought three of the six northern residential plots that were up for bidding since 2019.  

This uptick in activity in both Mainland China and Hong Kong, and the surge in wealth by real estate leaders, prove that these territories are just on the verge of a lasting and noteworthy recovery.  

Know of any award-worthy homes, condos, flats, or other real estate projects in China, Hong Kong, or Macau? Nominate them for the 2021 Asia Property Awards (Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau) on or before 1 October 2021. Simply visit, or for more details.