Hong Kong property seekers flee to Canada, Britain

Recent demonstrations encourage investors to pour capital in more stable destinations

Traditional Chinese boat on the Victoria Harbor. YIUCHEUNG/Shutterstock

Cities such as Toronto, Vancouver and London have emerged as attractive destinations for investors eager to escape the unstable political situation in Hong Kong.

Real estate brokers tell Bloomberg that they have been receiving enquiries for suitable property investments in Canada and the UK.

“People are shocked, given that Hong Kong was always branded as a stable, rule-of-law financial hub, and now want to move their capital to other cities to mitigate the risk and also to look for other homes,” commented David Ho, a CBRE broker specialising in Asian investments.

Similarly, Chinese agents of the Macdonald Real Estate Group in Vancouver registered an upswing of interest from property buyers and tenants based in Hong Kong.

“It has completely flipped now,” said Dan Scarrow, president of Vancouver’s Macdonald Real Estate Group. “Whether or not that actually translates into deals, that comes down to what continues to happen in Hong Kong.”

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Scarrow is referring to weeks of protests in the Chinese SAR over the passage of an extradition bill, perceived by many as a move by the mainland to chip away at the former British colony’s autonomy and democratic processes.

While HongKongers are looking at the price correction in Vancouver as an opportunity to get back on the market, some are gravitating toward Toronto, with its booming technology and financial industries, Robert Veerman, a CBRE sales representative under Ho, told Bloomberg.

“People are looking at the future, especially people who are young professionals in their late 20s or 30s,” said Veerman. “They still have 50 or so years of professional life ahead of them essentially and the question is, where are the market, jobs, growth going to happen?”

Likewise, the demonstrations have had an impact on London purchases, with potential buyers from the Chinese SAR making offers. “We have suddenly had a lot interest from our clients in Hong Kong,” Joe Bond, an FX Counsellor at Citigroup in London, told Bloomberg.