Protests drive Hongkongers toward homes in safe havens

Overseas properties and migration offer escape from instability

Hong Kong skyline as seen from The Peak. Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Rocked by demonstrations of weeks past, Hong Kong residents are fanning out toward properties from Melbourne to Vancouver, Reuters reported.

Property investors have reported human and capital flight out of Hong Kong into destinations perceived as safe havens. Meanwhile, migration agents have reported one of the biggest surges in relocation enquiries from not only affluent tycoons but also middle-class households.

Home prices in the infamously unaffordable Chinese SAR descended for a second consecutive month in July, with transaction volumes set to hit a six-month low.

Enquiries have increased sevenfold at Uni Immigration Consultancy in Hong Kong since protests began in June. “The numbers are the highest in recent years, even higher than 2014,” Peggy Lau, a sales director at the consultancy, told Reuters.

More: The rise of Hong Kong’s nano homes

Some of those enquiries are pointing to Australia. Hong Kong buyers have made a half-dozen calls to Sydney property agent Peter Wong last month—the busiest he has had in decades, he told Reuters.

Ken Dodds, sales director at Melbourne homebuilder Resimax, hosted 43 Hong Kong investors last month. “People are keen to look for a safe haven,” he said, adding that the investors bought or reserved a dozen properties: a “great” result.

“This episode has planted a seed in many Hong Kongers with Canadian ties to begin the process of moving money, assets, and family out of Hong Kong and back to Canada,” Dan Scarrow, president of Vancouver-based Macdonald Realty, told Reuters.

“This process will play out over the coming years, not over the coming weeks,” he said.