London property developers eye Chinese buyers disillusioned with stock markets and devalued yuan
Premium residential projects in London are hoping to attract Chinese investors disillusioned with domestic stock markets and the devaluation of the yuan.
“London’s property has been a safe haven for investors from China and other countries because of its stable growth in property prices and legal framework,” said Qian Chengri, a sales manager for property consultants Knight Frank.
He said new projects in the British capital could benefit as Chinese investors prefered new units to older properties.
“It’s also good timing for Chinese investors to make long-term investments in overseas properties amid the yuan devaluation,” he said.
The Chinese currency has fallen since August 11 when the People’s Bank of China surprised the market by devaluing the yuan by about 2 per cent.
Battersea Power Station, a mixed-use development of residential, commercial and retail properties on the south bank of the River Thames – at the site of a former coal-fired power station – is one of the latest projects to actively seek Chinese investment.
Its first phase went on sale in 2013, but only a few units were bought by Chinese investors – a state of affairs the developer hopes to change.
It plans to tour Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou from mid-September to search for more Chinese investors.
“Now we are in phase three, and are really starting to explore and trying to service the need of the people in mainland China,” said Rob Tincknell, chief executive officer of the Battersea Power Station Development Company.
“Other than Shanghai and Beijing, we are now looking at second-tier cities including Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Shenzhen and Chengdu,” he said.
Studio apartments start from £495,000 (HK$5.8 million), with one to four-bedroom units ranging from £590,000 to £3.2 million, according to figures released last November.
The £9-billion-pound project, covering 42 acres, will boast 4,000 homes at an average price of £1,600 per square foot. These will account for 57 per cent of the project.
Tincknell said stable property price growth in London, as well as the city’s culture, legal framework and ease of investment had attracted investors from around the world.
Asked if the recent stock market rout on the mainland had led to an increase in enquiries from Chinese investers, Tincknell said the company had “traditionally found that when different markets around the world begin to fluctuate, there is often a direct increase in enquiries”.
Qian of Knight Frank agreed that developers of London projects were keen to tap mainland investors.
The consultancy held an exhibition in Hong Kong last month for a new-build residential project in London. Qian said the exhibition of the Keybridge project in central London’s Vauxhall district, had attracted some buyers from the mainland.
Compared with London’s traditional luxury residential districts such as Mayfair, high-end projects like Keybridge and Battersea were more appealing to investors looking to spend a little less, Qian said.
“More and more Chinese investors prefer buying properties in London for long term investment valuing the rental yield, as well as the appreciation potential,” he said.
The consultancy forecast the overall residential prices in London would grow 25 per cent from this year to 2019, with an annual growth of about 7 per cent.