Chinese offshore investment

Overseas developers tout property projects to Hong Kong investors

Amid cooling measures at home, local investors are now seeking to tap into overseas markets

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 05 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 18 April, 2015, 5:29pm

Interest by Hong Kong investors in overseas property is luring a growing number of developers to the city to market their offshore projects, according to a property exhibition organiser.

"Developers of projects in new markets have begun to flock to Hong Kong, which they see as a platform from which they can tap into demand for their projects from local and mainland investors," said Hoi Cheung, managing director of Smart Expo, which has been hosting overseas property exhibitions in Hong Kong since 2004.

Exhibitors from Japan, Dubai and Canada - who promoted properties in Hong Kong several years ago - had returned, according to Cheung, and some 50 offshore properties were on offer at an exhibition he organised in the city this week.

In a first for the city, a developer from Cape Verde, an island off the coast of West Africa, joined the exhibition, being held at the Wan Chai Convention and Exhibition Centre.

"Hong Kong property prices are high. Property investors are finding alternative places in which to park their money, especially after the government launched property cooling measures," said Cheung.

Buyers at such exhibitions were usually investors, he said. They feared that local property prices might retreat from their present high levels as a result of the government's cooling measures, which explained why they were turning to offshore markets.

"There has definitely been a pick-up in buyer interest in overseas properties in recent months. Our exhibitors report that inquiries for international residential properties have risen by 10 per cent since the [Hong Kong] government announced its latest control measures in February."

The government has taken a series of steps since last October to curb prices, including imposing a new 15 per cent buyer's stamp duty on residential purchases by non-resident and corporate buyers.

It also imposed mortgage restrictions and taxes on quick resales.

In February, a further round of cooling measures was introduced, including the doubling of stamp duty levied on residential and non-residential property transactions valued at more than HK$2 million, and further tightening of mortgage lending.

"About 10 to 15 per cent of buyers who visit our exhibitions are Putonghua speakers," said Cheung. This compared to a single-digit percentage a few years ago.

Cheung said more banks were willing to offer loans for overseas property purchases compared with a few years ago.

They include the National Australia Bank, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Lloyds and Westpac.