Hong Kong riots, Brexit driving expats home
Hong Kong buyers and Aussie expats desperate to escape the riots could give Melbourne’s market a much-needed boost this spring.
The new type of foreign buyer, spurred on by political chaos and safety fears, has turned to Victoria’s capital for real estate.
And experts say Aussie expatriates hoping to return home are fuelling much of the demand.
Morrell and Koren director David Morrell said there was renewed demand from expats, which could even help boost the spring market.
“Two things that are really pushing the expats are the shenanigans in Hong Kong and the (falling Australian) dollar with the (United States-China) trade war,” Mr Morrell said.
He said it was expected many of the 100,000 Aussies living in Hong Kong would try to get out.
Inquiries have also surged from the UK, with many locals and Aussies keen to relocate in the wake of Brexit.
Realestate.com.au chief economist Nerida Conisbee said British buyers often had family ties to Australia and searched for properties in beachside suburbs.
“The UK is a complete disaster at the moment, with no deal on Brexit and a lot of fear about the economy,” Ms Consibee said.
“Hong Kong is pretty similar with the political issues in play.”
The company’s data shows a 40 per cent spike in Melbourne real estate searches from both Hong Kong and the UK in the past year. Foreign investors were major contributors to this jump.
There was also a 20 per cent increase of searches into Melbourne from the US, which Ms Conisbee said could reflect the discontent under President Donald Trump.
Across the ditch, inquiries from New Zealand have jumped 10 per cent in the past year.
Expats had looked at high-profile media manager Ralph Carr’s Hawthorn mansion, an $8 million Brighton waterfront block and another $27 million listing in Toorak.
Abercromby’s Armadale director Jock Langley said a weak Australian dollar was also making it an ideal time to invest in high-end properties.
The Foreign Investment Review Board’s annual report shows Hong Kong and UK buyers were approved for $27.913 million and $29.321 million in Australian real estate in the 2017-18 financial year.
It also reports offshore buyer approvals dropped from $28 billion to $5.1 billion between 2017 and 2019, curbed by foreign investment application fees, difficulties obtaining finance in Australia, restrictions on capital transfers in home countries and stamp duty hikes.
Ms Conisbee said the new type of foreign buyer would help buoy the market, after Chinese investment more than halved in the past three years.