Singapore nationals the supporting cast to Hong Kong homebuyer activity

James Carter
Authored by James Carter
Posted: Tuesday, November 29, 2022 - 10:43

Research by London lettings and estate agent, Benham and Reeves, has revealed that while the bonus of the BNO visa scheme has resulted in a high level of Hong Kong homebuyers making their way to the UK, it’s a supporting cast from Singapore that is also helping to drive market activity within the UK, with Singapore nationals sitting on a property portfolio to the tune of £5.8bn in London alone.

Benham and Reeves analysed the latest data on the number of homes owned by foreign homeowners, which shows that Hong Kong nationals are the most prevalent within the current market, with some 23,524 homes registered to Hong Kong nationals - equating to 9.5% of all internationally registered homes. 

With 18,493 titles registered with HMRC, Jersey ranks second, but looking further afield than the Channel Islands, it’s Singapore nationals who are helping drive the market to the greatest extent. 

The latest figures show that over 18,000 UK homes are registered to Singapore nationals, accounting for 7.4% of internationally owned properties across the nation. 

As a result, the nation ranks ahead of the United States and Ireland in the global rankings and some way ahead of Malaysia, the third most prominent Asian nation, with Malaysian nationals accounting for 4.1% of internationally owned homes.

Unlike Hong Kong buyers, Singapore nationals aren’t being drawn by the benefit of the BNO visa scheme, but by the investment opportunities available across what has been a largely lethargic London market, coupled with the recent weakening of the pound. 

As it stands, the value of the property portfolio owned by Singapore homebuyers in London alone stands at £5.8bn in current market conditions. Hounslow is by far home to the largest proportion of Singapore nationals, with the nation sitting on £1.658bn of property in the borough. 

However, they also have a strong footprint across prime central London, with £651.2m worth of property owned in Westminster and £543m in Kensington and Chelsea.

Director of Benham and Reeves, Marc von Grundherr, commented:

“Despite the fact that the average London house price has increased by a reasonably impressive 8.3% on an annual basis, the capital continues to lag behind the wider UK market where house price growth has hit 13.6% over the last year. 

This slow but steady trend has pretty much remained unchanged since the pandemic and many foreign buyers, in particular, have spotted an opportunity to purchase within the London market while the rate of house price appreciation has been more measured. 

At the same time, a weakening pound has also presented many foreign nationals with the potential for an even greater discount, with both Hong Kong and Singapore nationals enjoying respective discounts of 16% and 11% on the average London home in 2022.

Unlike Hong Kong buyers who have also been tempted to the UK by the additional carrot of the BNO visa scheme, Singapore nationals have been purchasing very much based on current market metrics and the strength of the market from an investment standpoint. 

So while it may be Hong Kong nationals who continue to drive foreign buyer activity to the greatest extent, buyers from Singapore have provided a strong supporting role and will continue to do so as the London market heads towards a return to full health.”