China’s rich are buying up a diverse range of prime, luxury real estate which ranges from historic castles in Germany to Chateaus in France and villas on the Spanish Costas.
London, however, remains the most desirable location for Chinese buyers. In fact, investors from mainland China and Hong Kong now account for ten percent of all new property purchases in central London.
Chinese investors are attracted to London for several reasons; one being, they can buy property and live in the UK for up to ninety days per year without paying UK taxes on their worldwide income.
Real estate agents and developers in London have been taking advantage of the surge in the number of Chinese investors by holding exhibitions and seminars in China and hiring Mandarin speaking sales consultants and translators.
Several property developers in the UK capital are even seeking the advice of Feng Shui experts and some London apartment blocks are even without a fourth floor, as the number four is considered unlucky in China.
Currently the Chinese government limits the transfer of funds out of China to a maximum of £31,700 (US$50,000) per person, per annum. However, many mainland Chinese citizens get around the restrictions by using black-market money changers in southern China.
Additionally, as many of London’s Chinese buyers are members of China’s super-rich, they usually have companies in Hong Kong along with both corporate and personal bank accounts. As the financial restrictions do not apply in Hong Kong, they are free to transfer funds overseas in order to buy foreign property.
The surprising thing for many real estate agents in London has not been the quantity of real estate bought by the Chinese, but the speed at which the decision to buy has been made and the transaction then completed.
Buyers from the UK usually take weeks to decide, whereas buyers from mainland China take just one day on average. People from Hong Kong are even quicker, with most decisions to buy being made around an hour after viewing the property.
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