HUNDREDS of thousands of Hong Kong nationals are expected to leave their home countries for the UK in the coming years – and many are choosing Warrington as their new hometown.
So why is the city becoming a hotspot for Hong Kong expats, and what does this mean for residents?
Hong Kong has experienced some sort of mass exodus in the past year after the Chinese government imposed new laws criminalizing protests in June 2020.
As a result, critics in Beijing fear for their safety.
A visa program allowing natives of Hong Kong – a former British colony – to apply for British citizenship opened in February, and around 300,000 are expected to apply over the next five years.
Manoj Patel, director of Warrington Business Park-based Hamlet Homes, told the Warrington Guardian: Rainy country.
“If people are prepared to do it, then they clearly feel a risk to their safety. ”
Initially, the influx was concentrated in London.
But, more and more, others are realizing that they can get better value for money by buying a property in the North.
And Warrington is ideally located for newcomers, who can seek employment in the neighboring markets of Liverpool and Manchester.
Most are cash buyers who can offer homes above the asking price, with the lack of a chain and the reduced chance of a deal failing due to no mortgage also being an attractive proposition for them. sellers.
Many real estate agents have been created to cater specifically to the new market, with dozens of videos posted on YouTube in Cantonese showing tours of properties and facilities, some of which have attracted tens of thousands of views.
Some of the Cantonese YouTube videos featuring properties in Warrington
Areas such as Chapelford and Great Sankey are proving particularly popular with Hong Kongers, with the recently opened Warrington West station being one of the reasons these areas are a draw.
Hamlet Homes real estate consultant Tesh Patel said: “In the beginning, the investment was in London.
“Now I think they are realizing and realizing that you can get a lot more property for your money in the north, and that you are still close to big cities like Liverpool and Manchester.
“They are rich refugees and they are very capable and intelligent people – they are here to stay, to settle and to create a life.
“Chapelford has a great community.
“There is a school, a supermarket and a pub, these are beautiful houses and then there is public transport with the train station.
“A lot of them don’t drive, so they have to be around these things.”
Dakota Park in Chapelford
Some also buy to rent to their compatriots, many of whom would find it difficult to rent through traditional means as they would not pass credit checks here in the UK.
Homeowners are able to charge a premium accordingly.
Tesh said, “Hong Kong people not only buy properties to live there, they also buy to invest.
“Some families from Hong Kong won’t be able to buy, so they will rent.
“But they will prefer to rent to someone from Hong Kong because there is a language barrier, a trust barrier and a cultural barrier.
“A real estate agent has a client who invests around £ 3million in three-bedroom semi-trailers in Warrington, and he’s considering leasing them to Hong Kong people.
“The UK property market has always been resilient, so they know it’s a safe place to invest.
“They charge rents that we wouldn’t be able to get from Warringtonians tenants, 30 or 40% higher.”
While sellers have benefited from a higher than odds price for their home, they are also struggling to find a new home in a market that has become more competitive as a result.
So what’s Tesh’s advice for anyone who gets stuck between properties?
“90% are cash buyers, so it is difficult for local buyers to compete,” he said.
“They will pay too much to secure this house, because it is a gesture of desperation.
“Sometimes they pay 10 to 15% too much just to secure their home and protect their families.
“They buy new homes abroad, purely on the basis of plans.
“We have noticed a ripple effect where sellers are having trouble finding their next home because they are overbid.
“It just drives up the prices, and they might be better off getting into the rental business.
“Either way, you get £ 20,000 or £ 30,000 more than the value of your house.
“Consider sitting on that and renting a bit so you can take your time finding the right home.
“People have to think outside the box.
“Either way, you earn a premium on your property, so you can put £ 5,000 aside for 12 months to pay for a rental property.
“And there are still other areas of Warrington that people can buy where the demand is not there.”
Jack Liu is a Hong Konger who traveled 6,000 miles to Warrington.
The 49-year-old left his home country for Manchester two months ago with his wife and eight-year-old son.
And he’s now bought a house in Bewsey.
Jack, who worked as a regional IT and logistics manager for a fashion company in Hong Kong and is also a wakeboard instructor, said: “We are currently experiencing political turmoil, and for young families in particular, it is very difficult to plan for the long term.
“The British have been very generous since I moved and I’ve watched football a lot.
“When I lived in Hong Kong, I lived in the countryside so I don’t like living in a big city.
“I moved to Manchester to plan where I would settle, and I was mainly watching Sheffield, Bolton, Wigan and Warrington.
“Then I found a nice place here, so I made the decision – why not?
“In terms of location, it’s between Liverpool and Manchester and Bolton and Wigan are also a 15-20 minute drive away.
“I think it’s a very good choice.
“I would also like to reach the seaside easily and I like Liverpool, but accommodation seems a bit more expensive to me.
“We’ve been staying at hotels and Airbnbs for almost nine months, moving here and there, so I want to settle in for our little boy. ”
Another new resident, who only wanted to be known as Mr. Lo, recently moved to Brook at Taylor’s Chase in Sankey with his wife.
Mr. and Mrs. Lo
He told the Guardian earlier this year that the city had “everything it needed,” adding: “Houses in England offer more bang for your buck than in Hong Kong.
“To compare the cost of living and house prices in Hong Kong to somewhere here it would be like London but still a lot more expensive so we feel very lucky that we managed to find a nice house to settle in and start our new life here. ”