South East Asian property has been extremely popular with Hong Kong buyers in recent years, due in part to its growth potential, proximity and relative affordability compared with Hong Kong property. Soho’s Eli McGeever recently caught up with Ashton Hawks’ founder, Kingston Lai to hear more about what drives Hong Kong buyers, how the recent unrest has changed demand and what lies ahead.
EM: Ashton Hawks offers several South-East Asia destinations as property investment options in Hong Kong, including Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand. I’ve also seen some exhibitions for Manchester in recent months. Given the current unrest in Hong Kong at the moment, how has demand been, and have you seen a shift in buyer preference?
KL: Yes indeed there has been a big change in buyer preference recently. In the past, investors buy overseas properties with the main reason of investment, but recently there has been a shift into immigration. Hence in the last few months we have seen a pick-up in interest for certain markets such as Malaysia, Greece and Cyprus. These countries offer permanent residency and citizenship programs through real estate investments.
EM: What are the top buying triggers you’re currently seeing from Hong Kong buyers?
KL: Although our clients have an increased interest for markets that offer immigration options, the property itself still needs to have strong investment values before they would buy them. Real estate in prime locations with unique features retains to be a very important buying trigger, whereas immigration offerings of that market comes in second.
For example, we have recently sold a large number of units in a project called TRX Residences in the new financial district of Kuala Lumpur. The main buying triggers for our clients in this case is the project location and the investment value rather than immigration.
EM: Do you see demand changing in the next six – 12 months?
KL: We predict the next few months we will continue to see an outflow of funds from Hong Kong into overseas property investments. It started with the immigration intention but we think that in next few months it will be more about diversifying their portfolio into overseas markets as one of the key reasons. Flight-to-safety is a trend we see picking up over the next few months.
About Ashton Hawks
With offices in Hong Kong, Thailand and Vietnam, Ashton Hawks’ real estate portfolio is as diverse in style as it is in mega-estate location across the globe, and caters to luxury lifestyles of all kinds. Ashton Hawks takes pride in being a boutique yet original real estate consultant in the luxury market segment for the ultra-affluent.
About Kingston Lai
Prior to founding Ashton Hawks, Kingston was an Executive Director at Morgan Stanley Hong Kong where he oversaw institutional sales & distribution to financial institutions in South East Asia. He has been a seasoned investment banker for the past 12 years, has held similar roles at several other investment banks in London, Singapore, and most recently Hong Kong, building a strong network of contacts. Kingston is also a Committee Member of the Real Estate & Infrastructure Committee at the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce. He graduated with First Class Honors in BSc. Accounting & Finance from London School of Economics (LSE).