Fleeing Hongkongers “swamp” Portugal’s golden visa programme with inquiries

Fleeing Hongkongers “swamp” Portugal’s golden visa programme with inquiries

Wealthy Hong Kong residents desperate for a Plan B as political tensions escalate in the Chinese territory are reported to be “swamping” Portugal’s golden visa programme with inquiries.

Analysts have told the South China Morning Post that there has been “a dramatic spike” in interest, with a 260% rise in June from a year ago, while “the numbers of inquiries in July more than doubled from June”.

“Portugal’s low cost of living, Mediterranean climate, rich history and high standard of safety” are seen as “attractive drawcards” for wealthy residents and investors who need a ‘back door’ if the unrest continues, explained Paddy Blewer of Henley & Partners, an advisory service specialising in residency and citizenship issues.

Binoche Chan, chief operating officer at List Sotheby’s International Realty, agreed, saying: “We have seen more inquiries about Portugal properties from Hong Kong buyers in the past few months.

“Many see Portuguese residency an alternative option in Europe. The entry requirements are relatively low against other popular destinations”.

The increase in inquiries “coincided with escalating tensions in Hong Kong” that led this week to the city’s airport being invaded by protestors.

Anti-government protests are now in their 10th week and “show no signs of abating”, reports the BBC.

Poland-based investment consultant David Lesperance explains “most high net worth individuals are only now deciding they need a back-up plan and an overseas residency, in case they need to leave the city in a hurry”.

According to property portal Juwai.com, Hongkongers and mainland Chinese invested US$300.2 million in Portugal through its golden visa programme in 2018.

“Nine out of 10 of those dollars went into real estate,” said Georg Chmiel, executive chairman at Juwai.

But in the three months from April to June, Chinese and Hong Kong demand for Portuguese property jumped 40.4 % from a year ago, “the highest number of inquiries for any quarter since 2016”.

“Portugal is not a top 10 country for Chinese buyers, but for those seeking a golden visa, it is among the top three,” said Chmiel.

It has also helped that accounting firm PwC has ranked Lisbon as “the best city in real estate investment and development prospects among major European cities this year”.

Property prices in the capital’s metropolitan area continue to rise, while ‘rental yields’ are also excellent.

All in all “Portugal has proven to be an extremely attractive option” for people who fear options in the land they thought was their home could be fast running out.

Hong Kong’s protests started in response to a proposed extradition bill which has since been ‘suspended’. Protestors fear the freedoms Hong Kong enjoys are under threat and they do not believe the extradition bill – which would see ‘suspects’ sent to mainland China for trial – is dead.

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