Property buyers from Hong Kong are flocking to London, according to one of the capital's largest estate agents.
Chestertons says that between June 1 and July 7, the number of new buyers from Hong Kong more than doubled when compared to the same period in 2019.
It is believed the surge in demand comes off the back of unrest in Hong Kong, a British colony until 1997. Hong Kong was returned to China under the 'one country, two systems' arrangement, giving it more autonomy and more rights to its people.
However, protests began in June 2019 in opposition to a bill that would make it possible for people in Hong Kong to be extradited to mainland China.
The controversial bill was initially shelved and has since been withdrawn, but this has done little to end civil unrest with many violent clashes between police and activists taking place over the last year.
As part of China, Hong Kong enjoys 'special freedoms' which are set to expire in 2047. Many Hong Kong residents are worried that this could lead to the area becoming 'another Chinese city'.
And more recently, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson reacted to a change in security law - which is suggested could reduce Hong Kong's autonomy further and make it easier to punish protestors - by offering UK citizenship to three million Hong Kong residents. This is thought to be another driving factor behind rising interest in London property.
Chestertons says its data shows buyers from Hong Kong are also expanding into areas they haven't targeted in the past.
Previously, areas outside of Central London, such as Canary Wharf where investment yields are higher, have been popular with Hong Kong purchasers.
However, in recent weeks, interest has been more focused on buying family properties in Central and South West London areas, where enquiries have increased by over 50% year-on-year.
In Putney, a traditionally low interest area of the capital for Hong Kong, Chestertons reports that it has registered numerous new buyers. In other parts of West London, 75% of the apartments released in the first phase of a new development were reserved by Hong Kong investors within a matter of weeks.
"Given the close historic ties between Hong Kong and the UK, London has always been popular with Hong Kongers as a place to visit, invest and educate their children," says Guy Gittins, managing director of Chestertons.
"However, the current situation and uncertainty in Hong Kong has caused many to look at London property as a ‘safe haven’ investment, while the stamp duty holiday and the weak pound are added attractions."