The number of UK buy-to-let mortgage completions from Hong Kong residents soared over the past year according to new figures.

Enquiries into the UK from Asia for expat mortgages have been increasing over the past couple of years, according to Skipton International, with much of the interest coming from Hong Kong where property prices are the most unaffordable in the world.

With the average home in Hong Kong now costing 19.4 times the typical local salary according to figures from Demographia, homeownership levels there are among the lowest globally – and many residents are looking to the UK’s property market as a more lucrative investment spot.

In 2017, Skipton saw a huge 65% rise in buy-to-let mortgage completions from Hong Kong investors compared to 2016, and the company says it has seen further rises in 2018 so far.

A cheaper alternative

Nigel Pascoe, director of business development at Skipton, believes that UK property remains an attractive option for those living in countries where buying is simply not an option.

“Familiarity with the UK market and maintaining a tie with their homeland are all reasons why expatriates are finding comfort with UK property investment.”

He added: “The expat market is something Skipton International has lengthy experience and expertise in and we are always looking at how we can make our mortgages and savings more accessible for those British residents working abroad.”

Hong Kongers heading to Manchester

It’s not just British expats who are investing back into the UK property market. A growing number of Hong Kong nationals have also been looking to the north of England, and Manchester in particular, for their next investment opportunity, according to Mallam Grant, head of the Hong Kong office at Alliance Investments.

While London is still a more familiar investment choice for many, the capital’s lower yields and stagnating property prices have meant that Manchester’s popularity is soaring among international investors. The city centre is evolving and expanding rapidly with new business districts and modern residential areas continuing to pop up, creating a major economic shift in the area.

In contrast to London, Manchester has some of the highest yields in the country, with house prices there also expected to strengthen in line with the high levels of local investment, and it is proving an increasingly enticing option for Hong Kong buyers.