Hong Kong residents who can afford overseas homes flock to seek sanctuaries abroad as protests rage on at home

Purchases of offshore residential property by Hong Kong residents have jumped fourfold in the last five months, as the political crisis at home drove more city residents to seek safe haven abroad, according to real estate brokers.
Residential property purchases that are tied to emigration incentives, such as the so-called Golden Visa offered by Greece, Portugal, Cyprus, Malta, as well as Malaysia's "My Second Home" programme " which entitle property owners to be residents, have been on the rise, said John Hu, founder and principal consultant of John Hu Migration Consulting.
"Monthly new applications and [business] have increased by four times" from May, Hu said. "We received about 1,000 enquiries for visa applications every month" since Hong Kong's anti-government protests began in June, he said. The protests were sparked by a now-withdrawn extradition bill that would have enabled the transfer of fugitives to countries that the city does not currently have an agreement with, including mainland China.
The most popular destinations for Hongkongers are Australia, Canada and the United States, he said. More than 50 applications were received for Australia, while 30 were received for Ireland, Hu said.
The trend underscores how nearly five months of unprecedented street rallies in Hong Kong has altered the purchasing and investment pattern of the city's residents, as the prices of new flats and lived-in homes had taken a beating.
Increasingly, residents are snubbing flat sales by local developers, flocking instead to property fairs organised by overseas builders who are making a beeline for their chequebooks.
"Every project sells," said David Hui, managing director of Centaline Immigration Consultants and the sales director for China and overseas property, adding that 2019 business was an improvement of up to 50 per cent from last year. "Japan, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore are also popular. Malaysia and Singapore had been particularly popular these few months."
Centaline, a division of one of Hong Kong's biggest real estate agencies, now sells about 100 abodes overseas a month and receives inquiries from customers in their 30s...