More Hong Kong investors are eyeing Spanish property as gateway to permanent residency in EU

By Cheryl Arcibalcheryl.arcibal@scmp.com / https://www.scmp.com/business/article/3036301/more-hong-kong-investors-are-eyeing-spanish-property-gateway-permanent?utm_medium=partner&utm_campaign=contentexchange&utm_source=EdgeProp | November 26, 2019 11:57 AM SGT
Hong Kong buyers are discovering the investment opportunities Spain's property market has to offer, as well as the route it provides to permanent residency in the European Union.
Inquiries have doubled in recent months even as pro-independence protests in Catalonia raise eyebrows, said Lily Siu-Rambaud, managing director of Madrid-based property agency Epic Asia.
"Some of my prospective Hong Kong clients are sceptical about the Madrid property outlook because of protests in Catalonia ... [they] feel that what is taking place in Catalonia is what's happening in Hong Kong, but it's not the same. Catalonia is just an island of instability [in Spain]," she said.
She said initially she had one client buying property under a residence permit programme " or acquiring a "golden visa" " but now she had seven clients who were finalising deals that will also allow them to eventually gain permanent residency.
Siu-Rambaud said three clients from Hong Kong were expected in Madrid for a "property hunting trip" by the end of November.
With Hong Kong mired in its worst political crisis in decades, a rising number of Hongkongers are looking for permanent residency options should they wish to move overseas in a hurry.
Siu-Rambaud said that while she recommends Madrid to clients, she advises them against investing in Barcelona, the capital of the Catalonia region. The region wants independence from Spain and protests there frequently descend into violent clashes between police and protesters.
Additionally, Barcelona has stopped issuing licences that allow homeowners to rent out property to tourists, cutting off a potential source of income. "You can't advertise your property as an Airbnb any more," Siu-Rambaud said.
During the global financial crisis of 2008, the Spanish property market crashed and many foreign homebuyers lost their money. But analysts said real-estate regulations have since been reformed.
"The number of new homes completed across Spain has declined from 632,000 in 2008 to 64,600 in 2018," said Kate Everett-Allen, partner, international research, at property consultancy Knight Frank.
Other agents have...