Rise in Hongkongers applying for Australian emigration amid protests boosts recovery in Melbourne, Sydney property markets

By Lam Ka-sing / SCMP | October 12, 2019 3:00 PM SGT
A recovery in the Melbourne and Sydney property markets is being boosted by Hong Kong investors fleeing anti-government protests, experts said.
The number of Hong Kong residents applying for business visas for millionaires looking to migrate to Australia might have doubled since June this year, when the protests started.
"Since June, I have seen a significant increase in demand from Hong Kong for Australian visas, with business visas being of great interest to those with the wealth to make it work," said David Lesperance, an international citizenship and tax law expert and managing partner at Lesperance & Associates.
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"I would not be surprised if Hong Kong applications for business visas were up by half, or even twice what they were a year ago."
This view was shared by Eli McGeever, a Hong Kong-based vice-president of international property at property portal Soho.
"As tensions in Hong Kong show no signs of abating, locals are considering residential options elsewhere," he said. "Interest in obtaining the business visa is up by at least 200 per cent at the property marketing events that I track in Hong Kong."
According to Australia's Department of Home Affairs, 220 Hong Kong residents received two kinds of business visas " Subclass 188 and Subclass 132 " between July 2017 and June 2018, the latest year for which data is available.
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"In 2018, 2,400 Hong Kong residents moved to Australia. That compares with 1,600 who moved to the US and 1,100 who moved to Canada," McGeever said, citing official figures.

"The result is increased buyer interest in Sydney and Melbourne, which contributes to an already recovering property market. The Sydney real-estate market just had its busiest Saturday of auctions so far this year," he said.
"Some 700-plus properties were listed for auction, and data shows 79 per cent of the homes were sold. On the same weekend last year, only 44 per cent of properties were sold."
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McGeever said the largest share of buyers from Hong Kong were buying property for A$750,000 (US$506,400) or less.
The Subclass 188 business visa, specifically, requires investment of no more than A$800,000, said Mark Butler, the chief executive of Property Consultants Australia.
"It's well-known within the industry that there has been a spike in inquiries from Hong Kong," Butler said. "If you are under 55 years of age and create a business developing real estate in Australia, you need to only invest A$800,000," he said. "If you are 55 or older, you can sometimes still migrate by investing more."
Experienced business people willing to open or buy a business in Australia, with assets of at least A$2.5 million and a turnover of A$3 million, could consider the Subclass 132 visa, Butler said.
This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP's Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2019 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.
Copyright (c) 2019. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.
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