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Of all the signs of the zodiac, it begins with the Rat. As a new decade begins, so does the Year of the Rat. By coincidence, there has been a marked increase in interest in London’s luxury property market from Chinese investors, according to findings from luxury property agent Harrods Estates.

London’s role as an international hub for property investment showed encouraging signs of attracting new demand from overseas, with Harrods Estates estimating that they saw a marked increase in the number of Chinese investors as a share of their client base all looking to invest in the capital.

In 2016, they estimated that just 2.5 per cent of their clients were from China, but this number swelled to 20 per cent in 2019. The significant growth in Chinese demand for London-based luxury properties is significant, as London’s Chinese diaspora remains modest, at 120,250 people or just 1.5 per cent of the total population.

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News of increased demand in London’s luxury housing market comes as the broader housing market becomes increasingly affordable to the general population, owing to the rise in real wages and slower price growth.

A year for shrewd investments

In Chinese culture, the Rat is viewed as an animal of cunning and intelligence, with an ability to be nimble and successful. Harrods Estates believes that increased demand from China signalled growing numbers of Chinese families looking to have a base in the capital, while giving their children a British education.

The estate agent noted that demand from Chinese buyers was particularly concentrated around Marylebone, just a stone’s throw from the Chinese Embassy, and a number of buyers expressed interest in new builds by the River Thames – unsurprising as flowing water is believed to be a sign of good fortune for many.

Simon Barry, head of new developments at Harrods Estates, explained the figures: “London has long been known as a multicultural and world-class city, so it stands to reason that we’re seeing increasingly affluent Chinese clients come through our doors, looking for the perfect property which has a positive energy and auspicious chi.”

Having the numbers on their side

One of Harrods Estates’ most interesting findings from its growing number of Chinese clients is that they often expressed an interest in homes with very specific numbers on the front door. The numbers six and eight are viewed as auspicious numbers, largely as the words for them in Cantonese sound similar to words for good fortune.

The number nine is also viewed as a lucky number, for the way it rhymes with Cantonese word to describe something as long-lasting. In contrast, many homes listed as number four are shunned, as the word for four sounds like the Cantonese word for death.

News of a boom in demand for the capital’s luxury housing market serves as a boost to the UK housing market at large, following the UK’s lengthy process of departing from the European Union.

Increasing demand from the world’s most populous nation is expected to continue.

Shaun Drummond, director of sales at Harrods Estates, explains: “In the past 18 months alone, sales to Chinese buyers have risen exponentially and this trend is set to increase in 2020. Our website translates into Mandarin and our web analytics shows an increasing number of views in this version.”

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Peter Adams
Peter reports for Property Notify about how political developments have a direct impact on the UK housing market. He does this, through his reporting on topics such as Brexit, government policy and the various political arguments that surround housing.

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