Top 5 Cities to Invest Overseas Now

Posted in Ask An Estate Agent

Amidst increasingly heated political tensions and a battered post-pandemic economy, it’s only natural that many of Hong Kong’s existing property owners and prospective buyers are now looking to invest overseas, with the many windows of opportunity offered across the globe.

The urge to exit Hong Kong — or at least, to gain a foothold in an aspirational destination — has recently spiked since Beijing unveiled a controversial national security law on 21 May, sparking fears that it will bypass local Hong Kong legislature.

According to the South China Morning Post, buyers have been “accelerating their decision to buy property overseas, while others are cutting their asking price for local properties” in a bid to cash in and emigrate as soon as possible.

Amidst an uncertain landscape, overseas investment can offer attractive opportunities for alternative income whether for capital gains, rental yield or, simply, an answer to the desire to relocate. We ask five real estate agents and analysts on the top cities in the world to invest in now.

Lisbon, Portugal

“Asian and international investors are not new to the Lisbon market,” says Oliver Banks, Senior Negotiator, International Residential Developments at Knight Frank. “Since the start of the Golden Visa Programme in 2012, 8466 applicants have taken advantage of the opportunity to invest in property in order apply for the scheme, which has amounted to €5.1 billion (approx. HK$43.9 billion) of investment into Portuguese real estate.” 

The potential language barrier aside, Portugal’s capital offers an “enviably luxurious lifestyle at low cost,” says Banks, “as well as solid economic fundamentals, affordable property prices (€1 million buys you 125 sq.m., or 1,345 sq.ft.), strong rental yields (4-6 percent) and improving transport connections. This combination has resulted in an international hotspot for investors, developers and tourists alike.”

In a post-CoViD-19 landscape, Lisbon offers plenty of beneficial reasons to invest in comparison to its neighbours. Banks adds, “whilst prices are momentarily muted, this could provide a small window of opportunity to investors. Portugal’s successful handling of the pandemic in comparison to their European neighbours has meant they are among the first to ease restrictions; combining this with strengthening demand and limited prime supply will underpin Lisbon’s price growth, which is forecast to rebound by 5 percent in 2021.”

Property to watch: A’Tower

A’Tower is a contemporary building that exemplifies Lisbon’s most attractive aforementioned qualities. With only 34 residences in total ranging from one- to five-bedroom layouts, A’Tower offers the privacy sought by higher net worth residents while also located in the Amoreiras quarter, a preferential location to explore the best the city has to offer.

Auckland, New Zealand

top 5 cities overseas property - Auckland
Auckland’s Jervois & Lawrence.

New Zealand has been impressing the rest of the globe with its swift action combatting the CoViD-19 crisis, its proximity to urban centres as well as breathtaking landscapes, and is renowned for exceptional quality of life and a thriving, stable business environment. 

“With no Capital Gains tax or stamp duties, New Zealand has an enticing offering for investors, so whether you’re looking to invest for capital gains, rental yield or because you want to own property in a special part of the country, New Zealand is a great place to look at homes for sale,” says Suzie Wigglesworth, General Manager of the Projects division of New Zealand’s largest full-service real estate firm Bayleys.

Property to watch: Jervois & Lawrence

One of the most desirable properties in Auckland’s idyllic Herne Bay, Jervois & Lawrence boasts a coveted northern slopes location, incredible views and a collection of 28 highly-refined, luxury residences in the heart of an upscale neighbourhood.

London, United Kingdom

London’s appeal as a city barely requires introduction. Whether it’s the rich history and culture, exceptional architecture and green spaces, the charm of the city is undeniable. It’s also currently poised at a preferential rate for overseas investors looking to tap into its prime developments. 

“Historically, London has always held the status of ‘safe haven’ with international buyers, and the time to invest here has never been more compelling, thanks to the effective currency discount currently available in prime central London,” says Rupert des Forges, Head of Prime Central London Developments at Knight Frank.

Property to watch: Chelsea Barracks

“For overseas purchasers looking to make an investment in London, there are a number of exceptional prime developments to choose from,” says des Forges. “However, one best in class example is Chelsea Barracks, developed by Qatari Diar, where a high specification design and luxury craftsmanship make it a very compelling investment for purchasers looking to acquire a prime asset in one of the city’s most desirable postcodes.”

Sydney, Australia

Australia is already synonymous with an exceptional quality of life with its abundance and proximity to some of the world’s most pristine beaches and national parks, a great education system and healthcare infrastructure. 

“Sydney’s fundamentals as a city remain unchanged and the prime market is poised for resilience in uncertain times, says Erin van Tuil, Partner of Crown Residences at One Barangaroo. 

“Sydney has emerged on the global stage for luxury home offerings and has seen increased demand from ultra-high-net-worth individuals [UHWNIs — defined as those who have a net worth of at least US$30 million] who continue to flock here.” 

The numbers also indicate healthy growth in the past few quarters. “The prime property market in Sydney has recorded strong and sustained price growth historically. Recently, Knight Frank research revealed Sydney’s prime property market recorded 4.7 percent growth 12 months up to March 2020,” says van Tuil.

Property to watch: Crown Residences at One Barangaroo

Following the global trend of the vouched-for quality and return when investing in a branded residence, you’ll want to look to properties such as Crown Residences at One Bangaroo — the first fully-integrated hotel branded residence in the country. “I can’t see there is a greater investment opportunity at the moment or that there will be for some time.” says Van Tuil.

New York, United States

Despite the political turmoil across the US as well as soaring pandemic cases — both perhaps creating a reasonable cause to hesitate when it comes to investing Stateside, the US appears to remain as the top destination for buyers from the Asia Pacific.

According to Knight Frank’s 2020 Wealth Report, “Asian investors planning to purchase property in 2020 indicated a clear preference for prime residential markets, with the US leading as the destination of choice,” says Georgina Atkinson, manager of the residential division at Knight Frank Asia Pacific. In an uncertain global market, finding stability is key.

Moreover, Manhattan in particular will always uphold its position as “the worldwide centre of finance and culture,” Atkinson adds. “Alongside its globally renowned higher education and medical facilities, the city’s real estate has for decades proven to be a coveted and stable asset. In times of uncertainty, buyers gravitate towards markets that are resilient, offer stability and long-term price appreciation which is what we are seeing at present in respect of New York City.”

Property to watch: The Towers of the Waldorf Astoria

For a high-end residence symbolic of New York’s enduring cultural status, you’ll want to look to The Towers of the Waldorf Astoria. Interest levels have been peaking lately, with “the level of enquiries received in recent weeks from buyers across multiple markets in Asia, looking to purchase a trophy asset investment opportunity in arguably the world’s safest real estate market,” says Atkinson.

“The full block property, which will include 375 condominium residences and the 375-key Waldorf Astoria New York hotel, will welcome residents and guests in 2022.”

Evelyn Lok
When not trying out the latest beauty and wellness trends, Evelyn is likely enjoying a perfectly balanced negroni or exploring some of Hong Kong's best new places to eat and drink. She covers everything from the biggest events in town to interviews with Hong Kong specialists, with topics spanning art, food and drink, health, tech, and travel.