Luxury properties in London attract China’s rich as buying trees

Although the number of Russian billionaires putting their money into expensive British capital property has been declining for years, it has increased with the war in Ukraine and sanctions against Russia.

The British government began to respond to pressure some time ago by investigating the anonymous funds pumped into the property sector by foreign investors, then came the war in Ukraine at the end of February, to the British government’s crackdown on the Russian to raise the rich. and their assets, leading to the exit of many from the luxury real estate sector.

But the property companies and brokerages that handle the top-tier housing deals in London have hardly suffered the absence of wealthy Russians as they have seen the rise of other wealthy people, investors from Hong Kong and China.

The Chinese, especially the new billionaires in the property and technology sectors, started accepting luxury properties in London about five years ago. Especially in neighborhoods like Mayfair, Knightsbridge, Kensington and Hampstead.

And luxury estate agents in the British capital expect this trend to increase in the coming period. The Sunday Telegraph quotes Paul Finch of Beauchamp Estates as saying: “The Russians’ money has become the talk of the day. The Chinese are now the priority and they are very accepting of the market, especially the Chinese from Hong Kong who are buying expensive properties. in London.”

The Chinese are coming

According to data from Beauchamp, billionaires from China topped the list of luxury property purchases last year 2021 with a price of more than 24 million dollars (20 million pounds).

China’s wealthy took the top five spots on the list of the most expensive properties sold in London last year, ahead of Russians, Americans, Britons and Africans who topped the rest of the list in the company’s research.

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Among the most famous properties bought by wealthy Chinese from China is the property no. 2-8 Rutland Gate in Knightsbridge overlooking central London’s famous Hyde Park, purchased in 2020 by Chinese property developer Zhong Shang Qiu for over $240 million. (£200 million).

The building dates back to the 1830s and was owned by a Gulf prince, as it was the home of the former Prime Minister of Lebanon, Rafic Hariri.

The eight-storey building has 45 bedrooms, and the Chinese billionaire has received permission from the municipality to renovate it into a luxury home worth more than 600 million dollars (half a billion pounds). It is the most expensive property in London to date.

Another big deal snapped up by wealthy Chinese is a property on Kensington Palace Gardens Street, several houses from the home of Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich. It was bought by Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin, owner of Dalian Wanda Group, a real estate development, financial services and movie theater group. He paid around $100m (£80m) for the property. Jianlin’s fortune is estimated at more than $12 billion.

new fears

Those who work at luxury real estate brokerages say that the Chinese rich are less concerned about security matters than their Russian counterparts, but it is not easy to deal with. The Russians used to see the property and liked it and bought it directly, or the Chinese have an army of escorts and mediators, and negotiations with them drag on, according to the broker, Sunday Telegraph,” and there is often no contact with the actual owner for who the transaction is done.

Among the luxury properties negotiated by wealthy Chinese is the property known as the House of Gucci in Mayfair, once the headquarters of the famous Italian luxury fashion company.

The eight-bedroom property is on the market for $66m (£55m). The seven-storey building includes a cinema hall, indoor swimming pool, sauna and more. Beauchamp is marketing it and says that there are a number of wealthy Chinese people who are interested in buying it.

Paul Finch added: “The Chinese are very important to us now, and they make up the bulk of our high-end property deals.”

According to the latest Forbes list of the world’s rich, the United States remains at the top in terms of the number of billionaires, with 735 billionaires last year, an increase of 11 billionaires from 2020.

China comes next with 607 billionaires, but with a significant annual increase as China added 60 new billionaires last year compared to the previous year.

Although the strained relations between London and Beijing have not deterred China’s wealthy from putting their money into luxury property in the British capital, there are fears that what happened to the wealthy Russians could happen to the wealthy in China. Especially since the Chinese government itself is cracking down on the emerging rich and scrutinizing their wealth. Some of these new billionaires have even been tried and are serving prison terms in China.

Anti-corruption and money-laundering campaigners say British authorities should also investigate the sources of funds for new entrants from China to London’s luxury property sector, with the possibility of suspicion.

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