From luxury Singapore apartments to Malaysian seafront condos, Hong Kong investors are shifting cash into Southeast Asian property, demoralised by increasingly violent protests as well as the China-US trade war.
Millions have taken to the streets during four months of pro-democracy demonstrations in the southern Chinese city, hammering tourism while also forcing businesses to lay off staff – and the property sector is feeling the pain.
Property stocks in one of the world’s most expensive housing markets have plummeted since June, with developers being forced to offer discounts on new projects and cutting office rents.
Hong Kong businessman Peter Ng bought a condominium in Penang – which is popular among Hong Kongers – after the protests erupted.
“The instability was a catalyst for me,” the 48-year-old stock market and property investor told AFP, adding he was worried about long-term damage to the Hong Kong economy if the unrest persists.
“Investors will always look at things like that, political stability.”
Derek Lee, a Hong Kong businessman who owns a Penang apartment, said he knew others in the semi-autonomous city who were considering investing in Southeast Asian property because of the unrest.
“People are thinking about how to quicken their ideas, how to make a more stable life,” the 55-year-old told AFP.
Adding to the allure of Malaysia is its relative affordability and prices much lower than Hong Kong.
The Malaysia site of Southeast Asian real estate platform Property Guru has seen a 35% increase in visits from Hong Kong, according to its CEO Hari Krishnan.