Putting your money in brick and mortar is still considered to be one of the most sensible ways to invest. Here's how to do it across the globe.
Buying in Hong Kong
Providing you have the means to pay Hong Kong prices, taking out a mortgage in Hong Kong is a relatively easy process. All the major banks, such as HSBC, Standard Chartered, Bank of China, Citibank, BEA, and Hang Seng, offer mortgage facilities and depending on the property you are buying, you can usually get between 60 and 90 percent of the value. There are fixed and flexible rate mortgages on offer, as well as deposit-linked mortgages that give preferential interest rates dependent on your other savings. As with anywhere, you need to allow for solicitor fees and stamp duty in your budgeting, as well as delays, especially when buying a new build.
Buying in the UK and US
Unless you are buying back in your home country with the intention of moving back to live in the property straight away, the process can be tricky. Buying to let as a non-resident is, of course, possible, but the requirements are much stricter, and the necessary capital is much higher. Most banks and building societies in Europe and the US have tempting offers for first-time buyers, but one of the conditions is that you are both a resident and buying to live in. There are a few exceptions, such as HSBC Expat, which provides a mortgage service, but these companies tend to cater for high-value properties and require either a larger deposit or investment with the bank, as opposed to those required for regular home mortgages. The best option is to use a specialist expat broker to find a mortgage company that will work for your circumstances. While this does require an extra fee, it will save you a great deal of time and stress in the long run.
Buying Around the Region
Buying a property in other countries around Asia is often a tempting proposition for Hongkongers and expats alike, as the prices are considerably cheaper than either Hong Kong or their home country. Thailand has traditionally been a popular choice, though emerging markets such as Vietnam and Cambodia offer even cheaper deals, but with potentially larger pitfalls. Each country has its own set of regulations for foreign purchase, but the use of a local or international agent can smooth the process. Developers that are directly targeting foreign investors will also help the process, though may offer less lucrative terms. Mortgage loans can be approved either through international banks in Hong Kong or through local investors who often only require small deposits to
secure off plan.
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