A 21st century Chinese revolution with a difference is under way on the streets of Birmingham – with dozens of investors from the communist superpower flocking to the city.
Chinese buyers are signing up for slices of city centre real estate in unprecedented numbers, with many students from the giant Far East state targeting the Second City.
New figures obtained by the Post reveal that last year 30 per cent of the buyers at the Cube development in Birmingham city centre were Chinese, with a mix of Hong Kong and mainland Chinese nationals.
Meanwhile, the Hive development at Eastside attracted an even larger proportion of Chinese owners, with a total of 43 per cent of last year’s purchasers forking out for a stake in Birmingham property.
Mark Evans, partner at property advisers Knight Frank Birmingham, said: “Buyers from Hong Kong and China are starting to see Birmingham as perhaps an alternative to London when it comes to both investing in rental property and in buying somewhere to live.
“This is a good thing for the city – on the one hand their investment buys are providing fresh rental stock for the city’s young professionals, and on the other, the many buyers who have chosen Birmingham to finish their studies at university and postgraduate level are contributing to the brainpower and eventually the wider economy of the city.”
Mr Evans said Birmingham’s profile as the UK’s Second City, its wide range of universities and colleges and better yields than London on investment purchases were all key factors in the Chinese phenomenon.
“The lower capital values of Birmingham provide an easier entry point for buyers – meaning the chance to buy for one’s child or for investment is now not just for the very wealthy Chinese, but also attractive to the emerging middle-classes. Several non-London cities, such as Birmingham, are home to top universities, especially for medicine and technology, which attract more Asian students than other subjects.”
He said the Mailbox’s reputation for designer brands and upmarket outlets and the Cube’s proximity to restaurants, bars and gyms were also influential in attracting the Chinese to the city.
John Moffat, development director, Hive, said: “With a combination of high-quality apartments and our location on the doorstep of Birmingham’s higher education hub, it is no surprise that Hive has attracted a significant number of mature, foreign students – predominantly from China and Hong Kong – who occupy around 30 per cent of the units available for rent.
“Hive continues to draw significant interest as a key investment opportunity for both owner-occupiers and buy-to-let investors.
The Chinese entry into Birmingham property circles follows the acquisition of Longbridge by Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation – paving the way for the birth of MG Motor UK – and SAIC’s subsequent relaunch of the LDV Maxus brand in Australia, South Africa and Asia.