By Kate Youde
Five property stories making global headlines this week:
Hong Kong residents seek Malaysian visas
Malaysia has seen an increase in Hong Kong residents applying to a programme aimed at attracting wealthy foreigners to the country. According to Reuters, there have been 251 applications this year to the Malaysia My Second Home scheme from the city, which has been hit by anti-government protests in recent months. Last year, 193 applications were approved.
The programme allows a foreign national who meets financial requirements to receive a renewable multiple-entry visa and buy property worth at least RM1m ($239,234). Sharifah Ikhlas Aljaffree, the director of the programme run by Malaysia’s tourism ministry, told the news agency that none of this year’s applications have yet been approved.
UK market enjoys summer sales boost
Summer UK house sales are at their highest point since 2015, as buyers seek to seal the deal ahead of the anticipated withdrawal from the EU. The Guardian reported figures from the property website Rightmove, which show that the number of agreed sales was up 6.1 per cent year on year in the month to August 10. “While the end of October Brexit outcome remains uncertain, more buyers are now going for the certainty of doing a deal, with some having perhaps hesitated earlier in the year,” said Miles Shipside, a director at Rightmove.
Dubai villa sales grow as prices drop
Sales of villas in Dubai rose 35 per cent in the first half of the year, compared with the same period last year, on the back of falling prices. Villas cost 12.1 per cent less than they did in 2017, according to research by listings portal Property Finder covered by The National. Prices are falling as new stock comes on the market. Property in Damac Hills saw prices decline 8.2 per cent in the first six months of the year.
Homeowners remortgage to benefit from low US rates
US homeowners are rushing to remortgage their homes to take advantage of lower rates. Earlier this month, the average interest rate on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was 3.6 per cent, according to the government sponsored mortgage guarantor Freddie Mac, the lowest level since November 2016. The Financial Times reported that the Mortgage Bankers Association index of mortgage refinance activity hit its highest level in three years when it climbed in the first two weeks of August by 12 and 37 per cent week on week, respectively.
Snap up a Scottish castle
An Englishman’s home is his castle — and yours could be too north of the border. Seton Castle, 20 minutes from Edinburgh in Scotland, has come on to the market priced at £8m ($9.7m). Designed by the neoclassical architect Robert Adam, the late-18th century house was built on the site of Seton Palace, which hosted Mary Queen of Scots. Original features, according to Bloomberg, include Adam’s fireplaces, doors and leaded glass window panes.
Photographs: Dreamstime/Leung Cho Pan, Paul Maguire, Typhoonski, Marek Slusarczyk; Savills