Where in the world would an expat want to buy a home? It is a question complicated by countless variables such as individual wealth, length of stay, local laws and currency plays.
Research due to be published on Wednesday by HSBC, the bank, offers an insight into the property buying habits of those posted abroad. The study, based on a poll of 27,587 respondents in 47 countries, reveals that 62 per cent of expats own property somewhere in the world, 9 per cent of them in both their home and host country.
It also illuminates a global pecking order when it comes to where expats buy. Unsurprisingly, some of this is related to price: expats are more likely to own a home in host cities with lower property prices, such as Toronto (where prime prices average $530 per square foot, according to Savills, the estate agency) and Sydney ($620 per square foot).
But there are exceptions. Just 16 per cent of expats living in Dubai purchase a home there, despite relatively low average prime values of $590 per sq ft. “Dubai is not so popular as Sydney and Vancouver, which have similar price points, perhaps because prices are more volatile there [and] because foreign owners are restricted,” suggests Yolande Barnes, head of Savills World Research.
New York and San Francisco stand out as cities where expats posted there are about as likely to buy a home as expats who come from there. “Both natives and expats want a stake in these two very vibrant, top world cities,” says Barnes.
When it comes to expats’ home nations generally, natives appear less likely to buy if they come from English-speaking countries. Andrew Langton, chairman of Aylesford International, a London-based estate agent, observes that British expats often choose not to repatriate to the UK. “Once they’ve served 10 or 15 years abroad, expats don’t seem to want to come back to this country. They will buy a holiday home in France or Tuscany and eventually retire there.”