While foreign investors have been keeping tabs on Myanmar’s rapidly evolving economy with its skyrocketing real estate market, Myanmar’s richest natives are taking their money out of the country and investing in upmarket properties in London.
Myanmar buyers accounted for just under 1 percent of all U.K. property sales valued at more than 2 million pounds ($3 million) in the past 12 months, Irrawaddy, a Thailand-based publication covering Southeast Asia, notes. That’s in the same range as buyers from Switzerland and Hong Kong, based on a survey published by PrimeResi, a journal covering the top-end of the U.K. residential property sector.
The sizeable investment made by wealthy Burmese has alerted British property firms to the potential opportunity. British property adviser LondonDom opened an office in Yangon in July, Irrawaddy reports.
“Our initial market research shows that there is a roughly 50-50 split in interest between new build and period properties with budgets between £500,000 and £2.5 million,” George Shishkovsky, managing director of LondonDom, said.
“Some [Burmese] are interested in family houses outside of central London. Education in the U.K. is a big magnet to wealthy Burmese. Lots of them have strong links with Britain since colonial times,” Shishkovsky added.
In addition, London is considered a safe haven for wealthy Asians in general, according to Andrew Batt, the international editor of Singapore-based property website Property Guru.
A high-net-worth individual is someone with assets of more than $30 million, according to the London-based global real estate consultancy Knight Frank, which compiled the “Wealth Report.” Myanmar had 39 high-net-worth individuals in 2012, the firm’s latest report said, but that number is projected to grow tenfold to more than 300 people in the next 10 years, Irrawaddy says.
“Certainly our enquiry levels for advice have increased dramatically from new Burmese clients. In addition to the normal requirements [such as] what yield they can achieve, they place great importance on capital preservation,” said Benham and Reeves Residential Lettings in London.
As much as wealthy Burmese are investing abroad, foreign investors are still pouring more money into the market in Yangon, Myanmar’s commercial center. Colliers International, a major property firm, recently established an office in the city to advise foreigners on investing in Myanmar’s property market.
“We see huge potential in the country with many of our clients seeking new opportunities in what is, arguably, the last major frontier market in the region,” Colliers CEO Piers Brunner said in a statement in July, according to Irrawaddy.