Looking for big 'fry': The motives and methods of middle-class international property investors

Hang Kei Ho*, Rowland Atkinson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Anxieties about the effects of international property investment in world cities like London have mainly focused on super-rich investors and corporate vehicles that have generated price inflation of assets and accelerated exclusion from an already expensive market. In fact, many international investors in the city’s housing market are middle-class individuals, and focusing on Hong Kong as an emblematic example of such processes, we examine their motives and the products offered to them by important investment intermediaries. We find that an important rationale for these investments lies in local class-based uncertainties and existential anxieties concerning the future of Hong Kong itself. We focus on the cultural roots of these investor rationalities but also consider the role of investment intermediaries who have helped bolster confidence while shielding investors from the consequences of their aggregated market power – concerns in London over household displacement from foreign investment. We suggest that what may seem to be the predatory search to ‘fry’ property (炒樓), a Hongkonger colloquialism referring to the search for high performing investments, should also be understood as actions anchored in and generated by the habitus of the Hong Kong middle class whose lives have been moulded by historical geopolitical uncertainty and worries about its longer-term social positioning and security.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2040-2056
Number of pages17
JournalUrban Studies
Volume55
Issue number9
Early online date16 May 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • anxiety
  • Hong Kong
  • housing market
  • housing tenure
  • London
  • property wealth
  • SUPER-RICH
  • HONG-KONG
  • REAL-ESTATE
  • GEOGRAPHIES
  • INVESTMENT
  • POLITICS
  • MARKETS
  • SEARCH

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