23 May UK remains top choice for HNW expats as investor visas rise seven-fold in 3 years
According to recent data obtained by leading commercial law firm, Pinsent Masons, the UK remains 0ne of the most sought after expat destinations with the number of high net worth investors being issued investor visas to stay in the UK rocketing over seven-fold from 43 in 2008 to 320 in 2011.
Of those, the largest number was issued to Russian nationals (27%) followed by Chinese investors (15%). Introduced in April 2008, this new category of visa enables high net worth individuals to invest and remain in the UK for 3 years. Often seen as a fast-track process for wealthy foreign nationals to acquire British citizenship, demand for investor visas has reached new highs.
Nick Thomas, Partner at Pinsent Masons, adds: “The nationality of the applicants for investor visas reflects those who are buying prime property in London. Many of these Russians will put their children through school in the UK and will use the investor visa mechanism as a means of acquiring British citizenship for those children once they reach their majority.”
For decades now the UK has welcomed Russian nationals (and their often substantial wealth!). In the early 1970’s it is thought there were only about 70 Russians residing in the South East of England; this figure has risen markedly with estimates published by the Office for National Statistics (2009) suggesting a Russian born population in the UK of 32,000 with the total number of people of Russian decent close to 300,000.
London, often referred to fondly as “Londongrad” or “Moscow-on-the-Thames” remains the main focal point for Russian expats with over 300,000 Russians thought to call the Capital city home. Numerous oligarchs including Boris Berezocsky and the infamous Roman Abramovich own luxurious homes in the Capital, often seen as a status symbol of their massive wealth and business achievements.
But it’s not just the London real estate market which is benefiting from the influx of wealthy Russian buyers. Keen to fully embrace quintessential British life, Russian nationals and their trusted Property Finders are now looking further afield to the Home Counties for their next purchases where green space and a sense of community abound.
James Wyatt, Partner of award-winning estate agency, Barton Wyatt located in Virginia Water has seen an influx of Russians chomping at the bit for property in this top-end niche area of Surrey, commenting:
“Overseas buyers accounted for 55% of total sales in Q1 2012 making this sector a highly lucrative market for us. Russian buyers comprise a significant proportion but they have high expectations are not content with older properties in need of renovation, they desire to own the very best that money can buy, brand new grand homes, dressed to perfection and key ready.”
One area which has proven particularly attractive to Russian business tycoons is the exclusive Wentworth Estate in Virginia Water. James Wyatt has seen a rise in the number of Russian buyers on the estate in the past 18 months, attracted by the privacy, 24 hour security and on-site amenities.
Home to some of the UK’s largest, most lavish new build mansions, properties on the Wentworth estate perfectly match Russian buyer demands. One such property which has received interest from potential Russians buyers is Pine Acre on Wentworth. This house offers fantastic family living and enjoys all that the Wentworth Estate has to offer in the way of peace and tranquility.
Pine Acre has been finished to the highest specification and build quality throughout, extending to just less than 9,000 square feet.
The well proportioned and spacious accommodation is laid out to suit a contemporary lifestyle with the principal reception rooms leading off the very spacious entrance hall. The large kitchen / breakfast / family room leads to a stunning garden room with an impressive vaulted ceiling with thermostatically operated roof lantern.
On the first floor there are four bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms. A particularly impressive master suite stretches across the rear of the property with fabulous dressing room and balcony overlooking the mature landscaped gardens.
The second floor includes a further bedroom suite and open plan games room, separate bathroom and gym. Approached from the rear entrance is a one bedroom staff apartment with lounge, bathroom and kitchenette.
All floors have under floor heating provided by the latest air source heat pump.
Pine Acre is priced at £4,975,000. For more information contact Barton Wyatt on 0134 484 3000 or visit www.bartonwyatt.co.uk.