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Brexit doesn't scare Chinese homebuyers: Juwai.com

Uncertainty surrounding a looming Brexit vote hasn't spooked mainland buyers, one of the biggest drivers of U.K. home prices, according to one of China's largest international property websites.

Charles Pittar, CEO of Juwai.com, told CNBC on Tuesday that Chinese demand for U.K. real-estate was based on lifestyle factors that were unlikely to change even if the 'leave' vote prevailed this week.

"When we look at Chinese demand into the U.K, one of the key motivation is education."

Around 50 percent of enquiries received for London and 70 percent for Birmhangham were centered around schooling, Pittar said. Indeed, both cities boasted the highest number of universities among Britain's largest metropolitan regions, said a June study from regional think tank Centre of Cities.

"For a lot of our Chinese consumers, this is a long-term game. They are looking to buy an apartment for their kids to go to university so potentially, they are less worried about it [Brexit]."

Pittar was elaborating on the results of a Juwai.com survey conducted from June 2-5 that revealed 56 percent of Chinese participants believed U.K. property demand was increasing—an attitude in sharp contrast to other foreign buyers.

The survey, released last week, showed 50 percent of international respondents outside China believed demand was sliding amid Brexit uncertainty.

A general view of Egerton Crescent in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
Dan Kitwood, Getty Images News
A general view of Egerton Crescent in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

The divergence in sentiment between the two groups was likely a reflection of Chinese buyers' long-term investing strategy, Pittar suggested.

High-profile investors have warned of a hit to the pound if the U.K. does exit the European Union (EU). On Monday, George Soros stated the currency could slide 15-20 percent to below $1.15, from current levels of around $1.46, if the 'leave camp' wins.

While a depreciating currency could make U.K. property a better opportunity for foreign buyers, that alone wouldn't make a difference for the Chinese, Pittar said

"I think they [Chinese] see there's a two-year plan if there is an exit, and they'll continue to watch but demand is pretty high so I don't see it having a major impact one way or the other."

In the case of a 'remain' vote, the bulk of Chinese respondents expected even more demand for U.K. property, the Juwai.com survey said.

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