As they head abroad in record numbers, wealthy Chinese consumers aren’t just buying high-end handbags and designer clothes—they’re also making big-ticket purchases of luxury real estate in locations across the world. According to the National Association of Realtors, Chinese investors spent $22 billion on real estate in the United States alone in 2014, making up almost a fourth of all international purchases. In the United States, New York and California are top locations for purchase—which is why Jing Daily just published a report on Chinese real estate buyers in New York.
In order to learn more about this phenomenon, we checked in with Jan Kot, the China country manager of Chinese online real estate marketplace Juwai, to ask about the trends driving China’s rich abroad on the search for new properties. Look below for a chart of Juwai’s top locations for Chinese real estate buyers and Kot’s thoughts on Chinese purchase motivations, Australia’s new foreign buyer regulations, and the value of online listings.
Where are some of the hottest global locations for China’s wealthy to purchase real estate and why?
The most popular countries are English-speaking and places where you can receive title to the property. They are relatively stable property markets, and they have excellent educational institutions.
What are Chinese buyers looking for in a real estate purchase?
Every buyer is different, but there are some broad categories that people fall into.
When we survey buyers, 36 percent cite investment as their motivation and 18 percent of Chinese buyers say they are motivated by education. Many families want to educate their children both in China and overseas, so they have more opportunities as adults.
Would you say that Chinese buyers mainly see real estate purchases as an investment or are they actually planning to live in the properties?
We see both types of buyers—pure investors and those who are buying for their own use. Chinese investors now have the opportunity to diversify their holdings, so that they can benefit from growth and wealth protection in multiple markets. And Chinese families can now own second homes overseas, which their children can live in while studying, or which the entire family can use while vacationing.
Australian lawmakers are currently proposing reforms to the real estate market that will create more application fees for foreign buyers and crack down on illegal purchases. What do you think of these proposals?
We don’t approve of the proposals, because they will create more paperwork and costs for Chinese buyers. But, the reality is that—even with the regulations—Australia remains a very attractive market for buyers. It’s also very affordable at the moment, since the Australian dollar is more than 30 percent lower against the yuan than in was five years ago. That is like a 30 percent discount in Australian real estate for buyers from China.
How can international real estate sellers reach Chinese buyers?
The best way to reach buyers from China is online—since the internet lets a buyer anywhere in China browse property, no matter where in the world it is located. We also help sellers attend events in China, where they can meet Chinese buyers and talk to them about their needs.
Property marketers are getting much better about helping buyers from China. Many are translating their listing, providing Chinese language videos and written materials and hiring staff that speak Mandarin. I think the Chinese buyer today has a much easier time of it than those who bought just a year or two ago.
I estimate that 50 percent more property marketers worldwide are focusing on Chinese buyers than just 12 months ago.
Has China’s anti-corruption campaign had any effect on buying habits?
We haven’t seen any negative impact from the anti-corruption campaign.
To read more insights from Juwai and other experts on Chinese buyer preferences in New York’s luxury real estate market, check out our new report just released last week: The Global Chinese Property Hunt.