Chinese investors are expected to return to Australian property in a big way this year – and agents are doing everything they can to woo them

  • The Lunar New Year is expected to kick off a wave of property investment that could see sales in Australia soar.
  • Asia real estate company Juwai IQI chairman Georg Chmiel expects the festival to spark 20%-40% growth in foreign property investment enquires in Australia.
  • Australian agents meanwhile are looking to cash in on the interest, offering a range of season-specific incentives to foreign buyers in a bid to close deals.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

After a tumultuous year in markets, cashed-up Chinese investors with nowhere to go are tipped to make a big return to Australian real estate.

While restrictions will largely stop them travelling during the Lunar Festival, Asian real estate company Juwai IQI anticipates the holiday and pandemic it will only accelerate the outflow of capital into overseas assets.

“Probably the most important season for Chinese overseas homebuying begins with Chinese New Year,” Juwai IQI Group co-founder and chairman Georg Chmiel said.

“China is battling a new wave of COVID-19, so China is encouraging people to stay home and not travel. With fewer people traveling and more at home, more will have the time and inclination to look at overseas property.”

It comes after a particularly quiet 2020 for the Australian property market, as Chinese investors, students and tourists all stayed home.

“After a year in which almost no one traveled, prosperous Chinese families have money in the bank. Chinese travel spending in Australia was down more than AU$7.3 billion in 2020, and that money is burning a hole in their pockets,” Chmiel said, quoting Austrade figures.

Some of that extra cash has already its mark in the local Chinese market, pushing prices higher in major cities.

Now it could be Australia’s turn, with Chmiel suggesting the festive season in China will spark a particularly large turnaround.

“The activity we are seeing suggests that Chinese could make 20% to 40% more cross-border buying enquiries in Chinese New Year 2021 than in the 2020 holiday.”

Australian agents competing for Chinese business

Seeing through the pandemic that has now impact life in China for more than 12 months, optimism for the new year is helping shore up investor confidence.

It’s a reality not lost on Australian real estate agents. Jostling to get a piece of the action, many focused on the Chinese market are offering incentives to attract new business ahead of February 12.

Melbourne-based agency Kay & Burton for example is offering a premium concierge service to get investors set up in the city, within the first month of the Year of the Ox.

“For most of our overseas buyers at the moment, while the actual decision makers are overseas, family members are here already. We know our concierge service serves an acute need for these families, many of whom have not yet settled into a permanent home here,” international division head Jamie Mi said.

“For Chinese New Year, we are going to make this valuable service available also to potential international buyers who enquire about property, even if they have not yet purchased.”

Advertising material promoting a Perth project in the lead up to Lunar New Year.

Mi said that assistance can include “everything from private driving, schools, deep cleaning, even the application of a special anti-virus spray that prevents any virus or bacteria from living on its surface.”

Across town, Dealcorp is offering a different set of inducements based on the types of projects buyers are interested in.

“For buyers at Polaris, which adjoins La Trobe University and an established shopping destination district, education is often a high priority,” executive chairman David Kobritz said.

“During Chinese New Year and until the end of February, every overseas buyer who reserves a unit at the Polaris will be offered a free overseas students consultancy with a student advisor at La-Trobe University…[making] it much easier for students to land on their feet and feel at home in Melbourne.”

Another project include a free session with an immigration consultant, while all enquires into a third South Yarra earn interested parties access to an online fashion show and information on the area’s restaurants and schools.

On the other side of the country, Perth project ‘Elements at Carousel’ is making a very specific money-back offer, based on the number ‘8’, considered to be lucky in Chinese culture.

“Every buyer during Chinese New Year receives an $8,888 developer’s rebate at settlement for each unit. To qualify, they must make a reservation within 15 days of the 11th of February,” marketing agent Lily Chong said, noting they could sign the contract after the holiday period to qualify.

Of course, the added extras won’t be enough to close the deal alone. Chong says the units will also “likely make good money for their owners and are an easy, no-fuss investment.”

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