Rich Chinese are buying real estate abroad

Vancouver, London and the big cities down under are second homes of choice for China’s super rich, according to real estate services firm Colliers International.

One of the reasons the China real estate market is so hot is because wealthy Chinese are buying up property to hold onto real assets, rather than put money in low yielding bank bonds and volatile equities. The super rich are buying real estate outside of China in an effort to avoid taxes.

In the past six months, Chinese spent 1.3 billion yuan ($200 million) through Colliers’ international property department, with Canada, the UK and Australia topping list.  “We are expecting a clear increase in the extent of mainland buyers’ purchases of overseas properties this year because of the government’s rigorous restraint on the number of homes a family can buy in key cities,” Alan Liu, managing director of Colliers International, said.

Chinese demand has pushed the average price of a Vancouver home up 12% in 2010 and is expected to rise another 3% this year, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. Demand from mainland immigrants now accounts for 29% of all new homes in Vancouver, China Daily reports.

In London, China buyers accounted for 28% of all prime London property sales and 54% by sales value in the prime central London area, where houses go for 5 million pounds ($8 million) on average, according to a recent report by Savills research.

“If the money from China were to start flowing into London at the same rate it does from billionaires in other countries, we would expect the value of ultra-prime London properties to grow by as much as 15%,” Yolande Barnes, head of Savills residential research told China Daily. “The issue at present is that Chinese buyers aren’t taking, or can’t take, their money out of China.”

The biggest increase in global billionaires since 2007 has occurred in China and Russia. The oligarchs from the old USSR account for 15% of prime London real estate by value.  Chinese billionaires have yet to have a real impact, accounting for just 3% so far, but that is expected to change as China’s uber-rich discover new ways to invest offshore.

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