Chinese travelers come to the U.S. for sightseeing, but also (discreetly) to buy properties

CHinese woman at home - China elite focusThe number of Chinese tourists traveling the globe has increased significantly for the last ten years, making them the largest group of travelers in the world. Now, thanks in part to a recent agreement between the U.S. and China to extend visas for short-term business travelers, tourists and students, the U.S. could see an increase in Chinese travelers in the near future.

This trend is supported by research from the latest Chinese International Travel Monitor (CITM) from which reveals the U.S. is the second most popular destination for Chinese travelers to visit in the next 12 months (behind France), with popular U.S. landmarks like the Grand Canyon and the Statue of Liberty topping travel wish lists.
The CITM research also identifies that, while cities in Asia Pacific remain the most popular (82 percent of Chinese travelers have visited in the past 12 months), visitors to Europe and America have increased with a year over year growth of 25 percent and 11 percent, respectively. These destinations were particularly popular with millennial travelers, with 42 percent visiting Europe and 29 percent visiting America in the past 12 months.

“The CITM reveals that the United States is one of the top five countries Chinese travelers visit the most,” said Josh Belkin, vice president and GM of the brand. “With tens of thousands of places to stay across the U.S., like distinctive boutiques, spacious vacation rentals and familiar chains, our site and mobile app have the perfect places for Chinese travelers of all ages and lifestyles.”

In 2016, there were 122 million outbound Chinese tourists – four percent more than in 2015 and a massive 74 percent more than in 2011, when the first CITM was published. China is already the largest source of international travelers for many countries – despite the fact only 10 percent of the population had passports in 2016.

“Chinese travelers in the United States tend to be more affluent than those who choose other destinations”, said Pierre Gervois, CEO of China Elite Focus Magazines LLC and Founder of the STC magazine, a luxury travel digital publication in Chinese Mandarin. “Real Estate investment in the United States is now the #1 real reason – and rarely stated in surveys – for affluent and wealthy Chinese outbound travelers, as they have acquired for $100 billion in U.S. Real Estate in 2016”

Source: CITM,, STC magazine

Inversiones de China en EE.UU.: el sueño americano ya no pertenece a sus propios ciudadanos

Pierre Gervois - Chinese investments in USAEn los últimos años las inversiones chinas en la economía estadounidense han aumentado considerablemente, sobre todo en el área inmobiliaria. Mientras Washington apoya la llegada de capitales e incluso otorga un mayor número de visados a los inversores chinos, sus propios ciudadanos sufren las consecuencias de un mercado que comienza a inflar los precios.

El 40% de los estadounidenses ven a China como una amenaza económica para su país, según una encuesta publicada por la empresa Gallup. Sin embargo, muchos opinan que la situación es exactamente la contraria y que sus inversiones facilitan la recuperación y la creación de empleo.

A ese respecto el especialista en mercado chino Pierre Gervois ha dicho a RT que China “es una gran fuente de financiación para la economía estadounidense”. “Los hombres de negocios de este país asiático crearán puestos de trabajo así que en los Estados Unidos tienen mucho que ganar con la inversión”, ha asegurado.

Uno de los puntos importantes en este acercamiento ha sido simplificar los trámites para la obtención de visados turísticos. “Por eso hace algunos meses el presiente Barack Obama decidió que las visas de turistas sean válidas por 10 años con entradas múltiples. Dicha medida ha cambiado todo, es mucho más fácil viajar a los Estados Unidos que a países de Europa occidental”, dijo el experto.

Precisamente en el año 2015, los ciudadanos chinos sumaron el 80% de las solicitudes de visado de inversión, un permiso por el que se comprometen a invertir la nada despreciable cifra de medio millón de dólares. Una vez en el país, los inversores chinos se decantan, en su mayoría, por el sector inmobiliario.

La agente inmobiliaria de Los Ángeles Jessica Heung vincula este comportamiento con el hecho de que “es más económico comprar una casa en EE.UU. que en China, especialmente porque el mercado se desinfló en 2010″. Además dijo que “los inversionistas chinos compran al 50% tanto para vivir en las propiedades como para invertir en ellas”.

Según los datos de la Agencia Nacional de Inmobiliarias, entre los años de 2013-2014 los ciudadanos chinos invirtieron alrededor de 22.000 millones de dólares en el sector inmobiliario del país norteamericano.

Sin embargo, en el afán de atraer las inversiones a nivel macroeconómico, las autoridades de EE.UU. se han olvidado de sus propios ciudadanos. Con el consiguiente incremento de los precios, los bolsillos de la mayoría de los estadounidenses pierden la batalla contra el poderío financiero del comprador chino.

“Definitivamente es ahora más difícil comprar para alguien que ya viva aquí. Las hipotecas son muy caras. Para los ciudadanos estadounidenses es muy difícil competir con los inversores que vienen desde China”, confirmó Jessica Heung.

De esa manera, lo que unos ven como una fuente de dinero fácil que llega desde China, para otros puede suponer que sus metas sean inalcanzables. Parece que el sueño americano ya no está diseñado para sus propios ciudadanos.

Wealthy Chinese buy their dream houses in Silicon Valley

Wealthy Chinese Businessman- Shanghai Travelers ClubSilicon Valley is booming, and the Chinese are starting to cash in on the region’s housing craze.
With tech stocks surging and IPOs sprouting up left and right, the area is in the midst of a real estate bonanza that’s attracting a wave of buyers from China.
The average price of a home in Silicon Valley has surged more than 27 percent over the past two years, according to home purchase data from Santa Clara County.
Technology executives, budding entrepreneurs and venture capitalists are putting their money to work in the Silicon Valley real estate market, and they are finding new competitors from around the world, especially from China.
Ken DeLeon—named by The Wall Street Journal as the country’s most successful real estate agent—said he has done close to $300 million in sales this year and that the market has never been hotter.
DeLeon said that in the past year he has sold more than 20 luxury residences in the Palo Alto area to buyers from mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Most of those buyers are looking for houses in the $2 million-plus range, he said.
Business is so brisk that the agent recently bought a Mercedes bus to shuttle his Chinese customers around the valley.
Advertisement Tower - Gervois Hotel Rating May 2017 featuring Pierre GervoisThey are serious buyers, he said, adding that several have bought modest houses on a decent-sized lot, then undertaken ambitious renovations. Some tear down the house, dig a deeper basement and add several floors.
“The Chinese know there is good appreciation potential in this market, and buying here provides diversification for their real estate holdings,” said DeLeon, the president of DeLeon Realty.
The trend goes beyond Silicon Valley. The National Association of Realtors recently said the Chinese are now the second-largest group of international homebuyers in the U.S., behind Canadians. The same study said the Chinese are particularly interested in Northern California.
Real estate agents and builders said Chinese demand is just another reason housing prices continue to rise in Silicon Valley.
Fred Lam of Alain Pinel Realtors in Palo Alto said his Chinese clients want brand-new, furnished houses made with high-quality building materials. Lam has done close to $40 million in sales over the past year and said he’s seen a definite increase in the number of Chinese buyers in Silicon Valley.
General contractors and builders also have benefited from the influx. One Silicon Valley builder, who asked not to be identified, said Chinese buyers typically want big media rooms, marble moldings and high-end finishes.
Real estate professionals said Chinese families are drawn by a better way of life, with the biggest selling points including the weather, excellent local schools and much less smog than in Beijing.

Source: CNBC’s Mark Berniker and Josh Lipton.

Wealthy Chinese seeking overseas residency

There is one Chinese export product that is seemingly unstoppable at the moment – millionaires. Porsche-driving Louie Huang lives in Shanghai, having made his money – a lot of money – in property.
He is having a 200-room villa built here and owns properties in at least five other cities around the world. But while his business interests remain in China, he has also stumped up the sizeable investment needed to buy himself residency rights in Singapore. He says it is for a number of reasons, in particular the opportunity it might bring his future family. But he admits that for many of his wealthy friends it is a sense of insecurity which is leading them to ponder a life outside China.
“Most of them think I’ve got so much money here but one day maybe the government will change the policies and take it all back,” he says.  There is mounting evidence to show that China’s super-rich are heading for the exit.
At a seminar in a plush office suite with a spectacular view of Shanghai, Chinese entrepreneurs with at least half a million dollars to spare are being encouraged to invest in the US economy.
The EB-5 visa scheme is an investment-for-residency programme, handing out green cards as long as the investment can be shown to have created at least 10 jobs.
In 2006 Chinese nationals were granted just 63 visas under the scheme. Last year the figure had leapt to more than 2,408 and this year it is already above the 3,700 mark. It means a tidal wave of Chinese money is currently pouring into US infrastructure projects.
The scheme is open to any nationality but Chinese investors now make up 75% of the total.
China’s rigid and opaque political system is perhaps one reason for the wealth-drain, particularly in a year in which there is due to be a changing of the guard at the very top of the Communist Party.
There are certainly lifestyle concerns too. Like Louie Huang the wealthy are often seeking cleaner air and a better education for their children. Enjoying the best things in life also matters. According to the Shanghai Travelers’ Club, a luxury travel club for the Chinese Elite, traveling abroad is a strong sign of social status, and acquiring a property in cities like New York, Las Vegas or London is the ultimate symbol of success in life for the wealthy Chinese.
Add to that the fears that China’s decade-long economic boom may be losing steam and it is perhaps not surprising that China’s rich are on the run. The EB-5 data is not the only evidence. A survey last year of almost 1,000 Chinese dollar millionaires found 60% considering moving overseas.
China is now one of Australia’s biggest sources of migrants with figures released for 2011 showing that it had overtaken the UK for the first time.
And American estate agents have been reporting a big jump this year in the number of high-value home buyers from mainland China and Hong Kong.
The party is far from over for China’s wealthy, including Louie Huang – who has just opened a brand new nightclub. As his patrons sit around tables containing a dozen or more bottles of champagne it is abundantly clear that many people are still making money here.
But in these economically uncertain times, there is a growing temptation for those with money to take it, and themselves, somewhere a little safer.
Source: BBC News

Chinese investors, the new masters of New York City real estate business

Chinese banks have poured more than $1 billion into real estate loans in New York City in the past year. Investors from China are snapping up luxury apartments and planning to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on commercial and residential projects like Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn. Chinese companies have signed major leases at the Empire State Building and at 1 World Trade Center, which is the centerpiece of the rebuilding at ground zero. The Chinese investments are occurring with little fanfare, in part because Chinese executives tend to shun publicity. But back home, their government is urging them to invest overseas to diversify China’s foreign-exchange holdings, develop business partnerships and improve the country’s leverage in international affairs. Dan Fasulo, managing director of Real Capital Analytics, which tracks commercial real estate sales, was combing through his files the other day for deals in New York City that involved Chinese investments. As the list grew longer and longer, he paused, a tone of surprise in his voice. “It’s truly amazing how much they’ve been able to do without being highlighted in public,” he said.

Delegations of Chinese officials and executives have been sweeping through the city, on a nearly weekly basis, assessing the markets, searching for office locations and meeting prospective partners and clients. Last month, officials and executives from China and the United States filled a ballroom at the Waldorf-Astoria to make deals during a business conference. “Everybody wants to come to New York because New York is the starting point for going global,” said Xue Ya, president of the China Center, a business and cultural organization that was the first tenant to sign a lease at 1 World Trade Center, where it will occupy six floors. Once established in New York, Mrs. Xue said, “you are a player.” Even one of the region’s fastest growing construction companies is Chinese. The company, China Construction America, has won contracts on major public works projects, including the Tappan Zee and Alexander Hamilton Bridges, the No. 7 subway line extension and the $91 million Metro-North Railroad station at Yankee Stadium. China Construction is a subsidiary of a state-controlled construction company in China. The wave of Japanese investment in the city a generation ago — epitomized by the purchase of a controlling stake in Rockefeller Center by the Mitsubishi Estate Company of Tokyo in 1989 — stirred anxiety and even xenophobia. Some New Yorkers saw it as evidence that the city and the country were losing their dominant positions. This time, city officials are welcoming Chinese investment as a boon to the local economy. But in a report in May, the Asia Society and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars warned that on a national level, protectionist impulses and anti-China sentiment, particularly in Washington, could scare away investors. Flush with capital from its enormous trade surpluses, China has been on an investment spree, especially in developing countries. While the size of China’s investments in the United States pales in comparison with investments by other countries, it has nevertheless been growing rapidly. “In terms of overall flow from China into the U.S., many of us believe that it could accelerate very quickly, and it could even parallel what Japanese investment did in the mid-’80s,” said Clarence Kwan, a senior partner at Deloitte, a business services firm.

The Chinese government is acutely interested in diversifying its foreign exchange reserves beyond United States Treasuries. One sign of this is the push by Chinese state-run banks to invest their money in commercial real estate in New York City. In one of the largest loans by a single lender in the city since 2008, the Bank of China lent $800 million late last year to refinance a building on Park Avenue housing JPMorgan Chase and Major League Baseball, analysts said. Among other deals, the Bank of China recently agreed to lend more than $250 million to refinance an office tower at 3 Columbus Circle. Analysts, as well as American and Chinese officials, said it was hard to calculate the precise size of Chinese investment in New York, or even the number of deals with Chinese involvement, because of the complexities of international business arrangements and privacy laws. But experts said the current level of interest was only a hint of what could come.

Tourism from China is booming in New York as well, helping to sustain the hotel, restaurant and retail sectors. In 2010, 266,000 Chinese people visited the city, a 45 percent increase over 2009, according to NYC & Company, the city’s tourism arm. Pierre Gervois, president of China Elite Focus, said that “Five star hotels and luxury retail stores in Manhattan are suddenly realizing that they have no strategy to attract wealthy Chinese tourists. They turn to us to understand better this very sophisticated clientele”. High-end real estate agents are doing their best to accommodate the influx. Pamela Liebman, president of the Corcoran Group, said her firm had fielded a “huge” increase in inquiries from wealthy Chinese looking for luxury residential properties, “some in the $30-million-plus range.” “We went from zero to 200 miles per hour in six months,” she said. “This year, it’s the biggest buzz word in real estate: ‘Chinese.’ ” Xiaolan Shang, an agent with Prudential Douglas Elliman, said that five years ago, she had very few international clients. Now, about 90 percent of her client base is Chinese — and most pay in cash. “I’ve had people come to New York only for the weekend,” Ms. Shang recalled. “They see the apartment, they make the offer and right away they fly back to China.” “Cash deal,” she added. “Right away.”

Source: New York Times, article by Kirk Semple

Chinese investors love London Luxury properties

Naomi Minegishi, 21, a Japanese woman who lived in China for 10 years, recently took a job with the London property broker Felicity J Lord.
Nick Vestey, of Knight Frank in Knightsbridge, at a five-bedroom house he sold to a Chinese investor for more than $26 million. per oanda conversion
Ms. Minegishi was hired not for her experience in real estate sales — she is studying management at a London university — but for her language ability. She is fluent in Mandarin, an increasingly valuable skill in London’s residential real estate market.
With her help, the agency recently sold four three-bedroom apartments in a new development for £320,000, about $500,000, each to a different Chinese buyer and solely on the basis of photos and floor plans. The new construction is close to the Olympic stadium, and the investors are betting that real estate prices will rise before the Games in 2012.
Chinese clients are a dream, Ms. Minegishi said. “They are wealthy, they pay in cash, and they’re looking for good value.”
Chinese citizens require approval from their local authorities to invest more than the equivalent of $50,000 a year overseas. But many wealthy Chinese elude the restrictions with help from trust funds and foreign bank accounts, real estate brokers say.
The London property market might have shown signs of cooling recently, but investors from mainland China and Hong Kong are busier than ever — bidding, for example, on luxury apartments in the fashionable Knightsbridge district down the road from Harrods department store and on new homes near the Canary Wharf financial district.
In some parts of London, mainland Chinese investors have already replaced those from Russia and the Middle East as the busiest real estate buyers with deep pockets, looking for trophy assets and pushing up prices, some brokers say.
Buyers from mainland China are a tiny portion of purchasers of high-end real estate in London, accounting for 5 percent of all purchases by foreigners of London properties valued from £500,000 to £1 million this year. But they are a growing presence. They accounted for less than 1 percent of purchases in that price range last year, according to Savills, a real estate agency.
Europeans still make up the largest portion, Savills says, although it does not break down buyers by country.
Unlike clients from Russia and the Middle East, however, few Chinese buyers are looking for London apartments to live in themselves. A majority of them are seeking investments in a real estate market they perceive as more stable than their own and are planning to receive steady rental income for years, Ms. Minegishi said.
For wealthy Asians, fears that governments may impose more constraints on red-hot local property markets back home have made investments abroad more attractive.
Rapid economic growth and easy credit caused real estate prices in many parts of Asia to rise sharply late last year. In Hong Kong, for example, prices for luxury homes have jumped 45 percent since 2009, according to Savills.

Not surprisingly, the property industry in Britain is adapting to meet the Chinese demand. Brokers are hiring Mandarin speakers like Ms. Minegishi, as well as Cantonese speakers to cater to people from Hong Kong.
Savills organized a seminar in Shanghai in July to teach 100 clients how to buy real estate in London. A rival agency, Hamptons International, opened an office in Hong Kong with four employees about two months ago.
Some London developers, meanwhile, are omitting the number four in new buildings because it is considered unlucky in Chinese culture.
“Most developers in London are including China in their marketing efforts,” said Matthew Tack, a director at Hamptons in London. “They’d be silly not to.”
The increase in transactions highlights a gradual shift in wealth to Asia, including mainland China. Free of the debt levels that still haunt Western households and governments, much of Asia began to recover rapidly from the global economic downturn last year.
And although a large majority of Asians still struggle to make ends meet, the booming growth has catapulted many into the ranks of the wealthy and superwealthy.
In mainland China alone, the number of people with assets worth more than 10 million renminbi, or $1.5 million, rose 6.1 percent, to 875,000, in a year.

Then there are the fabulously wealthy, like Joseph Lau, a Hong Kong real estate billionaire who recently spent £33 million on a six-floor mansion in Eaton Square in London, an address he shares with the Russian oligarch Roman A. Abramovich.
Even Shanghai Luxury clubs, such as the prestigious Shanghai Travelers’ Club, organize their own “Luxury Real Estate tours” in London for their wealthy members.
More typical, though, are Asian buyers spending £1 million or less. Because of China’s restrictions on overseas investments, most of the Chinese buyers pay cash to minimize the paper trail. None of the London brokers interviewed for this article were willing to disclose the identities of buyers or introduce them to a reporter.
Although Chinese are becoming more active in many overseas real estate markets, including the United States and Continental Europe, London remains highly popular for a variety of reasons, brokers say. Britain has almost no restrictions on whether foreigners can own real estate, and a fairly fluid rental market, which is attractive to buyers seeking income from their properties.

Cultural issues, especially the Chinese emphasis on education, also favor the acquisition of London addresses.
Education is generally the largest budget item in a Chinese household, and many families hope to send their children to elite universities in Britain, which tend to admit more foreign students than top universities in the United States, said Jeff Cao, head of the China sector for Think London, a government-supported agency that helps attract foreign investment to the city.
The number of Chinese students at London universities rose 9 percent, to 948, last year from 867 a year earlier, according to the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service.
For some Chinese buyers in London, Mr. Cao said, the idea is to find apartments big enough to provide the children with more comfortable accommodations than student dormitories and that have spare rooms that can be rented out. Once the children graduate, their parents aim to rent out the whole apartment.
One mainland Chinese investor who owns real estate in London and elsewhere said his London investments were his most lucrative.
“I bought a flat for my daughter’s use when she was studying in London and other flats I have rented out or sold,” Mr. Lai, the owner, who declined to give his first name to protect his privacy, wrote by e-mail.
“The U.K. traditionally has a very good legal structure with good law and order,” Mr. Lai wrote. “That, together with the city’s financial institutions and the British people’s love for owning their own homes, makes the property market extremely attractive.”

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