Chinese buyers

PHOTO: Chinese buyers. FILE

Cashed-up Chinese buyers have re-entered Sydney’s property market with gusto after prolonged lockdowns in China were lifted late last year, experts say.

Their presence has been felt across Sydney as they contribute to driving up prices on some property types such as large blocks of land in preferred suburbs, or buying off-the-plan apartments in the CBD.

Chinese buyers have returned to the market with a renewed appetite that has caught some off guard.
Chinese buyers have returned to the market with a renewed appetite that has caught some off guard.CREDIT:FLAVIO BRANCALEONE

Much like local buyers, the increase in demand is driven by a war chest of savings built up during the pandemic.

Buyers are financing these purchases in a range of ways: prestige buyers who come from wealthy families in export and import trading, manufacturing or property development often pay cash, while others have made money in finance and technology. Many are selling their units in China and Hong Kong to upgrade in Australia.

Chinese buyers

Why Australian property is still a popular choice by Chinese buyers

The latest NAB Residential Property Survey found the overall share of foreign buyers in new property markets rose to 7.9 per cent in the first three months to March, up from 5.2 per cent in the previous quarter.

This increase was underpinned by a steep rise in NSW, to 16.2 per cent in the first quarter of 2023, up from 6.7 per cent in the previous quarter. Foreign buyer market share in NSW is now at its highest level in eight years.

That increase was less pronounced for established homes.

Even before lockdowns were lifted, Foreign Investment Review Board figures show approved mainland Chinese investment in residential real estate totalled $1 billion in the September quarter. It reached $2.4 billion for the entire previous financial year.

Foreign buyers can apply to purchase new properties, and can apply to buy an existing property if they will redevelop it and add to the housing stock, or if they are a temporary resident who will live there while in Australia. Permanent residents are free to purchase property.

Daniel Ho, co-founder and group managing director of Juwai IQI, an Asian property listings company, said neither the Chinese housing market nor the sharemarket was attractive enough for the Chinese to invest in.

Interest rates are little worry to buyers with smaller loans.
Interest rates are little worry to buyers with smaller loans.CREDIT:PETER RAE

“The confidence many Chinese had in their own economy and housing market declined during the pandemic, so overseas markets like Australia look better by comparison,” Ho said.

“Chinese households added more than $US2.6 trillion to their bank balances in 2022.

“In China, they talk of ‘revenge spending’ as people who splurge on all the things they couldn’t buy during the lockdowns. Real estate in Australia might be the ultimate revenge purchase.”

Listings views are well above pre-pandemic levels with clicks from China up 131 per cent at the start of March this year, compared to the start of 2020 on Domain data.