Chinese Homebuyers Look to U.S., Despite Restrictions, Trade War

David Deem

Despite new regulation and a trade war, China is continuing its hold as a key player on the property scene in the U.S., according to recently released research.

In 2017, Chinese investors poured $39.7 billion into real estate in the U.S., reports. The majority—$30.4 billion—was on the residential side, and in California, Florida and New York.

“The United States remains the top country for Chinese property investment,” says Carrie Law, CEO and director of “Mainland Chinese acquired U.S. real estate worth more than in all the countries we tracked in Asia or in Europe.”

According to Law, the attraction is driven by economy and lifestyle.

“What Chinese homebuyers like about the United States is the educational opportunities, clean food and air, our diversified culture, and our economic and employment opportunities,” Law says. “For a Chinese buyer, purchasing properties in the United States is seldom really about the home itself; it’s about the lifestyle and opportunities they are acquiring by moving there.”

The findings are in line with the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) 2018 Profile of International Transactions in U.S. Residential Real Estate, which shows that in 2017, China invested the most of any other nation in real estate in the U.S., and also bought the most expensive properties, and the most in terms of units. Accounting for China and other countries, foreign home purchases slid 21 percent, the NAR report shows—attributable to the inventory shortage.

“Inventory shortages continue to drive up prices, and sustained job creation and historically low interest rates mean that foreign buyers are now competing with domestic residents for the same, limited supply of homes,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun.

Dollars, however, are only part of the story. Even though China closed in on $40 billion invested, the amount dropped off 29.5 percent from the previous year, according to the report. Chinese investment overall paralleled the trend in the U.S, with the country’s global investment at a monetary record, but sluggish. In 2017, the figure increased 18.1 percent to $119.7 billion—but in 2016, the figure grew at a 26.8 percent rate, and in 2015, at 53.8 percent.

“The bigger a number gets, generally the slower it grows,” Law says. “That’s one explanation for the lower growth rate in Chinese international property investment: The same level of growth off a larger starting point will give you a lower rate of growth.”



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