MOVE over, Sydney and Melbourne. Chinese interest in Australian property is increasing, and there’s a new hot location.
Chinese purchasing intent was up 35 per cent month-on-month and up 17 per cent on the same period one year ago, according to Juwai.com’s Purchasing Intent Index for Q2.
Queensland is the clear winner, with Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Townsville all up in the first half of 2015. The Gold Coast in particular is now the place to be, with purchasing intent up 161 per cent on the first quarter and up a massive 1120 per cent on the same time last year.
Juwai.com predicts new direct flights from Wuhan to the Gold Coast will bring an additional 35,000 travellers a year, generate $53 million per annum in new tourism spending, and lead to an increase in real estate transactions.
Brisbane is 12 per cent higher than a year ago after peaking in the first quarter, while Townsville, which also peaked in Q1, is up 4 per cent on last year.
Juwai.com’s Purchasing Intent Index measures Chinese interest in a given location by tracking online property hunting activity on the portal, which acts as an intermediary between Chinese property buyers and international property marketers.
In Australia, Juwai.com is the exclusive Chinese marketing partner for Ray White, LJ Hooker, Raine and Horne and Re/Max.
“Queensland cities have not been the most popular with Chinese buyers over the past five years, but they are growing quickly,” said Simon Henry, co-CEO of Juwai.com.
“Sydney and Melbourne could lose some investment to Queensland as a result.
“The Gold Coast is doing particularly well this year, especially as buyer interest temporarily reached a low point in 2014.”
On July 23, 4.60 Chinese RMB bought one Australian dollar, while five years ago it took 6.12 RMB to buy the same dollar. Juwai.com points to the 25 per cent increase in buying power of the Chinese currency as a key motivator.
Queensland is perceived by a significant minority of buyers as better value than Sydney and Melbourne, and as the closest part of eastern Australia to China and more tropical, it attracts buyers motivated by lifestyle and environment.
Mr Henry said Chinese buyers today were different than the Chinese buyer of two or three years ago.
“Then, they were typically first-time buyers with little experience in international real estate markets. Today, they often already own a property in Australia or another country, and they are more comfortable with the country, the language and the market,” he said.
Christine Rudolph of Ray White New Farm said 30 to 40 per cent of her sales in the last six months had been to overseas Chinese — with Australian residency — mainly from Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore.
She said some of her recent sales included 125 Crosby Road, Hamilton, which sold to buyers from Guangzhou after multiple offers over $2 million, 12006/8 Harbour Road, Hamilton, which sold to buyers based in Shanghai for $1.65 million, and 81 Markwell Street, Hamilton, which sold post-auction to a Sinaporean Chinese family for upwards of $3 million.
“[The] father was from Singapore, arrived in Brisbane for the weekend and advised his family on the spot to buy the property,” she said.
“Not only was he impressed with the quality and position but also the fact that they see Brisbane as exceptional value for money, safe and a good lifestyle area.”
Mr Rudolph said she was making sure all of her listings were automatically translated to Mandarin. “I have changed my recommendation to clients to take the Chinese buyer seriously,” she said.
Juwai.com’s Simon Henry said if Australia was to continue to attract billions of dollars of international investment, it needed to focus on four key areas.
“It needs to invest in infrastructure and increase the number of direct flights from China, maintain and improve the quality and reputation of its educational system, invest in protecting high quality of life and regulate foreign visitors and investors with fairness and transparency,” he said.