Not long ago, The New York Times published a report titled “Chinese Investors Flock to London for Real Estate,” which triggered global awareness about the trend of Chinese investments in overseas real estate markets.
Reporters from The New York Times interviewed Naomi Minegishi, a Japanese woman who lived in China for 10 years before taking a job with a London real estate agency. Her most valued skill was not related to real estate experience, but rather language ability. She is fluent in Mandarin, an increasingly valuable ability in London’s residential real estate market because more and more investors from the Chinese mainland are flocking to the city to invest in real estate. With Minegishi’s help, the agency sold four apartments in a new development for US$500,000, each to different Chinese buyers. “Chinese clients are a dream,” Minegishi smiled. “They are wealthy and pay in cash.”
According to some brokers, the London real estate market might have shown signs of slowing recently, but investors from China’s mainland and Hong Kong are busier than ever in European investing. In some parts of London, Chinese investors have already replaced those from Russia and the Middle East as the busiest foreign real estate buyers with deepest pockets, digging for trophy assets and pushing up prices. Some London developers have even started omitting the number four in new buildings because it is considered unlucky in Chinese culture.
The surging demand from Chinese buyers has drawn attention from real estate developers and brokers worldwide. On December 17, 2010, the First China Overseas Real Estate Festival kicked off in Shanghai, where dozens of foreign real estate developers and brokers from Australia, Canada, Britain, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, and the United States presented high-end opportunities targeting Chinese investors. Meanwhile, at the 2010 Luxury Properties Showcase, held in Beijing from December 10 to 12, many internationally renowned developers from all over, such as Niseko Alpine Developments and Carlton International, publicized their work.