Overseas property vendors eager to sell in Beijing

Updated: 2011-04-08 09:55
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BEIJING - The number of overseas property projects exhibited at the ongoing spring session of the Beijing Real Estate Expo doubled to more than 80 from last year, said the Expo's organizers on Thursday.

The Expo, which kicked off on Thursday, attracted overseas vendors from more than 20 countries and regions, including the United States, Australia, Canada, Britain, Singapore, Thailand and Hong Kong.

Before 2010, there were fewer than 20 projects each year, while last year the number soared to more than 40 during the autumn event, said Zheng Xiangdong, one of the organizers.

Thanks to China's robust economic growth, Chinese consumers have a growing appetite for international properties. The Chinese economy will continue its strong momentum in the next decade with price gaps between domestic and overseas properties shortening, so international property professionals will embrace a larger market in China, said Steve Dawkins, a partner in Fortune RE Group, a first time attendee at the expo.

Overseas vendors brought a variety of projects, from luxury villas in California worth more than $4 million to apartments in Istanbul valued at less than 340,000 yuan ($50,746), according to organizers.

Austar Property Consulting Pty Ltd's Ken Zhang said Australia's property market is fairly stable, with an annual price increase rate of 7 to 9 percent and rent rebounding rate of 5 to 7 percent. As a result, many Chinese families might buy properties in Australia if their children travel there to study.

"We are promoting luxury villas here because we found many luxury houses in Hong Kong were purchased by people from the mainland in recent years," said Lipbon Property International Limited's Colla Lai.

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Chinese buyers comprise four groups, including immigrant households, overseas student families, wealthy entrepreneurs and people with high incomes, according to market observers.

"I was not interested in overseas projects, but I changed my mind after reading these advertisements. It seems that houses in downtown Bangkok are cheaper than those on the fifth ring road of Beijing," said Wang Lu, a visitor at the expo.

"I am not allowed to buy a house in Beijing after the government tightened the real estate market, so I will consider buying one overseas if there is a suitable choice," she added.

Tim Wang, China partner of Fortune RE Group, echoed her statement. He said that with many provinces in China now restricting home ownership to a maximum of two properties, and there being a myriad of new tax measures intended to limit Chinese property investors from buying apartments or houses in China, the inducement for Chinese buyers to invest in overseas property is now greater than ever.

Like Fortune RE Group's Steve Dawkins, Janet Soh Bee Chin from Choice Properties Asia Pte Ltd. participated in the expo as a newcomer. She said that her company came to learn more about consumer demand in China as they prepare to develop this market further.

Austar's Zhang said that although it is convenient to invest in overseas properties through overseas agencies, Chinese consumers should be cautious when choosing an agent and make a trip to the country or region, if possible.