Chinese property buying power in Australia has surged over the last five years. Even though we are paying more for property, mainland Chinese are paying less – up to $70,000. Hear why as we talk to Charles Pittar, chief of the biggest Chinese buyers website in the world.
Kevin: Hi once again. Of course, despite rising property prices in most Australian capital cities, the Juwai.com Chinese purchasing power index for Australia shows that buyers holding yuan in the first quarter of 2016 have the equivalent of more than $70,000 (AUD) in increased purchasing power when buying an average priced Australian home, compared to four years ago. That’s staggering information. Joining me to discuss that is the CEO for Juwai.com, Charles Pittar.
Charles, what impact is this having – that you’re seeing – for the popularity of Australian property?
Charles: Price is always important for a Chinese investor. Australia has been a very popular destination for a number of years, and now with a currency devaluation and the corresponding increase in purchasing power from the Chinese consumer, it essentially makes Australian property more affordable and more attractive.
Kevin: What sort of affordability levels are the average Chinese buyers looking at? What sort of purchasing power do they have, Charles?
Charles: It’s a good question. I think there is a tendency for people to assume that every Chinese buyer is looking for a multimillion dollar, very expensive property, but the reality is at Juwai, we’re getting 2.5 million unique visitors to our site every month and on average, 70% of our visitors are looking between $500,000 (USD) and $1.5 million (USD).
Obviously, that means 30% are looking for more, so luxury properties are still very appealing – there is demand there, clearly – but $500,000 to $1.5 million corresponds to 70% of our audience.
Kevin: What are you seeing through your website as to what makes a property popular for Chinese buyers? Is it the location?
Charles: Over the years that we’ve been in operation, we’ve found that there are four main motivations as to why people come to us. The first motivation is investment, and clearly as the Australian dollar devalues, that becomes more attractive.
Lifestyle is very important. Outbound travel from China internationally is at record highs, and clearly, we get a lot of visitors to Australia. As they visit destinations and fall in love with them, they want to buy in that location, so lifestyle is very key.
I think that education is probably the one that Australians are still getting their head around. Education is now Australia’s second largest export, second only – obviously – to resources. It’s larger than tourism. As Chinese parents are sending their children to Australia, they need somewhere safe and clean near a university where their child is going to be studying, and so looking for a property – whether it’s a new home or even rental accommodation of a sufficient standard – is a really key motivator
The fourth one is immigration. Around the world, there are a number of countries now that have residency status coupled in with an investment. Australia has that to a certain extent, as well, so immigration is really the fourth motivation.
Investment, luxury, education, and immigration are the reasons why our Chinese consumers come to us.
Kevin: Let’s have a look at a few of the areas that you’ve probably detected on your site are the most popular areas in terms of where they’re searching. Do you have any statistics to tell us about or any suburbs in particular?
Charles: I think it’s interesting that over last year, we saw Queensland actually become the most popular state. Actually, it’s jumped ahead of New South Wales for the first time. We found that to be a pretty interesting broad assessment of where the Chinese are looking.
Clearly, Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland are the three most popular states. We are seeing an increase in Western Australia – North Coogee, South Perth, and other locations that potentially have seen a decrease in home value evaluations as resources has come off. I think the Chinese are looking at those locations as a potential opportunity because clearly, everything’s cyclical – resources will come back – so I think there’s potentially some bargains to be had in those areas.
Home and land packages – either outside of Melbourne and certainly in Sydney and western Sydney – are very, very popular, which is probably connected with an education motivation. In New South Wales, it’s not all about Mosman and Vaucluse. Obviously, they remain very popular. Waterloo, Collaroy, Port Macquarie and Bankstown are locations that we’re seeing quite a bit of interest in, as well.
Kevin: You mentioned that Queensland for the first time, I guess, is outstripping New South Wales in terms of its popularity. Does that come down to affordability? Is New South Wales becoming less affordable for Chinese buyers?
Charles: Look, I think it is partly to do with affordability, but there’s also just that Queensland is such a wonderful destination. Yes, for sure, I do think that low home prices are important. There’s a lot of new construction going on in Queensland. While secondary property in Australia is obviously always popular to a certain extent, the Chinese do love to buy new homes and new apartments. The construction that’s going on in Queensland, particularly on the Gold Coast and on the coastal areas, is really driving significant demand.
It really comes down to lifestyle, as well. As I said, they travel to Queensland, they fall in love with certain locations, and they want to buy there as a holiday or a lifestyle destination.
Kevin: Charles, thank you once again for joining us today and giving us a bit of an insight into those Chinese buyers. Of course, we’re very, very interested in anything they’re doing. It’s always good information. Thanks very much for your time.
Charles: It’s a pleasure, Kevin. Thank you.