How to sell property to Asian buyers

Asian buyers are the largest group of foreign property buyers in many parts of the world. They view real estate as a worthwhile asset class by value. For Asians, a property serves not only as their home but also as a safe haven for their life savings too. For them, their home is used not only as a refuge but also as a safeguard against poverty in old age, a legacy for their children and collateral which they can use to hedge and grow their wealth.

But who are they really? Because not all Asians are the same. Education is a big reason for this.

In most cases, Asian buyers want to give their children someplace to live while studying overseas. Other factors that motivate them include emigration, retiring or buying a holiday home. While Asian buyers want their purchase to be a good investment, 4 out of 5 are purchasing for their use. In other words, there are many different reasons for buying.

3 types of Asian buyers

Asians living abroad who would like to buy a property where they are stationed.

Asians who are still staying in their homeland but would like to buy a property overseas.

Asians buying domestically in their homeland.

Depending on where they're from, different selling rules apply. Asians who don't reside in the destinations where they would like to buy property are different from those who are already residents. In some countries, non-residents can only buy new developments such as apartments and condominiums and not landed properties because the law from these countries doesn't allow non-resident foreigners to invest in second-hand homes or in landed properties or they might need to seek approval from relevant authorities.

Most notably, Asians who tend to indulge in cross-border property investments are mostly from China. Having taken over the US in terms of international buying power, they are a force to be reckoned with. They represent tremendous opportunities for real estate sellers around the world. However, sellers will have to cross certain challenges such as how to reach out, communicate and engage with them.

Why is the Chinese such a
formidable market for real estate?

China boasts some of the wealthiest people on the planet, most whose personal fortunes can dwarf treasuries of medium-sized countries, and the growing population of high-net-worth Chinese now also has their eyes set on international property. According to IMR forecasts and Bloomberg calculations, China will be the world’s biggest growth engine in the years ahead and Chinese buyers are expected to be the leading group in global property acquisition.

In the past few years, Chinese buyers have started to make their presence felt on the global property market, snapping up everything from luxurious trophy homes and vineyards, to more modest condominiums and investment opportunities. For many Chinese, global property investment is an emerging opportunity which until recently was out of reach.

Second only to the US in terms of international buying power, Chinese buyers represent a tremendous new market opportunity for property sellers around the world. Yet, new opportunity brings new challenges in reaching, communicating and engaging this new market.

Great rise of the Chinese consumer​

China boasts some of the wealthiest people on the planet, most whose personal fortunes can dwarf treasuries of medium-sized countries, and the growing population of high net worth Chinese now also has their eyes set on international property.

720 million

Middle-class Chinese by 2024

6 million

HNW Chinese by 2025

57 million

Affluent Chinese by 2022

Sources: LGIM "China's rising middle class: sector implications 2018"; Bain & Co and China Merchants Bank, China Private Wealth Report, Jun 2019; Globaldata "China Wealth Management: Opportunities and Risks to 2022", Statista 2019.

Property is investment of choice –
a stable investment exemplifying wealth & status

65% pay cash for property purchases

Motivations for Chinese global property investment

Education

of Mainland Chinese

intend to educate their children overseas

Investment

of affluent Chinese

buy international real estate for investment diversification

OWN USE

of rich Chinese

buy real estate abroad to live in 37%
purchase overseas property as their primary residence

Emigration

China’s HNWIs

have either migrated or are planning to move overseas

Holiday

of China’s HNWIs

go overseas 4 times per year on average

Rental

of wealthy Chinese

invest in international property for rental income​
In the US, this number climbs up to 28%

Retirement

of HNW Chinese

purchase overseas property for retirement​

Sources: 1. Juwai.com; 2. NAR: 2019 Profile of International Activity in U.S. Residential Real Estate; 3. Hurun Report "Chinese Luxury Consumer Survey 2019"; 4. Hurun Report "Chinese Luxury Consumer Survey 2017"; 5. Hurun Report "Immigration and the Chinese HNWI 2018".

China ranks first in countries with the most internet users due to its ongoing and fast-paced economic development as well as a cultural inclination towards technology. More than 904 million of the estimated 1.38 billion population in China are online. Some of the other notable emerging markets are India, with a projected number of internet users of 636 million by 2021, or Indonesia, which is expected to have 144.2 million of its citizens surfing the World Wide Web around the same year.

Chinese are avid internet users and embrace it for almost every aspect of their lives. This includes searching for real estate opportunities outside of homeland borders. However, Chinese buyers do not have access to most foreign websites because these websites are blocked by China’s Great Firewall. They rely on Chinese websites and friends and family for information and go online via Chinese social media, to peruse the kind of property suitable for them when seeking to buy overseas. Naturally, information not in Chinese is difficult to consider. Some Chinese buyers will establish early contact about a property, whilst others will take the time to research listings on Chinese websites before making contact.

of Mainland Chinese

speaks fluent English

of China's HNWIs

are active WeChat users

of affluent Chinese

access the internet each day

91 million

online property seekers

897 million

mobile internet users

904 million

Chinese online users

Sources: 1. Juwai.com data, 2. China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), 3. National Bureau of Statistics of China, 4. Hurun Report "The Chinese Luxury Consumer Survey 2019”, 5. Worldometer, 6. Pew Research, 7. eMarketer

The Great Firewall of China

Websites hosted outside of China can either be blocked entirely or experience page load times of over 2 minutes – today’s consumers expect better. If your page doesn’t load, Chinese buyers can go elsewhere to access a wealth of information. For every international social media site, there’s a Chinese version that’s wildly popular and easily within reach.

Juwai.com is the largest international property portal hosted on both sides of China’s Great Firewall.

Learn More 了解更多

How to sell property to Chinese buyers

Chinese property buyers look for destinations offering an attractive lifestyle, immigrant investment and educational opportunities. They are the largest group of buyers of international real estate purchase and their numbers keep growing.

Compared to domestic purchase, buying property overseas is often a protracted process. Several factors make an overseas property transaction take much longer for Chinese buyers. These include language barrier, stricter capital controls from China's government making it more difficult to transfer money, regulations and taxes from certain countries regarding foreign buyers as well as lack of and restriction of information (Google, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram are not accessible in China).

As such, it is important to have a comprehensive understanding of their buying habits and it is essential to adopt a long-term plan for the China market. So how do agents or developers that are not based in mainland China reach Chinese investors and learn about their needs?

Here are 10 tips to sell property to Chinese buyers.

Juwai,com & Juwai.asia

With 5.5 million monthly active users, Juwai (through Juwai.com and Juwai.asia) is one of the largest international property platforms in Asia. We are also hosted on both sides of China's Great Firewall, which means listings can also be viewed by Chinese and Asian investors no matter where they are in the world. As such, the two portals together serve almost half the world’s population.

On Juwai.com and Juwai.asia, the listings are presented in Chinese and English with your branding and your contact information. They can be found in the search section on the two websites.

+ Go to Juwai.com + Go to Juwai.asia

Juwai Live Program

More recently, technology has also altered the way real estate is being sold. Online and virtual events and presentations have replaced face-to-face appointments and mass gatherings in expos and tradeshows. The most striking phenomenon is how buyers have accepted this change, in part caused by the COVID-19 pandemic which has curbed travelling.

Juwai has been actively hosting virtual promotional events, conferences and webinars to connect sellers and other real estate professionals with buyers through livestreaming on its “Juwai Live Program” on Facebook which has seen increased audience participation. This is another innovative way for you to reach prospective Asian customers.

+ Learn more Juwai Live Program

Juwai Admin

If you are trying to reach Chinese buyers on the mainland, we also offer tools for agents to bridge online to offline, such as QR codes that Chinese can scan to view listings right on their phone. Or brochure downloads that you can print out and hand out to the buyers visiting you in person. If you want to manage your Chinese language listing content, just log in to Juwai Admin. Our English-language admin system is designed for agents to let them manage their Chinese language account.

+ Sign up now

Chinese consumer support centre

And if you don't speak Chinese, we've got you covered. Our Chinese consumer support centre offers Chinese buyer support to answer questions from Chinese buyers for all of your listings on the site. So when a buyer enquires about your property, that information is translated and sent directly to you. So don't let another vendor presentation fall short. Show property sellers how you're marketing to Chinese buyers with Juwai.com.

+ List your properties with us

There are 3 types of Chinese buyers

Firstly, it is important to note that there are different types of Chinese buyers with different needs:

Mainland Chinese buyers

Mainland Chinese buyers who are currently located in Mainland China but are looking to purchase property overseas.

International Chinese buyers

Chinese citizens who are currently living overseas and are looking for a property in another international country.

(for example, Chinese citizens living in the US but looking for a property in Australia).

Domestic Chinese buyers

Domestic Chinese buyers living outside of China who are looking for property in their current country of residence.

These three types of buyers have different requirements and needs. Agents and developers should do well to take note and differentiate them. After you have identified which category your prospective Chinese customer falls under, here are a few tips on how to better sell to them.

Leverage digital and mobile tools

Without a doubt, the world has become very digital-centric. Across the globe, the internet continues to transform how we connect with others, organize the flow of things, and share information. With its growing influence on individual consumers and large economies alike, the internet has become an increasingly vital part of our day-to-day lives. As of July 2020, the number of internet users worldwide stood at 4.57 billion, encompassing 59% of the global population. And the digital population is still growing in many parts of the world.

In China, social media has become an indispensable tool for information, communication and entertainment.

As of March 2020, China leads the world with the greatest number of internet users – 904 million with a penetration rate of 64.5%. The entire consumption and investment ecosystem centres on online activities with a big emphasis on mobile. This sets the China market apart from the rest of the world where offline activities might be still prevalent.

If you want to connect with Chinese buyers in the mainland, create a WeChat official account as soon as possible and familiarize yourself with how this app works. This ensures that you keep in touch consistently with potential buyers. Start posting periodic updates about the property in your Moments section, even if it's under renovation, and keep viewers informed about developments in the neighbourhood such as new schools, roads, highways, shopping centres, etc. Maintain engagement with Chinese consumers and keep your leads warm.

Feng Shui

Most Chinese believe in feng shui when it comes to buying property. Feng shui is a practice anchored in traditional Chinese culture of looking at our living spaces and working environment and striking a balance with the natural world. It looks at the positioning of the house, orientation, layout, street numbers, etc. For example, if a house has a hill or mountain at its back, it represents protection. An uninterrupted hallway leading to the front door means positive energy can gather and flow through to nourish the home and family.

Whilst many feng shui factors can be changed, feng shui dos and don'ts have been known to make or break a sale. Don't hesitate to point out positive feng shui elements in your marketing collateral and make sure you don't promote the negative ones.

Numerology

The Chinese also believe in numerology and are huge fans of numbers. Numbers play a significant role in their decision making when purchasing a home. The numbers 3, 6, 8 and 9 are considered lucky in Chinese culture whilst the number 4 is considered terribly unlucky because the pronunciation of the word 'four' in Mandarin sounds way too close for comfort to the word for 'death'.

In real estate, the more lucky numbers appear in a house address, floor level or price, the better it is. Many agents and developers have been able to make a quick sale simply because they are savvy enough to change the house's street address number - for instance, from 64 to 68.

Longevity

The relative security of a long-term or freehold lease is something many Chinese are willing to invest in. When buying property overseas, Chinese are looking for a safe place to call home for years to come.

They covet a place of their own where they can raise their family and invest for future generations. Destinations that offer residency are always a huge draw.

Education

Children education ranks high in most Chinese families as they believe it will lead to a prosperous future for their family. That's why Chinese prefer properties located near well-respected high schools or universities.

Properties close to established educational centres, should be promoted prominently in your pitch to Chinese foreign buyers.

Return on Investment

Chinese buying for investment want to be sure they can rent out the properties they purchase if they are not living in them. Agents and developers should make sure they know about the rental yield on the property or provide a positive outlook where housing prices are set to increase in the future to maximize the appeal of a propert. Like everybody else, Chinese investors want a favorable investment return before they commit to buying a property.

Those who invest in a second or holiday home will most likely visit it whenever possible with ease. Highlighting transport links such as direct flights or the proximity to international airports when promoting your listings will assure buyers that they can travel easily to and from their new home.

Prestige

Status and the notion of “face” are important in Chinese culture. Appearing successful and wealthy to their peers enhances their reputation; thus, buying an overseas property in a well-known or prestigious location rachets up their social rankings.

When formulating your pitch, be sure to reference the local landmarks, history or past celebrity owners and other success stories that could lend weight as to why the property is worth buying.

Visas

Chinese are the largest group of customers for schemes selling foreign residency. Getting a passport or long-term residents' visa in a foreign country would make it easier for them to live, work and educate their children in their new home.

The right to reside in a foreign country is one of the key factors a Chinese buyer considers when looking for property overseas. Hence if you could offer additional services or have partners that specialize in the immigration sector working with you, you are more likely to draw Chinese buyers.

Lifestyle

Another prime motivation for Chinese heading overseas is a better-quality lifestyle than they currently have in China. This presents significant opportunities for the realtors as it allows you to sell “bonus features” of a property such as a garden, pool, storage, indoor garage and gym, or open plan living spaces which would be much more expensive in China than it is abroad.

Besides physical attributes of the property, positive environmental aspects - clean air, abundance of nature, verdant landscape - are added plus points that could win over a Chinese buyer.

Retirement

China is not only the country with the largest population on earth, it is also the country with the fastest ageing population. This is mainly due to decades of falling birth rates on the one hand and steeply rising life expectancy on the other. As such, retirement is one of the major motivating factors for Chinese buyers who decide to purchase property overseas.

Many well-to-do Chinese are getting creative in stretching their money for a comfortable - and even luxurious – retirement place to live. Chinese looking overseas for retirement seek destinations where there is decent healthcare, have a safe community, a pristine environment and good weather. It also has to be a good investment - both for them and for their children in the future.

If you are a residential developer targeting this segment of Chinese buyers, you can win them over by pointing out the advantages your development can offer to senior citizens and start specifically catering to this community by showing how easy it is for them to adapt to local life in their golden years.
Source: SCMP “China Internet Report 2020”, Statista “Global digital population as of July 2020”

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