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

Chinese overseas property transactions are predicted to hit US$220 billion by 2020

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".

How Chinese search for property

For international purchases, Chinese buyers conduct as much research as possible about a property listing, the company selling the property, the country property laws, immigration requirements, education standards, and many other personal criteria each individual may have. They favour famous brands (Chinese or Western), or companies that can display their professionalism and good reputation. Most confer

with family both offline and online via Chinese social media, and 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 your company before making contact. For many Chinese, they often wait for their China travel visa approval and will call about the listing from the airport.

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.

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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.

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

China is without doubt a very digital-centric country. The number of internet users in China hit 904 million as of March 2020, with a penetration rate of 64.5 percent. 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.

Social media is an essential part of daily life in China. 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 neighborhood 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.

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