A real estate agency in Sydney is attempting to attract Chinese investors by allowing them to use bitcoins for deposits on properties.
Forsyth Real Estate, a realtor located in Sydney's upmarket North Shore which has been in business for over a century, has announced that it has entered a partnership with Australian virtual currency exchange CoinJar which will enable it to accept bitcoins as deposits for properties.
A Fortsyth spokeswoman said that the agency had decided to accept bit coin as a form of payment in order to attract prospective buyers from abroad, and Chinese investors in particular.
Despite efforts by Beijing to reduce trading of virtual currency by banks, bitcoin has proved to be immensely popular with net-savvy Chinese investors. Online exchanges such as Huobi.com enable PRC nationals to convert the Chinese yuan into virtual currency for use anywhere around the globe.
Melbourne-based CoinJar will accept deposits made in bitcoins by real estate investors, and make payments to Fortsyth in dollars for a transaction fee of 0.5 per cent.
In addition to making deposits on real estate purchases using bitcoins, vendors will also be allowed to pay for property advertising using the virtual currency.
Forsyth said the use of bitcoins is not for the purpose of eluding local taxes such as the GST, but for avoiding expensive cross-border bank transactions. According to the spokeswoman the use of bitcoins will also facilitate purchases of local property by Australian expats currently based abroad.
Forsyth is already attempting to woo China-based property investors with advertisements on popular Chinese reality sites such as juwai.com, which include the bitcoin logo and indicate that payment in bitcoins is an option.
The Sydney realtor's decision to facilitate Chinese property investment via the use of virtual currency arrives just as concerns increase in Australia about an influx of money from China into the local real estate market, driving up prices and to the potential exclusion of local investors.