FIRB Figures Confirm Surge in Chinese Real Estate Spending 1

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015
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China has emerged as the biggest foreign investor in the Australian property market, ousting the United States from first place.

A new report from the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) indicates that Chinese investment in Australian property more than doubled during the previous financial year.

According to data from the report, China spent $12.4 billion on Australian property during the 2013/14 financial year – more than twice the $5.9 billion in real estate investment hailing from the country in 2012/2013.

The new figures make China far and away the single largest source of overseas investment for the Australian property market. Chinese spending on Australian real estate is now double the amount spent by US investors three times that of investors from Singapore.

China’s rise to first place amongst overseas buyers of Australian property arrives in tandem with its emergence as Australia’s chief source of foreign investment, ousting the US from top spot.

Last financial year China’s total investment amount in Australia reached $27.7 billion, as compared to $17.4 billion by the US and $15.4 billion by Canada, Australia’s third largest foreign investor.

FIRB’s latest round of figures further indicate that the total the number of overseas nationals picking up Australian homes tripled during the last financial year.

Investment in new domiciles and established homes both tripled, rising from $5.73 billion to $16.4 billion and nearly $2 billion to $7.17 billion respectively.

The leap in purchases of established houses is particularly striking given that the acquisition of existing residential properties by foreign nationals is significantly restricted under current regulations.

Under the existing regime, temporary residents can only purchase established domiciles to employ as residential homes for themselves during the period of their stay within Australia or for development purposes on the condition that construction commence within two years.

The surge in overseas property investment would appear to vindicate concerns that younger Australians are being crowded out of the housing market by cash-flush nouveau riche buyers from abroad, who are drawn to Australia due to its status as a stable, first-world economy with an appealing natural environment.

Some of the biggest players in Australia’s property market are responding to these concerns by creating alternative mechanisms that enable less moneyed investors to acquire stakes in the real estate sector for comparatively modest sums.

Mirvac Group’s new VentureCrowd Property platform is one such initiative, allowing wholesale investors to acquire partial real estate holdings for far smaller prices instead of purchasing entire properties. Participants in the platform will be able to accumulate property investments via the Internet for as little as $100 per stake.

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  1. Roger Johnson

    One problem I have with the notion that foreign investors are crowding out the market for first-home buyers is that foreign investors – at least from my understanding – tend to focus on more expensive properties as opposed to the entry-level where most first home buyers lie.

    Whilst it is well to crack down on any flouting of the law (and that should happen), that should not detract from the real cause of the lack of affordable housing – a fundamental imbalance between housing demand and housing supply.