Chinese Property Hunters to Raid US

This is an article that ran in the Financial Times yesterday. It seems that some deep pockets in China think that we’re near the bottom here, and they’re ready to jump in and start buying.

I happen to agree with them.


Chinese Property Hunters to Raid US

By Geoff Dyer in Beijing

Published: December 5 2008 20:10 | Last updated: December 5 2008 20:10

Chinese bargain hunters are preparing to descend on American cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco, where homeowners have suffered some of the steepest price falls in the US.

SouFun, the biggest real estate website in China, is organising a trip next month to look at properties in California and possibly Nevada. Liu Jian, the company’s chief operating officer, said about 300 people had expressed interest in the idea in the three days since it was advertised, though the company would take only a small group on the first trip.

“Given the problems in the Chinese market now, many people have been asking us about taking a look at overseas markets, especially the US,” he said.

The trip would focus on California, particularly San Francisco and Los Angeles, where big Chinese populations might make his clients more comfortable, but might also include Nevada.

Restrictions on taking money out of China would be an obstacle, he added, but some potential investors had an overseas connection such as a foreign passport that would make it easier.

Property professionals say there is considerable interest among wealthy Chinese, who often hold a high proportion of assets in property, in investing abroad.

“The US market absolutely terrifies me,” said one Shanghai-based real estate executive. “However, there are plenty of people here who think this a great time for bottom-fishing.”

There is opposition in China to SouFun’s plan. “Unless these people need a house in the US to live in, this is senseless,” said Yi Xianrong, a real estate expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. “A few years ago there was a lot of talk about investing in German real estate but most of the people who did so lost a lot of money.”