Ausin Group, a real estate, financial services and immigration advisory group, claims to be on track to sell more than $1 billion worth of residential Australian real estate this year to Chinese investors, mostly from the mainland.

Ausin Groupa real estate, financial services and immigration advisory group, claims it is on track to sell more than $1 billion worth of residential Australian real estate to Chinese investors, mostly from the mainland this year.

The director of Austin, Joseph Zaja , said it has sold more than $260 million and 450 properties in the past three months, and that demand grew as it built a sales and consulting network in major mainland Chinese cities. “Overseas investment is just getting started,” said Mr Zaja.

It was driven by a strong Australian housing market, a vibrant international student market, stricter investment regulations in China and traditionally favored locations for Asians such as Vancouver, Canada, tightening of the rules.

Investments totaling billions of dollars were made by Chinese expatriates, who were highly visible at weekend auctions in Melbourne and Sydney, and Asian developers, who account for more than half of the 36,000 apartments planned across the country. Mr. Zaja also attributes his strong sales to his network of offices in major mainland cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and major mainland business centers.

The traditional approach has been to market one-off investment projects, usually at roadshows through Hong Kong. The Chinese are major investors in foreign real estate to diversify risk, as a prelude to immigration, and to shelter their children while studying abroad.

Restrictions in China

They have also been discouraged from buying multiple properties in China by authorities that have imposed high loan-to-value ratios on second-hand properties and have restricted the borrowing of third-party and more properties. In Vancouver, where large numbers of Hong Kong Chinese have emigrated, the Canadian government has cut investment and visas over fears it would inflate local prices.

The five-year-old Ausin Group has more than 300 employees and 11 offices.

“All our overseas buyers go through Australian banks and usually borrow about 70 per cent of the purchase price,” said Mr Zaja. The typical buyer is between the ages of 35 and 60, trying to spread the investment risk outside of China, taking into account foreign education for their children and the possibility of permanent residency.

Australian rules on foreign buyers being restricted to new properties means most of it has been in and around the central business districts of Sydney and Melbourne.

The main recipient is Melbourne, due to the recent wave of apartment approvals. Inner-city areas, such as Toorak, are popular, and large communities are developing in the suburbs of the central ring, particularly in the southeastern suburban corridor.

Article first appeared in the Australian Financial Review

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