EXCLUSIVE Asian Wealth Times Meets Juwai.com

Located in Hong Kong and Shanghai Juwai.com has become synonymous with international property for Chinese buyers.

The site is the largest and most authoritative source for global property in the Chinese language, with over 2.4 million property listings spanning 58 countries. Juwai.com also provides country buying guides, education and emigration articles, along with the largest Chinese social media community focused on international property.

China is now home to one-fifth of the world's billionaire population thanks to an economic boom over the past decade, and much of that wealth is being spent overseas, especially on real estate.

While the U.S. and Australia remain the most popular destinations, more Chinese buyers are seeking expensive homes in exotic locations like the Caribbean and Fiji, a new Juwai.com report shows.

Simon Henry is co-CEO of Juwai.com – recently named the "most influential international property site in China - 2014" by the country’s peak e-commerce body.

Started in 2011, Juwai has created a global platform for real estate information servicing the world’s Chinese communities. Juwai.com sends more Chinese buyer inquiries to home sellers, developers and agents than any other source.

The site facilitated an estimated US$4.2 billion in Chinese international real estate purchases in the 2013 calendar year. Simon’s co-CEO Andrew Taylor was the only real estate portal executive from anywhere in the world invited to speak at the G20 Global Leaders Summit pre-event in November 2014.

The Asian Wealth Times caught up with him recently to get an idea of how business has been in 2015 so far.

Outside of China we hear about the slowing economy, how has your business been this year to date?

You have to remember, the China is slowing down to about 7% GDP growth. That’s hardly a recession. In US dollar terms, in 2014 China’s economy grew by more than in any year in history. Ever.The economy is so large now that 7% growth is still more in absolute terms than 14% growth used to be. Chinese investment in overseas real estate has just continued to grow. It’s not just Chinese GDP growth, or just the slower Chinese real estate market. It's also the loosening regulatory structure that is making it easier to move capital overseas, and the huge amounts of private wealth in China seeking to internationalize their asset mix.

An obvious question but where currently are the most popular locations for investment?

Listen, in the first quarter the top five countries were the US, Australia, the UK, Canada and New Zealand. Some very popular global cities are New York, Los Angeles, London and Sydney –that’s not to mention Hong Kong and Singapore.

In those prevalent locations is it just the property or is it education, lifestyle, cultural attraction or capital gain that is the lure?

There are lots of different Chinese buyers motivated by different goals. Investment-oriented buyers are looking for capital gains and returns, while families often are looking for education properties, or lifestyle properties for vacations or even retire. The top countries are in the top because they can be considered good investments whatever your goal. If you're looking for investment property, you can get the returns. If you're looking for a lifestyle property, they have plenty of those. And, if you are motivated by your child’s education, all of them are English-speaking and have reputable educational systems.

Where does Asia rank with Chinese UHNW buyers; I believe Tokyo is seeing strong inflows from Chinese buyers but how about Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore?

Yes, every one of those destinations in seeing rapid growth in Chinese investment. You could name nearly any country and be assured it has seen Chinese investment increase over the last three years. That's because this is not simply a property investment wave. This is a historic change in China’s place in the world, now that it has tremendous accumulated wealth and also a regulatory structure that more and more encourages individuals to look overseas.

With so called ‘Golden Visas’ being offered by Spanish and Portuguese authorities to non EU investors have you seen a strong pull towards properties there and if so what price range are you seeing traction in?

The Golden Visas have indeed been popular, and you’ll find that in almost every country the Chinese are the number one participants in these programs. Countries like Spain and Portugal can attribute a significant percentage of their Chinese investment to these programs. When a buyer hasn’t actually applied for a golden visa, in many cases it is the existence of the golden visa program that first caught their interest.

One of your offerings is Juwai.com Luxe, what is the threshold on those properties?

It depends on the market, but generally about US$2 million or US$3 million.

In terms of buyers from China acquiring overseas properties where do you estimate the market currently stands, would you say you have only scratched the surface?

“Scratching the surface” is a good metaphor. Most wealthy Chinese have not yet invested overseas, and you can expect that a significant share of them will come to do so. Also, China produces 40,000 new US-dollar millionaires per year. And the regulatory changes that are enabling more overseas investment are still in their infancy. The Bank of England believes Chinese ownership of overseas assets could increase by 600% in the coming years.



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