Why Chinese real estate investment in Australia is falling

Pig-shaped sculpture lights up Circular Quay in Sydney for 2019 Chinese New Year celebrations. katacarix/Shutterstock

Chinese investment in Australian real estate stood at AUD12.7 billion (USD9 billion) in 2017-18, down 17 percent from the AUD15.3 billion recorded in the previous year, data from Australia’s latest annual Foreign Investment Review Board report showed.

That still leaves China accounting for one out of every four dollars of foreign real estate investment in the country, pointed out leading Chinese property portal Juwai.com.

“While Chinese demand for residential real estate has fallen, China still accounts for a majority of residential real estate approvals,” said Carrie Law, CEO and Director of Juwai.com, also known as the international real estate partner to Chinese online giant Tencent.

“Chinese buying in 2017-18 was most impacted by three factors: the unexpected canceling of promised mortgage loans by Australian banks, higher foreign stamp duty taxes, and capital controls making it more difficult to move money from China,” she added.

After the US, China was the second largest source of foreign investment capital across all sectors in Australia. China plowed AUD23.7 billion in investment during the 2017–18 period, down from AUD38.9 billion in 2016–17.

Approved investments across all sectors in Australia from the US hit AUD36.5 billion in 2017-18.

Real estate constituted the second biggest investment sector in Australia. The sector accounted for 32 percent of all foreign investment, second only to services that took 39 percent and above mining (minerals) that comprised 10 percent.

Victoria received 46 percent or majority of approved residential real estate investments, trumping New South Wales with 23 percent and Queensland with 17 percent.

“Barring significant changes in the economic or policy environment, we believe Chinese buyer growth in 2019 will be flat and this group will continue to account for the largest share of all foreign buyer purchases, or about 22 percent of all foreign buying,” Law said.