Chinese buyers are making a comeback, outperforming locals at home auctions across Australia

By Olivia Day For Daily Mail Australia and Stephen Johnson

00:06 21 Jul 2023, updated 01:44 21 Jul 2023

  • Auctioneer says Chinese investors are back on the property scene
  • He said local buyers felt ‘anger’ towards Chinese buyers
  • Chinese buyers are spending up to $8million on Aussie real estate



Tensions are rising at auctions across Australia as Chinese buyers make a dramatic return to the property market, sparking resentment from locals who are missing out, a top auctioneer says.

Real estate expert and auctioneer Tom Panos, known for his appearances on Channel Nine’s show The Block, said he had noticed an influx of Chinese buyers at his Saturday auctions.

In an interview with 2GB’s Ben Fordham, the Sydney-based real estate expert pointed out that recent estimates suggesting Chinese investors are buying $8 million worth of property in Australia every day are conservative and the true amount being spent is ‘definitely higher’.

‘The Asian buyer is back. I saw it last Saturday at the auctions,’ said Mr Panos.

‘$8million of Australian property is snapped up every day by Chinese buyers.’

He says the Chinese are ‘talking to local house hunters’ and spending more money than investors from anywhere else in the world.

Mr Panos said he could ‘feel a bit of resentment’ at international investors who ‘didn’t get the applause’ that local buyers would have received after the auction closed.

‘You could tell there was tension there,’ he told the radio host.

The auctioneer said foreign buyers would have to get approval from the Foreign Review Board, a process he described as ‘not difficult’.

‘The Chinese love real estate in Australia,’ he says.

‘They love the education system here, they love the lifestyle, they love the fact that it’s probably less polluted, it’s a safe place.’

He said buyers were pouring money into Melbourne first, and Sydney second.

‘Not only that, but after the Chinese buyer there is the Hong Kong buyer. They are the second largest overseas buyers,’ he said.

Mr Panos said sometimes what appeared to be an Australian buyer at auction was actually someone representing an investor from Hong Kong or China.

‘I think for myself that often, a buyer who is going to buy a property is an Australian citizen but when you look at the money flow, where it comes from, you can see that they are actually representing an overseas buyer,’ he said.

That’s what’s buying a lot of real estate right now. It’s actually helping the market stay pretty good on prices even though we’ve had 12 rate hikes.’

Tom Panos, a real estate coach who auctions houses on the Channel Nine show The Block, said he noticed an influx of Chinese buyers at his auctions on Saturday
Mr Panos discusses the recent boom with top-rating 2GB breakfast host Ben Fordham

Many Aussies say they are bracing themselves for price hikes as Chinese buyers return.

‘The Australian government should stop this ASAP before prices go through the moon,’ one person wrote.

Mr Panos asked his followers on social media if they thought international buyers were making it difficult for local buyers to buy property.

‘Indeed. They must love Australia and have money,’ said one.

‘No. Foreign buyers are buying what locals can’t afford,’ wrote another.

A third commented: ‘That’s a no-brainer, started in the early 2000s – overseas buyers feel safer investing in Australia.’

Earlier this week, One Nation leader Pauline Hanson called on Albanians to ban foreigners from buying property in Australia.

‘China is buying so much property and housing in Australia and it’s disgusting and it makes me angry that the politicians are not doing anything about it.’

New Treasury figures show the Chinese will spend $2.4billion on residential real estate in Australia in 2021-22, with investment increasing in the next financial year.

That equates to $6.6million a day, with investors from China spending more than residents from anywhere else.

The Chinese bought 2,317 homes in Australia in one financial year.

Hong Kong, which is part of China, was a distant second where investors spent $600 million buying or investing in 689 homes, ahead of Vietnam’s $400 million, for 391 properties.

But Australia’s figures are even more striking when data for July 2022 to March 2023 is covered.

In those nine months alone, Chinese investors spent $2.3 billion, which equates to $8.4 million per day, snapping up 1,775 properties.

Those from Hong Kong spent $400million, buying 467 properties.

Juwai IQI, which sells real estate to Chinese investors, said it received more inquiries about Australia than Canada, the United Kingdom or the US

Kashif Ansari, the chief executive and a co-founder of Juwai IQI, said China’s demand for Australian property coincided with Chinese interest in studying at an Australian university.

The most popular destinations are all the traditional, wealthy Anglo countries with world-leading education sectors,’ he said.

The slowdown in China’s property market, following problems with apartment building giant Evergrande, has also encouraged Chinese investors to consider the world’s rich countries, especially English-speaking countries.

The most popular destinations are all the traditional, wealthy Anglo countries with world-leading education sectors,’ he said.

The slowdown in China’s property market, following problems with apartment building giant Evergrande, has also encouraged Chinese investors to consider the world’s rich countries, especially English-speaking countries.

‘Abroad, Chinese investors are attracted to real estate investment as an easy-to-understand category that is expected to provide price appreciation and reliable long-term foreign currency earnings unrelated to China’s economic cycle,’ said Mr Ansari.

Australian interest rates are at an 11-year high of 4.1 percent, to combat high inflation.

China is grappling with the opposite problem, potential deflation, as consumers there cut spending despite a recent rate cut.

This means that Chinese investors have more savings and see more potential for property price growth in Australia than in their home country.

‘In this era of higher interest rates, Chinese investors with access to ready capital have an advantage over local buyers,’ said Mr Ansari.

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