Published by Kartik Subramaniam
Chinese Investment in U.S. Real Estate Down
Some of the most significant players in the U.S. real estate market are Chinese investment groups. In fact, if you check out our Foreign Investment Study, you’ll find that 1 in 14 residential properties that sold for over a million dollars was sold to either someone from Hong Kong, mainland China or Taiwan. Chinese investments in U.S. real estate have long brought health and vitality to the U.S. real estate market.
That said, Mark Heschmeyer from CoStar reports in his article Already Down, Chinese Investment in U.S. Real Estate Evaporates in First Quarter that if you compare the first quarter of 2017 with the first quarter of 2018, Chinese investment in U.S. real estate has gone down a staggering 75 percent.
This is a significant piece of news for real estate investors and agents for a lot of reasons — one of them being that Chinese investors have long been stimulating the U.S. economy. When 85 to 90 percent of foreign investment in U.S. real estate slows down, so can development and job creation.
Mixed Signals and an Update
Just a disclaimer: Nobody knows for sure if this trend is likely to continue or if in a few quarters things will return to the way they were. In fact, recently Costar reported that the American arm of Wanxiang Group Cos. acquired the Prudential Plaza Office Complex in Chicago for a cool $680 million, exceeding all the investments made in the entire first quarter of this year. As you can see, this situation is still very much up in the air.
What’s Causing This Overall Decrease?
Heschmeyer suspects that one factor that may be causing Chinese investment in real estate to dwindle is that the Chinese government has enacted new legislation that has pushed a lot of Chinese investment toward Europe and other parts of Asia rather than here in the United States.
Selling Current Holdings
Another trend is that these groups are selling their current U.S. holdings – thereby increasing supply. Recently many large deals have involved Chinese investment groups acting as as sellers-disposing of their U.S. real estate assets. Right now these are just large investments. For example, in February 2018, a Chinese investment group sold New York’s 1180 Sixth Avenue for $305 million and 19 East 64th Street for $90 million. These are just a couple of the large U.S. holdings that Chinese investment groups have sold off.
What If You’re Investing on a Smaller Scale?
If you’re an investor in smaller properties, you may be watching this situation closely to see if it will eventually affect you. As an onlooker, here are some questions you may have:
1. Is this an ongoing trend? Are Chinese investors going to be continually pulling money out of the U.S., or is this just a short-term reaction to legislation and things will return to normal in a few quarters?
2. Will this start affecting smaller deals? Is this the catalyst of a trend that will eventually trickle down to smaller properties like a $500,000 home or a $2 million building? Will we lose out on these smaller investments that help our economy and development?
In reality, nobody has definitive answers to these questions at this time. The only thing that we can be sure of is that Chinese investment in U.S. real estate has dropped precipitously, but we’re not sure if it will stay this way.
Tell Me What You Think
Do you think that this trend will trickle down to smaller assets? Do you think this drop is only temporary and that it won’t affect smaller holdings? Is this a good thing or a bad thing? How do you think it will affect the overall economy?
Current Events and Real Estate
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