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China: education tops incentives for property investment abroad, says report

Education abroad has now become the top incentive in China to invest in the $33bn overseas property investment market, according to a recent report from global B2B property sales platform, Investorist.

Melbourne is the top destination in Australia for Chinese investors, according to the report. Photo: flickr/Rambo2100.

Melbourne is the number one destination for Chinese investors in Australia

The report, which surveyed 120 estate agencies in China, found that education overseas was the clients’ incentive to invest for over three quarters (76%) of respondents.

This reason topped a number of other motivations for investment overseas, such as migration (69%) and asset safety and capital gain (68%).

“Often the Chinese mother will move over with the university student to take care of them and live in the apartment also”

Jon Ellis, CEO of Investorist, said that in comparison to previous reports, education as a motivator for investment among Chinese people was increasing.

“Education is extremely important in the Chinese culture. For Chinese people, it’s the number one key to achieving success,” he told The PIE News.

“[They] believe it is absolutely indispensable to have the ability to send their children to the best foreign schools, thus enabling them to excel in the world in whatever profession they choose.”

Australia has been the top destination for Chinese property investment, with 69% estate agency respondents saying they are investing in the country now.

The demand for the US however, is increasing, currently with 59% responding they are selling into it at the moment.

The US is followed by the UK, of interest for 36% of respondents.

Melbourne is the number one destination for Chinese investors in Australia – a city which boasts six universities in the country’s top 20, the report points out.

Ellis noted that whenever they can afford to, “Chinese parents will try to buy an apartment near the college or university their child will be studying at”.

“Financially savvy investors, they will weigh up the cost of several years’ boarding at the educational institution’s accommodation, and compare that to a property asset they can own long term, and possibly give to their children after graduation,” he commented.

“Often the Chinese mother will move over with the university student to take care of them and live in the apartment also.”

Jorick Beijer, foundation manager at The Class of 2020, said that this property investment overseas for education was anticipated.

“Seeing this in the perspective of China’s economic growth, rising household incomes and the value that Chinese parents put in the international education of their children, this does not come as a surprise to us,” he told The PIE News.

“Whereas the UK, US and continental Europe for years have been very attractive student destinations, and so rental markets got more cramped, it is interesting to see that Chinese parents are now actually starting to invest in properties.”

The report also points out that “top cities for investment often also have a strong reputation for quality education”.

“Chinese people believe an international education provides the opportunity to be educated about the entire world”

While the report doesn’t measure the exact level of education the children of the Chinese investors will be enrolling into, Ellis said that in the top investment countries of Australia, the US, the UK and Canada, the properties are for higher education plans.

An increasing number of students are getting used to living in off-campus accommodation, said Vivian Shen, general manager – China and Asia at Student.com.

“Also, their overall living cost budgets are increasing and, as a result, they have higher standards when it comes to their accommodation,” she told The PIE News.

“Previously a significant number of Chinese students lived with host families in Australia. However, nowadays most students want to live independently in purpose-built student apartments.”

The report’s 120 agencies represent thousands of clients across China who sold over 10,000 units in 2016, worth almost $6bn.

In 2009, overall overseas property investment from China was $600m, and it has grown exponentially since then. It expanded to $15.8bn in the four years to 2013, and had more than doubled by the end of last year to $33bn.

And this property investment overseas for education is unlikely to slow down, said Ellis.

“Chinese people believe an international education provides the opportunity to be educated about the entire world and not just about China,” he said. “And subsequently the prospect of becoming an international professional, are most desirable.”

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