Reduced Chinese demand and settlement defaults will hit the apartment sector most: McGrath

Reduced Chinese demand and settlement defaults will hit the apartment sector most: McGrath
Reduced Chinese demand and settlement defaults will hit the apartment sector most: McGrath

Foreign investment has been a significant driver of Australia’s property market and in many ways a contributing factor to our strong economy, particularly over the past decade as China has boomed and its rising middle and upper class have looked for new ways to invest in a volatile international economy, according to McGrath's latest report.

Australia’s attractive lifestyle, clean air and food supply, political and economic stability, high quality education and health facilities, safe cities, a similar time zone and attractive property market has proven an irresistible combination for our northern neighbours.

According to the latest Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) data, $60.75 billion was invested in Australian residential real estate by foreign buyers in FY2015, up 75% on FY2014.

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Reduced Chinese demand and settlement defaults will hit the apartment sector most: McGrath

By far, New South Wales and Victoria were the favoured destinations and for the third consecutive year, the lion’s share of investment came from China – and at record levels, too.

Chinese buyers invested $24.35 billion in residential and commercial real estate last year, almost double that of FY2014 and more than four times the investment of FY2013.

Clearly, Chinese appetite for Australian property is increasing, so what happens when governments – Australian and Chinese, tighten controls on foreign investment?

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Reduced Chinese demand and settlement defaults will hit the apartment sector most: McGrath

In December 2015, the Australian Government introduced fees for foreign real estate acquisitions, starting at $5,000 for purchases below $1 million – which represents the majority of foreign real estate purchases.

In June 2016, the New South Wales Government introduced a 4% stamp duty surcharge for foreign buyers and a 0.75% land tax surcharge from 2017.

In July 2016, the Victorian Government raised their stamp duty surcharge for foreign purchasers from 3% to 7% and announced an increase in the absentee owner land tax surcharge from 0.5% to 1.5% from 2017.

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Reduced Chinese demand and settlement defaults will hit the apartment sector most: McGrath

The Queensland Government also introduced a 3% stamp duty surcharge on foreign purchases in October 2016.

And there’s even more hurdles for foreign buyers to jump with Australian banks tightening their lending criteria and the Chinese Government limiting the amount of capital exiting the country.

While it’s too early for official numbers, anecdotal evidence from our agents suggests mainland Chinese investors have pulled back while Chinese clients already here continue to upgrade to new homes and purchase for investment.

The effect of the new fees won’t be fully realised for another 12-18 months but we think it will be largely limited to the new apartment market.

FIRB figures show about 80% of all foreign purchases are under $1 million – indicating that reduced Chinese demand and settlement defaults will hit the apartment sector most, with some impact also felt in the mid-priced house market too.

As Chinese investment slows down – at least in the short term, FIRB figures show increasing interest from other parts of Asia, primarily Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Thailand.

We are also seeing an increase in investment from emerging economies such as India, Vietnam and Indonesia.

Tags: 
Foreign Investment Asian Investors

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