Melbourne has cemented its status as most popular city in Australia for Chinese buyers of residential real estate, two sets of new figures show.
The interest from buyers offshore comes even as they face a squeeze from both countries, with Victorian and federal governments introducing levies for foreign purchasers in the city, and China cracking down on capital outflows.
Buyers have been drawn to the southern capital given its status as the world’s most liveable city, its range of sought-after schools and universities and its relative affordability compared with Sydney, real estate agents said.
More than 40 per cent of inquiries about Australian residential property made on Chinese property portal Juwai.com during the first seven months this year focused on Melbourne, up from 35.6 per cent a year earlier. By contrast, Sydney drew only 17.5 per cent of inquiries this year, barely edging up from the previous year.
Demand in Melbourne rose 13.3 per cent in the first half of 2017 compared with the first half of 2016, according to Juwai.com head of Australia Jane Lu, who tipped interest to remain strong.
“We see no let-up in demand for the future. Chinese buyers feel that international and, in particular, Australian real estate is one of the more safe and wise investments they can make,” Ms Lu said.
Australia offered good value compared to the price of similar property in China, she said, adding that Victorian government taxes had little impact on lifestyle and education buyers.
As of July 1, foreign purchases of residential property attract a 7 per cent tax in Victoria and an 8 per cent tax in NSW, up from 3 per cent and 4 per cent respectively. Top suburbs included the apartment-heavy Melbourne CBD and inner-city Southbank, the fringe western suburbs of Point Cook and Tarneit, and middle-ring northern suburb Preston, she said.
Meanwhile, searches on realestate.com.au from Chinese IP addresses confirmed the trend.
Melbourne drew more than 39,000 searches on the listings website in June, easing modestly from 40,000 a year earlier.
Sydney had nearly 17,000 searches, dropping 15 per cent over the year.
Melbourne drawcards include the long-established Chinese community, education opportunities and relative affordability compared with Sydney, CBRE managing director of residential projects Andrew Leoncelli said.
“Over the past three years demand, awareness and volume of sales in what we do [apartment projects] has grown significantly,” Mr Leoncelli said.
On occasions when the Chinese government had changed its capital control roles, buyers had been more rather than less keen to move their money out into a “highly regulated, transparent, safe” country like Australia, he said.
Marshall White director Leonard Teplin said demand had fallen from Chinese investors but remained steady from families who wanted their children to study in Australia.
By ELIZABETH REDMAN