Published in Wentworth Courier, 5 October 2012 By Victoria Craw Andjustine Oates
IT’S a far cry from many student digs.
A luxury apartment with lap pool, marble floors and city views from a terrace balcony sold for $2.41 million to a Shanghai couple whose son is studying at the University of NSW.
The Chinese investors bought the prestige pad in College St, Darlinghurst, as a home base for their son with the idea it would pick up strong capital gains during his time in Australia.
“It’s a scenario that is occurring more and more in the prestige property sector,” Belle Property Surry Hills agent Scott Aggett said.
“Australia’s such an attractive option for education and property investment and many overseas families whose children are coming to Australia to study see a great opportunity to park some money here by buying property for investment.”
Australia is the third largest provider of international education behind the US and UK.
One in five of our university students comes from overseas, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Australia’s Ray White agency tightened ties with the Asian market when they joined Juwai.com, China’s largest property website, and appointed Rebecca Zhang to head their Chinese division.
She said a number of property inquiries coming from Asian buyers were for student accommodation and prestige properties, especially around the eastern suburbs and CBD.
“Wealthy investors are looking for prestige properties along the water with a view, as there’s hardly anything like that in China,” she said.
“There’s a lot of interest around Sydney’s CBD because Chinese investors are used to living in cities, where all shops are open to late at night.”
Frasers Property Australia chief executive Guy Pahor said demand from offshore investor varies depending on the development.
“At Central Park in the city’s southern CBD, foreign nationals represent around 25 per cent of sales to date,” he said.
However Ms Zhang said the sales process can be different when it comes to offshore buyers.
“The negotiation method is very different. We’re black and white with limited room for negotiation whereas Chinese buyers like to bargain and think prices can be cut down by up to 50 per cent,” she said. “It’s also not uncommon for a feng shui master to come along with a buyer.”
* Under Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) rules, overseas investors can buy an established dwelling as their home while in Australia. However approval is usually subject to them selling the property once they leave.
* There are no restrictions for off plan purchases, although the development must be marketed locally as well as overseas.