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Chinese house hunters venture overseas (3)

By Zhao Yanrong and Lu Chang (China Daily)

08:52, December 24, 2012

Cyprus introduced a new immigration policy at the end of 2011, allowing a person who buys a house in Cyprus of a certain value to apply immediately for a residence permit.

"The difference is that most popular Western property investment countries target rich Chinese buyers, whereas getting into the Cypriot property market is easier. Our main target is the fast-growing middle class in China," said Giovannis Kouzalis, an immigration lawyer from Cypriot law firm G. Kouzalis LLC.

Kouzalis said the education system in Cyprus is among the best in Europe and that graduates from Cyprus' high schools are not required to take further examinations to enroll in any university in Europe.

Cyprus' success in reaching out to China has thus far paid dividends. In 2011, only 350 visas were issued by the Cypriot embassy in Beijing. By November of this year, the number of visa applications had already surpassed 1,500.

"Most (Chinese) people are going for house hunting in Cyprus," Kouzalis said.

In addition to new markets like Cyprus, traditional popular Western markets are still attracting Chinese buyers.

According to a survey by SouFun International, a real estate platform in China, the United States, Canada and Australia are the priority targets for Chinese overseas property investments, with villas the most preferred among buyers, accounting for one-third of all purchases.

In 2011, non-US buyers accounted for $82 billion in home sales, according to the National Association of Realtors.

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