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Foreign realty developers target China

By Hu Yuanyuan  (China Daily)

08:08, September 21, 2012

A woman asks about a US real estate project at the 2012 Beijing International Property Expo/Autumn on Thursday. In a bid to attract Chinese investors, 147 overseas projects from more than 30 countries and regions are being represented at the event.ZHU XINGXIN / CHINA DAILY

A growing number of overseas real estate projects are trying to attract Chinese investors, as global economic woes soften their own domestic real estate markets.

A record 147 overseas projects from more than 30 countries and regions are attending the 2012 Beijing International Property Autumn Expo, according to statistics from the expo's sponsor.

"China's housing market has great appeal to foreign projects, and we have had to extend the exhibition hall for foreign projects since we have so many of them," said Wei Kefei, director of the expo's international department.

The expo, which runs from Thursday to Sunday and has also attracted around 180 domestic real estate projects, is regarded as a barometer of the market.

According to Wei, immigration, education and asset relocation are the top three reasons for Chinese buying properties overseas.

The marketing chief of Patroclos, a Cyprus-based property development company, said 99 percent of Chinese people buying an apartment in Cyprus do so for immigration purposes.

Occupying 32 booths at the expo, Cyprus is the most prominent foreign exhibitor at the event.

As Canada, Australia and the United States have all increased their immigration requirements, more Chinese people are turning their attention toward Cyprus for permanent residence.

If a Chinese investor purchases a property valued 300,000 euros ($398,000) in Cyprus, they could receive the right to permanent residence in the country within two months. Usually, it takes three to six months to finish the procedure.

"As a member of the European Union, the terms offered by Cyprus are quite attractive for us, when considering education and traveling," said Lily Zhang, a 34-year-old company executive.

Property prices in Cyprus have fallen around 15 percent compared with 2007.

"So far, prices in the local market haven't been driven up by Chinese buyers yet, but this could happen next year," said Patroclos' marketing chief.

Pandra Richie, vice-president of Long and Foster Companies, a corporate real estate service provider in the US, said most Chinese interested in buying properties in the US would do so as their children are going to study in the nation.

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