Larry Schlesinger | 6 February 2013

Chinese signal property buying intentions in Australia as permanent arrivals numbers rise and visitor numbers jump dramatically

All immigration signs are pointing to a continued rise in the number of houses and apartments being bought by Chinese immigrants on Australia’s east coast.

According to the ABS, around 17,580 Chinese people settled permanently in Australia in 2012, up from 15,780 in 2011 and 14,720 in 2010.

Short term Chinese visitor arrival numbers - a forward indicator of demand for Australian residential property – are rising at even faster rate.

The ABS reports that Chinese short-stay visits to Australia have more then trebled over the past decade from 190,000 in 2002 to 630,000 in 2012.

Similarly, Indian short stay visits have jumped almost four fold from 45,000 to 160,000 over the same period.

Its not suprising as at the same time Australia's close proximity to Asia, the resilience of its economy driven by the mining boom, a transparent real estate market, and new apartment developments being actively marketed in China and other Asian markets are all enticing factors.

Last year alone there were an extra 85,000 visits from Chinese nationals - an increase of 16% over 2011 – with Chinese tourists now the second biggest visitor group behind New Zealanders, accounting for around one in 10 of the 6.1 million tourists who arrived for holiday or business purposes last year.

The ABS figures cover stays of up to 12 months, more than enough time for Chinese visitors that arrive in Australian on holiday or business to have a look at what’s on offer, in many cases decide they like what the country has to offer them and perhaps buy an apartment close to the Melbourne or Sydney CBD where their children will attend university or a family homes in suburbs in desirable school zones.

Evidence of this trend can be seen in Census 2011 figures, which show the number of Chinese-born people living in Australia has increased by 54% over the five year period since the last census from 207,000 to 319,000 while Indian-born resident numbers increased by 100% from 147,000 to 295,000 and now rank as the third and fourth biggest expat populations in Australia after British and New Zealanders.

Meriton’s Harry Triguboff says that most buyers of his new apartment blocks in Sydney, Brisbane and on the Gold Coast are from Asia while Morry Schwartz, who heads up Melbourne developer Pan Urban, says they are vital to the success of future residential developments.

Making the permanent move even easier now for high-net worth Chinese and other foreign nationals is the recent launch of the “Golden ticket” significant investor stream visa that provides non-English speaking immigrants with a four-year visa to live in Australia if they invest $5 million.

Apart from Chinese and Indian tourists, visitor numbers from other Asian countries are also rising with Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Hong Kong all in the top 10 visiting nationality groups.

"New Zealand remains our biggest source of overseas short-term visitor arrivals with 1.2 million trips in 2012 or one in five visitors coming from there, but China is now in second place with one in ten, followed by the UK, the USA and Japan,” says Neil Scott, assistant director of demography at the ABS.

"The top five countries alone provided more than half of last year’s overseas visitors, and there were an extra 85,000 visits from China - an increase of 16%. The next largest increase in visitor numbers came from Malaysia, with a 9% increase.

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