Australia's Foreign Investment Review Board ("FIRB") has just released some surprising data on foreign buyer transactions in 2018-19. Juwai IQI Executive Chairman Georg Chmiel here provides the Chinese reaction to the data. He also gives some key insights into the Australian spring real estate market and demand trends among Chinese and other Asian buyers.

Hong Kong, November 6, 2020 / - Highlights from the New FIRB Report:

  • 80% of foreign buyer transactions were residential and valued under $1M each
  • 86.3% were new dwellings and vacant land
  • VIC, NSW, QLD: these three states alone accounted for 94.6% of investment value and 92.2% of transactions.
  • Foreigners buy to hold. Foreign buyers purchased $7.5 billion of property in the 12 months but only sold property worth $990 million.

Juwai IQI Executive Chairman Georg Chmiel said:

“The FIRB data is fascinating and confirms some things that we already know. Victoria is the most popular state. When foreigners buy, they very seldom sell. Foreign buyers far prefer to buy new property.”


About Asian buyer trends and the Spring Market, Mr. Chmiel said:


“The spring market is suffering from fewer overseas buyers, both pure investors and those moving to Australia to live. Our data shows there are fewer Chinese, fewer Koreans, fewer Indians looking at Sydney real estate because travel is so difficult. That’s a big problem for the market in newly developed apartments. Developer Harry Triguboff was just calling on the government to permit more migration.


“Although foreign-buyer transactions are down this year due to the pandemic, there is also good news. Australia’s reputation has been buffed and shined to a new level of polish. The country is wisely managing the pandemic and is likely to have positive economic growth this year despite the crisis. Australia does compete for investment with the other primary English-speaking countries. We believe 2020 will be a pivot point, after which demand by foreign investors, students, and residents will climb in Australia at the expense of the U.S. and the U.K.


“The good news about Chinese real estate investment is that China’s economy is doing well, buyers have money and motivation, and Australia’s reputation and desirability have soared due to its impressive response to the pandemic.


“The bad news is that transactions have dropped precipitously due to travel bans and other practical difficulties. The real estate team at IQI WA has just sold eight homes –including two houses and six new apartments– to buyers from greater China. Transactions do happen. The foreign buyers making purchases now are actually in Australia or are willing to buy site-unseen. Live video and 3D tours make many sales possible that otherwise wouldn’t happen.


“So, Chinese buying will be back after the pandemic. That’s good news for the unprecedented surplus of new housing stock, especially inner-city apartments of the kind that appeal to buyers from Asia.


“Two big questions are what will happen with Victoria and Queensland. The two states have had opposite fates this year. Will Victoria lose its top ranking with international students, migrants, ex-pats, and buyers? I don’t yet know.


“It is plausible that Queensland will see an increase in international buyer market share due to its affordability, lower congestion, and good handling of the coronavirus. Again, it’s too soon to know.”