10 Feb 2015

Strong Chinese interest in Chch property

7:21 am on 10 February 2015

A Canterbury real estate company says Chinese investors are putting money into Christchurch property as opportunities from the rebuild grow.

The rebuild of the Christchurch CBD.

The rebuild of the Christchurch CBD. Photo: 123rf

Bayleys Real Estate said it had sold 24 homes and a significant number of sections to Chinese buyers in Canterbury over the last six months.

Economists said with the educational and lifestyle benefits Christchurch had to offer, it made sense demand was growing, and said the commercial sector stood to gain as well.

The company had been actively pushing Christchurch property at expos in Beijing and Shanghai, which had been very successful, Bayleys Canterbury's General Manager Peter Whalan said.

"Of the 24 sales to Chinese buyers in the last half a year, five of those were a direct result of the Shanghai expo in December" he said.

Many buyers were looking for new places to live, saw good secondary and tertiary education for their children in Christchurch, and considered the housing more affordable than Auckland.

There was demand from many overseas countries, but the Chinese demand was greatest Mr Whalan said.

"They represent the strongest demand. And I guess we've bilingual sales people, across all the Asian countries.

"From people that are able to speak Korean, Japanese, Mandarin, Cantonese. So we have the ability to go up there and communicate, which makes it a lot easier to do business."

New Zealand was attracting Chinese attention in general Senior economist for the Union Bank of Switzerland Robin Clements said.

"The opportunities for real estate investment come into that, with Christchurch in the middle of a construction boom" he said.

"Investment may drifts away from real estate" Mr Clements said.

"It's more likely to involve commercial property which we are starting to see more of, in other parts of the world and other parts of New Zealand.

"It might mean that they, move on, if you like. Real Estate might be something that catches their eye, relatively small numbers involved, but they like the country and they like the area. Bigger investments in some of the infrastructure or the hotels may eventuate."

In the context of the rebuild - which is worth about $40 billion - the level of outside investment was not big at this stage chief executive of the Canterbury Employers' Chambers of Commerce Peter Townsend said.

"Insurance has gone a long way funding housing, and the commercial buildings as well, and there hasn't been any great need for outside funds" he said.

He said there may be opportunities for investors in the future.

"We lost 65 percent of our hotel accommodation, quite a lot of overseas interests in our hotel redevelopment, we're starting to see some of that play out now.

"Potentially in some of the big builds, that government, or local government control....convention centre for example, pretty much tied down.

"But other, big, key projects in the city may involve public-private partnerships, which may involve private investment."

With no more than 30 percent of the rebuild completed it was early days yet, he said.

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