Fly-in, fly-out Chinese buyers have splashed a whopping $12 million on three Kew houses in the space of 24 hours this week.
It’s believed they are cashing in on slumping Melbourne house prices and a higher than normal exchange rate between the Aussie Dollar and Chinese Yuan.
In one instance, a buyer flew in from Macau to inspect a grand Burke Rd home in the morning, then bought it and the neighbouring house for a combined $7 million 12 hours later.
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Kay & Burton Hawthorn’s Rebecca Edwards handled the sales and said normally Chinese New Year produced a lot of talk but few results.
“But because we have had an adjustment and Australia has been seen as a bit of a safe haven, particularly by the Chinese, now they are seeing it as a great opportunity to get back in,” Ms Edwards said.
“Many of them are only here for four or five days, so it is a whirlwind tour.”
The Chinese nationals have permanent residency status in Australia — allowing them to buy as though they are an Australian citizen — but are living overseas at the moment.
On Tuesday the Foreign Investment Review Board released figures revealing international investment in Victorian properties had slumped to $5.1 billion last financial year from $11.04 billion a year prior, but the figures do not include buyers with permanent residency.
The 1207 and 1209 Burke Rd, Kew buyers said they planned to relocate to Australia in about 6-12 months and currently have children enrolled in a Kew private school.
They were flying back to Macau at 1.30am the next morning.
The two houses both date back almost a century and span a combined 2400sq m, including a swimming pool at the rear of 1209.
Both had been scheduled to go to auction this weekend, but the owners decided to take the early offer in order to avoid an uncertain auction market.
A third home on Wimba Ave, Kew sold off-market for about $5 million to a buyer currently living in mainland China who flew in to inspect Melbourne homes.
Half of all Chinese searches for Australian property are for Melbourne, with wealthy suburbs Glen Waverley and Box Hill recently topping the list of suburbs in demand, according to realestate.com.au chief economist Nerida Conisbee.
“Those buying for reasons other than investment are being pretty active,” Ms Conisbee said.
Biggin & Scott Glen Waverley’s Ming Xu reported buyers with temporary residency status who were being refused access to home loans had discussed making cash offers for million-dollar homes.
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He said demand was high with $1 (AUD) buying just 4.8 Chinese Yuan today, compared to figures as high as 7 Yuan in the past.
“Even before they buy the property they are seeing a discount,” Mr Xu said.
He said offshore demand would continue to the end of February.