Chinese buyers are still keen on UAE property market

Chinese buyers are still keen on UAE property market

The UAE was one of the top 10 destinations of interest for Chinese property buyers last year, according to a new report.

The study, by Juwai, a portal advertising global properties in China and Hong Kong, placed the UAE eighth on a list of the most in-demand markets. The number of indexed enquiries received by the site for UAE properties increased by 43 per cent last year, but have quadrupled over a two-year basis, the company said.

“This is in large part a function of big growth in the second half of 2018 that was mostly sustained throughout 2019,” said George Chmiel, chairman of property brokerage IMI, which owns the website.

UAE developers have increasingly courted more buyers from China in recent years, with the Dubai Land Department  establishing offices in Shanghai and Beijing.

The department also reported strong interest from Chinese buyers in the first nine months of 2018, with Dh1.7 billion of transactions recorded, putting them among the top four nationalities purchasing properties.

However, it did not break down transaction levels from Chinese buyers when publishing a report last month stating 150 nationalities bought Dh135bn worth of real estate in the emirate in 2019.

The coronavirus pandemic, which began in the Chinese city of Wuhan, has made it harder for overseas buyers to complete sales this year, Mr Chmiel says.

“While buyers can still make enquiries and do virtual tours, it’s more difficult to get them to the point of signing on the dotted line. This is a practical problem that will ease when travel restrictions are reduced,” he said.

Despite this, he argued there is still demand from investors looking for ways to keep their money safe.

"Right now, the best pitch that Dubai can make is not about growth or yields but about long-term safety and diversification of investment. Buyers from Asia who are investing overseas in this half year are looking for a way to protect their money from any economic turmoil in their home country.

"Chinese, in particular, are worried about a potential devaluation of the yuan. Dubai can play the role of the global safe deposit box real estate market. Dubai is well-positioned to protect investors in this way due to its long history as a safe and appealing investment market,” he argued.

Thailand, Australia and Japan were the three most attractive markets for Chinese buyers in 2019, according to Juwai’s report, with the US and Canada making up the top five.

“Cross-border property buying by Chinese consumers is evolving rapidly as these buyers gain in wealth, motivation and sophistication. Destination markets are also competing more aggressively for the investment and economic boost that these buyers bring,” the report said.

Property transactions in Dubai grew 9.7 per cent in the first quarter of 2020, according to Property Finder, despite a slowdown towards the end of the period as Covid-19 restrictions kicked in. Supply levels are still high, though, with 20,000 units handed over by April 29.

“During the current situation, we have obviously seen a slow down in transactions, however due to the government's proactive, swift, extreme efforts and policies I believe we will get through this tough period quicker than most,” Lynnette Abad, director of data and research at Property Finder, said.