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Crazy rich Asians + the Aussie property market.

Maureen Jordan
Wednesday, October 31, 2018

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Saturday three weeks ago proved to be a warm one in Melbourne, where anyone who’s spent time in this world-class city knows that living in hope for continuous bursts of good weather is living in vain. 

My buddy and I love the place and choose to spend every week living between two great Australian metropolises to tell the tales of each. This particular Saturday, we wandered down Ferrars St from our place in Albert Park, cut through South Melbourne markets (grabbing a burek as we passed from the ‘cash only’ strict owner of the outlet that boosts us with carbs) to get us to Flinders Lane in the heart of the city. These precincts are property hot spots for Melbournians, full of cafes, period houses and proximity to just about everything.

My mate had already convinced me that the film, Crazy Rich Asians, awarded 99 points from critics including the harsh taskmaster Rotten Tomatoes, was worth watching. His two bad calls of late led me to inform him that three strikes and he’d be ousted from his Saturday selection post (maybe even ousted from his abode if he gets too bad). Luckily for him, he still holds this coveted position of ‘who in the Switzer household gets to pick the flick’.

Small theatres can add a certain appeal to film watching. You get to see audience reaction and the room full of young Asians was filled with intermittent laughter as the crazy antics of these rich older Asians emerged. No doubt they found many things the film explored close to home.

Nothing in the film fell into the exclusive territory of crazy rich Asians. Parents and even grandparents thinking they have the right to interfere in the mate selection process of their offspring is nothing new. Just ask Romeo and Juliette!

What the film captured was the wealth, the extravagance and the property portfolios of Asians in Singapore and Malaysia. And it’s this wealth and desire to secure property abroad that is the focus of several businesses that have sprung up here in Australia.

Monika Tu is no crazy rich Asian. Tu’s property services company smooths the way for high net worth Chinese investors and immigrants coming down the Yellow Brick Road to Oz.

With Black Diamondz, I created a concierge service to provide new migrants, predominantly from China, personalized assistance to help them settle into the Australian lifestyle. I noticed that while many real estate agents were happy to sell Chinese migrants a luxury property, they were not providing them with what they really needed: assistance in integrating into the community.  My team and I help our clients navigate the challenges new migrants face.  Anything from finding the right schools for their children, introducing them to relevant business connections and connecting them with like-minded people.  Finding a home is one thing but creating a life for your family is another and we are the best at doing this for our clients,” she said.

Tu is well placed to comment on what’s happening on the Australian property scene.In the past five years, I’ve witnessed a change to the investment landscape for my buyers, yet only a small change for my buyers wishing to live here in Australia.  These buyers represent the majority of the clients I work with.  My buyers are generally looking for a friendly and safe neighborhood, in close proximity to good schools and amenities.  The trends extend to the business opportunities in the areas as well as the potential resell value,” she added.

With the market falling, most Australians know that there are buying opportunities in certain suburbs in particular.  The majority of my Asian buyers are looking for established homes in sought after areas such as the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, Mosman, the North Shore and Upper North Shore.  They want properties that are relatively low maintenance yet still offer the lifestyle they crave.”  

I asked Tu what drives Asian buyers in their selection of where to buy real estate. “A big factor when it comes to migrants purchasing property in Australia is the Significant Investor Program Visa (SIV Visas).  Since the program’s launch in November 2012, there have been 2,022 of these visas handed out and each of the holders is given the right to buy property here in Australia.  These new arrivals are generally looking for properties in excess of $5 million.  The SIV program contributes extraordinarily to the Australian economy and has delivered over $10 billion in complying investments to Australia since it began!

But Tu admitted that there has been a slowdown in the investments market, mainly due to the changes in government policy both here in Australia and in China. 

The residential market will continue to be strong as long as we continue to offer a world class lifestyle and a safe environment.  Australia is in a unique position for the Chinese, as it has all they are looking for within a relatively short flight from home, making it ideal for business people looking for a better lifestyle for their families,” she said.

Despite the residential market slowing for Asian buyers, Tu sees buoyancy elsewhere. “We are starting to see the institutional and private companies show strong interest in commercial, industrial and retail real estates.  In the next year, Black Diamondz will focus on these areas,” she said.

Spoken like the award-winning entrepreneur Monika Tu actually is.

Published: Wednesday, October 31, 2018

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