• The Facts About Foreign Buyers

    by, Carrie Benuska

    While much of the country is ramping up for a triple-dip, San Marino continues to experience an active and competitive real estate market. It would appear that the huge insurgence of foreign buyers, armed with cash and the ability to close extremely quickly, is the force behind San Marino’s hearty sales. According to Sinora Chan, the branch manager of West Coast Escrow in San Marino, over 75% of the deals she has handled in 2011 have involved overseas buyers, most of these involving all-cash transactions.

    Although a large percentage of these buyers are coming from Mainland China and Hong Kong, Chan has also dealt with buyers from Singapore, Canada, and Taiwan. Chan, who was born and raised in Hong Kong, has a unique connection with Asian buyers because of her ability to speak Mandarin and Cantonese. She claims that she receives multiple calls each day from international buyers, eagerly searching for the opportunity to own San Marino real estate. This international interest is not new to Chan. She has seen a large increase in sales to foreign buyers since 2009.
    According to Chan, the heavy influx of Chinese buyers can be attributed to a number of different factors:

    1. The combination of a weak U.S. economy and real estate market mixed with the increasing value of the Chinese Yuan creates a perfect money-making environment for Chinese buyers.
    2. Due to the possibility of Chinese government policy changes, many wealthy Chinese individuals like to diversify their investments outside of the country.
    3. China only allows families to have one child. Couples, who long for a larger family and a great public school education, are drawn to the U.S. – especially San Marino.
    4. San Marino has a very prestigious reputation in China. The stability of the real estate market, the beautiful updated public facilities, and the outstanding school district are all big draws for Chinese buyers.
    5. In China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, it is very rare for citizens to own a single family residence and the land it sits on. Most homeowners in these countries can only afford an apartment in a large building. San Marino provides an opportunity for these foreign buyers to own a beautiful home and a large property. The tranquility of having this personal space is a huge draw.

    San Marino is not the only hot destination for foreign buyers. Newport Beach, Palos Verdes, Rolling Hills, and Beverly Hills are all popular communities for foreign investment. Lili Kung Peters, Realtor with Teles Properties Newport Beach, has earned the revered reputation as the “go-to” real estate agent for international buyers interested in owning property in Southern California.
    Peters, who was born and raised in Taiwan, contends that foreign buyers are a big part of Orange County sales, as well. She works with buyers from China, Thailand, Taiwan, and Korea. Newport Beach has become a new and growing market for the most elite class of Chinese buyers, who are looking to diversify their wealth. Peters, like Chan of West Coast Escrow, does not see any stop to the influx of foreign buyers.
    This summer, a major international transaction took place that could spur on a new and increased wave of foreign buyers to Newport Beach. Winston Chung, a battery scientist, inventor and entrepreneur from China, purchased the parent company of the exclusive Balboa Bay Club and the Newport Beach Country Club. Rumor is that Chung is also seeking to buy a high-profile property in Newport Beach. According to Peters, Chung’s investment in these two prestigious Newport clubs will draw other wealthy Chinese individuals to join him in this beach paradise.
    The existence of foreign money is definitely keeping the fires burning on San Marino home sales. At a time when loans are hard to get, appraisals are a huge question mark, and many Americans are just trying to hold on to what they have, the existence of all-cash offers is a huge benefit to sellers.

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