Thailand jumped three places to third on the list of top destinations for Chinese buyers in the second quarter – only the US and Australia rank higher – while Vietnam has made a surprising leap in popularity as a property investment destination among mainlanders.
Enquiries for Vietnam by Chinese grew a staggering 442 percent between January and May in 2017, Juwai.com data shows. Although geographically close, Vietnam was the subject of a flurry of negative headlines in China the year before after anti-Chinese riots over a territorial dispute in the South China Sea left more than 20 people dead and over 100 injured.
Although many Chinese cancelled their holidays to Vietnam in the immediate aftermath, three years on and the negative sentiment appears to have somewhat subsided, according to Juwai.com’s CEO Carrie Law.
“There is always some impact, because angry headlines tend to make some buyers cautious. However, buyer demand has nonetheless continued to grow strongly,” she says. “Vietnam has catapulted from the thirty-third most popular country for Chinese international property buyers to the tenth over the past two years.”
Newly relaxed property laws have proven a major market incentive. In 2015, the central government passed a law that means anyone with a valid visa can now buy property with a lease of up to 50 years. Previously, foreign buyers were required to hold a work visa and had to have already lived in the country for one year.
Aside from Thailand, only Malaysia ranks higher than Vietnam in terms of Chinese interest, but it’s been a mixed year for property sales on the Malay Peninsula.
Although analysts report robust Chinese demand, particularly in Kuala Lumpur, the huge Chinese developments in Johor at Iskandar facing Singapore – dubbed the ‘next Shenzhen’ – have reportedly faced sluggish demand as buyers have struggled to get their yuan out of the country amid tighter controls by Beijing.
Forest City by Country Garden – the biggest of them all with 700,000 new inhabitants targeted by 2050 – has faced the bulk of negative headlines as many Chinese buyers desperately try to recoup their deposits after struggling and failing to make payment instalments.