Ben Hurley Reporter

Ben covers the property industry and has a keen interest in entrepreneurship and travel writing. He speaks Mandarin and previously covered housing and urban affairs for The Australian Financial Review.

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Asian buyers set sights on Australian property

Published 14 January 2013 11:55, Updated 16 January 2013 05:51

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Asian buyers set sights on Australian property

Real estate agents in Box Hill appealing to the Asian market. Rodger Cummins

Around a quarter of Asian property investors wants to buy Australian real estate, according to a survey of visitors to major Asian property-buying websites.

The survey of just under 26,000 visitors to property websites in Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Singapore found 61 per cent of respondents wanted to buy property overseas, and 26 per cent had Australia in their sights.

The survey was conducted throughout the 2011-12 financial year by ASX-listed iProperty Group across its website network, which claims to reach more than 3.5 million Asian consumers on a monthly basis.

“I was shocked by the findings,” iProperty chief executive Shaun Di Gregorio told BRW. “It’s among the largest surveys that have been done in our region. You’ve got one in four of these respondents saying I want to invest overseas, and Australia is in my top two.”

The survey found Australia was the first overseas pick among Malaysian investors, while Indonesians and Singaporeans put Australia in second place. However Australia did not make the top three cut among investors from Hong Kong who preferred China, Malaysia or the United Kingdom.

Ten per cent of respondents wanted to purchase within the next six to 12 months, while 9 per cent said they wanted to buy within one to two years. Migration was the motivation for 11 per cent of potential investors.

“The core reasons were really around education, retirement and migration,” Di Gregorio says. “There are 22,000 Malaysian students in Australian universities. The Australian market is perceived as a very safe place to invest and there is this niggling uncertainty in some countries in this region about the future.”

He says website statistics showed Melbourne was the most favoured destination, which Di Gregorio puts down to its relative affordability, pre-existing ethnic communities that people can buy into, and an education system focused on foreign students.

“The anecdotal evidence we’ve gathered over the last few months is that Melbourne has a multicultural label. Whether it’s restaurants, community groups and so on, it’s perceived from an Asian perspective as being more liveable in that context.”

He says Australia is desirable for its minimal time-zone difference and close proximity, and its perception as having a resilient economy. Australia’s high dollar has not appreciated as much against Asian currencies as it has against the US dollar and euro, he says.

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