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Rise of the Chinese investor brings new property buyers to Scotland
Brief:Scotland is becoming the go-to alternative for Chinese property buyers as an alternative to overpriced London, according to a specialist website.
A overseas properties website in Chinese currently lists over 50,000 Scottish properties for the Chinese market and its co-chief executive says: "At the current rate of growth, by 2020 there will be twice the annual Chinese investment in the UK as there is today. While Chinese are buying Scottish property at an increasingly rapid rate, actually only a small stock of homes are owned by Chinese citizens, because they've only begun buying very recently. There is significant untapped demand."

A big driver for Chinese buyers is education. Not only are they investing in property, but they are purchasing a home for their children to live in while studying overseas.

For Europeans, it is often hard to understand how important an international education is to parents in China. An education in a Scottish school or university opens the door to the world for a student from China.

Golf is another draw, with St Andrews the fifth most popular Scottish location on the website.

The average price of properties for Chinese buyers in the UK, skewed by London, is £770,000. But Chinese ultra-high-net-worth buyers who can spend tens and tens of millions, down to the buyer who starts looking at properties in the £100,000s.

The Chinese are beginning to diversify and internationalise their assets, now it is for the first time possible for them to do so, as well as seeking places to spend time each year or even retire to. On average, Chinese high net worth individuals own 2.5 homes in China or abroad.

Chinese purchases are just beginning. What we are seeing now are the early adopters. Only about 4per cent of Chinese even have a passport, compared to about 70per cent of Britons. There is a vast, untapped market of about 1.3 billion Chinese who are still to get a passport, still to make their first trip overseas and still to buy their first overseas investment.

In 2013, the wealth held by China's high net worths grew by 18per cent, compared with 12per cent for the rest of the world, with a 17per cent increase in millionaires. Wealthy Chinese choose international real estate for an average of 15per cent of their assets - which are growing at 20per cent a year.
 
Most people in Scotland are under the impression that China is tightening up its capital controls to make it harder to move money overseas. That's actually the opposite of what is really happening. The government is steadily loosening controls that have been in place for decades. The Bank of England estimates Chinese ownership of international assets will grow 600per cent in coming years as a result.

The Chinese growth story has so far attracted £900m of UK Investors' cash into two specialist China funds, £765m of it mopped up by Fidelity's smaller companies fund launched in 2011 by veteran star manager Anthony Bolton. After a rocky start, that fund now shows a 73per cent uplift over three years, beating 54per cent for the world index, 46per cent for global growth trusts, and 23 per cent for the all-share.

Its rival JPMorgan Chinese shows a 51per cent return on £1000, according to Lipper figures for ILP Moneyfacts.

But more diversified alternatives, offering the opportunity to benefit from wider Asian growth, include Schroder Asian Alpha Plus with 23per cent in China, Baillie Gifford Pacific with 15per cent, and First State Asia Pacific with 6per cent and a sector-leading record over three years.
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