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Wealthy Chinese buying more Texas land
Brief:As the Chinese government loosens restrictions on investment abroad and Chinese money pours into foreign markets , Real estate in Texas is welcoming more Chinese investments over the past few years.
Chinese investors are showing a surging interest in Texas real estate. Statewide, Chinese purchases of Texas land have more than doubled since 2013, as the Chinese government loosens restrictions on investment abroad and Chinese money pours into foreign markets.
In Houston, the uptick stands out, said a local real estate agent and a member of the Houston Association of Realtors board of directors.
"Chinese buyers have just become so significant in our market," she said. "This is not just a fad, this is an ongoing trend."
Nationwide, the story is similar. The New York Times reported Saturday, "Chinese cash floods U.S. real estate market," noting that Chinese now represent the largest group of foreign buyers in U.S. real estate.
Across the world, nations have seen a jump in Chinese investment as capital outflows from the People's Republic surged in recent years.
Texas real estate is emerging notably as a destination market that money. While the Lone Star State boasts just four percent of Chinese investment in the U.S.--compared to 35 percent in California—it is the country's fifth hottest market and quickly growing.
Adam DeSanctis, spokesman for the National Association of Realtors, said Chinese buying activity in Texas has more than doubled since 2013, as investors look past their more traditional West Coast markets. In 2015, 31 percent of foreign investment in Texas real estate—about $1.14 billion—was Chinese, compared with 15 percent in 2013.
"Texas' vibrant economy, strong local job market, vast land and more affordable housing options are becoming increasingly attractive to Chinese buyers," he said.
According to an NAR analysis of foreign home buyers in the United States, released June 2015, most Chinese buyers pack big bucks; their average property purchase in the U.S. is $831,000, and 69 percent pay cash.
Borden, who works in the western regions of the Houston area, including Sugar Land and Katy, estimated that about 15 of her approximately 40 transactions last year involved a Chinese buyer.
Their tendency to pay cash gives them a big advantage over domestic buyers who typically require a mortgage, she said, noting that the Chinese money has helped mitigate a real estate slump prompted by exceptionally low oil prices.
"They are very important to our area for the viability of our real estate market," she said, referring to the Chinese buyers. And she said the story was similar across most major Texas cities. 
Minesh Patel, co-owner of a property company in Sugar Land, said his company, with about 180 realtors, has made recent adjustments to the growing Chinese clientele.
"It's been going on for over a year," he said. 
About 30 of his realtors now specialize in transactions with Chinese, and his office now trains staff in Chinese cultural awareness, negotiation techniques and Feng Shui to makes homes more attractive to Chinese buyers. 
Many Chinese buyers—about 43 percent—don't reside in their American home purchases, but rather seize the opportunity to charge higher rates to domestic renters in booming real estate markets like Texas. Borden estimated that half of her Chinese buyers bought homes as their residence.
Patel said he's also seen substantial Chinese interest in commercial real estate like strip centers and office buildings. 
It mirrors a trend of Chinese investment in American businesses. In June, the report stated that 3,000 Houstonians and 80,000 Americans were on the direct payroll of Chinese companies, a nearly six fold increase from five years prior.


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