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Wealthy Chinese snapping up US commercial property
Brief:For those of you hiding under a rock the past few years, wealthy Chinese investors have been ramping up their purchases of US real estate, reported the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday.
After a five-year spending spree, the Chinese have knocked the Canadians from first place to become the top foreign buyers of US houses and apartments for the 12 months to March, according to the National Association of Realtors.
 
In the wake of China’s summer’s stock market crash, the devaluing of the nation’s currency and with a slowing economy, wealthy Chinese have been moving more money out of China and into US property to get a bigger bang for their buck.
 
Prior to the summer the big worry of wealthy Chinese was the fear that the government would probe their holdings, but now they worry about the authorities undercutting the value of their money with more devaluations or letting inflation run rampant.
 
Investors have been aggressive buyers of commercial property. Earlier this year, a Chinese insurer spent a record price for a US hotel buying New York’s Waldorf-Astoria hotel for $1.95 billion. In addition to big name properties, the Chinese are looking at unlikely investments such as small office buildings, chain hotels and other nondescript properties in and around big US cities, seizing an opportunity to place greater sums of money outside government reach, reported the Wall Street Journal.
 
“It isn’t just about finding yield, but about parking their capital,” Joshua Zegen, co-founder at a New York-based property company told.
 
The paper reports that over the past couple of years, Chinese investors have acquired a strip mall near Long Beach, Calif., a Marriott hotel near Los Angeles International Airport and a waterfront office building on New York’s Staten Island, helped fund at least two big condo projects in Westchester County and purchased large swaths of property in the Queens, N.Y., neighborhood of Elmhurst.
 
As for getting a total on how much U.S. commercial real estate the Chinese actually own. That’s made difficult because many make the transactions through private companies or through a local partner.
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