More and more Chinese are joining tour groups especially organized for house-hunting and home-buying in the U.S. to take advantage of the bargain prices of foreclosed properties. The Chinese government has relaxed its U.S. visa and foreign investment regulations to enable its people to buy real properties abroad.
Among the most popular destinations are Los Angeles, San Francisco and Las Vegas, the cities with the highest foreclosure rates. According to Jamie Lee of the Los Angeles Convention & Visitors Bureau in Beijing, Chinese investors have been buying properties quietly in Southern California for years. Now they are going around buying repo homes in large groups.
Meanwhile, even Chinese local governments have become involved in the buying spree. Government officials from the southern province of Guangdong are scheduled to fly to Los Angeles to establish a regional office to assist residents of Guangdong in their home-buying efforts.
Ling Chow, head of the Chinese American Real Estate Professionals Association in Southern California's San Gabriel Valley, is pleased about the surge of home buyers from China. But he doubts about their impact on the revival of the housing market which is filled with foreclosure properties.
Chow said that many of the Chinese buyers are looking for new homes in school districts with high academic ratings in preparation for their children who are set to immigrate with them. Some are buying for their children who are attending college in a few years.
Nevertheless, researcher Mei Xinyu of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce is concerned about groups of Chinese investing in new homes and foreclosed properties in markets they know nothing about. He warned about communities that may not recover at all.
As a response to concerns similar to Mei Xinyu’s, Yuan Lixin of newspaper publisher and group tour organizer Beijing Youth arranged group tours to give Chinese tourists and potential home investors a feel of the real American life in communities hit hard by foreclosures.
Leticia Carvalho has been educated in the finer points of the foreclosure market over 5 years.