Chinese property crackdown 'racist'

26 Mar, 2015 06:23 AM
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Ray White Real Estate chairman Brian White.
A complex issue with implications not just for foreign buyers but Australian investors also
Ray White Real Estate chairman Brian White.

RAY White Real Estate chairman Brian White has urged calm in response to fears Chinese buyers are pushing up prices.

The call comes after the operator of a Chinese-language real estate website said the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) crackdown on illegal property buying was "racist".

"Yes I think the targeting of Chinese buyers is racist and it threatens to harm the attractiveness of Australia as an offshore investment destination," Juwai co-chief executive Simon Henry said.

Juwai.com is an Australian-owned business that operates in China, advertising property in 60 countries.

Mr Henry said the momentum to put a firmer watch on foreign property ownership just wasn't there until about three years ago, when China overtook the United States as the biggest foreign buyer of Australia residential real estate.

"Proposed law reforms in the mix at the moment have been put out in response to sensationalist headlines about Chinese buyers pushing up prices without the data to support them," he said.

Mr White has not seen any evidence of endemic levels of illegal foreign buying and noted his concern that many anecdotal stories are based on "sloppy" sources that often wrongly confused Australians of Asian descent with foreigners.

"This is a complex issue with implications not just for foreign buyers but Australian investors also," Mr White said. "Australian nationals bid through a nominee for all sorts of legitimate reasons, including a preference to work through a buyers agent or a desire to keep the sale out of the press if they are a celebrity or business person wanting to keep their name off the BRW Rich List," Mr White said.

Mr Henry and Mr White were reacting to FIRB chairman Brian Wilson's push for the government to proceed with a plan to introduce a national register of residential property transactions to improve detection of illegal purchases.

Real estate agents do not have any legal obligations to check that potential buyers meet the appropriate citizenship or residency requirements to purchase a property. If a bidder in a sale or auction is successful, then it is the legal responsibility of the conveyancer on the transaction to ensure the buyer is eligible under the law.

It is unclear whether the government's proposal to introduce a national register for residential property transactions aimed at tracking foreign buyers would mean new obligations for real estate agents. Mr White said he has written to Treasury seeking clarification on this matter and is still looking forward to a response.

It is an established part of the Australian real estate industry that potential buyers can make bids anonymously through a nominee, with them only required to provide their full details at the conveyancing stage if their bid is successful. Concerns have been raised previously that this is one common way illegal foreign buyers are avoiding attention.

Ray White opened its first Beijing office last year.

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READER COMMENTS

Jock Munro
26/03/2015 6:45:08 AM

And why not put the financial interests of real estate agents before that of our Nation?! Selling key Australian assets to a foreign communist government does not stand up to the common sense test. According to Minister Barnaby Joyce, the Chinese are bemused by the fact that we so willingly flog off our assets including farmlands.
Shudda
26/03/2015 7:11:50 AM

So does the new Ray White Beijing Office imply that Ray White believes there is a market in Beijing for Australian real estate investors?
Jibby
26/03/2015 8:12:03 AM

Let's reverse things here,how many aussie's have bought Chinese land,would the Chinese government encourage aussie's or the aus government to buy land.i think not!
x
26/03/2015 12:43:16 PM

No sympathy for Mr White, as an Aussie I am unable to purchase freehold property in China (and many other countries ). Until we have a level playing field it is unrealistic that Chinese buyers should have unfettered access to the Australian property market.
pepper
26/03/2015 4:04:45 PM

Brian White needs to explain why Australians can't buy freehold land in China. and Articulate logically why it is racist for an Australian Citizen to object to a foreign people buying freehold land in Australia. The register should include the name of the real estate agent who benefited and by how much they did so.
Cattleman
26/03/2015 6:05:30 PM

Go away Brian maybe China
morrgo
27/03/2015 7:25:19 AM

Yesterday the panic was about the Japanese and the Yanks, today the Chinese and tomorrow possibly the Indians. The rules are colour blind. If the FIRB had balls they would sue the real-estate spruikers for defamation.
Jock Munro
27/03/2015 10:46:47 AM

morrgo, China is a communist country-all business is linked to government. We are being bought out by the Chinese government.
Percy
27/03/2015 12:06:57 PM

The issue is not racism but political as no one (except red raggers) want to be taken over by a communist regime. Any land bought by chinese nationals basically is owned by the Chinese Government. That is a stealthy invasion by wealth!
Peter
7/05/2015 12:36:44 AM

Is this even a serious article? How biased and conflicted is the estate agent being asked for his opinion. In Singapore foreigners can't buy land, just apartments, so long as pay extra foreigner stamp duty.... Australia is too generous and the favour isn't returned.

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