A Shanxi woman has become the first Chinese citizen to acquire a luxury property in Sydney under a new immigration scheme for investors.
Wang Minqin, the wife of a businessman in the transport industry from the Central Chinese province, bought a harbour-view villa in Vaucluse, an upmarket residential suburb of the New South Wales state capital, for AUS$8.5 million (HK$58.6 million) on Monday.
Wang is one of ten people holding a “significant investor visa” under an immigration programme launched by Australian government in November last year. Applicants have to invest AUS$5 million in qualified government bonds or investment schemes. After four years, if the investors do not withdraw their funds, they are given permanent residency in Australia.
As of August 7, 305 people have applied for Australian visas under the new scheme. The vast majority, 90 per cent of applicants, are Chinese, according to a Department of Immigration and Citizenship spokesman who declined to be identified by name.
Monika Tu, the Sydney-based luxury property specialist who introduced Wang to the property, said luxury real estate sales to Chinese investors were booming. Two of the three luxury properties she sold in August, worth a total of AUS$21 million, went to Chinese buyers. “It is awesome,” she said, referring to the demand by applicants under the new visa scheme. “It is going to be a very hot market.”
Tu, director of the local property consultancy Black Diamondz, said she was currently assisting ten more applicants in their search for upscale property while they waited for visa approval under the scheme.
Overseas investment in property has become a debate in the ongoing parliamentary election campaign after Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said he was “anxious” about an overly open approach to foreign investment when he faced opposition leader Tony Abbott at their final pre-election debate in Sydney last week.
Foreign demand in residential real estate has more than doubled over the last two years from 5 to 6 per cent in 2011 to 13 per cent in 2013, according to a survey by National Australia Bank released in July.