Late last month I had the opportunity to attend the inaugural Luxury Portfolio Immersion Conference in Shanghai, China. Joined by two of our sales associates, Lesli Hammerschmidt of our Armonk brokerage and Tianying Xu of our Scarsdale brokerage, the event presented a unique opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of Chinese culture and traditions and specifically how they may impact decisions relating to real estate.
According to a study compiled by NAR from April 2013 to March 2014, the total U.S. home sales to international clients is estimated at $92.2 billion. International buyers come from all over the world, but Canada, China, Mexico, India and the UK accounted for 54% of the transactions. China leads the way in dollar volume. Buyers from China purchased U.S. residential properties estimated at $22 billion in total value – approximately 25% of all international sales. Since we are beginning to see Chinese buyers show an interest in the communities we serve – Westchester, Dutchess and Putnam Counties of New York and Fairfield County, Connecticut, I felt it was worth the investment to attend. Lesli, who grew up in Taiwan and lived and worked in real estate in Hong Kong in the nineties; and Tianying, who grew up in Xian and still has family there, chose to attend and also arrange introductions to their business contacts following the conference.
It was a busy and successful week. The conference took place at the Fairmont Peace Hotel overlooking the Bund. Shanghai is a magical, futuristic-looking city with beautiful colors and bright lights in view when looking across the Huangpu River to the Pudong side.
We heard from speakers such as Jeffrey Dong, PhD, an Intercultural Training Consultant who shared how to communicate effectively with the Chinese, and Rupert Hoogewerf, Chairman of the Hurun Research Institute who spoke about the wealth being amassed. According to Rupert, China counts around 2.9 million Millionaires. More impressive is that fact that the number of Chinese billionaires—358, officially, according to the Hurun Report—is estimated around 650 when accounting for “hidden wealth,” meaning more than any other country.
Shanghai is home to Chinese web portal, www.Juwai.com which has quickly established itself as the most influential site for international real estate among Chinese buyers, with an impressive 1.5 million views each month. Through our affiliation with Luxury Portfolio International, all Houlihan Lawrence listings priced at $1 million and above are marketed on juwai.com. We’re excited about the additional global exposure this provides our seller clients so it was a treat to visit their office and meet with their team.
When we said goodbye to our Luxury Portfolio partners from around the world who also attended, Lesli, Tianying and I boarded a flight for Xian. Tianying had arranged several meetings with business and bank executives so we could promote New York real estate. We were received enthusiastically and developed relationships whereby we can market select listing inventory directly to private banking clients.
One executive even arranged for us to have a personal tour of the Terracotta Warriors, a collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, China’s first Emperor. These were buried with the Emperor in 210-209 BC and were meant to protect him in his afterlife. This was truly a thrilling sight to see and Lesli and I were able to check that off our bucket lists!
We left China exhausted yet completely satisfied that we’d accomplished our goal of learning more about China’s new wealth and the opportunity it means for U.S. real estate as well as using the time to promote Houlihan Lawrence and our listing inventory throughout New York and Connecticut. So when you see one of our clever ads promoting our global exposure from Scarsdale to Shanghai, know that we really mean it and we have the air miles to prove it.