Chinese checking us out

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Chinese interest in Queenstown property and businesses is starting to develop, a local real estate agency believes.
“There’ll be ticks on the board over the next few months,” New Zealand Sotheby’s International Realty boss Peter Newbold says.

“We’re following a bit from Auckland, Australia, and I think it’s only going to get stronger down here.” 

Local Sotheby’s agent David Penrose says the Chinese market has developed in the past six months. 

“We’re working with a number of Chinese families at present. 

“They’re looking at homes as well as projects or developments. 

“In recent days we’ve been dealing with some fairly substantial Chinese, in terms of their wealth, who are exploring Queenstown for the likes of a hotel or a subdivision development – they’re looking for opportunities.” 

Newbold and Penrose believe interest in Queenstown’s property and business scene flows on from the rising tide of Chinese visitor numbers. 

“They’re staggered by, I guess, what Queenstown has to offer in the way of its environment,” Penrose says. 

Many Chinese are also looking to invest beyond their own country and Hong Kong, he adds. 

“You’ve got very high property taxes being implemented by the Hong Kong government and also in China. 

“They also want to spread their risk, they don’t want to have all their money sitting in one country.” 

Penrose says another advantage is being able to buy freehold titles in NZ whereas Chinese nationals are mostly restricted to leasehold property back home. 

Newbold says his company benefits from the international reach of the Sotheby’s brand. 

A Sotheby’s office in Beijing opens this year, he notes. 

“With Sotheby’s in Sydney, a lot of their top sales are to Chinese buyers. 

“If you go to Auckland, they’re purchasing at all the different price points – it’s a mixture of Chinese [from China] and Auckland Chinese. 

“Often we follow six months behind.” 

Penrose also believes Queens­town Resort College’s growing number of Chinese students could be a spur for their parents to invest here. 

Nevertheless Newbold cautions: “I don’t think we’ll see the same growth here as we do in a place like Auckland because where do they work? 

“Queenstown will be more of an investment bolt-hole rather than a place they just live in.” 

He says if the opportunity arises he’d employ a Chinese-speaking agent: “We came very close to having one on the team.” 

Penrose says the only problem he’s struck is the lack of a local Chinese-speaking solicitor. 

“If I had my time over again I’d learn Mandarin.”