Money from China is beginning to pour into U.S. real estate markets, including San Diego County.
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Next week, in a short sale, a one-bedroom condo in La Jolla's Villa Vicenza will close escrow with a $150,000 price tag. The new owner is a Chinese investor. Realtor Scott Cheng represents the buyer.
"It's been quite a surge actually," said Cheng.
Cheng said in the past year, he has seen a jump in calls from Chinese buyers who are interested in San Diego as the housing boom in China comes to an end.
"Their bubble has popped," said Cheng. "Now they're looking to diversify their portfolio
They think the housing market in San Diego is at its bottom."
According to the National Association of Realtors, in the United States, the Chinese now rank as the second largest foreign buyers of homes. In the 12-month period ending in March 2012, that translates to $7.4 billion in sales, which is up 24 percent from the previous 12 months.
Realtor Lydia Hwang-Vosovic says her Coldwell Banker office in La Jolla is on pace for more than 50 sales this year to Chinese nationals, which is more than double the number from the year before.
She showed 10News an insert appealing to Chinese buyers that will soon appear in the Wall Street Journal's china edition.
"They come all cash. They're very motivated," she said. "It's very prestigious to own a home in America."
Hwang-Vosovic said they also love San Diego's weather and school systems. She said the areas that have generated the most interest are La Jolla and Del Mar as well as new homes in 4S Ranch, Carmel Valley and Scripps Ranch.
Recently, Chinese buyers fueled a housing boom in Vancouver, British Columbia. Real estate economists say San Diego could see a scaled-down version of what happened in Canada: some local buyers pushed out of a market that saw an overall hike in property values.
Realtors estimate about 40 percent of Chinese buyers want property solely as investments, while 60 percent are buying for other reasons, including a place to live for children going to school in the United States.
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