Think back to the days of the commodity boom. Real early. Like 1999. Investment gurus like Jim Rogers spoke about what will happen to raw materials prices — from iron ore to soybeans — when half the population of China goes from eating a pound of chicken a week, to two pounds. Or when China goes from building one building a week, to the equivalent of about one city every year.
Something similar is happening in China today. It’s a slow pace for some, and too quick for others. But the opening of China’s capital account means billions of dollars will now be able to high-tail it out of China, legally, and invest in everything from New York penthouses to American mutual funds.
The qualified domestic institutional investor (QDII) scheme is getting an upgrade. It’s not just about Hong Kong and institutional investors anymore. QDII2 takes money global. And better yet, it brings in rich Chinese, not just investment firms.
QDII2 will have direct impacts on American and Canadian real estate. One of the most visible ways individual, wealthy Chinese are investing in North America is via housing. In world class cities, Asian demand is particularly felt in the high-end housing market. If you’re looking to buy a gorgeous condo overlooking the Pacific Ocean, you’re new competition is more likely to come from the Pudong district of Shanghai as they are from Beverly Hills. QDII2 makes it all possible.
In Canada, Vancouver is building five new luxury residential towers. When it comes to foreigners, including Canadians of foreign descent, it’s the Asian buyer that rivals rich Americans looking to buy, according to the Conference Board of Canada. Although the Board does not single out China, Chinese-based real estate firm Juwai spells it out in a recently published report.
In the U.S., Chinese living in China, Hong Kong and Macau, account for 33% of U.S. foreign sales transactions. Australia is second at 22.9%. Canada is a distant third at 7.5%, though many of the Chinese buyers in Canada are local immigrants or were born in Canada and still have money at work in China.
Juwai estimates that the QDII2 scheme could equate to as much as $2.3 trillion in residential real estate sales over time. But the likely amount is probably closer to $661 billion. The figure is derived from Juwai estimates that show Chinese millionaires allocate approximately 10% of their total assets to foreign real estate, including commercial.