About Us

Luxury Homes International | ONEILL Group Hong Kong provides international property services to Hong Kong, Chinese and global investors. Our success is based on the principals of sustained guan xi 關係 focused on our relationships and deep understanding of our clients.  Our multi-lingual team speaks Cantonese, Mandarin, Japanese, Korean, Russian and English.

我們公司為客戶提供一站式專業服務 包括所有在美國的住宅或商業樓宇

Luxury Homes International | ONEILL Group Hong Kong is an international property firm with 30 years of experience and over US$1Billion in closed sales. The company has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, South China Morning Post, USA Today, Square Foot Magazine, CNN, ABC News, Financial Times, Miami Herald and others as one of the top firms helping Hong Kong and Chinese investors reaching global markets.  Past clients & affiliates include Mandarin Oriental Residences, Ritz-Carlton Residences, W Residences, Trump International, Coldwell Banker, Century 21, Douglas Elliman, Noble Apex, Richmond Group and others.

Press

Luxury Homes International | ONEILL Group Hong Kong in the News

China Firms Invest Billions in Hawaii - Pacific Business News

UK Property Owners Face New Tax Structures

Chinese Buying Hawaii Properties - South China Morning Post

Hong Kong Global Property Investment - Horizon Turbojet Magazine

Swire Properties Sells Miami Flats at Top Prices - South China Morning Post

Why Chinese are Buying US Real Estate - CNN Money (Video)

US Housing Posts Double Digit Gains - South China Morning Post

Another US Housing Boom - South China Morning Post

內地豪客 轉戰美樓 (High End Chinese Turn To US) - Oriental Daily Hong Kong

Hong Kong Property Investor Markets - South China Morning Post

State of American Markets - SF Mag Hong Kong

Hottest US Real Estate Markets for Chinese Buyers - SCMP Hong Kong

Advice for Chinese Buying in America - Hong Kong Magazine

Las Vegas Courting Chinese Buyers - South China Morning Post

US Property Conference Returns to Hong Kong - SF Magazine Hong Kong

What US$80 Million Looks Like in New York - New York Magazine.pdf

Chinese Buyers Flock to Manhattan - South China Morning Post.pdf

Courting The Chinese Buyer - Wall Street Journal.pdf

US Property Report - Square Foot Magazine Hong Kong

Foreign Buyers Big Opportunities in US Housing Bust - ABC News

Advice for Chinese Buying in US - South China Morning Post

Tips To Buying America - SF Hong Kong

ONEILL Group Asia Buyers Look To USA - New York Times

USA Property Conference in Hong Kong - Square Foot Magazine

US Market Pulls Hong Kong & Chinese Buyers - USA Today

Eye on America - US Property Conference

Los Angeles Ultimate City for Chinese Investors - South China Morning Post

American Property New Chinese Dream - Red Luxury Magazine

US Housing Crash Slows in 6 Cities - USA Today

American Nightmare is Hong Kong Investor Dream - South China Morning Post

Right Time To Buy US Properties - South China Morning Post

Foreign Investors Not Scared of Housing Market - NBC News.pdf

Chinese Big Investors To the World - South China Morning Post

Hong Kong Investors Take Note of Manhattan Increase - Real Estate Rama

Double Dip For US Housing Market? - South China Morning Post

Hong Kong Investors Find US Bargains - South China Morning Post

Right Time To Buy US Properties - South China Morning Post

Perfect US Storm for Overseas Buyers - South China Morning Post

US Properties Conference Returns - Square Foot Magazine

Hong Kong Hosts US Property Conference - CNN International

Huang Dawei 黄大炜 at ONEILL Group Hong Kong Office - Yahoo News

Chinese Buyers Bet on Las Vegas - Yahoo Financial News

Hong Kong Buyers Look to Las Vegas - Topix News

Russian Buyers Impact Thailand - Phuket Post

US Distressed Property Fund Launches - Yahoo News

Moscow DOMEXPO - Yahoo News

Moscow DOMEXPO Property Conference - Yahoo News

 

Hong Kong and China Firms Invest Billions in Hawaii Property Market

Article from Pacific Business News: Chinese company contracts to buy more property in West Oahu Aug 29, 2016

China Oceanwide Holdings Ltd., a Chinese company that has already spent nearly $300 million on West Oahu properties in less than six months, is buying about 26 more acres in the area for $280 million.

The Hong Kong-based company, which is headed by one of China’s richest individuals, recently entered into a contract with the James Campbell Co. to buy Kapolei West, its planned 516-acre master-planned golf course resort community in West Oahu that would connect the City of Kapolei with the 642-acre Ko Olina Resort in West Oahu for $98 million, as first reported by Pacific Business News.

Late last year, China Oceanwide also purchased two oceanfront lots at the Ko Olina Resort for nearly $200 million where it plans to build two towers — one a hotel and the other a condominium. The final cost of the project is expected to top $1 billion.

Along with its purchase of these two vacant parcels, China Oceanwide is buying three more parcels, giving it control of the last remaining undeveloped parcels at Ko Olina Resort. The companies selling these properties are affiliated with Hawaii developer Jeff Stone, president of The Resort Group, the master developer of Ko Olina Resort.

China Oceanwide revealed its latest purchase in a public filing with The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong about two weeks ago. The sale is projected to close on Sept. 15 and possibly involves bringing the Atlantis Resorts, a global luxury resort brand that specializes in entertainment-destination resorts, to Ko Olina Resort.

PBN broke the news that Atlantis Resorts is finalizing a deal to open its first resort in the United States in Hawaii at the West Oahu master-planned resort community. The Atlantis Resort would join Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts’ first hotel on Oahu at the Ko Olina Resort, which recently replaced the JW Marriott Ihilani Resort & Spa.

China Oceanwide’s deal with The Resort Group involves paying about $11.8 million more, bringing the total purchase amount to about $291.8 million, if it doesn’t choose to go with the Atlantis brand. The company has until Dec. 31 to decide whether to go with Atlantis.

Atlantis Resorts, which operates properties in the Bahamas and Dubai, also has plans to unveil two more projects in 2017 — The Royal Atlantis Resort & Residences, Dubai and Atlantis Sanya in Hainan, China.

The deal also includes two tenant leases on the parcels, including a wedding operation, which expire in December and in April 2017 that will not be renewed.

In its regulatory filing submitted earlier this month to the Hong Kong stock exchange, China Oceanwide said this acquisition “conforms to the group’s internationalization-development strategy and represents an excellent opportunity for the group to expand its overseas real estate-development segment.”

According to a survey conducted by China Oceanwide, Hawaii ranks third in the United States in terms of stability of long-term property investment.

“The properties are well-located in Ko Olina Resort and Marina on Oahu, which is the main economic and cultural hub in Hawaii and are located nearby the properties to be acquired by the group in November 2015 and February 2016, which can create additional benefits and branding value to the properties,” China Oceanwide said.

Chinese demand for Hawaii real estate has certainly intensified over the past year: Chinese investors have spent more than $1 billion acquiring thousands of acres of high-profile Hawaii properties.

Hong Kong-based Qinghua International Holdings Ltd., which purchased several properties near Ala Moana Center in Honolulu about a year ago for a total of about $21 million, recently acquired a 10-story downtown office building, the Tissue Genesis Tower, for $12 million from Pacific Office Properties Trust, as first reported by PBN.

Qinghua International is also looking into possibly building a residential project that would be part of transit-oriented development in Honolulu.

About two years ago, China-based Reignwood International partnered with The Resort Group, the master developer of Ko Olina Resort, to buy 1,103 acres of Princeville at Hanalei on Kauai’s North Shore for $343 million, as first reported by PBN.

There are three main reasons why Hawaii should expect to see more real estate investments by the Chinese: the loosening of visa restrictions, increased airlift and the emergence of the middle and upper classes in China.

“I believe we will anticipate more investment here — especially for large prime development sites and premier commercial real estate holdings,” Mike Hamasu, research and consulting director for Colliers International Hawaii, previously told PBN. “Investment brokerages are quickly targeting these Chinese investment entities for additional investment opportunities.”

 

 

 

 

 

Swire Properties sells Miami flats at top prices

South China Morning Post  Sandy Li     Tuesday, 22 July, 2014

Chinese buyers lead surge of foreign purchases of homes in the US, with Swire's pre-sale success at its upmarket Florida tower a sign of the trend

Prices of homes at the Brickell City Centre (above) are double the average in Greater Miami.

Swire Properties has presold at record prices more than 40 per cent of the first residential tower at its large mixed-use project in Miami, Florida, as Chinese buyers lead a surge in foreign purchases of homes in the United States.

The developer released the first batch of 383 condominiums in the north tower, known as Reach, at its US$1 billion Brickell City Centre for presale on May 29, it said in a written reply to the South China Morning Post.

"We have issued sales contracts to more than 150 potential buyers, with the units selling from US$550,000 to US$2.5 million," Swire Properties said.

It said more than 40 per cent have been sold to the international market, which "includes Asian buyers".

The firm said its pricing is among the highest in the area.

Prices for the units, ranging in size from 871 square feet to 2,740 sq ft gross floor area, were US$570 per square foot, almost double the US$305 per square foot average transaction price in the first quarter found in the quarterly survey of Miami coastal community sales by Douglas Elliman, the fourth-largest property agency in the US.

A survey by the National Association of Realtors found foreign purchases of US properties rose 35 per cent to US$92.2 billion last year, with Chinese as the largest group of international buyers.

Chinese purchases of US homes grew 29 per cent year on year to US$22 billion.

Last week, it was reported that the government in Beijing plans to tighten up on remittances of funds abroad, which could lead to a fall in offshore investment by mainlanders, including in residential property.

Patrick ONeill, chief executive of the ONeill Group, a firm that specialises in international residential and commercial real estate, said Chinese have been buying in Miami since 2011 and the numbers are increasing.

The combination of low prices, no state capital gains tax and high rental yields has made Florida the No1 state in the US for foreign investment, accounting for 23 per cent of all international purchases, followed by California at 17 per cent, ONeill said.

"Miami's growing appeal to Chinese buyers is a combination of the property value fundamentals and the internationally diverse culture of the city. Florida has been the top-selling region in our Hong Kong office for the past year," he said.

Douglas Elliman said home sales in the Miami coastal community rose 3.9 per cent year on year to 5,133 in the first quarter, making it the highest first-quarter total in the eight years this metric has been tracked.

Inventory rose 15.2 per cent year on year to 12,664 in the first quarter after it bottomed out in the second quarter of 2013.

The 43-storey Reach, which is scheduled to be completed next year, comprises 390 units, including the first batch of 383 one- to three-bedroom units. It also has seven penthouses ranging in size between 2,680 sq ft and 4,385 sq ft.

Located in Brickell, a financial district in Miami, Brickell City Centre has a total gross floor area of more then 2.89 million sq ft, comprising a shopping centre, three office buildings, two residential towers and a 294-room hotel with 87 serviced apartments.

Construction of Phase 1, including all elements except for one office tower, is expected to be completed next year, with Phase 2 due for completion in 2018.

The site was formed by joining five parcels of land acquired since the global financial crisis, at a time when Florida was one of the hardest-hit housing markets in the US.

Property prices plummeted up to 80 per cent from the peak in 2007 and stagnated for several years, even as the rest of the country rebounded.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as Swire's Miami flats a top draw

New York Property Hits Record High

by Patrick W ONeill Hong Kong - 26 January 2014

The New York City property market posted record high prices, record high sales volume and record low inventory levels in the last quarter of the year according to the latest Douglas Elliman Real Estate Report. Manhattan condominiums surged 14.3% at year’s end to a new record high median price of US$1,320,000.  The price is the highest in 25 years continuing the up trending market which began in early 2010.

At the nadir of the market in the fourth quarter of 2009, the condo median price sat at US$995,000.  This period also marked the beginning of the wave of Hong Kong and Mainland Chinese buyers entering the US markets including New York.  Chinese investors continue to have an impact on the US real estate marketplace constituting the second largest international buyer segment with specific focus on New York, California, Florida and Las Vegas.

The surging prices in Manhattan are the result of amplified demand competing with reduced inventory.  The normally slow fourth quarter set a new record for the number of units sold at 3,297 representing an increase of 23.2%.  In the same period inventory levels fell 12.3% across the city to a new record low of 4,164 units.  Condominium inventory decreased 9.5% to only 1,930 properties available for sale.

The luxury market, representing the top ten percent of coops and condos, posted a 5.8% gain with an average sales price of US$6,206,155.  The supply of luxury properties increased 24.9% from last year to 1,190 units.  The majority of luxury sales were second hand resale properties with new developments accounting for only 10% of the luxury market.

Projections for the year ahead point to continued appreciation across all market segments. The completion of several new developments will add to the available properties but declining second hand resale inventory will keep upward pressure on pricing.

The full report can be viewed at www.ogrouphk.com

US Home Sales Decline After 7 Year High

South China Morning Post by Patrick W ONeill

Hong Kong 28 March, 2014

Sales of existing homes in the United States declined 0.4% in February after hitting a seven year high last year according to the latest report released by the National Association of Realtors (NAR).    Sales of existing homes which includes single family, condo and coop hit a seven year high in 2013 of 5.09 million annual sales, the highest number since the market peak in 2006.  February’s numbers place the annual seasonally adjusted rate at 4.60 million.

While the number of sales decreased, prices continued to increase.  Single family homes and condominiums gained 9.0% and 9.8% in median price respectively.  Several markets including New York and Honolulu posted all-time highs in the price paid for condominiums.

The declining sales figures are attributed to higher prices, decreasing inventory and increasing demand.  Contributing to the increased demand are more purchases by foreign investors.  NAR identifies the top four cities for foreign investment as New York, Miami, Los Angeles and Las Vegas.   Other notable cities in the top ten ranking include Orlando Florida, Fort Lauderdale Florida and Washington DC.  Chinese are now the second largest foreign buyer segment in the US and are purchasing the most expensive properties. The median price paid by Chinese investors was US$425,000 compared to the United States average of US$197,100.

New York and Los Angeles remain the top cities for Chinese buyers of luxury properties.  Florida and Las Vegas continue to be the top markets for investors seeking higher yields and low prices.  All four markets saw price gains in February.

The strength of the market was further evident in the decrease of distressed properties which includes foreclosures and short sales.  Distressed sales accounted for only 16% of the transactions compared to 25% in February of 2013.

 

The US property market is projected to remain strong with continued price growth as supply is outpaced by demand.  Interest rates which currently stand at 4.30% for a 30 year fixed rate mortgage are expected to increase later in the year providing the only headwind against the rising markets.

The full report NAR report can be viewed at www.ogrouphk.com

US Housing Posts Double-Digit Gains

South China Morning Post
Monday, 22 July, 2013, 12:39pm

House prices are expected to continue rising across the US, including New York, Florida, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Hawaii. Photo: AFP

Double-digit price gains across America are a happy note for local investors that have been snapping up distressed properties at record levels. Chinese investment in the US has nearly doubled every year since 2009 and is expected to do so again this year. Chinese are the second largest international buyer group in the United States. Continued price growth is expected in markets throughout the country including New York, Florida, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Hawaii.

National Outlook

The US national housing data is overwhelmingly positive, according to the latest National Association of Realtors (NAR) report. The existing home median price is up a dramatic 15.4 per cent over last year posting the sixth consecutive month of double digit price growth.

The gains are fuelled by a severe supply and demand imbalance which is unlikely to change in the short term. Properties are still being sold below the replacement value in many markets stultifying new development. As a result, decreasing inventory, accelerating absorption and further price growth is projected through next year.

The number of properties sold in the US last month increased 12.9 per cent to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 4.59 million units while the number of properties available for sale is down 10.1 per cent. The months of remaining inventory dropped to 5.2 from last year’s figure of 6.5. Months of remaining inventory is the measurement of supply and demand with the tradition balance between buyer and seller’s market at 5.5 months.

New York

All three price indicators in Manhattan posted double digit increases in the latest report released by Douglas Elliman Real Estate. Condo average price, median price and price per square foot jumped 11.4 per cent, 13.6 per cent and 15 per cent respectively. The average price stands at US$1,892,924 with the average price per square foot at US$1,381. The number of sales increased 36.1per cent over last quarter while inventory dropped 35.4 per cent compared to last year. Months of remaining inventory sits at 4.7 per cent indicative of a seller’s market.

Outlook: Double digit price growth and shrinking inventory

Insider tips: Multiple-offers on new listings are now common. Plan on non-contingent cash offers to get the best properties. Look to the Downtown area for the highest rental yields.

Florida

Florida values plunged over 70 per cent during the housing meltdown and now are among the fastest appreciating markets. Prices across the Sunshine State are up 15.9 per cent and 13 per cent at US$171,000 and US$128,000 for homes and condos respectively. The number of closed sales increased 18.7 per cent and 11.5 per cent for homes and condos over last year. Florida is the top state for foreign investment in the US according to NAR. Orlando and Tampa have been favourites with Hong Kong investors with the cities posting annual median price gains of 25 per cent and 17 per cent.

Outlook: Double digit price appreciation and dropping inventories

Insider Tips: Florida has no income or capital gains tax. The Orlando and Tampa areas provide good high yield properties under US$150,000.

Las Vegas

The shining city was one of the hardest hit housing markets in the country in 2008 with values plummeting over 70 per cent in some areas. Partially propelled by increased international purchases, the rebound which began last year is now one of the most dramatic. Single-family and condo values posted annual gains of 32.8 per cent and 43.5 per cent according the latest GLVAR market report. The rapid price growth is expected to continue with condo supply down 9.2 per cent and sales volume up 12.3 per cent. The report indicates less than 2 months of remaining inventory, one of the lowest in the country.

Outlook: Double digit appreciation and increasing foreign investment

Insider Tips: Las Vegas has no capital gains or income tax. Look to new developments for the best buys. The Residences Mandarin Oriental recently reduced prices over 50 per cent and has sold 90 units in the past 45 days.

Los Angeles

According to a recent report by Polaris Pacific, the City of Angels is continuing to see price growth and shrinking inventories with median condo prices up 23.5 per cent annually to US$503,444. The declining inventory has resulted in months of remaining inventory of 3.8 per cent indicating a return to a seller’s market. Even the hard hit Downtown area has recovered with condo values up a dramatic 63.8 per cent this year.

The new developments that languished after the property collapse are now nearly sold out with over 80 per cent of inventory sold or under contract.

Outlook: Accelerated price growth and dropping inventory

Insider Tips: Prices have still not returned to peak values so some bargains are available. Downtown and Hollywood has the highest growth projections.

Honolulu, Hawaii

Honolulu continues to be one of the strongest performing markets in the country suffering only slightly during the housing crisis. The sustained price growth started in 2011 continues with annual median price gains of 9.2 per cent for homes and 11.1 per cent for condos. The undersupplied market and increased foreign buyer appetite have resulted in 2.7 months of remaining inventory compared to 4.2 one year ago. The average price of a single family home sits at US$797,561 ranking one of the highest in country.

Outlook: Double digit value gains and decreasing inventory

Insider Tips: Expect multiple offers on well-priced properties. The Ritz Carlton Residence Waikiki opened last month and is 80 per cent sold out.

Resources for investors

This month several US property exhibitions are scheduled throughout the city by various companies and in December the biannual US Property Conference returns to Hong Kong. For a list of upcoming US property events and further resources visit www.ogrouphk.com

Patrick W ONeill is a 30 year property veteran and chief executive of the ONEILL Group Hong Kong, which specialises in international purchases of US properties with offices in Hong Kong and the United States.

_______________________________________

 

US Property Conference Returns to Hong Kong

Investors seek information on market trends and taxation

Text D. Wong | Photos: US Properties Conference

Chinese investment in American properties has nearly doubled each of the past three years and overall international investment in the United States has surged to record levels in 2013 according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Chinese investors are now the second largest segment in the United States and Hong Kong buyers have led the way.

 

The returning bi-annual US Property Conference gathers experts to discuss US property trends, taxation, finance, immigration and other housing issues. The conference is coordinated by the ONEILL Group Hong Kong, a local firm specialising in US properties. The investor seminar scheduled for June 10 is open to individual buyers interested in American markets.

 

US property values tumbled 34 percent nationally in the housing crash of 2008 with some markets falling up to 70 percent. The recovery, which began in late 2009, has gained momentum with national values gaining 11.6 percent according to the latest NAR report; last month’s price gains are the largest since the start of the last housing boom in November 2005. The number of homes and condominiums sold jumped 8.2 and 8.8 percent respectively, reflecting increased absorption rates across the country.

 

Falling inventory and accelerated absorption rates have resulted in 12 months of consecutive value gains. “The number of US cities with big price discounts is shrinking,” states Patrick ONeill of the ONEILL Group. “Manhattan, San Francisco and Honolulu are back to pre-meltdown prices and heading straight up. Even the hardest hit markets, like Las Vegas and Florida, posted gains of over 25 percent this past year,” he adds.

 

According to firms representing Hong Kong buyers the market is segmented into investment, luxury and ultra-luxury. Investment properties are generally priced under US$150,000 (HK$1.2 million) and are sold in buy-to-let schemes with tenants in place. “Top investment markets for Chinese investors have been Florida and Las Vegas,” says Adam Kovacsik of CBI America. “Normally the properties provide complete management services and net rental yields over 6 percent,” he stated.

 

For luxury and ultra-luxury properties the trend has been towards new branded developments in prime locations. One example is the Mandarin Oriental Residences in Las Vegas. The Mandarin developed a programme specifically for international purchasers, which takes care of all letting and management services. “The Mandarin Oriental in Las Vegas is very popular with Hong Kong investors,” says ONeill. “The buyers understand the brand quality, the prices have been adjusted from US$1,643,000 to US$680,000 [HK$5.2 million] and the rental yields are very strong. It’s definitely one of my top picks in the country,” he concludes.

 

The US Property Conference runs through the month of June, with the investor seminar on the evening of June 10 is open to individual buyers, featuring experts discussing the US property forecast, taxation, finance and immigration. For more information about the conference contact the ONEILL Group Hong Kong at usconf@ogrouphk.com, or call Ms Wong 3103 1008.

_______________________________________________________________________________

 

United States Property Markets Booming

Experts say bottom of market was 2009

Text: Alex Chung | Photos: Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas, Trump SOHO New York City

Data now shows that the US property market bottomed out in 2009 and prices have been steadily increasing since.  For those that missed the bottom, “don’t worry” say the experts, price appreciation will continue this year throughout the country. Chinese investment in the US has nearly doubled every year since 2009 and is expected to do so again this year.  Chinese are now the second largest international buyer group in the United States.  In anticipation of the US Property Conference being held in Hong Kong next month, the following is a summary the top markets for Hong Kong investors in America.

 

National Outlook

National median home prices gained of 11.6 percent last month compared to last year according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) housing report.  Last month’s price gain is the largest since the start of the last housing boom in November 2005.  The number of homes and condominiums sold jumped 8.2% and 8.8% respectively reflecting the increasing absorption rates across the country.

 

“The US markets bottomed out in late 2009 and have been steadily regaining values,” states Patrick ONeill of the ONEILL Group, a local firm specialising in US properties.   “March is the twelfth consecutive month of year over year gains.  The fundamentals of decreasing inventory and accelerated absorption are reminiscent of the 2005 market.  Many investors tell us they are waiting for the market to bottom out and are surprised to learn that it was two years ago,” he added.

 

 

New York

According to the Q1 report released by Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate the number of condominium sales is up 3.4% compared to last year while listing inventory is down 35.4%.   The resulting supply and demand imbalance pushed Big Apple median sales prices up 13.8% to US$1,195,000 (HK9,286,000). The Average price per square foot now stands at $1,377 (HK10,740) an increase of 5.8% from last quarter.

Outlook: Values are projected to increase 14% this year and inventory will continue to decline.

Insider tip: Condominiums in Downtown offer some of the best net rental yields.

 

 

Las Vegas

Sin City was one of the hardest hit housing markets in the country with values plummeting over 70 percent in some areas. Lifted partially by an increasing investor appetite, last month’s property statistics reveal increases of 12.1% and 15.4% in the number of homes and condominiums sold.  The median price of homes sold is up 7.3% this year and jumped 30.9% compared to last year.  The median price for condos sold is down 2.3% this year and up 31.4% compared to last year.

Outlook: Double digit appreciation and increasing investor bulk purchases.

Insider Tip: The Residences Mandarin Oriental just reduced prices to US$680,000 with 2 years no closing or holding costs, long term tenants in place and good rental yields.

 

 

Florida

After collapsing 70% in values, Florida is experiencing surging sales with dropping inventory according to the latest Florida Realtors Report. The number of homes for sale dropped 25.7% and inventory of condos fell 21.7%. The number of closed sales was up 10.3% and 7% for homes and condominiums.  The average price jumped 14.4% and 26.4% for homes and condos respectively.  The Sunshine State has no state income or capital gains tax, which has propelled Florida to the top state in the US for foreign purchasers according to the NAR report.

Outlook: Double digit price appreciation and dropping inventories.

Insider Tip:  The Orlando market offers some of the best investment properties below US$100,000 (HD780,000) and net yields over 6%.

 

 

Los Angeles

According to a recent report by Polaris, the City of Angels has experienced a dramatic 20.3% percent jump in condominium median prices compared to last year.  Closed sales are up 4.8% recording four years of consecutive price growth.  The months of remaining inventory now stands at 4.8 indicating the swing to a seller’s market.

Outlook: Stronger price growth in the marquee areas near the coast and Beverly Hills.

Insider Tip:  Bargains still remain in the new developments in Downtown which have cut prices to clear remaining inventory.

 

 

Hawaii

After closing out 2012 with large double digit value gains, the Aloha State appears poised for more property sunshine.  The Honolulu Board of Realtors reports price gains of 4.1% and 8% for the first three months of 2013 for homes and condos respectively.  Inventory is down 20% while pending sales have surge up 61.2% for condominiums.

Outlook: Values increases of 10% for the general market and 15% for the luxury segment.

Insider Tip:  The brand new Ritz-Carlton Waikiki will open for sales this month.

US Conference

The US Property Conference in Hong Kong starts next month with a series of informational events covering market trends, taxation, ownership process, finance and immigration.  “This is the fifth time we are hosting the conference in Hong Kong and we encourage individual investors to take advantage of the opportunity,” says ONeill.  For the schedule of events visit www.ogrouphk.com or call Ms Wong 3103 1008.

 

____________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

Is US Heading for Another Housing Boom?

South China Morning Post by Patrick W ONeill
January 30, 2013

The US property market continued to strengthen last month with all indicators pointing towards increased growth for the year ahead. An imbalance of low supply and increasing demand has driven up values in even some of the most troubled locations. Domestic and foreign demand is being fueled by historic low financing rates and buyers seeking to capitalize on the price discounts still lingering from the 2008 housing meltdown.

American interest rates hit a historic low last month of 3.25 per cent for a 30-year conventional fixed rate mortgage according to Freddie Mac. Interest rates are projected to begin modest escalations throughout the year but will likely remain below four percent through the second quarter.

The dominating story across the country is low inventory, increasing demand and price appreciation. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) total national housing inventory fell 8.5 percent last month to a 4.4 month supply representing the lowest supply since the height of the last housing boom in May 2005. Set against the decreasing demand, total existing home sales are up 12.8 percent compare to December of 2011.

Decreasing inventories and increasing sales pushed the December median price for existing homes up 11.5 percent compared the 2011. The appreciation is the strongest increase since November 2005 and represents the tenth consecutive month of year-over-year price gains. The 2012 annual median home price gain of 6.3 percent is the largest annual gain since 2005.

The new home industry which has been anemic since the 2008 meltdown is also showing signs of recovery. The NAR report indicated healthy growth with new homes sales volume up 8 percent and median price up 13.9 percent compared to last year. The limited supply of new homes provides support for continuing price growth this year as developers attempt to fulfill the new market demand.

While most first tier US markets bottomed out in late 2009 many of the hardest hit regions languished until last year. One of the last to recover was the Florida market which saw property values plummet up to 70 percent in 2008. But even the hard hit Florida market has rebounded and is projected to be one of the fastest growing markets in 2013.

The Florida Realtor Association’s report lists December home and condominium sales up 15.8 percent and 8.6 percent with pending sales up a dramatic 39.7 percent and 31.8 percent respectively compared to last year. Median price increases are up 14.1 percent for home and 26.3 percent for condominiums. In the Florida market of Orlando near Walt Disney World, median homes prices have climbed 38.88 percent since January 2011 continuing an eighteen month streak of increasing values.

The NAR International report stated that first time buyers accounted for 30 percent, 21 percent were all cash and 21 percent were investor sales. Chinese buyers remain the second largest international group investing in America and the state of Florida is the number one choice for international investors making up 26% of all foreign purchases in the United States.

Patrick W ONeill is a 30 year property veteran and CEO of the ONEILL Group Hong Kong. The firm specialises in international purchases of US properties with offices in Hong Kong and the United States.

______________________________________

17 March, 2013

 

內地豪客 轉戰美樓 (High End Chinese Turn to US)

內地調控樓市的辣招不斷升級,本港樓市亦推出買家印花稅等措施,限制包括內地買家入市,迫使內地豪客轉投美英等地樓市,加上人民幣匯價過去一年升值逾一成,令投資美國樓市時匯價有「着數」。有國際物業代理指出,今年頭兩個月該行代理的大中華客戶投資美國樓市的宗數亦因此急增50%,預計全年將增長一倍,其中增長動力料來自內地客。

美國樓市於次按風暴後跌個低殘,縱使去年十二月標普/Case-Shiller二十大城市樓價指數同比抽升6.84%,升幅創○六年七月以來新高,熱門地區樓價仍落後於○六年高位,吸引內地客見價低入場,相比下,近期內地買家因怕「辣」幾已絕迹本港樓市,本港物業代理認為不排除這批豪客轉攻本港以外的海外市場。

成交額多逾800萬元

於本港推廣美國住宅的房地產公司ONEILL Group行政總裁Patrick ONeill形容大中華客戶偏好新樓,內地客佔大中華客的三成,今年首兩個月成交宗數按年已增50%,預計全年會激增一倍,75%查詢亦關於紐約。

「集團代理的大部分成交額介乎800萬港元至2,500萬港元,位處紐約及洛杉磯地段居多,買家自住或出租均有,另一個是70萬港元或以下的市場,買家純粹為賺取租金回報,其中紐約回報只有1至2%,洛杉磯有4至5%,但佛羅里達州回報率達6至7%。」

美國投資移民計劃EB-5受中國人歡迎,有佛羅里達州地產商因而將合資格基金連同住宅一同推銷。有指洛杉磯、紐約、三藩市,甚至邁阿密大部分投資者來自中國,部分發展商特將屋內窗戶設向南面、裝設有「鑊」的廚房,甚至在電話及售價中加上「8」字以迎合口味。

獨立股評人黃偉康稱,現在美國部分地區的房地產市場確現投資機會,例如洛杉磯及拉斯維加斯,尤其政府購買債券壓低長債息率,令當地按揭息率的上升空間有限,減少投資房地產的風險,而且部分地區有四至五厘的租金回報率。不過,一些熱門城市,例如三藩市,由於毗鄰硅谷,受惠科技行業回暖,樓價已回復○六年、○七年的水平,而美股表現理想,也帶挈紐約的樓價已回升不少。

華客投資額達708億

全美房地產經紀協會(NAR)截至去年三月數據顯示,佛羅里達州最受海外買家歡迎,佔成交26%,加州及亞利桑那分別佔11%及7%,而中國人緊隨加拿大人連續第二年成為第二大海外買家,投資額達90.8億美元(約708億港元)。

去年美國房價按年增6.3%,是○五年來最大升幅。ONeill稱:「美國樓價較○六年高位明顯折讓,幾乎每一處樓價去年錄雙位數增幅,料今年升勢持續。佛羅里達州樓價在一○年由○六年高位一度回落七成,目前跌幅仍達五成,紐約跌三成後仍有約一成價位未收復。」

 

___________________________________________________________________

 

Hong Kong Investors Top Global Markets 2012 and 2013
South China Morning Post by ONEILL Group Hong Kong
January 9, 2013

 

It is often said that the three favourite past times in Hong Kong are eating, shopping and buying property. Hong Kong boasts the highest ratio of foreign property ownership in the world with nearly half of all investors owning some property outside of Hong Kong. As the year of the snake approaches, we take a look back at a few of the hot Hong Kong investor markets and what to expect in the New Year.

United Kingdom

Despite a near recessionary economy, property values throughout the UK declined only 1 per cent in 2012 after a 1 per cent increase in 2011, according to Nationwide Building Society.

The average UK home price is currently £162,262  (HK$1.26 million). London however posted a 7 per cent increase in 2012, following nearly 50 per cent growth since the bottom in 2009.

The robust upper-end of the London market appears untouched by the economic woes and has been fuelled by international purchases driving up values to new record highs.

The average home price in greater London stands at £365,000 (HK$2.83 million), while the average price in the fashionable Kensington & Chelsea area is £1.1 million.

The most expensive street in London is currently Egerton Crescent in Chelsea with an average price of £8 million.

New stamp duties up to 7 per cent for high-end sales begins this year, but is not expected to have a large impact on the London market, which is expected to remain very strong.

Economists are expecting a very flat market for the UK in 2013 with the exception of London, which will continue to see increased prices driven by foreign purchasers.

United States

The US housing market continues to improve following a 30 per cent correction bottoming out in late 2009. The latest Standard Poors Case Shiller 10 and 20 city home price composites show gains of 3.4 per cent and 4.3 per cent respectively.

In first tier cities like New York, the value gains were closer to 10 per cent last year fuelled by dwindling supply and increasing demand.

The latest report from Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate shows a median price increase of 8.6 per cent for Manhattan condominiums with the current value at US$1,150,000.

Emblematic of cities across the US, inventory in the Big Apple is down 40 per cent whilst the number of sales was up 27 per cent in the third quarter in comparison to 2009.

Mortgage rates hit an all-time low with the 30 year fixed rate loan at 3.31 per cent. With rates expected to remain low and economic growth at 2 per cent, economist are forecasting 4 to 5 per cent annual price growth throughout the country with first tier cities expecting double digit gains.

Australia

The Australian housing market began the current slowdown in 2010 after nearly 23 years of consecutive price gains.

After declining 3.8 per cent in 2011, homes values dropped another half a per cent in 2012.

Melbourne posted the largest decline of values last year at 2.9 per cent. Sydney suffered the least and currently has the highest median home price in the country standing at A$580,246.

The Reserve Bank of Australia is expected to continue to cut the interest rates into 2013 in an effort to stimulate overall economic growth and the housing industry.

Most experts are projecting modest price gains in 2013 with the first tier cities of Sydney, Melborne and Perth leading the growth with rates of 2 to 3 per cent.

Singapore

The Singaporean property market appears to be responding to government measures to dampen the runaway price growth of the past three years.

Although prices continue to rise, the rate has slowed to an annual growth of 2.8 per cent in 2012 as compared to 5.9 per cent in 2011, according to the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

Further measures to slow the impact of growth include a new 10 per cent stamp duty for purchases by foreigners and corporate entities.

A new stamp duty has also been implemented for permanent residences that are buying a second or third property.

In another effort to stabilise prices, the government plans to sell additional development land parcels this year to further ease the supply and demand imbalance.

Although the Singaporean economy struggled last year narrowly avoiding recession in the third quarter, economist project 2 to 3 per cent growth this year.

Housing experts expect continued property price growth for Singapore properties in 2013 ranging from 2%-4%.

Las Vegas property market begins long-awaited recovery

Patrick W ONeill

BIO

Patrick W ONeill is a 30-year property veteran and chief executive of the ONEILL Group Hong Kong. The firm specialises in assisting international purchases of US properties with offices in Hong Kong and the United States.Photo: Bloomberg

Cai Shen 財神 is a welcome site in Las Vegas these days. Statues of the Chinese god of prosperity are appearing at the major casinos courting Chinese gamblers and it appears that Cai Shen’s influence is spreading to the housing market.

Las Vegas was one of the hardest hit markets during the US housing meltdown of 2008. Prices in Sin City plummeting 70 percent in some markets; double the national drop of 30 percent. The Vegas market lead the nation in foreclosures and loan defaults but good luck has returned to property owners with prices increasing and foreclosure levels at new lows.

According to the Association of Realtors, the average price of sold condominiums in September is up 19.8 percent and single family homes are up 13.7 percent. The number of available units without offers for condominiums and singles family homes is down 35.6 percent and 63.1 percent respectively. This mirrors the national trend of lower inventory, increasing demand and upward pressure on pricing.

U.S. foreclosure filings dropped to a five-year low in September as fewer properties were on track to be seized by lenders, according to a report released by RealtyTrac.  Foreclosures in Nevada dropped 71 percent with one in 158 homes filing foreclosure.

Adding to the local demand is the influence of international purchasers including an increasing number from Hong Kong, Taiwan and Mainland China. Visitors from these areas are arriving in record numbers and the US Department of Commerce projects arrivals of Chinese visitors to Las Vegas to increase 219 percent by 2015.  To accommodate the exploding growth of the international visitors, Las Vegas recently completed the new HKD19 Billion Terminal 3 at McCarran Airport.

The Las Vegas luxury market, with properties over HKD6 Million, is particularly pleased with the increasing number of international arrivals. The Residences at Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas has been popular with intercontinental buyers with the combination of the Mandarin brand quality and rental income opportunities. Units originally priced at HD11,841,000 are now available from HK6,030,000 representing a near 50 percent discount. Located on The Strip in the heart of Las Vegas, the luxury building also has a grand penthouse offered at HKD40.3 Million.

The low-end market is made up of properties in the HKD600,000 to HKD1.1 Million price range with net rental yields averaging 7% and above. Several groups are targeting international buyers through buy to let offerings with tenants in place. Las Vegas is one of a handful of US States that has no capital gains or income tax increasing its appeal to investors.

  • Patrick W ONeill is a 30 year property veteran and CEO of the ONEILL Group Hong Kong. The firm specialises in assisting international purchases of US properties with offices in Hong Kong and the United States and is coordinating the Hong Kong US Property Conference in December.

 

Hottest US Real Estate Markets for Chinese Buyers

South China Morning Post by Patrick W ONeill
December 19, 2012

Chinese property investment in the United Sates is projected to double again this year according to several speakers at the US Property Conference being held in Hong Kong this month. The panelists agree that the correction of the US market is in full swing with inventory levels down, increased demand and rising values across the country.

National Outlook
American property values plummeted 34 per cent after the 2006 market vertex according to the S & P Case-Shiller Home Price Index. Values hit rock bottom in late 2009 and remained relatively flat until this year’s supply and demand imbalance resulted in double-digit price growth in most major markets.

New York
The number of condominium sales surged 22.1 per cent over the previous quarter to 1,132 sales according to a recent report released by Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate.  The number of sales for the quarter is up 41 per cent compared to 2009.  The surge in sales has driven inventory down 36 per cent since 2009 and down 24.3 per cent compared with last quarter.   As a result, the median price of a condominium in the Big Apple increased 4.8 per cent this quarter to US$1,100,000.

Florida
Two years ago Florida was reeling from one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country.  This year the Sunshine State is experiencing a dramatic correction with single family inventory down 31.2 per cent, the number of closed sales up 25.3 per cent and the median price up 9 per cent.  In the condo-townhouse market, the number of pending sales is up 47.1 per cent with the median price increased 20.2 per cent.

Texas
Mirroring the trend across the US, cities in the Lone Star State have experienced steady price growth since bottoming out in 2009. The number of units for sale in the Dallas market is down 6.4 per cent this year while the number of pending sales is up 12.8 per cent. The year-to-date median sales price is up 12 per cent.  Texas has no state income or capital gains tax placing it in the top four cities for foreign purchasers according to the National Association of Realtors.

Las Vegas
The shining city in the desert of Nevada was one of the hardest hit housing markets in the country with values plummeted over 70 per cent in some areas.  Buoyed partially by an increasing investor appetite the number of properties for sale is down 18.2 per cent from last year.   The annual median price of properties for sale is up 19.3 per cent while the median price of homes sold is up 15.7 per cent.

Los Angeles

According to a recent report by Polaris, the City of Angels has experienced a dramatic jump of 18.7 per cent in the condominium median price compared to last year.  Pending sales are up an astonishing 46.4 per cent and the months of remaining inventory is down 43.7 per cent.

Hawaii
In the Aloha state, year to date home prices are up 9.3 per cent in Honolulu to US$623,250.  The number of pending sales is up a whopping 50.9 per cent with the number of homes for sale down 13.5 per cent.  In the upscale neighborhood of Kahala the number of sales is up 67 per cent while inventory is down 37 per cent.

Patrick W ONeill is a 30 year property veteran and CEO of the ONEILL Group Hong Kong. The firm specialises in international purchases of US properties with offices in Hong Kong and the United States.

Where do major American Markets Stand Now?

Hong Kong December 1, 2012
State of the Union

Chinese property investment in the United Sates is projected to double again this year according to guests at the US Property Conference being held in Hong Kong this month. The conference, coordinated by the ONEILL Group Hong Kong, includes several forums discussing US property trends, taxation, finance, immigration and other housing issues. The invited panelists assert the correction of the US market is in full bloom with property values up across the country.

 

National Outlook

American property values plummeted 34 percent after the market peak in 2006 according to the S & P Case-Shiller Home Price Index. Values hit a nadir in late 2009 and remained relatively flat until the beginning of 2012. The past year has seen the combination of lower inventory and increasing demand result in price growth in most major markets.

“The housing meltdown seems like a distant memory in many of the gateway cities that are now experiencing a lack of inventory and rising prices,” states Patrick ONeill of the ONEILL Group, a local firm specialising in US properties. “The number of units for sale is down 20 to 25 percent while sales volume has steadily increased. The supply and demand imbalance has led to price increases over 10 percent in the major markets,” he adds.

 

 

New York

According to a recent report released by Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate the number of condominium sales surged 22.1 percent over the previous quarter to 1,132 sales. Compared to 2009, the number of sales for the quarter is up 41 percent. The surge in sales has driven inventory down 24.3 percent compared to last quarter and down 36 percent since 2009. As a result, the median price of a Manhattan condominium is up 4.8 percent this quarter to US$1.1 million (HK8,500,000).

 

Las Vegas

The shining city in the Nevada desert was one of the hardest hit housing markets in the country and saw values plummet over 70 percent in some areas. Buoyed partially by an increasing investor appetite, last month’s property statistics show the number of properties for sale is down 18.2 percent from last year. The median price of properties for sale is up 19.3 percent, while the median price of homes sold is up 15.7 percent over last year.

 

Texas

Mirroring the trend across the US, Texas cities like Dallas have experienced steady price growth since bottoming out in 2009. The number of units for sale in the Dallas market is down 6.4 percent this year, the number of pending sales is up 12.8 percent and the year-to-date median sales price is up 12 percent. Texas has no state income or capital gains taxes, placing it in the top four cities for foreign purchasers according to the National Association of Realtors.

 

Los Angeles

According to a recent report by Polaris, the City of Angels has experienced a dramatic 18.7 percent jump in condominium median prices compared to last year.  Pending sales are up an astonishing 46.4 percent and remaining inventory is down 43.7 percent.

 

Hawaii

In the Aloha State, year to date home prices are up 9.3 percent in Honolulu to around US$625,000 (HK4,850,000). The number of pending sales is up a whopping 50.9 percent while the number of homes for sale is down 13.5 percent. In the upscale Waialae-Kahala area sales are up 67 percent while inventory is down 37 percent.

 

US Conference Events

For investors interested in American properties, contact the ONEILL Group Hong Kong for the schedule of events of December’s US Property Conference. Visit www.ogrouphk.com or call Ms Wong 3103 1008.

 

 

Las Vegas Property Market Begin Long Awaited Recovery

Courting Chinese Buyers - South China Morning Post

By Patrick W ONeill
Hong Kong November 29, 2012  | Photo: Bloomberg

Cai Shen 財神 is a welcome site in Las Vegas these days. Statues of the Chinese god of prosperity are appearing at the major casinos courting Chinese gamblers and it appears that Cai Shen’s influence is spreading to the housing market.

Las Vegas was one of the hardest hit markets during the US housing meltdown of 2008. Prices in Sin City plummeting 70 percent in some markets; double the national drop of 30 percent. The Vegas market lead the nation in foreclosures and loan defaults but good luck has returned to property owners with prices increasing and foreclosure levels at new lows.

According to the Association of Realtors, the average price of sold condominiums in September is up 19.8 percent and single family homes are up 13.7 percent. The number of available units without offers for condominiums and singles family homes is down 35.6 percent and 63.1 percent respectively. This mirrors the national trend of lower inventory, increasing demand and upward pressure on pricing.

U.S. foreclosure filings dropped to a five-year low in September as fewer properties were on track to be seized by lenders, according to a report released by RealtyTrac.  Foreclosures in Nevada dropped 71 percent with one in 158 homes filing foreclosure.

Adding to the local demand is the influence of international purchasers including an increasing number from Hong Kong, Taiwan and Mainland China. Visitors from these areas are arriving in record numbers and the US Department of Commerce projects arrivals of Chinese visitors to Las Vegas to increase 219 percent by 2015.  To accommodate the exploding growth of the international visitors, Las Vegas recently completed the new HKD19 Billion Terminal 3 at McCarran Airport.

The Las Vegas luxury market, with properties over HKD6 Million, is particularly pleased with the increasing number of international arrivals. The Residences at Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas has been popular with intercontinental buyers with the combination of the Mandarin brand quality and rental income opportunities. Units originally priced at HD11,841,000 are now available from HK6,030,000 representing a near 50 percent discount. Located on The Strip in the heart of Las Vegas, the luxury building also has a grand penthouse offered at HKD40.3 Million.

The low-end market is made up of properties in the HKD600,000 to HKD1.1 Million price range with net rental yields averaging 7% and above. Several groups are targeting international buyers through buy to let offerings with tenants in place. Las Vegas is one of a handful of US States that has no capital gains or income tax increasing its appeal to investors.

Patrick W ONeill is a 30 year property veteran and CEO of the ONEILL Group Hong Kong. The firm specialises in assisting international purchases of US properties with offices in Hong Kong and the United States and is coordinating the Hong Kong US Property Conference in December.

 

 

American Property Conference Returns to Hong Kong

December events include taxation, finance & market updates

Square Foot Magazine Hong Kong - November 1, 2012

The bi-annual US Property Conference is being held in Hong Kong this December. The conference gathers experts to discuss the US property markets, taxation, finance, immigration and other issues.  The conference and education seminars are coordinated by the ONEILL Group Hong Kong, a firm specializing in US properties for Asia investors.  The buyer seminar held on December 5th and is open to individuals interested in learning about US properties and will include updates for New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Texas.

Chinese investment in US properties doubled in 2012 compared to just a few years ago and overall international investment in the United States surged to record levels according to the US National Association of Realtors.  Chinese investors are now the second largest group accounting for almost 10% of all foreign investment in the US.  “The global property meltdown and ensuing correction has resulted in the largest transference of wealth in modern times”, states Patrick ONeill CEO of the ONEILL Group.  “Hong Kong investors were some of the first to capitalize on the depressed US markets and many have seen good returns already”.

US national property values plummeted 34% from the peak in 2006 according to the S & P Case-Shiller Home Price Index with some markets posting price drops over 60%.  2012 however is a very different story according to ONeill. “The US market bottomed out in 2009 and prices have rebounding in the major cities driven by low inventory rates and strong sales volume.  As an example, Las Vegas posted a 16 percent jump in the median price this year.  As a result, properties like the Residences at the Mandarin Oriental in Las Vegas are some of the best buys globally”, he stated.  The Residences at Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas has been popular with international buyers given its combination of name brand quality, superior location and rental opportunities.  Located on The Strip, in the heart of Las Vegas, the luxury building offers condominium residences starting at HKD6.5 Million with grand penthouses up to HKD40.3 Million.

The price appreciation across the US is a result of increased demand and lower supply.  In Dallas Texas, inventory is down 6.4 percent while pending sales are up 12.9 percent.  “The market has been very strong and the median price is up 12 percent so far this year” according to Steve Sandborg VP of the newly built Museum Tower located in the Arts District of Dallas.  “The supply and demand imbalance points to continued appreciation in markets like Dallas and owners of developments like ours are the benefactors”, he states.  The Museum Tower is an ultra-luxury condominium with large residences ranging from 1,825-5,000 square feet.  Prices at Museum Tower start at HKD10.8 Million.

Time may be running out for investors to take advantage of the US conditions according to Consulina Wong, Director of Asia for the ONEILL Group.  Wong states, “some investors buy when there is blood in the street; that was 2009.  Other buyers prefer to see the market appreciate before acting; that is now.  The gateway cities have all recovered to some degree but there are still good opportunities. But we know that this party will not last forever.”

The US Property Conference runs through the month of December.  The investor seminar on December 5th is open to individual buyers and will feature experts discussing the US property markets, taxation, immigration and finance.  For more information about the conference contact the ONEILL Group Hong Kong at usconf@ogrouphk.com or call Ms Wong 3103 1008.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

Chinese buyers flock to Manhattan New York
Hong Kong and mainland investors see the Big Apple as a less risky place to buy
Peggy Sito 

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST
Aug 29, 2012

 

Hong Kong resident Jacky Yeung is going to complete the purchase of two Manhattan flats in one go.  Like many buyers of New York property, the purchases were made, he said, based on the drawcard of the city's status as an international financial centre.

But another key reason why many mainland Chinese and Hong Kong buyers shop abroad for property investments, agents say, is the growing policy and investment risks of real estate markets at home - both in Hong Kong and on the mainland.

Property agents based in New York say they have seen a big rise in sales activity from Hong Kong and mainland buyers since the beginning of this year, and Yeung was typical of the new wave of buyers.

"Hong Kong property prices are too high, so [I] considered buying overseas," said Yeung, a 30-year-old financial sector employee. He said he also aimed to "diversify his investments and avoid any potential blow-up in China both economically and politically".

Growth in the mainland economy slowed to its lowest level in three years to 7.6 per cent in the second quarter, and analysts predict that full-year growth could be as low as 7.9 per cent.

Yeung said he chose Manhattan because the limited supply of apartments on the island means they will appreciate in value faster than other areas. "Manhattan has a limited supply and it is the number one financial capital of the world. Also, the US will still be the biggest economy in the world for many years to come," said Yeung, who is in the process of completing the purchase of two 700 sq ft flats, for which he has paid about US$1 million each.

Weimin Tan, managing director of Castle Avenue Partners at Rutenberg Realty based in New York, said his firm's sales volume jumped five times in the first eight months when compared with the same period last year.

"Most buyers come from Hong Kong and China," said Tan. "They bought to diversify and wanted to get a piece of Manhattan, attracted by its brand name."

In some cases buyers were establishing homes for children studying in New York, he said.

In the Wealth Report by Knight Frank and Citi Private Bank, New York was voted the second most important global city after London, and also the second in importance for high-net-worth individuals. It was ranked third in the quality of life category, second in the knowledge and influence category, and third and second in political and economic activity respectively.

Tan said mainland buyers of New York apartments were on the rise. 'We have Chinese clients buying every week," he said. "They come from Chengdu, Shanghai, and Guangzhou.

"Average property prices in Manhattan increased 9 per cent per year from US$328 per square foot in 1997 to US$1117 per sq ft in 2011," said Tan.

Another property agent based in the US confirmed the growing impact of Hong Kong and mainland buyers.

"The number of Hong Kong and China buyers heading to Manhattan has doubled in the past six months," said Patrick O'Neill, the chief executive of O'Neill Group, a Hong Kong-based property firm specialising in international real estate. "Officially Chinese buyers are now the second-largest group of international buyers in the US, making up over 10 per cent of the market segment," said O'Neill.

Commenting on the recent increase in buying, O'Neill said prices in Manhattan bottomed out in late 2009 and have steadily marched upwards since. "Many buyers have been sitting on the fence and now realise they may have waited too long," he said.

A projected increase in interest rates was another important component of current buying patterns, he said.

"Currently we can arrange 30-year fixed rates mortgages for four per cent or less, but this will probably change after the US presidential elections.

"Prices in the prime areas are up 10 to 15 per cent compared to the bottom and inventory is down nearly 25 per cent since last year. The supply and demand imbalance is expected to drive prices up another 10 per cent this year," he said. O'Neill said average property prices in Manhattan now are averaged around US$1,200 per sq ft.

Most buyers were looking at residential properties to buy and then let. The most popular areas continue to be Upper East, Upper West and Downtown.

"The trickle of Hong Kong and China buyers in 2010 became a river in 2011 and now a surging flood in 2012 as prices in Manhattan are increasing and rises in interest rates loom," he said

 

______________________________________________________________________

Wall Street Journal
Courting The Chinese Buyer

June 21, 2012
Lauren A.E. Schuker

A new wave of buyers from China is snappingup luxury properties across the U.S., injecting billions of dollars into thecountry's residential-real-estate market.

The industry is scrambling to court the newbuyers. Some developers of new projects are installing wok kitchens, followingfeng shui principles and putting lucky numbers on choice units; others arepackaging property sales with government programs designed to encourage foreigninvestment. Real-estate agencies are flying representatives to China, andhiring Mandarin-speaking agents.

In Los Angeles, New York and even Miami,buyers mostly from China—and some are from Hong Kong, Singapore and Korea—areradically altering the landscape. Last month, a Chinese couple paid $34.5million for a Versailles-style mansion on Sunset Boulevard in Beverly Hills,Calif. A year earlier, a Hong Kong businessman paid around $28 million for anearby estate. Over the last six months in New York, several full-floorapartments in a new Manhattan high-rise called One57, each with a price tag ofroughly $50 million, have gone into contract with Chinese buyers, according totwo people close to the situation.

Late last year, Fang Yi Liu, a businessmanfrom Shanghai, snapped up 17 apartments for a total of $14 million in theArtech, a modern glass building resembling a cruise ship that overlooks theIntracoastal Waterway near Miami.

In a nod to Asian buyers, the building putmany of its most luxurious full-floor apartments on the 80th through 88thfloors—a clever way to appeal to the Chinese belief that eight is the luckiestnumber. Apartment 88 is under contract to a Chinese buyer for around $50million.

Fifteen buyers from Asia have bought roughly$1 million apartments at New York's 515 E. 72nd St. in the last six months. Indowntown Los Angeles, half of recent buyers for the new Ritz-CarltonResidences, which AEG developed, hail from Asia. Some buy in bulk: Late lastyear, Fang Yi Liu, a businessman from Shanghai, snapped up 17 apartments for atotal of $14 million in the Artech, a modern glass building resembling a cruiseship that overlooks the Intracoastal Waterway near Miami.

Interest is surging even inparts of the country China-based buyers weren't traditionally interested in.Richard Zhou, a 41-year-old investment advisor who lives in Shanghai, paid$200,000 for a home in a large golf community in Fort Myers, Fla., last year.He said he bought in the community sight-unseen, trusting his friend who hadbought a home there a few months earlier. Mr. Zhou spent two weeks studying theU.S. real-estate market and quickly decided Florida was a good bet because"it was highly impacted from the financial crisis," adding that laterin his life he plans to retire there. "Florida is indeed a sunshine state,the weather is really pleasant, and the air quality is very good. Also, thefood is safe, too."

Buyers from China and HongKong accounted for $9 billion of U.S. home sales in the 12 months ending inMarch, up 89% from 2010, making them the second-largest group of foreign buyersof homes in the U.S. behind Canadians, according to data released earlier thismonth by the National Association of Realtors. And many real-estate agents saythat those figures are too low, as they track only sales on themultiple-listing service and don't reflect private sales. In addition, the dataare based entirely on how real-estate agents classify buyers.

  1. Dolly Lenz, a luxury-real-estate broker inNew York, estimates that half of her clients now hail from China, more thantwice the amount two years ago. Pamela Liebman, chief executive of the CorcoranGroup, says that the shopping for luxury properties by China-based buyers hasaccelerated dramatically since the start of 2012 to record-breaking levels.

Foreign-investor interest in the Americanreal-estate market began during the housing crisis, when plummeting propertyprices turned the U.S. into an attractive target for buyers around the world.The yuan has continued to rise—more than 7% against the dollar since June2010—as has the number of China's wealthiest individuals. Meanwhile, in aneffort to deflate China's housing bubble, the government has placedrestrictions on multiple real-estate purchases and recently began to requiremore equity for mortgage loans.

"Because it's becoming more restrictiveto invest at home and because Europe is so unstable, the U.S. property marketis becoming incredibly attractive to the Chinese," says Patrick O'Neill,whose eponymous company in Hong Kong helps Asian investors buy real estate inthe U.S. "America offers low interest rates, discounted prices and a safeharbor for their money."

Di Meng, a native of Changchun who lives inBeijing, is currently attending the University of Southern California. The23-year-old says the volatility of the Chinese government and, consequently,its economy, pushed him to invest in real estate overseas. Not keen to rentstudent housing, he recently paid around $800,000 for a Ritz-Carlton condo indowntown Los Angeles. "Compared to China, the United States is relativelystable," he says. "China has a purchase limit policy because theChinese government tried to control and cool down the housing market in China,so if you've already bought a home in China, they do not support you to buyanother."

In the last six months, 10 to 15 pricey unitsin One57, a glitzy new high-rise being built in midtown Manhattan, went intocontract with wealthy Chinese buyers. When completed, the building—which featuresa Park Hyatt below the condo units—will be New York's tallest residentialbuilding. HNA Group, one of China's largest conglomerates that recently boughtseveral commercial properties in New York, signed contracts for two full-floorapartments and two half-floor units in One57, according to a person close tothe situation. On West 57th Street across from Carnegie Hall, overlookingCentral Park, the building is slated to open in 2013.

Real-estate agents typically divide buyersinto four distinct groups: the super-wealthy buying properties upward of $15million for personal use; those buying homes for a few million dollars, alsofor personal use; those purchasing investment properties, usually in the $1million to $2 million range, to lease out; and those buying in bulk, as acommercial strategy.

Steven Loh, a businessman from Singapore whoruns a real-estate advisory group called Silkrouteasia Capital Partners, is abulk buyer. He recently purchased six apartments in Los Angeles's Ritz-CarltonResidences for about $1 million each and is also facilitating a $60 milliontransaction with several overseas investors to buy more than 50 condos inanother Los Angeles development.

Mr. Loh says he wanted to get a jump on themarket before property values rise. He isn't worried about Americans—he thinksit will be other Asian-based buyers and businesses who drive up prices, so heis courting them now to invest in the deals he's striking. "I believethere is a strong desire among Asian high-net-worth individuals to allocate,say, 10% to 25% of their wealth to U.S. assets," he says. "Asianshave a high propensity and love for acquiring good quality real estate."

Some U.S. real-estateagents say that the current property craze reminds them of the real-estateshopping spree by the Japanese in the 1980s, a phenomenon that died with thecollapse of Japan's economy. Unlike those days, buyers now tend to be a littlemore cautious, trying to avoid paying above market value and obsessivelycalculating rates of return. In addition, while borrowing drove many of theJapanese investments in prior decades, Chinese buyers tend to pay in cash.

Like many investors fromAsian countries, buyers from China mostly want new construction. At LambertRanch, a gated development so new in Irvine, Calif., that the leaves on thepalm trees haven't yet unfurled, buyers are lining up to buy homes askingbetween $900,000 to $1.5 million, says Mei Zhou, a Mandarin-speakingreal-estate agent in Irvine who uses Skype to communicate with her clients inAsia. About 50% of Lambert's buyers so far are foreigners from Asia, say peopleclose to the community. The development's first 42 available homes sold out infive weeks.

Real-estate agents say thatwhile Chinese investors primarily target New York, Los Angeles and SanFrancisco, they are beginning to expand into cities in southern Florida as wellas outposts such as Seattle and Las Vegas. That's a sea change from a few yearsago, when they were "fearful" of Florida, says Steven Lawson, chiefexecutive of Windham China, a Shanghai-based company that helps find Chinesebuyers property in the U.S. "There was a false perception in China thatMiami is not a supersafe city because a lot of Chinese watch 'CSI: Miami' or'Miami Vice' on TV."

Over the past year, Mr. Lawson says he soldabout eight homes in a large golf community in Fort Myers to Chinese buyers.The houses, which span about 2,500 square feet and come fully decorated, costless than $250,000—a bargain to Beijing and Shanghai residents used to addinganother zero to buy a home of that size.

Real-estate agencies and banks are mobilizingto capitalize on the boom. Mr. O'Neill says demand for his company's semiannualinvestment seminar, which teaches prequalified buyers in China about howreal-estate buying works in the U.S. and is held in ballrooms and privateclubs, has doubled over the last six months. Banks in China are ramping uptheir services in the arena, too, flying in U.S. real-estate agents to sit onpanels about how to buy property in the U.S. and showcase trophy properties inNew York and Los Angeles in PowerPoint presentations.

In the last six months this building in NewYork, 515 E. 72nd St. has attracted 15 buyers from Asia.

Some developers andreal-estate agents are trying to capitalize on government programs thatencourage foreigners to invest in the U.S. For example, the EB-5 program makesforeign investors eligible for permanent U.S. residency in exchange forinvesting at least $500,000 in ventures that create at least 10 jobs in theU.S. Jerry Kaufman, a developer at J. Milton & Associates in Miami, pitchesa package to the Chinese where they can invest in an EB-5 approved investmentvehicle called the Atlantic American Opportunities Fund in Florida—and thenspend more to buy a condo in J. Milton's nearby development, the St. Tropez, inSunny Isles Beach near Miami. So far, he says, he has signed up 20 Chinesefamilies to invest in the fund and buy units in the condo building, which sellfor an average of $700,000.

Mr. Kaufman is currently innegotiations to buy a 100-acre plot of land north of Miami in an effort tocreate Miami's first Chinatown, a free-trade zone with casinos, restaurants,art galleries, shopping and hotels. "We'd call it New China," hesays. Others are taking quicker routes: In the past few months, Corcoran's Ms.Liebman has started regularly sending four of her agents to China, forgedpartnerships with three real-estate companies there and hired severalMandarin-speaking agents in the U.S.

With options like wokkitchens—a separate space with strong ventilation needed for aromaticcooking—or a guest unit for a grandparent, California's Lambert Ranch wasdesigned from the start with the Asia-based buyer in mind. Robert Hidey,Lambert Ranch's architect, who has designed extensively in China, built thecommunity's main roads on a north-south axis and ensured the homes hadsouth-facing windows—both pillars of good feng shui. In addition to creatingmultigenerational housing options and wok kitchens, the New Home Co., whichdeveloped Lambert Ranch, also buried gold coins on the property in accordancewith feng shui principles. To avoid having any addresses starting with thenumber four, unlucky in China, the development starts its addresses at 50.

In Los Angeles, brokers for the Ritz-CarltonResidences have been inviting buyers in China to stay for two nights free atthe hotel as part of the Ritz's broader strategy to appeal to Asian buyers,called the "Pacific Rim Plan." The visit concludes with a Champagnetoast in one of the Ritz residences, although guests must pay their ownairfare. "All we do now is visit China, Hong Kong and Singapore,"says Jim Jacobson, who runs international sales for the Ritz-CarltonResidences. "We've realized that's where our market lies." TheRitz-Carlton Residences range from one-bedroom condos costing around $850,000to larger ones priced at $2.5 million to penthouses, which top out at $9.3million.

Others are simply turning to Chinese media tomarket themselves—and their wares. Jing Chen, a broker for Corcoran in NewYork, writes a column in Mandarin for a popular Chinese website,Sinovision.net. Last year, she wrote a column about Harlem brownstones gainingin value; eight months later, she sold three of them to Chinese buyers, eachfor somewhere between $1 million and $2 million apiece.

"The Chinese are like Hollywoodcelebrities," she says. "Once one Chinese person buys a brownstone,they all want one."

__________________________________________________________

U.S. home market pulls in more Chinese buyers

By Kathy Chu and Julie Schmit, USA TODAY
April 3, 2012

China's great wall of cash is pouring into thestruggling U.S. property market, from multi-million-dollarmansions on the West Coast to venerable hotels on the East Coast.

Buyers from mainlandChina and Hong Kong are snapping up luxury homes, often payingcash, in major U.S. cities such as New YorkLos Angeles and San Francisco. They're coming by the dozens to buy foreclosedproperties in downtrodden cities in Florida and Nevada. Chinese buyers are evenstarting to snap up pricey commercial buildings and hotels in Manhattan.

 

Chinese interest in U.S.real estate began climbing during the U.S. housing meltdown, when plungingproperty prices made the U.S. a magnet for global buyers. Today, interest isgrowing as a rising yuan — up more than 8% since mid-2010 — gives the Chinesegreater purchasing power, and the mainland's restrictions on property purchasesencourages them to look overseas. With U.S. single-family home prices a thirdlower since 2006, the U.S. also compares favorably with other top markets forChinese investment, such as the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada.

"For China, theworld is an emerging opportunity," says Andrew Taylor, founder of Juwai.com, a real estate site basedin Hong Kong that was launched in 2011 to match Chinese buyers with U.S. realestate. "We're talking about a huge chunk of people with cash and thedesire" to invest overseas.

In the U.S., the Chineseare now the second-largest foreign buyers of homes, behind Canadians,accounting for $7.4 billion of sales in the 12 months ended March 2011, up 24%from the previous 12 months, according to the NationalAssociation of Realtors.Buyers from China and Hong Kong also spent $1.71 billion on commercial propertyin the U.S. in 2011, more than quadruple their investment in 2008, says RealCapital Analytics.

 

Those numbers likelyunderstate Chinese investment, as investors may buy property under businessentities they've set up in the U.S., says Patrick O'Neill, founder of ONeillGroup, a Hong Kong-based company that helps Chinese buyers find U.S. property.

 

Roughly 40% of Chinesebuyers want property in the U.S. as investments, while 60% are buying inanticipation of their children going to school here, or for business orimmigration purposes, says Steven Lawson, chief executive of Windham China, afirm that helps match Chinese buyers with U.S. sellers.

 

Lily-Sui Zhang, 30, saysher husband's Beijing family bought a house in South Pasadena, Calif., last year so her three young childrenwould have access to good public schools. The family thought investing in theU.S. was "probably more stable than in Beijing" due to concern abouta Chinese real estate bubble, Zhang says.

 

Some Chinese buyers alsosee the U.S. as an attractive place to invest because on the mainland, Chinesenever own land — they just lease it from the government.

While mainland Chinaallows each citizen to exchange only $50,000 of yuan into foreign currency peryear, wealthy clients often do business overseas and have offshore funds theycan use to buy property, says Alan Liu, managing director of North Asia for Colliers International, a brokerage and real estate firm. The currencyrestriction doesn't apply in Hong Kong, a special administrative region ofChina.

 

Hong Kong residentsLillian and Frank Yan say they bought a condo in Honolulu this year becauseU.S. property prices are relatively low compared with major cities in Asia.They plan to stay there two to four weeks a year, and rent it out the rest ofthe time.

"The majority ofour equity is tied to the Hong Kong or Chinese economy, so we wanted todiversify our portfolio," says Lillian Yan, 42.

 

A multitude ofmillionaires

China has more money toinvest than ever. Mainland China now has 960,000 millionaires — defined asindividuals with residences, private businesses and investable assets of morethan 10 million yuan or $1.5 million, according to the Hurun Report, a Shanghaipublisher of magazines for China's wealthy.

 

Nearly half of thosemillionaires are considering moving or getting permission to reside overseas.Their top country of choice? The USA.

 

In the year ended Sept.30, Chinese applicants accounted for 78% of the 3,805 EB-5 applications in theU.S., up from 35% four years before, according to government data. In thatprogram, foreign investors can get permanent resident status, or "greencards," in exchange for investing $500,000 or $1 million, depending on thepart of the country, in ventures that create or sustain at least 10 jobs withintwo years of the immigrant investor's admission to the U.S. as a conditionalpermanent resident.

 

Some lawmakers also seeforeign investment as a way to boost the U.S. housing market.

Legislation proposedlast fall by Sens. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Mike Lee, R-Utah, would let foreigners get a three-yearresident visa if they invest $500,000 in U.S. real estate, including $250,000for a primary home. They'd have to live at least 180 days a year in theproperty and pay taxes here.

 

California dreamin'

The New York, LosAngeles and San Francisco areas are most popular with Chinese home buyers,according to Realtors and data from real estate website Trulia.

 

East West Bank, a regional bank heavily active in Californiawith branches in China and Hong Kong, says U.S. home buying among mainlandChinese has been "stable" in recent years as buyers wait for pricesin various markets to hit bottom.

 

"They want to buyat the lowest" price, says senior vice president Emily Wang.

In the affluent Southern California city of San Marino— where the median price of a home sold inJanuary was $1.6 million, according to MDA DataQuick — Chinese buyers arelooking for high-end homes in good school districts and neighborhoods likely tosee stable home values, says Linda Chang of Coldwell Banker.

 

One of her recentmainland Chinese buyers paid $5 million for a 5,000-square-foot home inPasadena that the family expects to occupy for one month a year, she says.

"They treat it likea hotel without room service," says Chang, who estimates that a quarter ofshoppers in the $3 million-plus market in her area are from mainland China.

Mainland Chinese alsoaccount for a third of the buyers at luxury home builder Toll Bros.' new homedevelopment, The Heritage in Vista Del Verde in Yorba Linda, Calif., southeastof downtown Los Angeles.

In the San Francisco BayArea, Realtor Stanley Lo of Green Banker real estate says mainland Chinese — athird of his clientele — are looking for homes priced at $800,000 and up. Mostof his clients are Chinese business executives, who can afford second homes.They follow friends, relatives or work colleagues to the suburbs between SanFrancisco and the Silicon Valley.

One recent rainyafternoon, Lo showed a six-bedroom $4.5 million Hillsborough home to Lee XiaoJun, from Hubei Province in China. Her husband works in manufacturing and makesfrequent trips between the U.S. and China, so they want a home in a goodlocation close to the San Francisco airport.

 

"The prices hereare more reasonable than in China," she says, standing under wood-beamedceilings overlooking a garden terrace.

 

In New York City,mainland Chinese are increasingly paying cash for $20 million "trophyapartments," says Pamela Liebman, CEO of The Corcoran Group, a residentialreal estate brokerage company.

 

Based on current trends— and the increasing numbers of mainland Chinese buyers — Liebman expectsthey'll account for one in 10 uber-luxury buyers in the next year or two.

 

New York, New York

New York City is alsopopular with a growing number of Chinese investors looking for commercialproperty. Last year, China's HNA Group, which owns Hainan Airlines, paid $265 million for 1180 Avenue of theAmericas, a 23-story office building in Manhattan, and $126 million for theluxury Cassa Hotel and Residences near bustling Times Square.

 

Hong Kong billionaireCheng Yu-tung's family also bought five U.S. luxury hotels in 2011, includingManhattan's iconic Carlyle, for $570 million. Chinese investors are looking tobuy hotels as a growing number of mainlanders travel overseas, says ChrisBrooke, chief executive of broker CBRE, Asia.

Yet, unlike theJapanese, who were criticized for overpaying for high-profile U.S. assets inthe 1980s and 1990s, many Chinese investors "do not care about the imageof a building and usually do not want to pay a premium for such image,"says Allen Wu, chairman of Wu & Kao law firm, which represents HNA Group.

 

The rising numbers ofChinese investors are hard for U.S. developers and real estate agents toignore.

 

LA Urban Homes, which isselling a development of 125 new homes in Southern California's San GabrielValley, recently added a Chinese language section to its website to lure themainland Chinese, says President Jeff Lee.

 

Corcoran is working withpartners in China to bring potential buyers to New York.

Last year, Corcoranbrought one group of 11 Chinese buyers, four of whom bought properties. Thisyear, it plans to do at least four such events, maybe six, Liebman says.

 

"Five years ago,developers were coming to me about opportunities to invest in China, and now,they're coming to me to try to get Chinese to invest" in the U.S., saysPatrick Randolph, a professor of real estate law at the Universityof Missouri-Kansas Cityand a co-director of the Real Estate Research Center at Peking University inBeijing.

 

Zhuang Nuo, president ofSouFun International, a Beijing real estate company that brings dozens ofmainlanders to the U.S. each year to tour new and foreclosed properties, sayshe expects the U.S. to remain the top choice for clients buying overseas.

"The U.S. is alwaysthe Chinese people's dream," says Zhuang.

Contributing: Chu reported from Hong Kong; Schmit reported fromSan Francisco

_____________________________________________________________

Housing crash slowsin 6 cities: What the bottom looks like

By JulieSchmit, USA TODAY

April 7, 2011

The U.S. housing market looks like a scorchedlandscape.

EnlargeClose

32% from their 2006 peak. Many economists expectthem to fall at least 5% more this year. Some predict even steeper declines.  Even if home prices bottom later this year —a big "if" for many markets — they're not likely to rise much forseveral years, forecasters predict.  "It'lltake a long time for markets to recover," says Paul Dales, economist atCapital Economics.

That's because millions of homes still faceforeclosure. Lending standards are tight. Almost one-quarter of homeowners withmortgages are underwater, which means it will be tough for them to move up intonicer homes because they owe more than their current house is worth.  Yet, even charred terrain sprouts greenshoots eventually. And some areas have laid the groundwork for better days,according to an analysis for USA TODAY by real estate website Zillow.com.  Of thenation's 100 largest metropolitan areas, Zillow identified six —Las VegasFort Myers, Fla.; Stockton and Vallejo, Calif.; Hartford, Conn.; and ColumbusOhio— that show best what housing markets look likewhen they are bottoming out but not yet in recovery mode. To identify them,Zillow considered factors such asthe trajectory of home prices, housingaffordability based on a ratio of prices to local incomes, and foreclosurerates.

None of the six is seeing price gains, justlessening declines that are expected to continue. Their foreclosure rates havepeaked, so the worst could be behind them. Homes in these markets also arebecoming more affordable, relative to local incomes, than they were before thereal estate boom and bust of the past decade. Investors in many of the marketssay the housing deals won't get much better. "In these markets, you can kind of see a light at the end of thetunnel, and it's been a pretty long, dark tunnel," says StanHumphries, Zillow.com chiefeconomist.

Las Vegas: Flat: The new up

Investors are betting that the home market herehas bottomed — or is about to.

Daniel Callihan, 57, a former mortgage companyofficer, sees that when he hits foreclosure auctions held in a parking lot neardowntown. There are twice as many bidders as a year ago, Callihan says. He'sbought and sold 10 Las Vegas homes in the past two years. Many Las Vegas investorsare paying cash. In February, more than half of southern Nevada's existinghomes were bought with cash, local agents say. Investors also are turning manyhomes into rentals, says Paul Bell, president of the Greater Las VegasAssociation of Realtors. No wonder: Homes that sell for $60,000 can fetch $800a month in rent — an investment return almost three times the rate in Manhattanor Los Angeles, says Patrick ONeill, CEO ofONeill Group, which is buying LasVegas homes.

Before softening in recent months, Las Vegashome prices had been largely flat for more than a year. "Flat, for usright now, is very good," Bell says. Whether prices will stay flat isanother matter. Moody's Analytics doesn't expect Las Vegas single-family-homeprices to bottom until mid-2012. One problem: The city still has thousands ofhomes headed to foreclosure, says University of Las Vegas economist StephenBrown. He says it will take at least three years for the market to absorb theexcess homes. Perhaps the only sure bet in Vegas? That its housing bottom"will be a long one," Brown says.

Vallejo, Calif.: Bruised but with 'good bones'

Realtor Ramon Torres has a front-row seat on thehousing wreckage in this San Francisco suburb. Seated next to a living roomwindow during one of his recent open houses, he saw just one couple coming upthe steps in the first hour. They stayed less than five minutes, apparentlyunderwhelmed by the $269,000 five-bedroom house with streaked windows andchipped paint. The owner, who owes $470,000 on the house, wants a short sale. Sixteensimilar homes are for sale within a 1-mile radius, and Torres fears that the"worst is yet to come" for Vallejo as more homes are lost toforeclosure. Last year, one in 16 homes here received a foreclosure filing, thenation's 10th-highest rate, RealtyTrac says. Torres also fears that Vallejo'sreputation will scare off home buyers, given that the city declared bankruptcyin 2008 and has made deep cuts in city services, including police and firepersonnel.

But Vallejo, along with Stockton, Las Vegas andFort Myers, also was hit early and hard by the national housing bust and willbe one of the first to recover, Zillow says. Last year, Vallejo's foreclosurefilings dropped 12%, while they edged up nationwide almost 2%. Today's Vallejobuyers are mostly investors who can get good rent for some of the lowest-costhousing in the San Francisco Bay Area, real estate agents say. "There's avery strong investor presence," says David Tipp,owner of Tipp Realty atGlen Cove.

Jay Boberg, 52, a Los Angeles-based investor,has bought four Vallejo properties in the past two years. He's rented them alland immediately went cash-flow positive. He sees Vallejo as a city with"good bones," including a waterfront, views of the San Francisco Bayand proximity to San Francisco. "The fact that you can rent an apartmentor a house here, with a view of the (San Francisco) Bay, for $800 to $1,300 amonth is incredible," Boberg says. "I can't believe real estate herewon't be worth much more in 15 years."

Columbus, Ohio: Getting in young and cheap

First-time home buyers are having a hard time intoday's market, given tight lending standards and competition from all-cashbuyers. In February, 34% of existing-home buyers were first-timers, a NationalAssociation of Realtors survey says. In a healthy market, that would be 40%,the NAR says. But Columbus and the five other markets Zillow analyzed for USATODAY have become so affordable that people who didn't think they could affordto own are finding that they can. Lisa Lee, a 25-year-old business analyst,recently bought a $60,000 three-bedroom home in a suburb here that had gonethrough foreclosure. Her monthly mortgage, including insurance and propertytaxes, will run about $140 less per month than the rent she paid on hertwo-bedroom apartment. She secured an FHA-backed loan. Her down payment andclosing costs came to about $2,900. "I couldn't believe the house was socheap," Lee says. "Why keep wasting money on rent?" Columbus isalso getting a little boost from consumers with stable finances who put offbuying homes during the recession, says real estate market analyst Robert Vogtof Vogt Santer Insights. Given signs of a national recovery, people are"getting the confidence to move," Vogt says.

Fort Myers, Fla.: New values 'wow' buyers

Ray Bayer, 59, of Pittsburgh has long planned toretire in Florida, but prices were too high. In January, the postal workerfinally bought a $255,000 Fort Myers home that he says would have fetched$400,000 at the market's peak. Bayer and his wife, Kathy, 57, a nurse, expectto retire to it in a few years. Fort Myers, like much of Florida, has beenbattered by foreclosures. In 2010, one in 12 Fort Myers homes had foreclosurefilings, the nation's second-highest rate after Las Vegas.

Even so, Fort Myers' foreclosure pace last yearwas down 28% from 2009. And recently, banks have slowed the pace at which theyput homes on the market. That's driving multiple offers and buyers who have tosettle "for their third or fourth choice," says broker Terri Lodge ofCentury 21 Sunbelt Realty. In February, the number of single-family homes forsale in Fort Myers was down 52% from the same month in 2009 and sales were up2.4%, says Bob Groves, managing broker of ColdwellBanker Residential RealEstate. Snowbirds and retirees are fueling much of the activity, Realtors say. "They'veseen the deals and said, 'Wow,' " says Rob Keller, a Coldwell Bankeragent.

Hartford, Conn.: Jobs to help

Adam and Clare Baroncelli have been on theopen-house circuit for several months and have seen good homes get snapped upmore quickly. The increased activity drove them off the fence. They have madean offer on a $370,000, four-bedroom home in Simsbury, near Hartford."There's a lot more activity," says Clare, 34. The Baroncellis movedin August from Florida to Connecticut because of Adam's job change. Job growthis expected to help the Hartford region.

Of the four major labor markets in the state,Hartford has the best prospects for job growth, says Steven Lanza, editor of TheConnecticut Economy, the Universityof Connecticut's economic publication.Late last year, just 12% of homeowners with mortgages in the Hartford regionowed more on their homes than they were worth, Zillow data show. That's farbetter than the national average, then 27%. Fewer underwater homeowners meansthere are more homeowners who can move up into more expensive homes.

Rob Giuffria, president of Prudential PremierHomes in Farmington, Conn., says there are huge differences among Hartfordareas in terms of the current housing market. Some upper-scale neighborhoods —fueled by white-collar workers and executives — may be bottoming, while someinner-city areas are worsening, he says. Lanza looks for a broader"recovery" soon. As with the other markets Zillow analyzed, thatdoesn't necessarily mean improvement.

"It means you're not getting worse andmaybe you're getting better," he says.

Stockton, Calif.: Pain and opportunity

Few areashave been through a longer and darkertunnel than this central California city.

Since peaking in 2006, Stockton's median homeprice is down 62%. For three of the past four years, Stockton ranked in the topfive nationwide for foreclosures, says market researcher RealtyTrac. InJanuary, six of 10 homes for sale in the city either were bank-owned, inforeclosure or tied to a delinquent mortgage.

Yet there are glimmers of change. Last year,Stockton dropped to No. 7 in foreclosures nationwide. Local Realtors say thereare more non-distressed homes for sale now than there were a few years ago.More low-ball offers are being refused. And multiple offers are common onlower-end homes. "It's a very competitive market," says Jerry Abbottof Grupe Real Estate in Stockton. He recently got six offers for one homepriced at $121,000, a short sale in which the lender agrees to sell a propertyfor less than is owed.

The big concern is when banks will begin to listfor sale more of the distressed homes they've kept off the market, which couldhurt prices. Banks slowed their foreclosure processes last fall after a publicoutcry over thousands of improperly documented foreclosure cases. The otherissue is when Stockton will regain jobs. The unemployment rate in the localcounty — 17.6% in February — is one of the nation's highest. Moody's Analyticspredicts Stockton-area home prices won't return to their 2006 peak for morethan 20 years. Still, some people say it's time to buy, including Cary Fopiano,41. Since 1996, she and her husband, Steve, 50, have made money on two of theStockton homes they've owned. They lost money on one but are still far ahead. Thestay-at-home mom and manufacturing manager bought their fourth home last year,on a lake in an upscale neighborhood. They're shopping for another to turn intoa rental investment.  "Prices areabout as low as they can go," Fopiano says.

_______________________________________________________________

 

 

Hong Kong Hosts US PropertyConference

November 14, 2011 |New York, New York | iReport

The annual US Property Conference launches next month in HongKong. The bi-annual conference provides a platform for investors throughoutAsia to better understand the ownership opportunities available in the USmarkets and features experts in the fields of market analysis, taxation, legal,immigration and finance. The event is coordinated by the ONEILL Group Hong Konga firm specializing in US properties for international investors.

The highlight of the conference is the investor seminar scheduled for the 13thof December. “The seminar gathers experts to discuss the US markets and thedetails of ownership in the US. This year we have representatives from theTrump Hotel Collection’s New York and Waikiki properties who will providedetailed analysis on those sub-markets,” says Consulina Wong Director of Asiafor the ONEILL Group Hong Kong.

International investment in the United States surged to over US$82 Billion in2011 according to the National Association of Realtors. Chinese investors arethe second largest group accounting for almost 10% of all foreign investment inthe US representing a 100% increase compared to 2007. “Buyers from Asia haveaccounted for over half of the US$600 Million in sales at the Trump TowerWaikiki with many of the recent sales to Chinese,” says Sean Combs, AsiaPacific Sales Director for the Trump Waikiki development. “The combination ofluxury lifestyle, hotel services, and the option to have the property managedand rented while they are away are very appealing to this particular buyersegment.”

New York City remains one of the top cities for Hong Kong investors. “Hong Kongand New York share a long history and very deep ties through the finance andtrade industries,” says Amy Williamson Vice President of Prodigy at the TrumpSOHO. “Hong Kong investors are among the most savvy and sophisticated in theworld and the Trump SOHO seems to be a perfect fit with over twenty of therecent sales from our investor groups in Asia.”

The US Property Conference runs from 8 December through the 18th. The 13thDecember seminar is open to qualified investors but seating is very limited.“The investor seminar fills up quickly but we have a series of smaller breakoutevents before and after to accommodate the overflow demand and to focus on specificinvestor needs. We have been organizing this conference for several years andwith the surging demand, I think this will be the best one,” says Wong.

For more information about the conference, seminars and private meetingscontact the ONEILL Group Hong Kong at usconf@ogrouphk.com or call 3103 1008.www.ogrouphk.com

________________________________________________________

New York leads US property recovery

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST Peta Tomlinson  Wednesday, 29 August, 2012, 12:00am

It takes a brave soul to call the bottom of a property cycle. But the rumour mill in the United States is beginning to grind with other than the predictable voices of real estate agents. The National Association of Realtors is leading the charge, reporting that in the first quarter of 2012, the median existing single-family home price (or final sales price) rose in 74 of the 146 metropolitan areas tracked, compared to a gain in 29 of the same markets in the fourth quarter of 2011. In other words, as forbes.com interpreted, "51 per cent of the major cities across the US have welcomed price gains".

The latest Fiserv Case-Shiller home price index cautiously flags that "after years of large declines, the housing market is showing signs of stabilisation". Using data from the Federal Housing Finance Agency, David Stiff, Fiserv chief economist, deduced that the end is nigh. "The recovery this spring and summer will be driven by investors, who buy primarily in lower-cost markets," he said in a statement. "We expect that home prices, which generally lag changes in sales activity by nine to 12 months, will stabilise by the end of this summer and then rise at an annualised rate of 3.9 per cent over the next five years."

CoreLogic chimed in, on the back of its findings that home prices are on a measured climb. "The recent upward trend in US home prices is an encouraging signal that we may be seeing the bottom of a housing cycle," says Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO.  CoreLogic points to New York as one of the markets where recovery is already taking hold. This assertion is supported by StreetEasy.com which shows the median listing price for homes in Manhattan increased by 3.8 per cent in the six months to June this year, and by 10 per cent year-on-year. There is an 80 per cent increase in contracts signed during the year.

New York is also one of the most popular areas with Chinese investors, according to data from real estate website Trulia. The firm's Allison Cooper says: "Currently, Chinese investors are a driver, but New York has always had strong demand from foreign property investors. She says that the city's main hub, Manhattan, may be the most expensive property market in the US, but, "globally, Manhattan is actually cheap". "At US$1,500 per square foot, Manhattan is ranked a lowly 10th in a Citi Private Bank and Knight Frank report - even Hong Kong, ranked fourth at US$2,000 per sq ft, is more expensive than Manhattan," Cooper says.

According to the Knight Frank report, New York has experienced an influx of overseas money pushing prices ever higher. "The Chinese market opened up rapidly in 2011, with buyers from there joining other wealthy investors in targeting the US$1 million to US$3 million Manhattan market," says Jonathan Miller, head of New York property analyst Miller Samuel. Writing in his Douglas Elliman Report, Miller found consistency in the Manhattan market for the past few years and through the second quarter of this year, noting that "economic uncertainty abroad and the weak US dollar brought more foreign buyers looking for an investment safe haven, resulting in a higher frequency of high-end 'trophy' transactions".

With markets contracting in Asia amid cooling measures and the threat of a double-dip recession, Savills had already flagged New York as a market to watch this year. "We think that the old world cities - particularly those long established as safe deposits of wealth, such as London, Paris and New York especially, may sustain pricing over the coming year, with the influx of global wealth in an uncertain world still having some time to run,"

Yolande Barnes, head of Savills residential research, wrote in a March 2012 report. "New York is a city to watch. It recorded growth of 2 per cent, correcting first-half-year falls. Its residential real estate now looks extraordinarily good value and a relatively stable 'buy' opportunity within a global investment context."

As the year progresses, Singapore-based Julian Sedgwick, director and head of business development at Savills, sees a consistent trend."From the last few inspection trips I have taken to New York City in the last 12 months, I would agree recovery has already taken shape. We are also seeing stronger demand from our Asian investors looking to diversify their investment portfolios and there is strong demand for prime NYC stock in Asia."

________________________________________________________

 

 

Next Steps...

This is should be a prospective customer's number one call to action, e.g., requesting a quote or perusing your product catalog.