As Australia prepares for a correction, Chinese buying of U.S. housing units falls 15 percent

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      A new report suggests that Chinese buying of U.S. real estate has diminished over the past year.

      The National Association of Realtors has reported that 29,195 housing units were traded from April 1, 2015 to March 31, 2016.

      That's a 15 percent drop from the 34,327 homes bought by Chinese buyers in the previous 12-month period in the U.S.

      The website Mingtiandi reported that investors from China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan spent three times as much on homes over the recent 12-month period as buyers from Canada. Canadians ranked second in foreign investment in U.S. housing.

      "Chinese buyers also spent more on housing at a median price of $542,084, higher than the median value paid by foreign buyers at $277,380, reflecting a wealthier class of Chinese showing interest in U.S. real estate," Mingtiandi stated.

      Meanwhile, several housing analysts in Australia are warning of a possible real-estate correction Down Under. cited new restrictions on foreign buying and an oversupply of condos as two factors that have led to these forecasts.

      Sales taper off slightly in the Lower Mainland

      The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver recently reported that the number of housing sales fell for the third straight month in June.

      There were 4,400 transactions last month, which was still 28.1 percent above the 10-year average for June. But the overall number was down 7.7 percent from the figure in May.

      That's caused some agents to wonder if there could be a shift about to occur in the Lower Mainland market.

      The B.C. government reported last week that an analysis of 19 days of sales showed that 5.1 percent of home purchases in the region went to foreign nationals. The methodology was quickly condemned by the government's critics, including the B.C. NDP.

      "Today, young people are being priced out of the market, renters are losing their homes and companies are struggling to attract workers," Leader John Horgan said in an NDP news release. "But according to Christy Clark and her government, all that these people deserve is a vague YouTube video and 19 days of half-hearted data collection. That’s shameful.”

      A recent B.C Real Estate Association report indicated that the current housing-price rise isn't as large as the 45 percent year-over-year increase that occurred in 1989.

      That bubble burst, particularly in Toronto, when interest rates shot up, eventually surpassing 14 percent. However, some analysts have argued that the current housing market has been decoupled from past booms and busts because of the globalization of real estate and the shortage of units to meet overall demand across Metro Vancouver.

      China ramps up anticorruption efforts

      The reported drop in Chinese buying of U.S. real estate comes as China's president, Xi Jinping, has embarked on a far-reaching anticorruption initiative.

      A hagiographic book about the president, The Xi Jinping Era: His Comprehensive Strategy Toward the China Dream, quotes him saying that the Communist Party of China has "set no limits for tiger hunting and leaves no dead space for flies".

      The so-called tigers are the corrupt officials at the highest levels, whereas "flies" are lower-level crooks.

      Elaborating on the point, the book notes that Xi has declared that those found guilty "will be punished severely, without any tolerance, no matter how much power they have acquired or how high their position is".

      Among those who have been arrested are the former vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, a former member of the party's political bureau, and the former secretary of the political and judicary committee, according to The Xi Jinping Era.

      Dozens of trucks had to cart away the loot found in the former political bureau member's home. In the first nine months of 2014, 35,633 people were charged with corruption and bribery, which was up more than five percent over the previous year. Among those who've been arrested is the mother of Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson's girlfriend, Wanting Qu. Qu's mother, Qu Zhang Mingjie, worked as a senior municipal official in the northern Chinese city of Harbin.

      Internet snitch pages have been created, which receive more than 800 reports per day. The book also reports that the Chinese government has created a "fox hunting" missions to go after corrupt officials who've fled to other countries.

      Then in 2015, the number shot up to 300,000 who were punished for corruption in China, according to Newsweek magazine. Of those, 82,000 received "severe" sentences.

      Whether that could be linked to any drop in Chinese purchases of U.S. real estate is anyone's guess.