If I Were a Chinese Buyer of U.S. Real Estate…

Posted by on Aug 20, 2015 in Marketing, Real Estate, Research | 0 comments

If I Were a Chinese Buyer of U.S. Real Estate…

Here in the United States, three property portals (realtor.com, Zillow and Trulia) dominate search traffic and industry headlines. But a recent assignment for the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) got me looking far beyond these U.S. sites to learn more about various property portals around the world.

It’s fascinating to see how buyers in other countries search for homes in their local markets—and sometimes for properties in far-flung destinations. Some of the most interesting perspectives originate from China, a country flush with cash and currently dominating several overseas property markets. Chinese buyers have several strong motivations, such as:

  • searching for a safe haven for wealth
  • a desire to own a vacation or trophy home
  • a pathway to residency
  • access to top-performing public schools and universities

While the presence of Chinese buyers is notable in many destinations, this past year marked the first time China displaced Canada as the top country of origin for foreign buyers in the U.S. This map shows where the top five buyers originate from and their share of purchases. (Read more about NAR’s 2015 International Buyer Profile.)

NAR 2015 Intl Buyer Profile

House-Hunting from China

In China, the No.1 real estate portal is Fang.com, which concentrates on listings and rentals of domestic property, but also promotes searches in other countries. One of its leading competitors is Juwai.com, a niche site specifically designed to help Chinese buyers find and purchase overseas property.

To get a better idea of a Chinese buyer’s online experience, take a look at a few snapshots from Fang and Juwai (partially translated to English). Each image illustrates the key points that are frequently made in articles about Chinese buyers in the U.S.—their strong interest in certain markets, and their different purchasing objectives.

First, searching for a U.S. property on Fang.com usually begins on this landing page. Note which popular cities are called out on the U.S. map and in the text links below the search bar. (Practical tip: If you’re viewing non-English websites in Chrome, simply right-click on any page and select “Translate to English.” Some pages translate better than others, and text embedded in images won’t translate at all. Still, it’s a handy shortcut.)

Searching for a U.S. property on Fang.com starts here.


This page, from Juwai.com, promotes the EB-5 “investor visa” program, a popular pathway to U.S. residency for wealthy buyers.

Juwai.com promotes the EB5 investor's visa, a popular pathway to U.S. residency for wealthy buyers.


A popup ad on Juwai.com offers more information on U.S. schools.

A popup ad on Juwai.com offers more information on U.S. schools.


You’ll find lots of news about U.S. immigration developments on Juwai.com.

Lots of news on Juwai.com about U.S. immigration developments.


Here’s one example of an article directed to Chinese investment-buyers–in this case, tips on the best areas of San Francisco.

Sample article on Juwai.com guiding investor-buyers on the best sections of San Francisco.

Put Yourself in Your Clients’ Shoes

These examples may be limited to Chinese buyers in the U.S., but you can apply the same exercise to any other type of buyer or seller. Take time to study the world from your clients’ perspective and you’ll become increasingly successful at meeting their needs.

You’ll also gain important insights for your OWN marketing efforts. In other words, the more you know about your clients’ interests (what they read, what they care about) the more you can use these insights to add helpful information to your website, share relevant articles via social media, or simply have more meaningful conversations when prospecting for business. No matter what marketing tactic you use, your efforts always yield better results when you understand your audience. 


Julie Collins

Since 2002, Julie Collins has been teaching real estate agents how to be more successful in articles published by the National Association of REALTORS®. (She helps NAR produce at least two dozen newsletters each year.) That's how she knows real estate. But Julie knows marketing too, with over 30 years of strategic and tactical experience. Blending these strengths, she helps real estate agents learn how to leverage their marketing techniques and build a more profitable and rewarding real estate practice.

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