Chinese Buyers may Flee U.S. Housing

Turmoil in the Chinese stock market could have a quick and direct effect on U.S. housing. From newly built homes in Irvine, California, to Miami condos to Manhattan luxury towers, Chinese money has been flowing freely. The question now is, will trouble in the Chinese stock market translate into more or less cash coming into American neighborhoods?

“My conclusion on China is that those who are buying U.S. real estate are doing it with a very long-term view—to diversify their assets, provide a safe haven in case something happens at home,” said John Burns of California-based John Burns Real Estate Consulting. “I don’t think a 30 percent stock correction after a relatively recent 150 percent boom changes much of that. If you told me the economy was going negative, their shadow banking system was exploding, or the government clamped down on foreign investment, then I would be concerned.”

Chinese are now the biggest foreign buyers of U.S. housing. They poured $28.6 billion into properties in the past year, more than double the investment of number two, the Canadians, according to the National Association of Realtors. They are seeking top schools for their children, better health care, fresh air and a safe haven for their cash amid economic uncertainty at home.