Thanks to its famed higher education institutions, Boston attracts thousands of international college students—and a fair number of luxury buyers—each year. And, increasingly, students from China are parking their cash in Boston.
Additionally, Boston has one of the best public school systems in the U.S., which attracts forward-looking Chinese parents with younger kids, too.
“A lot of these college students and their families are purchasing property near their schools, so that the student has ‘acceptable’ accommodations for the duration of their schooling,” said Grace Liao, an agent with Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty in Boston.
And the decisions to buy are often made very quickly, sometimes “within a few weeks, while the parents are settling their student into the area, ” Liao said.
In order to cater to the needs of its increasingly large Chinese clientele, East Coast Realty in Boston has beefed up its Chinese-speaking agents in recent years. It has also set up a Chinese Website, 5uboston.com. Currently, company revenue from Chinese clients has increased 200% since 2012, according to its founder and president John Conroy.
Boston ranked number three in terms of the number of international students in U.S. metro areas, trailing New York and Los Angeles. According to the latest Open Doors Report released by the Institute of International Education, there are close to 50,000 international students in Boston, with the Chinese accounting for 35%.
Ms. Liao noted that lately, Chinese students and their parents are no longer limited to properties in close proximity to college campuses. There seems to be a trend now of luxury units being purchased in the generally hot areas, she said.
The normal hot-beds in Boston include Back Bay, Brookline, South End and downtown Boston, where most new luxury buildings are developed. Data provided by Realtor.com shows that in the second quarter of this year, the median listing prices of these neighborhoods all passed the $1 million mark.
|Boston’s Luxury Hotbeds|
|Neighborhood||Median Listing Price
James Kendall, vice president of Boston-based TNM Realty, has observed a similar trend. “Most Chinese students come from affluent families, and they are willing to pay up for luxury homes with all the bells and whistles,” he said.
Mr. Kendall pointed out that luxury hotel condominiums, such as Ritz-Carlton Hotel & Residences, are especially popular among Chinese buyers, partly because “they want to be able to recognize the brand names.” Also, residents have the opportunity to use health clubs, restaurants and other hotel amenities along with their purchases.
Of course, there are other Chinese investors who just want to move their money out of China to invest in U.S. real estate. According to a recent “Boston Globe” article, Yibing Chen, a Chinese immigrant who lives in Concord, Mass., a 45-minute drive from Boston, bought 16 condos on behalf of Chinese investors in the high-end Millennium Tower in downtown Boston, for a total of $15.6 million—all in cash.
Most of those 16 units are directly above each other in the 60-story building. They are listed for rent, starting at $4,100 a month, with proceeds heading back to investors in China, according to Boston Globe.
Charles Wang Pan, a real estate agent who represents Mr. Chen, declined to discuss the purchases.
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