The return of the international buyer

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With an impressive 15-year tenure in the upper echelons of the Melbourne real estate industry, Mandy Zhu, a seasoned sales executive and buyer's agent, possesses a distinctive skill set, wealth of knowledge, and a unique perspective.

22 June 2023

Drawing on her intuitive understanding of shifting market dynamics, Mandy has now become an esteemed member of the Marshall White team, serving as a trusted source of advice and information for her extensive client base. 

Since the reopening of international borders towards the end of last year, Mandy has keenly observed a significant upsurge in buyer interest throughout Melbourne. Notably, Chinese buyers have shown a remarkable resurgence, returning to our affluent neighbourhoods in considerable numbers. 

She says that returning Chinese buyers largely fall into two categories – permanent residents who have already obtained Australian residency through the Significant Investment Visa, and parents seeking properties for their university-aged children who have recently returned to study here.  

“Investment strategies have undergone a significant shift compared to the pre-pandemic era,” says Mandy. “Many international buyers now prioritise acquiring residential homes for personal use by themselves and their families, rather than solely focusing on purchasing investment properties.” 

In a noteworthy shift from the past, foreign buyers’ preferences have broadened beyond new, contemporary-style homes, now encompassing older properties with a pronounced interest in period homes. This trend is particularly evident within the prestigious suburb of Toorak, where these discerning buyers seek out the timeless charm and character that such homes offer. Mandy explains that the allure of the Toorak locale is so compelling that even long-term foreign residents are opting to make the move from areas such as Balwyn, Glen Iris, Kew, and Mt Waverley. 

The recent influx of Chinese buyers flying in to personally inspect properties has sparked new levels of competition and a heightened sense of urgency amongst foreign buyers in the real estate landscape. According to property portal Juwai IQI, Chinese buyers hold the belief that “Australian real estate offers a safe and wise investment opportunity.” After enduring three years of closed international borders during the pandemic, Chinese buyers are now making decisions to permanently move to Australia seeking stability and a high quality of life. Approximately one third of buyer enquiries go to Melbourne, influenced by various factors such as a well-established Chinese community offering a support network and a sense of belonging, world-class educational opportunities, and the minimal time difference between our local AEST time zone and China, which facilitates seamless international business operations and communication. 

Mandy, drawing on her extensive experience and insights, confidently asserts that Australia, and particularly Melbourne, will witness a sustained resurgence in international buyers. Their interest and investment will contribute to the growth and vibrancy of the real estate market, further solidifying Melbourne’s position as a sought-after global destination.