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“If you are looking for instant gratification, China is not for you,” said Nina Fabbri, partner at 5iMiami, the real estate arm of the Fisher Island-based China Miami Real Estate Investments, a firm that opened about nine months ago to work with Chinese investors interested in purchasing property in Miami.
Fabbri, who has 14 years of experience as a real estate agent, said that events like LPS Shanghai 2015, a leading luxury property expo which will take place from Dec. 11-13, serve to create awareness about a market. In that sense, she contends, they are very useful, but agents or developers should not expect to sign contracts right away.
“Chinese buyers need the trust factor, they need to believe in you in order to give you their money. They need to trust your judgement about the property they should buy,” explained Fabbri.
Earlier this year the Miami Association of Realtors identified China as an “emerging market” and has been facilitating events to help its members advertise their properties in China, both in the Asian market itself and in the U.S. The association forged a partnership with Fang.com, one of mainland China’s biggest real-estate portals, giving Miami agents special pricing for their properties on the website.
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Chinese buyers, who in 2014 represented 2% of all international sales in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, bought properties in Florida this year at an average price of $1.065 million, the highest among all international home purchasers, according to the 2015 Profile of International Home Buyers in Florida.
Nina Fabbri speaks at the Chinese Real Estate Association in Shenzhen this month to promote Miami.
South Florida-based OneWorld Properties, a brokerage firm representing the PARAMOUNT Miami Worldcenter condominium development, has made inroads with Chinese buyers. Investors from China represent their third biggest client base, after Venezuelans and Brazilians, but building that relationship was not an overnight success. The real estate brokerage has been traveling to China for the last four or five years, making four trips this year alone, to meet with potential clients, said its president and CEO, Peggy Fucci.
“Nobody is going to buy anything at a fair, it doesn’t work like that,” said Fucci.
While she believes that events like the Shanghai expo are phenomenal for exposure, she knows from experience that it takes a fair amount of groundwork to build a relationship with the Chinese buyer. “It takes a lot of time to gain their trust,” she said.
Fucci recommends that colleagues meeting Chinese clients for the first time prepare heavily, expect to answer a lot of questions, make eye contact and never underestimate anyone: “The people who spend the most money, don’t look the part,” she said.
In order to better serve Chinese clients, OneWorld Properties translates all its reading materials and video into traditional Chinese and Cantonese and has Chinese speakers on its staff, Fucci said. “Once you show them you went the extra mile, they know that you care,” she said.
For Fucci and Fabbri, Miami has the potential to lure Chinese buyers. They like the warm weather and appreciate the family-oriented Latin culture so prominent in the city, a value the Chinese share, Fabbri said. The city, which Knight Frank ranked this year as sixth most important to ultra-high-net-worth individuals, offers cheaper prices than its peers. According to the firm’s Wealth Report 2015, $1 million would buy 59 square meters (about 635 square feet) of luxury property in Miami, compared with 34 in New York and 48 in Shanghai.
However, price, or even prime location, isn’t always of the utmost importance to Chinese buyers looking for second homes.
“Chinese don’t buy beach; always bring it back to quality of life, education and investment, those are the most important things to them,” Fucci said.
Write to Andrea López Cruzado at firstname.lastname@example.org
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