San Gabriel Valley is one of those select markets where houses have now surpassed their housing-bubble high prices, specifically in those areas where Chinese buyers are coming in with cash to spend. Chinese buyers represented 12 percent of all foreign homebuyers in the US last year; more than half of the sales to Chinese buyers were in California, and two-thirds of those were cash transactions, says the National Association of Realtors in the LA Times. Also, 60 percent of wealthy Chinese nationals have either fully left China or plan to split their time between the US (the number one destination) and China. That's a lot of buying power. Here are eight ways that the new moneyed buying pool is affecting the Los Angeles real estate market.
-- It's not just the SGV housing market that's getting a boost from Chinese buyers: Orange County and even San Bernardino are seeing a rise in Chinese buyers who want a sprawling house large enough to hold visitors. Different areas have different draws: "Luxury estates in San Marino are bargains by Chinese standards; inexpensive Inland Empire homes are purchased as investments; top-shelf schools draw throngs to Irvine."
-- Developers and their decorators are trying to insinuate themselves with Chinese decor—Irvine's Lambert Ranch inserted Chinese benches and statuettes, plus photos of the Great Wall and the Chinese countryside into model homes. (The homes, starting at $1 million, "quickly" sold out.)
-- More foreign buyers might mean more empty homes and mansions. One official at a bank that deals predominantly with Chinese nationals says that people will often buy a home, "even if paying for it means working in China and rarely visiting."
-- Builders are starting to think more about alternative home layouts. A Lennar development aimed at Chinese families is designed as "a home within a home" that can offer a bit of privacy but also proximity for multiple generations of extended family who might come to visit.
-- Granite countertops are well and good, but one development's kitchens are equipped with a second kitchen outfitted "wok" kitchen that's especially suited to Chinese cooking.
-- Home developers targeting Chinese nations are being sure not to include any built-in feng shui "imbalances" (like allowing the back door to be visible when standing at the front door) or set up the kitchen in a way that would cause friction between different elements, like fire and water.
· Wealthy Chinese home buyers boost suburban L.A. housing markets [LAT]
· Some LA 'Hoods Now Pricier Than They Were Pre-Recession [Curbed LA]