Business / Companies

Overseas property site is building on success

By Karl Wilson (China Daily) Updated: 2015-09-14 10:55

Australian co-founder turns real estate portal for Chinese buyers looking for foreign homes into a thriving online business may not be a household name in Australia, Europe or the United States, but in China it is the "must-go-to" site when looking for property overseas.

Launched in 2011, now outranks all US websites combined, according to Baidu, China's version of Google, with 71 percent share of all Chinese online real estate sites.

The site has 2.6 million monthly consumer visits from 315 cities in the Chinese mainland and 48 countries and regions around the world and has more than 2.8 million listings from 89 countries.

The seeds for Juwai, which literally means "home overseas", were sown by two young Australians from Queensland five years ago over a couple of beers in Hong Kong.

Simon Henry and Andrew Taylor had been working in real estate in Hong Kong and Macao since the mid-2000s.

"It was a time when you walked down any street in Hong Kong and it seemed like all you could hear was Mandarin," recalled Henry, co-founder and co-CEO of along with Taylor.

"The (2008) global financial crisis had come to its end. Thousands in the financial sector had lost their jobs and most countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development were either in recession or starting to come out of it. But China showed little sign of slowing down.

"People had money and they wanted to spend it and spend it not only on luxury goods but property ... property overseas," Henry said. "We could see mainlanders were changing the Hong Kong and Macao property markets. But what about beyond?"

"There was nothing, as far as we could see, that catered to this growing market of Chinese, especially the middle class, who wanted to purchase property overseas," Henry said.

Taylor eventually quit his job and spent the next year just researching the market, which "was wide open", Henry said. was born and has "been going a million miles an hour ever since".

According to Henry, the top 10 countries where Chinese are looking to buy residential property are, in descending order, the United States, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Portugal, France, Spain, Germany and Singapore.

In 2013, the site facilitated an estimated $5 billion worth of overseas residential property sales, he said.

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