Around 20 US real estate brokerage companies and investment firms made their debut in Beijing on Friday, showcasing their property projects to China's wealthy citizens.
A giant image of Houston Rockets star Yao Ming is displayed at the booth of a property firm from the Texas city at the Sino-US Real Estate Exhibition Fair, which opened on Friday in Beijing. [Wang Jing]
This is the first US property selling delegation to China, following a Chinese buying delegation's trip to the US in March.
"China, which has a fast growing economy and an emerging group of rich people, is now a market we cannot afford to miss," said Rob Emerick, head of the US delegation.
According to the Boston Consulting Group's report, China had the world's fifth-largest population of millionaires in 2008, at 391,000, up 20 percent from the previous year.
Forty-something Lin, from Tianjin, is one of the millionaires looking for buying opportunities. "My primary choice is an apartment or a penthouse in Los Angeles where I have a few friends," said Lin. Besides, "in such an economic downturn, you have to find a place for your money", said Lin, who runs a business in Shanxi province.
Thomas Cervone from the MOSAIC property firm, said: "We are very close to the bottom, and the weak dollar makes the Chinese customer's purchase easier."
The annual cash-on-cash return, said Cervone, is expected to reach 7.6 percent before tax, the appreciation being around 5 percent in three to five years.
Experts say there are no legal barriers for Chinese people to buy properties in the US, but prolonged stay there without a valid green card remains impossible.
"Even though you own an apartment in the US, you still need business or tourist visa for short-term stay and a green card for long-term stay," said Yin Guohua, a lawyer specialized in the property sector.