Asian real estate investors have overtaken those from Britain to become the biggest foreign buyers of property in parts of Australia.
For eight years British investors were the largest group of foreign buyers in Queensland but have now been overtaken by those from South Korea, Singapore and China.
New figures reveal that South Koreans bought $217 million worth of property in the state that is very popular with expats. While Singaporeans spent $213 million and Chinese investors spent $150 million.
They are mostly buying residential properties but also buying commercial real estate and agricultural land, according to the sales recorded in the Foreign Ownership of Land Register annual report.
British investment in real estate fell from $466 million in 2007/2008 to $112 million in the last financial year. But the land area owned by British buyers remains the largest at 2.03 million hectares, almost half the total 4.44 million hectares held by foreign owners.
There have always been a large number of Asian property buyers in Australia. In the 1990s, for example, the Japanese and Singaporeans were the biggest buyers of Queensland property. But the latest figures show that it is a new generation of Asian buyers who are coming to prominence.
Chris Eves, professor of property economics at the Queensland University of Technology, said further data was needed to determine whether foreign investment in Queensland was returning to the1990s age of Asian dominance, or whether this was a briefer phase.
He said the global financial crisis had thwarted investment from Britain, the US and New Zealand. These countries that had been steadily increasing investment in Queensland in the 2000s but stopped buying due to the economic meltdown.
He points out that in a way Asian buyers have kept the property market going. ‘If you took out Southeast Asia, those new players coming in, foreign investment would have been dismal,’ he said.
He also pointed out that British companies had continued to purchase rural agricultural land, while South Korean and Singaporean investment companies were buying up commercial property.