The SEA Developer’s Guide to China’s overseas real estate investors

17 May 2021
Indonesia , Malaysia , Singapore , Thailand , Vietnam

With a 1.4 billion population, of whom many have strong purchasing power, China is home to many great opportunities in overseas real estate. However, Southeast Asian (SEA) property developers are finding it tough to crack this market.

A key reason lies in the size of Chinese cities, which in some cases are country-sized and are difficult to navigate. The most populous cities –Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Chongqing and Guangzhou – have over 147 million people combined. Understanding the city-tier system – which defines Chinese cities by population, gross domestic product and politics – is also challenging. Entry is not straightforward due to the smorgasbord of people and lifestyles that dot each city.

What’s more, language and cultural differences as well as a lack of trust in foreign developers, create obstacles in communication when developers seek to attract eyes to their listings. Yet, behind the barriers is a lucrative market of cash-rich property investors.

According to the Hurun Wealth Report 2020, there were 2.2 million high-net-worth families with at least US$1.5 million as of end-2020 – a 2 per cent jump from 2019. They are driven abroad by intensified cooling measures, rising mortgages and unaffordable property prices at home.

Even the COVID-19 pandemic did not dent their appetite for cross-border property. Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam and Malaysia top their Southeast Asia list of house-hunting grounds, noted various PropertyGuru surveys in 2020.

These countries offer advantages such as low taxes, high rental yield and freehold ownership. But Chinese buyers are now looking beyond tangible returns. Quality education for their children and prime retirement spots are also priorities, according to 2020 data from a Chinese real estate platform

One way SEA developers can reach out to these investors is through PropertyGuru’s China Solutions. The one-stop online centre provides an all-round service encompassing the ABCs to success: Agent acquisition, Brand engagement and Consumer acquisition.



Agent Acquisition

Data from PropertyGuru’s partner Anjuke, China’s largest real estate platform, reported that SEA property searches saw daily average page views jumping 93 per cent month-on-month during the pandemic. Overseas property enquiries also rose by 71 per cent.

Developers are well-placed to take advantage. But with fewer face-to-face meetings for now, the next best way to engage Chinese agents is through real-time online interaction.

One approach would be the Asia Pacific Property Conference (APPC) Live Streaming, a virtual conference organised by PropertyGuru where the latest statistics on the Chinese market will be on show.  A chat platform will be available for participants to share their listings with Chinese agents. Developers can sign up for the live streaming event, which will take place every week from 8pm to 9pm (Singapore time).

In addition developers can expect more beyond the online conversations. They can look forward to the next , which will be a physical event at the Grand Millennium Beijing hotel in the Chinese capital. Over the years, the conference has matched SEA developers with Chinese agents, with attendance exceeding expectations by up to four times.

Keeping to the same vein, aggressive event marketing on Anjuke will reach out to more than 1 million partner agents, who cover more than 600 cities in China. It is one way for developers to get their foot in the door and forge vital connections that could generate important leads.


Brand Engagement

While engaging agents is crucial, developers must also boost their brand awareness in China to attract buyers. In fact, there is a huge pool of over 800 million Internet users across the country – many of whom are interested in purchasing SEA property.

Staying top of mind in a sea of information online requires effective content marketing. According to global marketing organisation Content Marketing Institute, content marketing improves brand awareness by 81 per cent while building trust and credibility by 68 per cent.

This is where developers can leverage on PropertyGuru’s official WeChat account for easier access to Chinese buyers. They can create targeted advertisements as well as engage key opinion leaders (KOLs) with massive followings to write property-related articles. Brands also have the choice of working directly with KOLs to produce sponsored content.

For example, developers can partner with Singapore and China-based tourism site SingaporeTong and tap into its 700,000 subscribers on WeChat.

PropertyGuru can also offer brands ad spaces on over 700,000 popular sites and apps such as search engine Baidu, messaging platform QQ and e-commerce site Taobao via programmatic media buys. An optimised campaign allows precise targeting through location, demographic, keywords and more.

This arrangement offers flexibility, as leads can be managed either through PropertyGuru and its partner vendors or directly by developers.


Consumer Acquisition

PropertyGuru’s China Solutions also involves going straight to consumers. Another partner, Chinese real estate agency Qfang, hosts the Asia Pacific Show (APPS) Live Streaming, a webinar for Chinese investors focusing on overseas properties.

With 1,500 branches in 26 cities in China, Qfang has a dedicated team of nearly 30,000 agents to help push transactions. The company also receives more than 1 million page views a day on its platforms.

For more opportunities, Qfang also presents weekly two-hour seminars called the APPS Exclusive Live Broadcast targeting high-net-worth buyers interested in SEA properties.

Winston Lee, Director of Special Projects at PropertyGuru, believes the suite of hybrid solutions – comprising both online and offline resources – will help overseas developers recruit Chinese agents and buyers effectively.

“Our brand engagement programme allows foreign developers to build a very comprehensive brand zone in the Chinese Internet space. We make use of big data and technology to help you reach people who are super interested in your property,” he said.


Taking on the Chinese market

With a comprehensive 360-degree coverage of the market, PropertyGuru’s China Solutions can be the go-to tool for SEA developers to establish a foothold in China. It provides  targeted access to a vast consumer base hungry for homes.

Developers will swiftly acquire market proficiency that will open more doors to customers. The gateway to China starts with PropertyGuru.


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