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Chinese Investors Forced To Take Out More Loans As Cash Buys Grow Tougher

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Quontic Bank

The Chinese government's new crackdown in capital control enforcement is making Chinese real estate investors take out loans — and local lenders are seizing the opportunity to get a new constituency of clients who would otherwise pay in cash.

In January, the Chinese government began imposing new controls forcing citizens to disclose why they were moving their money abroad. Those controls slowed the large volume of cash pumping from China into New York real estate. Instead, Chinese investors are looking to a few local banks, like Quontic Bank, HSBC, GuardHill Financial, Cathay Bank and Abacus Federal Savings Bank, to finance their real estate buys, The Real Deal reports.

Between April 2015 and March 2016, Chinese buyers paid all cash in 71% of U.S. real estate deals, according to the National Association of Realtors. Only 20% of Chinese buyers went to a U.S. lender to complete a purchase, while 6% went to a Chinese bank. But that is changing quickly.

Many large banks do not issue mortgages to foreign buyers, in order to comply with federal regulations, so smaller banks have made lending to foreign, and especially Chinese, clients their specialty.

Chinese investors who did not move their money out of China before January have difficulty closing real estate deals. Cathay Bank's Eastern Region vice president, Elizabeth Lee, told TRD Chinese buyers who cannot get their money out of China cannot get a mortgage either, because they need a minimum down payment of 35% to qualify for a mortgage.

Chinese investment in real estate was at a record high in 2016 at $33B, up 53% from 2015, according to a JLL report. The Chinese elite is accumulating wealth at a market-moving rate. About 100,000 new people become millionaires in China each year, according to brokerage Newmark Grubb Knight Frank's 2017 wealth report.