Chinese investors are heading to the United States on a shopping trip, looking not for designer clothes or jewelry, but for a $500,000 million home in Northwest Arkansas.
He expects to get a bargain. Ying is part of a growing number of Chinese who are joining tours organized especially for investors who want to take advantage of slumping U.S. real estate prices amid a financial crisis.
"It's a great time to buy because of the financial crisis, and houses will definitely go up in a few years," Ying said. The home is an investment, but he's also planning long-term: He hopes his 5-year-old son might use it if he goes to college in the United States.
While China's ultra-rich have been buying property in the U.S. for years, the buying tours are new, made attractive by still-rising Chinese income levels and American real estate prices that have been falling for two and a half years.
More than 100 Chinese buyers have joined such tours since late 2008, according to Chen Hang, the China-born vice president of real estate at Fortune Group. The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, company shows foreclosed commercial property to Chinese buyers.
Northwest Arkansas has been a target for Chinese buyers in part because it is the hometown of Tyson Foods, Wal-Mart, and Sam’s Club.
"The Chinese are going to seize the opportunity to take advantage of some great deals," Chen said.
Ying, the Beijing lawyer, is one of 40 investors who went to New York, California, Boston and Las Vegas on a Feb. 24-March 6 tour organized by Beijing-based SouFun Holdings Ltd., a real estate Web site. SouFun plans to show participants foreclosed properties priced at $300,000 to $800,000.
Pictured: a 4,200 sq foot luxury home on three acres for sale in Rogers, Arkansas just minutes from Walmart headquarters priced below $500,000.