China vs. Russia: Who’s the biggest buyer in Manhattan?

China vs. Russia: Who's the biggest buyer in Manhattan?For over a decade, it’s been generally accepted that the greatest international influence on the Manhattan property market came from Russia. Although housing laws in America prevent collecting official statistics on foreign buyers in the interests of preserving fairness, a significant percentage of the most exclusive apartments in New York are the proud properties of Russian oligarchs. However, recent reports suggest that for the first time, the Chinese have overtaken the Russians in terms of buying up Manhattan properties – and this trend looks likely to continue.

Studying the international situation, it’s clear that Manhattan’s experience reflects a noticeable worldwide shift. With numbers of Chinese billionaires rapidly increasing, major cities all over the world are reporting that Chinese investors have become the leading foreign buyers of luxury homes. This is the situation in both Sydney and London, where Chinese parents will often buy properties that are located close to leading educational institutions. Educating your children at prep schools like Eton and Harrow before sending them on to Oxford or Cambridge remains a highly desirable expenditure for many Chinese businessmen, and purchasing properties in the country is all part of that experience.

In Manhattan, the situation is exacerbated by the fact that prices compare favourably with rapidly rising values in Asian cities. Luxury apartments sell for between $4,100 and $5,000 per square foot in Hong Kong, with the market there now ranked as the second most expensive in the world, behind Monaco. The thriving culture and international status of New York provides another major draw, while universities like Columbia, NYU and Juilliard make Manhattan a wise choice for buyers with families.

Although the Chinese are dominating the market in terms of the number of international buyers hailing from that country, the value of the homes that are purchased also makes them a force to be reckoned with. Manhattan properties may be better value than eastern homes in terms of cost per square foot, but the borough is still home to several magnificent apartments that command exceptionally high prices, which Chinese buyers are ready and willing to pay. 

Meanwhile, Russian buyers have been gradually slipping from view, as the records set in the past few years are beaten increasingly quickly. In March 2012, a Russian billionaire bought a Manhattan apartment for an unprecedented $88 million, but that figure has been pushed into second place in the meantime.

If you’re interested in luxury property in New York contact Engel & Völkers USA. Our experienced agents are perfectly placed to guide you through your search and find the right investment for you.

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