• Chinese people represent the largest share of foreign buyers in the United States real estate market.
  • They tend to invest in foreign real estate as a way to safeguard their money and educate their children abroad, according to a CNBC report .
  • California is the top destination for Chinese buyers, with a specific interest in San Francisco .

Chinese buyers aren't shying away from the US real estate market in light of President Trump's trade war .

"The Chinese are basically politically agnostic," San Francisco-based real estate agent Michi Olson told CNBC's Diana Olick . "What I mean by that is even though there is a great tension between [the] US government and Chinese, the Chinese citizen seems to be able to separate the political turmoil with the sound real estate investment."

Wealthy Chinese people have long been drawn to the US real estate market, and now is as good a time as any to throw a hat in the ring.

Securities firm China International Capital Corporation (CICC) said 2019 is forecasted to be the "year of recession" for real estate in China, the South China Morning Post reported. As home sales fall and local panic sets in, Chinese citizens appear to be ramping up their foreign real-estate investments.

Even middle-class Chinese buyers are "searching for lower-priced homes" in America, and "using mortgages much more often," Olick wrote.

Read more: Chinese investors are inflating housing markets in the US, Canada, and Australia

As the Financial Times reported last year, Chinese "elite worry about pollution giving their children asthma, a stiff education system that their youngsters might not thrive in, and losing their rank within China's ever-shifting social hierarchy. Emigrating, or being educated abroad, gives children a boost in status as well as access to societies seen as more stable."

According to data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), Chinese citizens have represented the largest share of foreign buyers in the US real estate market for the last six years, outpacing every other country by both number of residential units purchased and total dollar amount spent. Buyers from China bought 40,400 units totaling $30.4 billion between April 2017 and March 2018, the latest data available from NAR.

They spent a median of $439,100 per purchase in the first half of 2018 about 17% less than the previous year. And mortgages are becoming more common, perhaps due in equal parts to an increase in specialized lenders and an influx of middle-class buyers who can't afford to hand over cash, Olick reported.

Fifty-eight percent of all non-resident Chinese buyers paid for real estate in all cash in 2018 a common behavior of high-net-worth buyers compared to 65% the previous year .

"The Chinese people still see the United States as a safe harbor where they can take their assets and park their money not only for their money but also for the future of their children," Olson told CNBC.

California is a top location for Chinese buyers, with a specific demand for San Francisco, and there's growing interest in Texas, Florida, and Georgia, Olick reports.

As Jay Xiao, general manager of the East-West Property brokerage in Shanghai, told the Financial Times, "It's more annoying to move money out, but the vast majority feel it's worth it to secure their kids' health and education."

Read the full CNBC story here

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