Wealthy Chinese Go With Posh NYC Apartments Over Dorms For Kids

A volatile real estate market and government restrictions on purchases in China have pushed prospective
Chinese buyers abroad to pick up property. The city receiving the most attention from foreign buyers is New York, where many wealthy Chinese are also sending their children to be educated.

“Education is the No. 1 concern for many families. Whatever they can do to make it easier for their children to go to college here, they will. They want a more comfortable setting than a dorm when they’re bringing [children] out of their comfort zone,” said Justin Stewart, real estate adviser in New York working for Windham China, a Michigan-based real estate development firm that has begun leading tours for prospective Chinese investors in the U.S. Stewart’s firm offers multi-city real estate tours every two months. He added, “Their son or daughter gets to live here, and it’s an investment opportunity. They get a trophy property.”

Plenty of other real estate firms are honing in on the boon for New York luxury condos, 30 percent of which have been purchased by foreignors in recent years. Elizabeth Stribling, of Stribling & Associates, reports that foreign buyers comprise around 30% of new condo purchases, “with Chinese buyers tending to spend roughly $1.5 million on apartments near their kids’ colleges.”

Stephen G. Kliegerman, president of Halstead Property Development Marketing, estimates the number of clients he’s seeing from China has doubled over the past year and now represents a “constant, steady flow.”

Many of these clients have been buying or looking at new condos in Harlem for their children attending college or grad school at Columbia, Fordham or other schools in the city, he said. “The Chinese buyers see Harlem as a good value and an up-and-coming area,” Kliegerman said. “They’re interested in the value and the quality of the product. They’re looking for the contemporary finishes.”

Kliegerman has been seeing interest in such new Harlem projects as 2130 Adam Clayton Powell Blvd., where listings range from a studio for $239,000 to $949,000 for a one-bedroom.

Two of Kliegerman’s clients from China so far have bought apartments in Harlem’s 88 Morningside Ave. — the number eight being among the luckiest in Chinese numerology — where units are currently listed from $375,000 for a one-bedroom to $880,000 for a three-bedroom, he said. He added that he expects two to three more buyers from China to close on units in that building.

Midtown is also a sought-after area as well as “Shang Dong,” the nickname the Chinese have given to the Upper East Side. “They want Central Park or Fifth Avenue, because that’s what they hear about from their friends as well as seeing it on television,” Wei Min Tan, a broker at Rutlenberg Realty, said. Tan also reports that his business with Chinese clients has doubled this year.

Buyers are often looking for southern exposures and tall, glass buildings, brokers said. But Steve Rutter, managing director of Stribling Marketing Associates, also said they like “authentic New York” pre-wars that have been converted to condos — as long as there are many new amenities.

Rutter has sold four one-bedrooms to Chinese buyers with children at NYU in the Devonshire House, a classic doorman pre-war condo at 28 East 10th St. that’s been completely renovated with sleek modern interiors. The stately building has “gracious” one-bedrooms that sell for roughly $1.3 million to $1.6 million, Rutter noted.

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