Few people will be sorry to see the tail end of the Year of the Rat but as we enter the Year of the Ox in the Chinese zodiac, what can we expect?
In Chinese culture, the ox is valued for its role in agriculture and is consequently associated with positive characteristics such as strength, diligence and honesty.
The ox also signifies movement, as Hong Kong-based feng shui master Thierry Chow told CNN recently.
“Hopefully, the world will be less static than last year and get moving again in the second half of the year,” she said.
The beginning of the Lunar New Year is ordinarily a period when many Chinese nationals embark on overseas travel but with international borders all but closed and parts of China battling a second wave of COVID-19, the Government there is advising people to stay home.
Although this means agents won’t be able to market to overseas travellers in person, Chunyun, the “Golden Week” of national holidays that coincides with the beginning of Chinese New Year, could still prove to be a boon for local vendors.
According to Georg Chmiel, co-founder and Executive Chairman of Asian real estate technology group Juwai IQI, “probably the most important season for Chinese overseas homebuying begins with Chinese New Year’s”.
“After a year in which almost no one traveled, prosperous Chinese families have money in the bank,” he said.
“Chinese travel spending in Australia was down more than A$7.3 billion in 2020, and that money is burning a hole in their pockets. That’s according to data from Austrade.
“Many Chinese with unexpected bank account surpluses are telling us they have decided to invest in real estate rather than fritter away the money.
“That’s why home prices in major Chinese cities are climbing. It is also one reason we forecast higher demand in Australia.”
Mr Georg said the activity he was seeing suggested there could be a 20-40 per cent spike in cross-border buying inquiries in 2021 compared to the same period last year.
“For property marketers, this is an opportunity,” he said. “Consumers are at home with nothing to do, and they have the whole week off. You can have their undivided attention.”
And it seems many local property marketers are already taking advantage of that undivided attention.
David Kobritz, Executive Chairman of Melbourne property developer DealCorp, said buyers from Hong Kong and mainland China were an important source of inquiries in Melbourne and the company was offering incentives tailored to its projects to coincide with the start of Lunar New Year.
“For all Chinese buyers who inquire during Chinese New Year at 4248, our new South Yarra tower, we are organising a bilingual online fashion, entertainment and design salón that will cover interior design trends, South Yarra’s top restaurants, cafss, and schools, and much more,” Mr Kobritz said.
The Chinese New Year is a celebration of new beginnings, and education is often a high priority for prospective buyers and all overseas buyers who reserve a unit at the DealCorp’s Polaris development, which adjoins La Trobe University, will be offered a free overseas student consultancy with a student advisor at the uni.
Lily Chong, the Perth-based International Quality Investments marketing agent for the Elements at Carousel development at Canning, is offering a generous rebate for Chinese buyers.
“Every buyer during Chinese New Year receives an $8888 developer’s rebate at settlement for each unit,” she said. “To qualify, they must make a reservation within 15 days of the 11th of February.”
Melbourne’s Kay & Burton group will be extending its popular Personal Concierge Service to international buyers for Chinese New Year, as Group Partner and Head of International Division Jamie Mi explained.
“We are going to make this valuable service available also to potential international buyers who inquire about property, even if they have not yet purchased,” he said.
“They will be able to take it advantage of our Personalised Concierge Service for the entire first month of the Year of the Ox, from 12 February to 14 March.
“For most of our overseas buyers at the moment, while the actual decision-makers are overseas, family members are here already. We know our Personalised Concierge Service serves an acute need for these families, many of whom have not yet settled into a permanent home here.”
Mr Georg said although there was another partial lockdown in China at present, “this time, China is better prepared than any other large country, and its economic outlook was positive, with 8.2 per cent growth tipped for the Year of the Ox”.
“Chinese consumers are eagerly looking forward to the end of the pandemic, the resumption of travel, and the opportunity to return to overseas campuses to study once again,” he said.