As the Rooster Crows, Chinese Investment Flows

With the Lunar New Year set to commence on January 28, China is preparing to welcome the Year of the Rooster with a bang. Traditionally, this festival is celebrated with rice cakes, firecrackers and cured meats and fish with family members in rural hometowns. This year, the world will witness the largest movement in human history with over 2.98 billion trips taking place. Many of these trips will be within China, but more this year than ever – surpassing last year’s total of six million trips – will be outbound trips to destinations like the United States, Australia and Europe. (1) As these increasingly wealthy middle-class Chinese tourists take in the sights, they will also be keeping an eye out for investments, namely, properties. With a bit of cultural know-how to get in the festive spirit, impressing Chinese buyers at this time of year could make the difference in securing a future buyer. 

While many Chinese buyers – especially those more experienced in international investment – rely more and more on research and data to make a decision, many still pay attention to certain cultural traditions. A few minor tweaks could make all the difference in uniting a Chinese buyer with the right property, and the Year of the Rooster has its own unique details to keep in mind. Feng shui offers a few direction-based tips to impress Chinese buyers. For example, conflict sits in the west this year alongside General Tai Sui, so it is recommended to appease this skilled martial artist in bedrooms or offices in that direction with a gold plaque bearing his likeness. The east contains tendency for robbery and disaster, but these can be kept at bay with qilin statues – a mix between a dragon and a lion – in prominent locations. Finally, the south is not without its misfortune, as the five yellows responsible for illness lie there. As such, bedrooms in the south may be protected with brass or wind chimes to repel the bad energy. (2) 

There are a number of traditions that you can also include in your interactions with Chinese tourists and buyers at this time of year to show respect and get them in a more festive and happy mood, which certainly would not hurt deal making. Parents often buy clothes for children at this time and many consider getting a haircut a way to get a fresh start. Auspicious décor in general is always encouraged, and for the New Year season includes paper cuttings, paper strips with lucky couplets (called chunlian) on doorways and paper lanterns, all in the lucky color red, as this keeps the chimerical sea creature Nian from eating children – according to folklore, at least. (3) Another paper decoration that is very common is the character fu, meaning “good fortune”. This character is often printed on a red and gold square and placed upside down on the main door because the word for “upside down”, dao, is a homophone for the word “arrive” – so this play on words means “good fortune arrives”. As for gift giving, little red packets called hongbao are filled with pocket money and given to family members but non-cash gifts are also accepted. Importantly, with food so essential to Chinese identity, you cannot forget the culinary customs. One must-have food is fish, which in Chinese is yu, a homophone for “surplus”. So, as the saying goes, nian nian you yu, which means “Every year have fish” and “Every year have surplus”. 

Despite all these preparations, closing a deal at this time of year may prove to be slightly more difficult with Beijing’s recent cash outflow tightening. While Chinese citizens long have not been able to convert more that USD 50,000 per year and have been banned from using this to purchase property, few were actually forced to adhere to the rules – until now. (4) With the new documentation requirements, however, punishments will come more easily and banks have more authority to deny transactions. Before writing off potential Chinese prospects, remember that it can be argued that tighter restrictions in China tend to have the opposite effect. In the interest of both parties, the best approach is to consult with the professionals at Yoursz, as special investment structures may be required for a larger number of clients under these new regulations.

Regardless of how readily accessible cash may be for Chinese tourists visiting over the Lunar New Year holiday, relationship building remains an essential component in courting a Chinese buyer. The professionals at Yoursz help to facilitate cultural understanding and maintain open communication channels over the short and long term. From helping agents to understand cultural traditions to connecting Chinese buyers with the perfect property, Yoursz is available to help with every step of the process for the Year of the Rooster and beyond. 

As they say, gong xi fa cai, which means “May you be prosperous!”  


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