(ECNS) -- Chinese buyers snapped up $31.7 billion worth of real estate in the United States between April 2016 and March 2017, with 65 percent paying cash, according to the country's National Association of Realtors.
China has maintained its top position among overseas buyers in terms of dollar sales for the fourth straight year. Chinese buyers also bought the most housing units for the third consecutive year at 40,572, up from 29,195 in 2016.
NAR found that among Chinese buyers, 65 percent paid cash, while 26 percent used a U.S. mortgage. In comparison, 18 percent of buyers from India and 42 percent of buyers from Mexico paid cash.
It also showed 21 percent of Chinese bought property as an investment, while 39 percent planned to use the purchase as either a vacation or residential investment. Eight percent of residences were bought for student accommodation.
Jia Qiao (an alias) told China Business Network that she spent $300,000 in cash to purchase a house near New York City in the autumn of 2016 when the market was worried about devaluation of the Chinese currency.
Jia said she had to pay in full because it was impossible to apply for a bank loan at normal interest rates without a work history or credit record in the U.S..
China allows individuals to move at most $50,000 out of the country annually, so Jia had to borrow money from her friends and relatives in the U.S and then pay them back by Chinese yuan back home.
Becco Zou with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Northwest said she works hard during Chinese vacation periods, a time when many Chinese arrive to buy a house.
She said about 80 percent of her clients are from China and she ranked among the top 1 percent of brokers with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Network in 2016 following her top 3 percent rank in 2014 and 2015.
Zou and other brokers added many buyers from Canada were also Chinese looking for higher investment returns.
Wu Guanghui with Chinese property website Juwai.com said some big U.S. banks made it difficult for overseas home buyers to borrow in order to avoid speculative buying.
Despite financial challenges, more Chinese buyers try new ways to move money and buy a property in the U.S., including using Bitcoins and selling personal diamonds for cash, the brokers said.