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“Advertising doesn’t bring the return,” says Pauline Ha, a Chinese-American real estate agent with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Mason-McDuffie in San Francisco. “In Chinese culture, you have to build a relationship first.”

Ha advocates a strategy that puts customer service up front and center, working hard to satisfy the needs of all foreign buyers and catering to her clients as well as their family members. Her company has been ramping up its sales force and marketing initiatives to attract foreign buyers.

“We have a very active market,” says Ed Krafchow, chairman of the board, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Mason-McDuffie.

Business has been particularly booming around college communities as immigrants look to put down roots where a child might be getting an American education, or many try to move to ethnic neighborhoods where they may know people or be more familiar with the local scene, Krafchow explains.

According to Juwai.com, other reasons the Chinese are attracted to the U.S. real estate market include:

• A full 57 percent of rich Chinese have contemplated emigration. Some 20 percent have actually already gone through immigration procedures in countries like Australia, or will soon.
• They want to diversify their risk. By investing in North America as well as at home, they avoid losing everything if one property market or the other goes down.
• One risk Chinese face at home is the possibility of new regulations or taxes that reduce their wealth. Some also worry about social unrest. Riots, strikes and protests recently doubled over the last five years to 180,000.

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