Chinese real estate investors are snapping up more properties than ever before, according to a new survey from DBS. The focus for many of these buyers is now Thailand, and Southeast Asia as a whole, after major cities, including Vancouver, Melbourne and Hong Kong, enacted stamp duties on foreign buyers.

This evidence is supported by data from Juwai, the No. 1 Chinese international real estate website. There has been a shift in buying preferences from Chinese real estate investors. While gateway cities are still popular, they are facing increasing competition from many countries in Southeast Asia.

“Southeast Asia has been gaining Chinese buyer market share faster than any other global region since early 2017,” Carrie Law, CEO and director of, stated. “In 2016, only three Southeast Asian countries made it into the top 15 for Chinese buyers, and none made it into the top five. Last year, five made it into the top 15. Thailand alone jumped from 6th place to 3rd, bypassing Canada.”

Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines all recorded a significant uptick in Chinese real estate buying activity. Smaller countries like Cambodia recorded very rapid growth in Chinese property acquisition while even Singapore remained attractive. The Belt and Road Initiative, investment returns and lifestyle are some of the key factors mainland buyers consider.

“The biggest drivers are the lower prices in these countries and the fact that they seem to have government blessing as Belt and Road Initiative countries,” Law pointed out. “Capital controls are constraining the amount Chinese buyers can spend, so they have turned to lower priced countries and lower priced property even in high-cost countries like Australia.”

Thailand benefits from EEC and tourism

Thailand’s Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) project and rising tourist arrivals are expected to lead to even more Chinese second home buying. Data from Juawai found the “Land of Smiles’ to be the third most popular country among mainland investors for overseas real estate acquisitions.

Pattaya was the top location among Chinese buyers with Bangkok in second and Chiang Mai finishing third. Many of those enquiring about property in Thailand via Juwai had more than one motivating factor. This would explain why tourism properties such as condotels in resort destinations are being sold at record rates.