Old Westbury Gardens, a Gold Coast mansion also known as “the Gatsby House”, © Old Westbury Gardens
In recent years, the Manhattan real estate scene has had a major upswing in the amount of wealthy buyers from China, who feel that New York City condos and other properties are a safe place for their money. In fact, high-profile real estate firms are even tapping Chinese brokers to cater to this growing clientele. But now the trend is moving east, with Chinese buyers eyeing the stately mansions that make up the Gold Coast suburbs of Long Island. According to the Times, “Some Chinese buyers are parking money in what they see as a low-risk investment. Others are seeking a trophy home. Still others are intent on living in these places full time while their children attend the area’s high-performing schools.”
There were 136 deals in Nassau County that closed between January 1, 2013 and January 30, 2015 that sold for $3 million or higher, and 27 percent of them were to Chinese buyers. Why Long Island’s north shore? It could be the relative affordability compared to condos like One57, the top-performing public schools, or the proximity to Chinese communities in Flushing and Manhattan. Plus, wealthy persons who live full-time in Beijing or Shanghai would rather not spend their time in the U.S. in yet another polluted, fast-paced city.
Now, brokers on Long Island are also catering to this clientele. For example, numerical symbolism is very important in Chinese culture. The number 4 is considered unlucky, so at a new development in Old Brookville the street numbers jump from 2 to 6. The numbers 3, 6, and 8 are all lucky, hence why a listing in Sands Point hit the market for $3.68 million. But 8 is the luckiest of all, leaving many new homes at 8,000 and 8,888 square feet and definitely with an 8 in the asking price. Developers are also embracing the principles of feng shui when designing.
It’s not just Long Island’s suburbs seeing a rise in Chinese investment. Those from the country represent either the largest or second largest group of foreign buyers in 46 U.S. states. From March 2013 to March 2014, Chinese investors spent $22 billion on American real estate, which is one quarter of all international sales. And 76 percent of these were all-cash deals. The Times reports that “roughly 51 percent of the deals were in New York, California and Washington; the bulk, 46 percent, were in suburbs, while 37 percent were in urban areas.” The rise may be attributed to a new policy that will extend Chinese visas from just one year to ten.