Number of Chinese brokers at NYC firms on the rise

Brokerages hiring Mandarin speakers to help land deals with buyers from Asia
January 20, 2015 11:37AM

Some of New York City’s largest real estate firms are hiring Chinese nationals in an effort to land more deals with an increasingly Chinese clientele.

Park Avenue International Partners, which employed only three Chinese-speaking brokers in 2013 now employs 12. Since 2001, the firm has brokered more than $1 billion worth of Manhattan sales to customers from Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. It has recently started to focus on buyers from mainland China, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Douglas Elliman, Corcoran Group and Brown Harris Stevens have also hired Chinese nationals in an effort to keep on pace with the growing number of Chinese investors who see New York as a safe place to invest.

Some American brokers, including Brown Harris Stevens’ Cathy Franklin, have also begun to specialize in Chinese buyers. Franklin says speaking Chinese isn’t crucial because many Chinese investors speak English well.

Chinese buyers tend to pay all cash, but despite this convenience, brokers must deal with the country’s financial nuances. One hurdle: Chinese citizens can only convert $50,000 a year to foreign currency, a policy that often requires maneuvering to get around.

In April, a report found that Chinese buyers had replaced Russians as the top foreign buyers of New York City real estate. In October, The Real Deal reported on why Chinese insurers could be the next big New York City property buyers. [WSJ]Tess Hofmann