Chinese are now the second-biggest group of foreign buyers of US residential real estate, surpassed only by Canadians, according to the National Association of Realtors. Chinese clients accounted for $7.4 billion in sales during the 12 months ended in March 2012, up 24 percent from the year-earlier period. In the US commercial-property sector, Chinese buyers spent $1.71 billion during the most recent period for which data are available.
According to Hurun Report, a Shanghai-based magazine known for its rankings of China's richest people, the Chinese mainland has almost 1 million millionaires, and nearly half say they want to invest in the US.
"The story the media is missing is billions, if not tens of billions, that the Chinese government is investing in the US real estate market through a whole variety of proxies," Fasulo said. A key reason is the official Chinese policy to diversify its foreign assets from high levels of US Treasury bonds, he said.