US real estate marketplace Zillow targets China buyers in Beijing website deal

Reuters

HONG KONG, April 3 (Reuters) - United States real estate information marketplace Zillow Inc plans to partner with a Beijing-based peer to tap growing interest from Chinese mainland clients, the second-largest foreign buyers of U.S. homes last year.

Seattle-based Zillow said in a statement on Thursday it has signed a deal with Beijing Yisheng Leju Information Services Co in a deal that will see a co-branded website translated into Chinese but operated by the U.S. company.

The site will operate from early summer this year, giving users of Leju, an affiliate of E-House (China) Holdings Ltd , access to home search data in the U.S.

Chinese retail and institutional investors have increasingly sought opportunities in overseas property markets as prices soared in major cities at home. A total of $11.5 billion was invested in overseas property last year alone, according to real estate consultancy Savills.

The U.S. was the second-favourite investment destination, with $2.3 billion in 2013, trailing the $2.6 billion invested in Britain over the same period, Savills said.

Chinese buyers spent $425,000 on average on a home in the U.S. as of the end of March 2013, with 69 percent of deals reported as all-cash purchases, according to Zillow.

Chinese property developers have been aggressively investing abroad to cater to demand from the country's buyers and to diversify their assets.

Major companies such as state-backed Greenland Holding, China Vanke Co Ltd, Guangzhou R&F Properties Co Ltd and Country Garden Holdings Co Ltd have been investing in real estate projects in cities from London and New York to Sydney and Pattaya in Thailand.

Greenland Holding, the parent company of Greenland Hong Kong Holdings Ltd, said last month it aimed to achieve overseas sales of 20 billion yuan this year. These include sales from projects in Britain, the U.S., Canada, Thailand and Malaysia. ($1 = 6.2056 Chinese Yuan) (Reporting by Clare Jim; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)

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