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nguoi pham

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Sunday, October 19th 2014, 5:37am

Why Are Chinese Millionaires Buying Mansions in an L.A. Suburb?

By Karen Weise October 15, 2014

The city, population 57,600, projects that about 150 older homes—53 percent more than normal—will be torn down this year and replaced with mansions.

The deals happen fast and arerarely listed publicly. Often, the first indication that a megahouse is coming next door is when the lawn turns brown. That means the neighbor has stopped watering and green construction netting is about to go up.
This flood of money, arriving from China despite strict currency controls, has helped the city build a $20 million high school performing arts center and the local Mercedes dealership expand.

“Thank God for them coming over here,” says Peggy Fong Chen, a broker in Arcadia for many years. “They saved our recession.” The new residents are from China’s rising millionaire class—entrepreneurs who’ve made fortunes building railroads in Tibet, converting bioenergy in Beijing, and developing real estate in Chongqing. One co-owner of a $6.5 million house is a 19-year-old college student, the daughter of the chief executive of a company the state controls.
Arcadia is a concentrated version of what’s happening across the U.S.

The Hurun Report, a magazine in Shanghai about China’s wealthy elite, estimates that almost two-thirds of the country’s millionaires have already emigrated or plan to do so.They’re scooping up homes from Seattle to New York, buying luxury goods on Fifth Avenue, and paying full freight to send their kids to U.S. colleges.

Chinese nationals hold roughly $660 billion in personal wealth offshore, according to Boston Consulting Group, and the National Association of Realtors says [font='&quot']$22 billion of that was spent in the past year acquiring U.S. homes. [/font]

Arcadia has become a hotbed of the buying binge in the past several years, and long-standing residents are torn—giddy at the rising property values but worried about how they’re transforming their town. And they’re increasingly nervous about what would happen to the local economy if the deluge of Chinese cash were to end.

For almost a century after its founding in 1903, Arcadia was white and conservative. In the late 1930s more than 90 percent of the city’s property owners signed agreements, circulated by the Chamber of Commerce, to sell only to white buyers.
Its Santa Anita racetrack held about 19,000 Japanese Americans as they were relocated to internment camps during World War II.

In the early 1980s an influx of immigrants from Taiwan arrived, drawn in large part to the great public schools. A second wave came from Hong Kong after the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests. The city’s Asian population grew from 4 percent in 1980 to 59 percent in 2010.
There were tensions at first—a letter in a local newspaper praised a proposed ban on non-English storefronts, writing, “Please leave your Asian signs in the old country and get Americanized.” Over time, the new residents got involved in civic life, joining the Rotary Club, entering local government, and opening businesses such as Din Tai Fung Dumpling House, a Taiwanese restaurant tucked in the corner of a strip mall.

Arcadia has no real downtown, only low-rise commercial stretches lined with real estate offices and boba tea shops; Din Tai Fung is the closest thing there is to a central hub. Hostesses with walkie-talkies manage the hourlong wait of people clamoring for plump soup dumplings and pork buns.

Richard Smith, the sun-tanned owner of a construction company working on seven homes in Arcadia, walks over to talk shop. Smith is building the 11,000-square-foot home for a developer who expects to sell it, he says, for $8 million to $9 million. Smith grew up in Arcadia, and his company has only Asian clients.
Smith says many of the newest buyers in Arcadia don’t speak English. “They’ve just come here,” he says.

“They’re on that EB—what’s it called?” He means the EB-5 visas that the U.S. grants to foreigners who plow at least $500,000 into American development projects.
Congress created the program in 1990 to spur investment, and demand for the visas has grown recently. This year, for the first time, the government gave away the annual allocation of 10,000 visas before the year was over, with Chinese nationals snapping up 85 percent.
Brokers in the area say it’s the most common way buyers are coming to town. “Once they obtain residency, they want to bring their family over and get the United State education,” says real estate agent Ricky Seow. “They can start a new life in California.”

This post has been edited 4 times, last edit by "nguoi pham" (Oct 19th 2014, 5:54am)