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What does the Trade War mean for New York Real Estate?

Finance and Securities, NYC, Other, Real Estate Developments

New York real estate’s impressive recovery from the crash was driven in no small part by heavy investment from China. However, this has changed rapidly in recent years. Anbang Insurance’s former chairman, Wu Xiaohui, is now in prison for fraud and embezzlement. His firm famously purchased the Waldorf-Astoria, part of the aforementioned wave of acquisitions. But capital controls as well as an anticorruption drive from Beijing have effectively choked off this source of investment, turning China into a net-seller of real estate in NYC and other global cities. [1]

This past month, as part of the ongoing US-China trade conflict, Beijing has allowed the renminbi to slide in value against the dollar by 3.8 percent–the most in 25 years. While this is good news for Chinese exporters, it represents yet another obstacle to Chinese investment in American real estate by making it more expensive for Chinese buyers. Moreover, the renminbi’s slide will make it more difficult for Chinese investors to service existing dollar-denominated loans covering earlier purchases in the US. [2]

With the recent news that many global cities like Paris and NYC are now shrinking (in a reversal of post-2008 trends), none of this bodes particularly well for the city’s softening real estate market. New census data shows NYC’s net migration in 2019 at 277 people leaving per day–more than twice the rate in 2018. A falling population as well as fewer foreign purchasers means less demand. Along with oversupply from the luxury construction boom, we can expect a continued slide in real estate prices.[3]

[1] Chaffin, J. and Weinland, D. (June 2019), Why China fell out of love with New York property from the Financial Times accessed August 30 2019

[2] Lockett, H. (August 2019), Renminbi completes biggest monthly fall in 25 years from the Financial Times accessed August 30 2019

[3] Evans, J. (August 2019), Global cities begin to shrink as inner areas empty out from the Financial Times

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