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MAY 2012 |

NEWS America plans faster visas By Sean Lightbown

A new act introduced into the US Senate could help to boost the country’s tourism and overseas property market. The Jobs Originated Through Launching Travel (JOLT) Act, brought into the House by Senator Charles Schumer, focuses on trying to speed up the process of visa applications, on encouraging Canadian and Chinese tourism, on incentivising investments into the U.S. during the low-season for foreigners ... and on updating the country’s visa waiver programme. John Sebree, senior vice president for

public policy at the Florida Association of Realtors, said that the Act is passed, it could have huge ramifi cations for the U.S. overseas property market. “The impact could be huge,” Sebree

said. “So many Canadians buy real estate here already, that I think more would buy with a retirement visa.” The JOLT act has many of the provisions outlined in the VISIT-USA act, Sebree acknowledged. “(The) Jobs Originated through


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Launching Travel Act, is focused on many of the same components designed to make travel to the US for business or tourism purposes included in the VISIT USA bill,” he said. “It does include provisions to allow Canadians over 50 years of age to stay in the US for 60 days longer than is now the case, but it does not include the $500K purchase visa provisions.” However, Sebree says that the JOLT act

could have other benefi ts. “While many of the other provisions look very similar to the VISIT provisions, some have been tweaked,” he said. “For example, the 5

year Chinese visa provisions of VISIT are replaced by provisions encouraging the State Department to issue visas for longer than one year.” However Garrett Kenny, founder

of Floridian developer Feltrim International, believes that the JOLT act lacks provisions for buyers looking to relocate permanently rather than those looking for holiday homes. “These visas (JOLT and VISIT-USA)

are talking about coming here just ‘to play’,” he told OPP. “They’re not about coming here to work and pay taxes.”

Chinese spend 24% more in USA

Chinese overseas property investors fl ooding into US cities such as New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco have rocketed up their spend by 24% in 12 months. According to the National Association

of Realtors, Chinese overseas property buyers snapped up $7.4 billion of homes between March 2011 and March this year, a rise of 24% on the previous 12 months. The Chinese are now the second-largest foreign buyers of homes


MANILA-BASED developer Megaworld Corp announced that it has set aside P25 billion for new projects this year, equalling the record-breaking property investment it made in 2011 according to its senior vice president Kingson Sian.

in the U.S. according to Real Capital Analytics and they are moving into commercial property too. Around 60% of these investments are being made in pursuit of an EB5 business immigration visa says RCA, and many other buyers are seeking a home children studying in the US. Chinese applicants accounted for 78%

of all EB-5 applications in the States last year, massively up on their 35% share in 2011 according to new government


US homes bought as an investment represented nearly a third of all sales there last year according to a new report by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) which revealed investment-home sales rocketed by 64.5% to 1.23 million last year.

data and analysts think this will grow as a result of legislation proposed last year, designed to allow foreigners to get a three year resident visa should they invest $500,000 in U.S real estate, including $250,000 for a primary home. Zhuang Nuo, president of SouFun

International, a Beijing real estate group, says that the US will remain a top destination for Chinese homebuyers abroad. “The US is always the Chinese people’s dream.”


FEARS that the Canadian property market may be about to crash are unfounded says Jeff Mayes, the Vice President of Jones Lang LaSalle Canada. “There is no prospect of a bubble hitting the Toronto or Montreal markets,” he adds.

KUWAITI investors are surging into the overseas property market, especially in Turkey and other Gulf countries, according to government offi cials. At the inauguration of the Real Estate, Investment and Building Exhibition, Ministry of Commerce and Industry Undersecretary said: “Turkey encourages Kuwaitis to have their own housing units in its cities and facilitates all property acquisition measures.”

Ecuador’s coastal hotspot

ECUADOR was named as the best overseas investment destination for U.S. international residential property buyers this month by The Global Property Index, created by International Living. According to International Living, Ecuador’s north Pacifi c Coast, which was once considered diffi cult to get to, is now a real development hotspot following the construction of a major new access road. This, along with low property costs and quality housing, are the key factors that put the Latin American country in the top spot. “This is one of the nicest stretches of Pacifi c coast you will fi nd,” says Ronan McMahon who authored the International Living report.

Malaysian sales rocket

RESIDENTIAL property sales in Malaysia have risen to their highest levels for fi ve years according to statistics assembled by the Malaysian National Property Information Centre. In 2011, transactions for residential properties rose 18.9% year-on-year, with the average transaction value growing to RM61.83 billion, a 22.1% increase in pricing. Penang saw transactions grow 68.2% while volumes in Johor were up 15.7%. Kuala Lumpur sales grew 14.4% and volumes in Selangor were up 8.5%.


A new wave of improved mortgage deals are boosting home sales in Dubai, according to the global agency group Cluttons. “Banks are off ering mortgages at 3.5%, slashing arrangement fees and speeding up the application process,” it says.

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