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Chinese Overtake Russians as Top NYC Apartment Buyers

For the first time, the Chinese have become the biggest foreign buyers of apartments in Manhattan, real estate brokers estimate, taking the mantle from the Russians - whose activity has dropped off since the unrest in Ukraine and the imposition of sanctions against Russia by the United States.

Wealthy Chinese are pouring money into real estate in New York and some other major cities around the world, including London and Sydney, as they seek safe havens for their cash and also establish a base for their children to get an education in the West.

Reuters asked five of the top real estate brokerages for their ranking of foreign buyers in New York City. The Chinese ranked first in both volume and value of sales in all their estimates. Opinions differed on just how the Russians, Europeans and South Americans stacked up next.

For the first time, the Chinese have become the biggest foreign buyers of real estate in the Big Apple.
For the first time, the Chinese have become the biggest foreign buyers of real estate in the Big Apple. BRENDAN MCDERMID / Reuters

There are no official figures collected on the national and ethnic backgrounds of home buyers because of U.S. fair housing laws, designed to protect against discrimination.

The Chinese interest is mainly a valuation play, real estate experts say. After the U.S. housing bust in 2007-2010, home prices in major U.S. cities fell to levels that made them attractive. While U.S. prices have been recovering, they are still appealingly low by comparison with many other parts of the world.

-- Reuters