Honolulu Skyline (Photo courtesy of UHERO)
Honolulu Skyline (Photo courtesy of UHERO)

HONOLULU – In anticipation of growing interest in Hawaii from Chinese real estate investors, more than 200 local business and real estate professionals turned out yesterday for China Ready: Real Estate Investment Seminar to learn about the buying habits of affluent Chinese and understand what Hawaii can do to ready itself for new foreign investment.  The seminar was held at the Ala Moana Hotel.

Wealthy Chinese nationals are expected to spend more than $175 billion over the next few years acquiring residential and commercial properties around the world, and Hawaii is on the list of desired investment locales.

Derek Muhs, co-founder of Affinity China, a leading lifestyle and travel firm that caters to affluent Chinese, told seminar attendees that the Chinese have “an insatiable appetite for real estate” and are keen on investing in Hawaii, but not for the reasons that we think.

“Chinese investors are not interested in sun and surf,” said Muhs, noting investors’ interest in education and the appeal of Hawaii’s natural environment. “They buy 70 percent of properties in cash, and they’re looking to diversify into U.S. markets that offer stability, safety and access to quality lifestyle and education.”

Muhs, a Canadian entrepreneur, has been working and investing within China for more than a decade, and after attending the World Economic Forum in Dalian in 2007, he relocated permanently to Shanghai.

Speaker Patrick Kelly, a partner with Affinity China, emphasized that Chinese investors are very different from Japanese investors, who invested heavily in Hawaii.

“It’s more sustainable,” he said of Chinese investment. “Our group of Chinese investors are looking at purchasing properties for personal use as well as making direct investment in real estate projects.”

Kelly is a real estate investor, professional advisor and business executive who has been involved with inbound and outbound China real estate investment for 15 years.

The China Ready seminar was sponsored by Pacific Resource Partnership, Affinity China, Hong Kong Business Association of Hawaii, and AT Marketing.