How To Sell to the Chinese?

Property investor and developer, Jerome Tan, reveals his marketing strategy for selling Australian property to Chinese Mainlanders.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – MARCH 21, 2015: People walking by the Chinatown entrance arches on Little Bourke Street.

With prices trending southwards and some anti-Chinese sentiments as well as additional taxes on foreign buyers of Australian property, one would have thought the Chinese buying spree of the last few years would trickle down to a few transactions. Not quite, according to Singaporean Jerome Tan. A seasoned investor who claims to own 100 properties in 8 countries, Tan is still very enthusiastic about the potential in Australia.

But his choice is not the usual Sydney or Melbourne much sought after prized assets. He picks on little known locations that have the potential to boom due to infrastructural upgrades. Take for example, the small town of Geraldton, about 424 kilometres north of Western Australia’s capital, Perth and one hour’s flight away.

Situated right on the coast, Geraldton is the central hub of the Midwest region and is very popular with nature lovers due to its stunning Abrolhos Islands, iconic Pink Lake, rugged Kalbarri Gorges and Wildflower Country.

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Its airport is the current draw – an imminent upgrade to international airport status, according to Tan, would enable international direct flights to and from Geraldton as well as direct air exports of sought-after delicacies such as lobsters.

The upgrade is necessary as currently planes flying into Perth have to carry extra fuel due to the possibility of having to divert to a distant alternative airport should the weather turns bad near Perth. Allowing the planes to land in Geraldton would mean the planes (including international flights) would carry less fuel, hence more passengers and freight.

If that happens, Tan has big plans for the small town – creating a brand new Chinatown and populating it with Chinese residents.

“The plan includes a wholesale centre for fashion, furniture, jewellery, etc. As Geraldton is a port, many of the items can be shipped to and from China. More significantly, we are building a mixed development that includes residential houses and commercial.”

Who are they targeting as buyers?

The Chinese Mainlanders, of course, says Tan. China has a large population with 20% of the 1.3 bil population considered wealthy. They are also very keen to buy overseas property.

What about the recent anti-Chinese rhetoric in Australia? Says Tan: “Australia is not inherently anti-Chinese but due to some segments of the society blaming the Chinese for pushing up the prices of property, the politicians have to assuage their grievances by coming up with stiff taxes for foreign purchasers. Australia needs China as it is selling a lot of resources to China such as iron ore, beef, lobster, etc. The press of course reported on all the anti- Chinese restrictions but you need to read the news with an understanding of the underlying context.”

Having pointed that out, Tan listed 3 strategies in selling to the Chinese:

1. Juwai – advertise on which is a portal specialising in selling properties to the Chinese.

2. Street name – name each street a city in China, for example, Nanjing Street or Shanghai Street. Restrict each street to 20 units or plots. Then go to Nanjing and look for property agents. Nanjing population is about 20 mil. Similarly, go to Shanghai and look for agents to sell 20 units in Shanghai Street. Out of the 20 mil, even if only 0.1 % are interested, demand will outnumber supply.

3. Celebrity – leverage on celebrity power. In China, there is a very famous dating show host called Meng Fei who frequently visits Australia due to his business interests there. Approach him with a ‘can’t refuse’ deal. Give him or sell at a discount a plot in the project, in return he has to promote it in his social media to his 33 mil followers. Invite him for the groundbreaking ceremony, then he has to announce it in his show that in Australia, there are streets in Chinatown that are named after Chinese cities. Assuming that 20% of his 33 mil fans i.e. 6.6 mil are rich, if even 1% of this group want to be his neighbour, there will be demand for 66K plots which far exceeds the supply of 2,000 plots. Hence, the available plots can be put up for bidding to increase the selling price.


To minimise costs, Tan is also considering using 3D printing machines to build the houses. “We are visiting some factories to check out the latest building technology.”

Despite technology disrupting many industries, Tan said there are 6 types of businesses that will always have customers. They are:

1. F & B – always a necessity as people need to eat and drink whatever happens. Although there are very advanced equipment taking over human jobs, farms are still a necessity as they produce the food we eat. And a few humans are still necessary for its smooth operation.
2. Energy – water, electricity, solar, wind energy are all good sectors to be in as we will always need energy.
3. Shelter – another necessity for all humans.
4. Entertainment – nowadays, a necessity.
5. Healthcare – becomes more important as we age.
6. Education – a necessity for society to progress.


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