‘Xenophobia’ at heart of foreign investment noise

A Melbourne-based property group has dismissed the ongoing debate over foreign investment in residential property as “wildly inaccurate”.

In a submission to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics, Nyko Property slammed televised news stories for fuelling the xenophobia of Australian viewers, which have distorted the perception of overseas buyers and their impact on the residential property market.

“At Nyko Property, we consider the ‘noise’ regarding overseas investors buying residential property in Australia and pricing first home owners out of the market as wildly inaccurate,” said Bill Nikolouzakis, the firm’s property director.

“Vision on our television networks of people of Asian appearance bidding at auctions and outbidding other Australians does, in our opinion, simply kindle xenophobia and is anathema to the long-term goal of Australian policymakers to further integrate our economy with Asia – the fastest growing economic region in the world,” he said.

Mr Nikolouzakis said detailed rules in place demonstrate that overseas investors can only buy new property – with some exceptions, of course – and thus debunks a widely-held myth that foreign buyers – primarily from China – are pricing locals out of the market.

Speaking to Real Estate Business, prominent real estate coach and auctioneer Tom Panos believes human beings love “sensationalising and catastrophising” things, and making them look worse than they are.

“What is interesting is that when I actually meet the buyers after the auction, when they are signing the contract, a lot of these people who are perceived as Asian buyers from overseas are in fact Australians of Asian origin,” he said.

“They are people who have, in many instances, been born here or been living here for many years, and a lot of people build this perception that they are people from Asia with bags full of money and buying lots of property, which I think is a little bit of an extreme comment.”

Mr Panos said the industry needs to put things into perspective.

“There is an element of Asian investment in Australia but to think that at an auction there are people of Asian origin who are bidding on homes – which they can’t be buying unless they are Australian citizens – and outpricing local buyers is a very broad generalisation on the topic,” he said. 

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