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‘You feel it is inflating property values’: south Dublin homes targeted by rich Chinese buyers

Surge in applications from Chinese multimillionaires to live in Ireland coincides with increase in live-streamed viewings of Dublin properties

There was a surge of applications from Chinese multimillionaires for permission to live in Ireland last year as the Government shut down the “golden visa” scheme with immediate effect.

The large number of applications, many of which are still being processed, comes against a backdrop of increased interest in south Dublin homes from rich Chinese families, particularly in areas that are close to well-regarded fee-charging schools.

Chinese representatives who view potential homes for wealthy clients in China have become a feature of showings of medium-to-high price homes in south Dublin, in some instances live-steaming viewings back to their clients on the other side of the globe.

A man who contacted The Irish Times this week said Chinese representatives had been present at a number of viewings he attended since the beginning of the year in south Dublin, sometimes wearing headsets and giving a running commentary in Chinese as they filmed the property. “It can be frustrating, when people are live-steaming at a showing,” said the man, who did not want to be identified. “You feel it is inflating property values.”

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Real estate agents working in south Dublin confirmed that they were aware of the phenomenon but said it was not just Chinese buyers who were bidding strongly for good homes in popular south Dublin suburbs.

Houses priced at between €600,000-€800,000 are the “sweet spot” for Chinese families wanting to move here, said Guangqian Yu, owner of the Vanke Ireland agency on Fitzwilliam Square, which specialises in advising Chinese clients on buying Irish properties.

Most of his clients are successful applicants for the golden visa programme, under which people have to be worth €2 million and make a substantial investment in Ireland. Many of the Dublin properties featuring on the Vanke Facebook page have asking prices of €1 million or more.

Mr Yu said he advises clients to invest in rental properties in south city Dublin as well as in a home in the south suburbs.

Ben O’Rafferty, a Dublin solicitor who works with wealthy Chinese clients interested in getting permission to live here, said his clients are from the now closed golden visa scheme as well as the “stamp four” visa scheme under which people outside the EU, who can show they will not be a burden on the State, are granted permission to live here. “Education is a total priority. They want to send their children to Irish schools,” he said.

Mr O’Rafferty said that the state of the economy in China was one factor driving the phenomenon but that the harsh nature of the Beijing government’s response to the Covid pandemic was also significant. “Personally I think that the way Covid was handled in China scared the living daylights out of people and left a lasting impression.”

Figures released by the Department of Justice show there were 1,954 applications for the golden visa scheme in 2023, even though the scheme was closed down on February 14th of that year. The previous year there were 1,316 applications, all but 41 of which were from China. There are still 2,700 applications in the system that await processing.

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