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  • Chinese buyers are getting ready to flock back into Australia's 'cheap' property market - with one city emerging as their clear favourite

    * Chinese have ranked Australia as their number one destination to buy property, with 27% of tourists telling Chinese portal Juwai they'll consider buying a property on their next overseas trip. * Of the Australian cities, Melbourne was ranked by almost half of all Chinese buyers as their top pick. Sydney and Brisbane, with Brisbane singled out for its more affordable market. * After a couple years of declining Chinese activity in the market, renewed interest could lead to a boom in prices, with the depreciation of the Australian dollar securing an 11.1% discount for Chinese buyers. * * *Of the 1.2 million Chinese tourists visiting Australia every year, as many as a quarter could be looking to buy a property here, a new study has suggested.As many as 27% of mainland Chinese said they would be shopping for a property on their next overseas holiday, according to a survey by property portal Juwai. Of those, Australia is their number one international destination to buy, as rocketing enquiries set up a possible resurgence in foreign buyer activity. "Chinese buyer enquiries have posted two consecutive quarters of year-on-year growth for the first time since 2016," the report said. "In the first quarter, Chinese demand was up 40% compared to a year earlier. That followed a 54% gain in the fourth quarter."READ MORE: Here's why Chinese investors spend big on Australian propertyWhile those figures are imposing, bear in mind they are coming off a very low base. As property prices fell in 2017, so did Chinese interest. Now with stability returning, so too are the buyers. Chinese buyers overwhelming Melbourne property over other capital cities As they begin to consider a return to Australian shores, however, one city is shining brighter than the rest. "Melbourne is the most popular city for Chinese buying enquiries in Australia. Chinese buyers make 83% more enquiries about acquiring Melbourne property than they do Sydney," the survey noted. In fact, more than four in 10 buyers rank Melbourne as their top Australian destination, compared to less than a quarter for Sydney. Brisbane is also quickly climbing the ladder claiming more than 10% of the Chinese market. However, there's a number of smaller further afield destinations that Chinese are increasingly looking to buy."The fastest-growing cities, in terms of Chinese buyer interest, are Hobart, Brisbane, and Canberra," the report said. Of those, Hobart is convincingly leading the pack, experiencing 77% more enquiries than the year prior. A perfect storm is driving Chinese interest in Australian property The reasons for it though are many, according to Juwai, which points to China's relaxation of controls designed to keep money in the country as a major factor."The reduction of China’s regime of capital controls provides the biggest opportunity by far to boost Chinese investment in Australian residential real estate," it said, quoting a May survey which found the majority of real estate pundits shared that sentiment. "Other factors that could significantly boost Chinese demand are the reduction of foreign buyer taxes in the various Australian states and the return of the Australian home market to positive price growth."READ MORE: Here are the restrictions on foreign property buyers in Australia, in one handy chartHowever, there's one other big reason that buyers are back -- Australian property is looking relatively cheap.While that sounds ridiculous to local buyers who have been priced out of major capital city markets for years, there's some truth to it.While close to double digital declines in Sydney and Melbourne have brought prices lower, Chinese buyers have another major advantage this time around. As the Australian dollar has fallen against the Chinese Yuan, prices are 11% lower than they were in July 2018.Bearing that in mind, Juwai predicts Chinese will wait to make sure property prices continue to stabilise this year before jumping into the property market with both feet in 2020.As that money begins flooding back, house prices may once again soar.