Chinese house hunters head to USA for foreclosure deals

Chinese house-hunters are packing their bags and heading to the U.S. to shop for foreclosure deals in the beleaguered housing market. USA Today reports that a Chinese tour group of over 40 affluent home shoppers will begin a trip later this month to New York, Boston and San Francisco in search of cheap homes to buy. The goal? To buy homes priced between $300,000 and $800,000 that can serve as investment properties as well as housing for their children to live in when they go to the USA to study or work.

While traveling and shopping for local trinkets have always been inextricably linked, an international bargain house hunting trip could deliver enough action packed drama for a new "Extreme Home Shopping" HGTV show. Imagine the intrigue as the host rants "Mr. and Mrs. Chen have only three days left in the USA (before their visa runs out!) to find that perfect $800,000 home for their son to use as a dorm room when he starts school next fall."

Wow...the house parties those kids will be throwing.

Travel expert Erik Hastings, host of WABC's The Travel Show, says that while shopping is always a big draw, he's never heard of a trip designed for investment property. "Studies always show that shopping is one of those huge interest categories when people plan trips. But shopping for a house? That's a pretty big souvenir."

In the report, Shen-Yue, a Chinese film producer, says houses are an asset that would provide security not as easily found in his home country. "China is growing richer, but this is still a country run by the Communist Party, which inherently distrusts private property. The party's power is more than the rule of law. That is scary, and we cannot be sure about changes in the future. The U.S. market and social system are more stable."

Still, some caution that the Chinese home buyers are diving into an area and culture that they are unfamiliar with and includes plenty of risks. For example, it's good thing that tour organizers won't be steering the group to Florida to shop for homes where toxic and smelly Chinese drywall has been found to ruin mechanical systems.

Although I guess some might call that poetic justice.

Tom Kraeutler is the Home Improvement Editor for AOL and co-author of My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure. He delivers home remodeling tips each week as host of The Money Pit, a nationally syndicated home improvement radio program.

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