HSBC curbs mortgage offering to Chinese citizens in U.S.

Thu Jan 28, 2016 6:38am EST
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* Move comes amid Beijing's crackdown on capital flight

* Chinese buyers snag $28 bln of U.S. property in 2015

By Elizabeth Dilts and Julie Gordon

NEW YORK/ VANCOUVER, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Europe's biggest lender HSBC will no longer provide mortgages to some Chinese nationals who buy real estate in the United States, a policy change that comes as Beijing is battling to stem a swelling crowd of citizens trying to get money out of China.

An HSBC spokesman in New York told Reuters on Wednesday that the new policy went into effect last week, roughly a month after China suspended Standard Chartered and DBS Group Holdings Ltd from conducting some foreign exchange business and as authorities try to limit capital outflows.

China's stock market slump, slowing economic growth and weak real estate prices have encouraged Chinese individuals and companies to try to shift money offshore for higher returns, a headache for Beijing as the capital outflows undermine efforts to prop up the yuan and domestic investment.

Realtors of luxury property in cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Vancouver, said more than 80 percent of wealthy Chinese buyers have ties to China.

In the United States, real estate agents and regulators say Chinese buyers often prefer to buy property in cash and they are the biggest foreign buyer.

Data from the country's National Association of Realtors shows they bought $28.6 billion of property in 2015, up from $22 billion in 2014.   Continued...