More wealthy Chinese are moving their money out of China to invest in Australia's property market as a corruption crackdown in the world's second biggest economy gathers momentum, property consultants and lawyers said.
They said their clients had told them they had legitimate funds to invest but were concerned about being caught up in an investigation, which in China often delves into the affairs of dozens of associates of the main target, and losing that wealth.
"What we see at the moment is that there are more Chinese who would likely send more money out of the country so they don't get caught up in this crackdown," David Green-Morgan, global capital markets research director at real estate services firm Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), told Read MoreReuters.
It's one of the most visible signs of the fear being caused in China by President Xi Jinping's 18-month-old drive against the pervasive graft that he says threatens the Communist Party's survival, a fear that is even causing some officials to take their own lives.
Beijing's campaign has particularly targeted so-called "naked officials", the term for state employees whose spouses or children live overseas. Those officials are generally suspected by the party of using such connections to illegally move assets.
Ordinary Chinese citizens can legally transfer only $50,000 overseas each year, but vast sums leak out of China using a variety of loopholes, such as funneling money through the Chinese territory of Hong Kong.
"The restrictions in China are becoming more onerous," Green-Morgan said. "That's triggered an increase in the amount of money that's looking to move out of China or probably is already outside of China and is looking to be spent."
Australian property has long been a popular choice for Chinese money - both legitimate and illegitimate - but the flow of investment appears to have accelerated of late.
According to Australia's foreign investment review board, China was the No.1 source of foreign capital investment into Australia's real estate in 2013. It received approvals to invest nearly A$6 billion ($5.58 billion) into the sector, up 41 percent from a year ago.
"They are worried so they are looking for a safe place," said a Sydney-based immigration lawyer, who is advising on setting up a new fund exclusively for Chinese investors and regularly travels to Beijing and Shanghai.
"They don't want returns, not necessarily. They want a safe place," he added.
China is expected to see an annual growth of 20 percent in outbound real estate investment in the next decade, up from $11.5 billion last year, property agent Savills has forecast.