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Chinese real estate influence extends to the Big Apple

Chinese buyers are fast becoming players in the cutthroat world of Manhattan real estate, and that keeps high-end real estate broker Dolly Lenz busy.

Lenz, the self-proclaimed "queen of U.S. real estate" and mover of billions worth of property, spent this past weekend with Chinese clients, she told CNBC on Monday. She called them "the new Russians."

(Read more: Chinese buying up California housing)

"I just spent the entire weekend running from place to place, person to personevery single one Chinese," Lenz said on "Squawk on the Street."

"It used to be, if you had a Russian client, the Red Sea parted, and now that's true for the Chinese. If I have a Chinese buyer, I'm going to get any appointment I want. It's amazing."

Lenz said the influx of wealthy Chinese buyers into the New York City real estate market stems from their affinity for tangible assets, such as jewels, art and property. She cited three main reasons for the trend: Members of China's elite class want to diversify their wealth, they want to safeguard it by buying physical assets and they want a portion of their wealth off the mainland.

New property tax initiatives and a less viable rental market in Hong Kong also help to drive Chinese interest to New York, Lenz said. Another factor? Lenz told CNBC she has been reaching out to Asian real estate buyers for the past 20 years.

Lately, she said, her Chinese clients seem more likely to mirror the tastes of New Yorkers. Now they want prewar buildings, a status symbol in Manhattan real estate, and that's because Chinese buyers do their homework, even their own data-mining.

Manhattan apartment buildings
Fotog | Getty Images
Manhattan apartment buildings

"You don't have to hold their hand," Lenz said. "They're holding your hand, because they are far smarter and know a lot more than all of us together. ... You better be on your game if you're dealing with a Chinese buyer."

Chinese influence on foreign real estate is not limited to New York City. Chinese nationals are also buying up property in California, including places such as Silicon Valley and San Francisco.

(Read more: Wealthy Chinese gobbling up Silicon Valley homes)


They are also flowing into places like Miami, Germany and Scotland, as new Chinese wealth follows the country's college students and businesses, according to The Wall Street Journal.

In New York, though, the spread of Chinese influence in the real estate market is often constrained by a lack of options.

"There's not enough supply," Lenz told CNBC. "There is supply, because there's new supply. You don't see it on the market. It's not publicly listed. Obviously we'd rather give somebody six choices than say to them, 'OK. It's these two. Which ones do you want?'"

(Read more: Pending home sales fall again)

— By CNBC's Jeff Morganteen. Follow him on Twitter at @jmorganteen and get the latest stories from "Squawk on the Street"

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  • Diana Olick serves as CNBC's real estate correspondent as well as the editor of the Realty Check section on CNBC.com.