Chinese are snapping up US real estate: Dolly Lenz

Many Americans are still skittish to buy a home but Chinese investors are snapping up U.S. real estate, Dolly Lenz, a real-estate broker to New York's rich and famous, said Wednesday.

Americans "are still lacking that confidence to jump in — and they're doing that buy-versus-rent analysis," Lenz said on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street." They're saying, "How much does it cost me to do this or do this? And every time there's an interest-rate jump, guess what? Rent wins."

(Read more: Robert Shiller on housing: Don't trust momentum)

The Chinese, on the other hand, are finding high-value properties in the U.S. a relatively stable place to park money long-term.

Top markets like San Francisco and Los Angeles, and ski resort towns like Park City in Utah where demand remains sky-high, have all become top choices for Chinese buyers.

(Watch: Zillow CEO: Housing grew too far too fast)

The Chinese impact on U.S. real estate is "very strong and, I believe, getting stronger ... picking up steam as we go along," Lenz said.

Americans tend to have a "money under the mattress" culture, Lenz said, while the Chinese "are a true investor group" when it comes to real estate.

One market still a bit light on Chinese buyers is New York City — mostly due to the large number of co-op apartments there, Lenz said. These typically come with rules and restrictions on who can buy into the building and boards can reject an application for any reason.

(Read more: Chinese influence on New York real estate growing)

— By Robert Ferris

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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.

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