— This is the script of CNBC's news report for China's CCTV on July 20, Monday.
Welcome to CNBC Busines Daily, I'm Qian Chen.
Turmoil in the Chinese stock market could have a quick and direct effect on U.S. housing. From newly built homes in Irvine, California, to Miami condos to Manhattan luxury towers, Chinese money has been flowing freely. The question now is, will trouble in the Chinese stock market translate into more or less cash coming into American neighborhoods?
Chinese are now the biggest foreign buyers of U.S. housing. They poured $28.6 billion into properties in the past year, more than double the investment of number two, the Canadians, according to the National Association of Realtors.
They are seeking top schools for their children, better health care and fresh air.
On the other hand, the U.S. real estate market is seen as a safe haven for their cash amid economic uncertainty at home.
[Rick Sharga, Vice President, Auction.com] "Where we see short short seems to be a flight to safety from the Chinese market, and what that could lead to is more money being poured into the US real estate, which is still viewed as relative safe investment in near-term and long term."
Witness Manhattan, where real estate prices are rising faster than the ever-taller condominiums surrounding Central Park. Chinese investors have poured over $4.7 billion into Manhattan real estate this year, making up 39 percent of all foreign investment in the borough, according to commercial real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle. Compare that to the number two player, Canada, at just over $3 billion and 25 percent of all investment. Chinese investors made up just 12 percent of Manhattan's international investment in 2014.
Chinese demand has slowed somewhat in Southern California, according to local real estate agents. That may be due simply to higher home prices and still-limited supply. Chinese buyers of single-family homes tend to prefer new construction. On the other hand, Chinese housing demand is growing in a new market: Miami.
Chinese make up only 2 percent of Miami's real estate investor base, according to Grout, but the region is becoming much more enticing to Chinese buyers.
Compared to London, Hong Kong and New York City, Miami is cheaper. So far, most of the Chinese investment has been in commercial development, not purchases of individual properties. That could change quickly.
CNBC's Qian Chen, reporting from Singapore.