Chinese real estate giant Juwai strikes deals with North American firms

The Chinese portal will market properties from Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices and Engel & Völkers Americas, among other companies

Juwai.com, a massive real estate portal that is a kind of Zillow-for-China, has struck up a series of partnerships to market properties from high-profile North American companies.

The partnerships will give Juwai’s Chinese users access to listings from Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, Surterre Properties and Engel & Völkers Americas, according to a statement. The partnerships represent both renewals of existing relationships as well as new deals, and in total Juwai now has contracts in place that connect it to more than 100,000 agents and their listings.

Georg Chmiel

In a statement, Juwai executive chairman Georg Chmiel said that his company is “honored to have the best real estate networks in the world as our long-term partners.”

Chinese buyers invested more than $117 billion into global real estate in the most recent full-year data,” Chmiel added. “We are proud to help our partners serve this valuable group of buyers and sellers.”

Juwai describes itself as the top real estate portal in China, making it akin to a kind of internationally oriented Zillow — except in the world’s most populous country. It claims to have more than 3.3 million Chinese-speaking monthly users and to showcase 2.8 million listings from 91 countries.

A brief search of listings on the site Monday showed numerous properties in California, New York, Texas, Florida and many other states. Prices for U.S. properties on the site ranged from tens of thousands of dollars to hundreds of millions.

A screenshot of Juwai’s homepage | Credit: Juwai

The Chinese portal has a long history of striking up partnerships with U.S. companies. For example, the relationship with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices — which was renewed as part of the newly announced marketing deals — goes back to 2017. Juwai also works with Long and Foster, and late last year gave the East Coast brokerage its “Best U.S. Real Estate Company” award.

Neither Juwai nor the companies listed as part of its new marketing deals immediately responded to Inman’s request for comment Monday, and the companies’ statement did not provide specifics on how the cross-continent marketing will work.

However, past deals such as the one with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices let the portal syndicate listing information to its website. Past deals also provided Juwai users with information about the brokerage behind a particular listing, as well as with luxury market forecasts and access to a concierge team.

Though Juwai adopted an upbeat tone in its statement, the new partnerships come at a time characterized by strained Chinese-American relations. Most obviously, President Trump has repeatedly slammed China’s trade policies and has made tariffs on the Asian country’s goods a centerpiece of his administration. China has responded with its own tariffs on American goods, and experts have suggested the resulting trade war could help plunge the global economy into recession.

China has also recently been embroiled in ongoing pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

Protests clash with police in Hong Kong on Aug. 25. | Credit: Chris McGrath and Getty Images.

Given these various conflicts, it should perhaps come as no surprise that Chinese buyers have invested significantly less money in the U.S. real estate market lately. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), Chinese spending on U.S. real estate was down 56 percent year-over-year this spring.

Still, buyers from China did account for $13.4 billion in U.S. volume between spring of 2018 and 2019, according to NAR, meaning the partnerships between Juwai and various North American companies have the potential to be quite profitable. And in a statement, Engel & Völkers Americas CEO Anthony Hitt expressed optimism about the new deals.

“Juwai.com supports our network by getting our advisors’ professional insights, properties and names in front of the right types of buyers,” Hitt said, “which is of great value to their clients and their individual business.”

Email Jim Dalrymple II