The West

Property syndicates are spruiking Perth real estate to wealthy foreign investors as a means of getting a new type of long-term visa.

Otan Property Funds Management is staging roadshows for investors and migration agents in China to promote investment under the subclass 188 visa.

The so-called Significant Investor visa, introduced in November, allows foreigners investing at least $5 million in Australia to stay in the country for four years with the possibility of permanent residency.

Eligibility requires the investment in government bonds, managed funds involving Australian assets or with a privately managed company.

Unlike skilled work visas, subclass 188 visa holders are not subject to an age limit or English language requirements.

Otan managing director Mark Butler said some property syndicates and accounting firms were using the new visa to chase new foreign clients.

He expected 100 of 300 Chinese investors in discussion with Otan to seek a subclass 188 visa.

But he believed the trend was unlikely to put cost pressures on Perth property, which a recent international report claimed was among the most unaffordable in the world.

"We are still in a post-GFC environment where the whole market is constrained," he said.

"This visa should add some capital into the market so we can build more properties because we do not have enough in WA.

"This is all about getting fresh investment capital into Australia."

Mr Butler said many Chinese migration agents were switching their focus to Australia after Canada temporarily halted a similar visa scheme six months ago.

The absence of a strict English language threshold had made it particularly popular.

"At the moment, to get a (skilled work) visa, you practically have to speak English as well as you or I, so a lot of Chinese are looking at this visa very favourably," he said.

Otan is spruiking its commercial and residential developments in areas such as the city, Subiaco, Claremont, Joondalup, West Perth, Cottesloe, Belmont and Karratha.

Savills managing director Paul Craig said the property consultancy was not pushing the visa but had noticed a big increase in interest in property investment since the visa was introduced.

The Immigration Department said no subclass 188 visas had been granted yet, though 140 investors had formally expressed interest.

The West Australian

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