• Haberfield home sold at auction. (Ricardo Goncalves)
Property prices are continuing to rise, but to what extent are foreign buyers impacting prices? Guess how much this property sold for.
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14 May 2015 - 1:05 PM  UPDATED 16 May 2015 - 4:41 PM

This three bedroom house went up for auction in Sydney earlier today.

It sits on a 697 square metre block, with parking space for two cars.

The agents at Day and Hodgson Real Estate describe it as 'a blend of period charm and modern comforts'.

It's located in the inner Sydney suburb of Haberfield, about nine kilometres west of the CBD.

The vendor bought the property in 1980 for $110,000.

How much do you think it sold for at auction today? Take a guess here:

Are foreign investors impacting prices?

For this particular property there were no active foreign buyers.

"We don't tend to have a lot of foreign buyers here, they tend to buy more off the plan. We tend to have more local buyers, families," Day and Hodgson agent Maria Hodgson told SBS.

This is not surprising given a NAB report on residential property which revealed the share of foreigners purchasing an existing home fell from 8.7 per cent in the final three months of 2014, to 7.5 per cent in the first quarter of this year. Victoria saw a large decrease for this period (quarter-on-quarter).

NAB Chief Economist, Alan Oster says foreign buyers can only purchase an existing property if they're knocking it down to build something new within two years, or in order to house an employee of an Australian business or if their children are being educated in Australia and need somewhere to live. However, Mr Oster concedes there is anecdotal evidence otherwise.

"There is talk out there that people buy to knock down, but then don't do it and nobody checks. Also you've got education - after you buy it, if you leave, you should actually sell it, and again there's no checking so we don't know."

NAB says foreign buyers are more active in new housing markets, accounting for 15.6 per cent of demand nationally up from 14.8 per cent in the quarter. More than half are buying new apartments, and they're mostly in the $500,000 to $1million price bracket.

 

NAB's Alan Oster says the report uses data from numerous developers.

"No one really knows exactly because a lot of this Asian money and Chinese money is basically cash, so no records, banks don't know. We actually go out and ask the developers how many of their sales are to foreigners."

Hong Kong documentary maker Melissa Gecolea visited Australia recently to see if Chinese buyers really are active in the market.

She says buyers are active in three particular markets: property for students, investment properties, and high-end homes.

"We're finding that in certain cases, property prices are being driven up, but it depends on what kinds of properties you're talking about," Ms Gecolea says.

"Some of them come here for a few days, with the intention of buying a place, and that's exactly what they do."

Still she says, what she found,wasn't as extensive as she first thought.

"It's not this 'property invasion' that had been presented to us... If you're talking about the luxury properties in Hong Kong, compared to the luxury properties here, I think the prices here are still good."

A recent report by Credit Suisse claims Chinese investors and immigrants purchased $8.7 billion worth of Australian residential property in the 2013/14 year, up 60 per cent.

Melissa Gecolea says many buyers at auctions are third or fourth generation Australian-Chinese, rather than investors from China.