China’s outbound real estate investment increased by 25% to $2.1bn in the first quarter, according to JLL.

Chinese investors’ activity in the UK, Australia and the US boosted overall investment. For commercial real estate, Chinese investors spent over $1bn, with Chicago, London and Sydney popular. Residential developments rose 80% to $1.1bn.

Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco attracted $732m from Chinese investors – up from $51m in the first quarter of last year. Australian investments reached $400m, up from $100m in the first three months of 2013.

Darren Xia, JLL director of international capital markets, said the firm expects interest and activity from equity-rich Chinese investors in overseas real estate markets to continue to grow this year, tipping total volumes spent by Chinese investors on commercial real estate outside China to pass the $10bn mark.

Partnerships and joint ventures are, JLL said, a key component of Chinese investment, pointing to a recent deal in Chicago where China Cinda joined US group Zeller to buy an office building for $302m.

Overall, residential developer Greenland was the most active investor, with purchases of the Ram Brewery and Hertsmere House sites in London, as well as sites in Los Angeles and Sydney. Country Garden Australia made its first major investment in the Australian residential property market, purchasing a site in Sydney for $73m.

Chinese residential developers were, said JLL global capital markets research director, David Green-Morgan, looking for opportunities overseas to counteract slower economic and price growth at home.