This article examines the French Catholic missionaries’ property acquisitions in late imperial China. It traces the historical trajectory leading up to the construction of the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Guangzhou and the purchase of real estate in the neighborhood surrounding it. It argues that while colonialism contributed greatly to the creation of a real estate empire, the mission’s adoption of pragmatic methods as an economic player helped in the process, but by doing so the mission largely ignored regulations regarding church property acquisition both from the Chinese government and Sino-French agreements.