Are mainland Chinese investors buying up Vancouver's real estate?

There are often two sides to every story.

In this post, I am paraphrasing an article by Kerry Gold from Saturday's Globe and Mail which suggests that it is primarily mainland Chinese that are snapping up properties in Metro Vancouver. In tomorrow's post, I will reprint part of an article that appeared in the Vancouver Sun on the same day. It suggests that it is Chinese-Canadians and immigrants and NOT mainland Chinese that are the main investors.

Until proper research has been conducted - which is currently underway - nobody really knows for sure.


Late last month, a 153-unit condo development in New Westminster sold out in two and a half hours.

More than 400 potential buyers lined up for the sales day. For every unit sold, there was at least one back-up offer made. There was nothing overtly special about the project, which will be completed by fall 2012.

The two-phase development, called Eight West, is located at 21 8th Avenue in the heart of New Westminster, a traditional-design and mix of town homes and condos starting at $168,800 - standard mid-market housing for the Lower Mainland. But for reasons only understood by the increasing number of local realtors who have learned to target the Mainland Chinese market, it held an irresistible allure to the new Chinese buyers looking to invest their money in the Canadian housing market.

Bill Morrison, the marketer in charge of selling the project, says he realized halfway through his marketing plan that Chinese buyers were showing interest. Once he tweaked his focus to include Chinese-specific media, he had a buying frenzy on his hands, with a line-up around the block.

“I could have sold double that amount,” says Mr. Morrison. “We had no idea that would be the result. There was a huge demand.”

Of the 153 units sold, about 40 per cent went to Chinese buyers, and many of them would hardly be familiar with B.C.’s historic former capital city. A major marketing feature was the removal of the Harmonized Sales Tax, and while that strategy appealed to locals, it didn’t matter so much to the new Chinese buyer, says Mr. Morrison. They would have regarded the tax as little more than the cost of doing business, he says. And unlike their Hong Kong predecessors who made up the buying wave of the 90s in Vancouver, Coquitlam and Richmond, the Mainland Chinese buyer is more open to all regions of Metro Vancouver.

Landcor Data Corporation compiles B.C.’s most comprehensive real estate statistics. President Rudy Nielsen had long known that Mainland China was driving the Vancouver market, but he had yet to prove it with numbers. In Landcor’s first-quarter 2011 residential sales summary, one of Landcor’s senior analysts, from Anhui province in China, examined luxury sales in Richmond and Vancouver’s west side, and identified the number of buyers with Chinese names. The analyst found that in 2010, more than 74 per cent of buyers were most likely from Mainland China. It’s imperfect methodology, but it at least lends some statistical support to a trend that has so far been based on anecdotal information.



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