Vancouver property market sizzles with China cash

By The Folks @PropTalk - September 14, 2014 No Comments

Chinese investors' global hunt for real estate is helping drive Vancouverhome prices to record highs and the city, long among top destinations for wealthy mainland buyers, is feeling the bonanza's unwelcome side-effects.
The latest wave of Chinese money, linked in part to Beijing's anti-graft crackdown, is flowing into luxury hot spots. But it has also started driving up housing costs elsewhere in a city which already ranks as North America's least affordable urban market.
For decades, Vancouver, along with Hong Kong, Sydneyand Singapore and, more recently, New York and London has been attracting Chinese and other Asian buyers.
And just like those other cities, Vancouvergot caught in the most recent buying frenzy, which realtors say has intensified after President Xi Jinping announced his anti-corruption crusade in late 2012.
"In the last year, there's been the corruption crackdown in China and a lot of people have seen their wealth evaporate over there because of that," said Dan Scarrow, a vice-president at MacDonald Realty. "So they want to put it somewhere they perceive as safe and there's nowhere safer than the West."
Canada does not track foreign property buyers, but analysis of city assessment data carried out by a leading urban planner and made available to Reuters helped identify Vancouver's hottest neighbourhoods. Interviews with realtors active in those areas confirmed the perception that Chinese buyers were largely behind the latest rally.
City-wide home values are already up more than 35% since 2009 and realtors are saying that more than half the buyers in prime markets are mainland Chinese.
The impact of the latest inflow of foreign cash is particularly acute for Vancouver, its market is already tight because of limited building space and a decade-long nationwide property bull run fuelled by low borrowing costs. 
The money flow has also transformed the DNA of the city. Condo towers in Vancouver are now built without a fourth floor, as that number is unlucky in Asian cultures, and wok kitchens - a second kitchen for cooking with a smoky wok - are standard in most new homes.
The influx is also having a trickledown effects as people sell out in prime locations and move to other neighbourhoods, driving up prices and widening the gap between housing costs and the condition of the local economy.
Vancouver has been ranked the second least affordable major city after Hong Kong for the past three years in an annual survey by think tank Demographia, which tracks housing costs and incomes in top markets such as New York, Sydney, Singaporeand London.
Info Source: Reuters

As long as there is a need for Mainland Chinese to park their money and Hongkongers continue to snap up apartments because these are deemed much more affordable than back home, the property market in Vancouverwill probably stay "hot" for quite awhile yet. 

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