Buyers from Mainland China are a driving force in our real estate market. The staggering truth is we’ve seen just the tip of the iceberg… A recent story in the Wall Street Journal reported that Chinese are 'stampeding to Vancouver and Toronto, two of Canada’s hottest markets.' For that, we should be grateful. Chinese have made owning real estate in Canada more rewarding than any of us expected and they have made our society distinctly richer by bringing their values and culture to Canada and sharing them with us.… But instead of gratitude, I see growing fear and resentment that foreign buyers are inflating prices and pricing 'us' and 'our children' out of the market... Let’s look at what this global trend is doing to benefit us: It’s driving demand and creating a real estate industry that is the envy of the entire world. Our land, homes and businesses have become more valuable and Chinese investment is a big reason we weathered the global economic storm as well as we did”
Good had also, supposedly, set an office in China to enhance locals to use his real estate services, but that initiative seems to have whithered on the vine.“If you suffer from real estate impotence, don’t blame Chinese people. Besides, getting all worked up about it will only make it worse. Have a glass of wine. Relax. Stop feeling sorry for yourself and pick up the phone to call a realtor or a mortgage broker, either of whom will be more than happy to show you how easy it can be to get your real estate groove on. Real estate is the best investment you’ll ever make, but don’t take my word for it. Ask any of the 70% of Canadians who are already owners. Or a Chinese person.
Bear blogs marvelled at how Good seemed to use the media and HAM to garner free advertising for his real estate services. But he's been quiet the last year or so.
Enter Macdonald Realty Ltd and Dan Scarrow, Macdonald's 30-year-old vice-president of corporate strategy.
In an article in the Globe and Mail, we learn Scarrow has heard enough anecdotal evidence of well-heeled home buyers with roots in China that he has decided to 'act'.
He wants to capitalize on those buyers by investing in a Shanghai office.
In February, Mr. Scarrow will start the first of two three-month assignments in 2014 in Shanghai. After his fact-finding mission, he plans to hire Mandarin-speaking staff in China to keep the overseas branch office going.Umm… if you already plan to hire staff in China to keep the office going, why bother with two "fact finding" assignments?
But we digress. Sparrow is determined to disprove claims that there isn't large amounts of HAM out there:
While real estate experts have estimated the proportion of foreign buyers in the Vancouver region’s housing market at only 1 to 3 per cent, Mr. Scarrow said if the statistics were to include recent immigrants with origins in China, the influence of rich Chinese buyers would be greater, especially on single-family detached homes in pockets of Vancouver’s West Side.
Most high-end transactions occur on Vancouver’s West Side and the Municipality of West Vancouver. In the luxury market, there were 644 properties that sold for $3-million or higher in the Vancouver area last year, up 47 per cent from 439 homes that traded hands in 2012, according to data compiled by Macdonald Realty. Of homes that sold last year, there were 148 that fetched at least $5-million, compared with 107 sales in that category in 2012.
Mr. Scarrow said it is hard to determine how many of those elite sales went to recent immigrants from China, noting that the ripple effect due to an influx of new money can easily be exaggerated. Still, he believes the proportion was significantly higher than 3 per cent last year.
“There isn’t this wave of offshore investors with no ties to Canada who are coming in to buy, but the genesis of their wealth is from mainland China,” said Mr. Scarrow, a Canadian who speaks Mandarin fluently. “Most of these people land in Canada first as investor-class immigrants.”
He dismisses tales circulating of wealthy offshore buyers snapping up Vancouver properties sight unseen as false, emphasizing that he will instead seek to nurture a market in which China-Canada family ties are crucial.
The 30-year-old Mr. Scarrow said that as a product of a mixed-race marriage, he is acutely aware that the issue of foreign shoppers is a sensitive one in British Columbia. “The perception among some sellers is that mainland Chinese money is driving the luxury real estate market here,” he said.
Scarrow cautions homeowners against hiring real estate agents based only on ethnicity, stressing that the best representatives know Vancouver’s neighbourhoods well, no matter what their race. Scarrow said there will be opportunities to tap into the Chinese market during his stay in Shanghai. Besides seeking contacts who are interested in single-family residential properties, he will be on the lookout for investors in Vancouver’s commercial real estate market and also new condo projects.
Once again, it looks like a major newspaper's article is nothing more than a giant, free ad for a real estate agent trying to drum up business.
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