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Vancouver realtor says one-quarter of all sales in the city are to foreign buyers: NY Times

February 24th, 2013 · 16 Comments

Always so interesting to see what people say to publications far away, compared to what they say to locals.

WHO BUYS IN VANCOUVER

As many as a quarter of the buyers in the Vancouver area are foreigners, Mr. Fitzpatrick said. The majority come from Asia, especially mainland China, but the United States is also well represented, and there are even a few buyers from Europe.

That said, however, international buyers have been fewer in number over the past year, Mr. Fitzpatrick added, because of concerns about the financial crisis.

Full article below the fold

 


February 20, 2013

House Hunting in … Canada

By VIRGINIA C. McGUIRE

TWO-BEDROOM WITH OCEAN VIEWS IN WEST VANCOUVER

$1,587,700 (1,598,000 CANADIAN DOLLARS)

This corner apartment in Cypress Park Estates, a neighborhood of West Vancouver, is one of three units on the 12th floor of a 15-story development completed in 2004. The view encompasses the Pacific, the Lions Gate Bridge, and parts of the city. On clear days, Mount Baker and Vancouver Island are visible.

The spacious foyer has cedar floors and a coat closet. A half bath is to the left, along with a den, which could function as a third bedroom. The kitchen is to the right; it has oak cabinets, a roomy pantry, and stainless steel KitchenAid appliances including a six-burner gas stove. The double stainless steel sink is set into an island topped with black granite with rust-colored flecks. The kitchen is open to the living-dining room, which has a fireplace surrounded with quartz and a wall of windows overlooking the water. The family room is adjacent, through French doors. Both it and the living room open to a private balcony large enough for a table and chairs, and even a small grill.

A hallway off the foyer leads to the carpeted master bedroom, which has a double set of closets and a floor-to-ceiling window. The en-suite master bathroom, floored in white marble, has a glass-enclosed shower, a bathtub, and two round porcelain sinks set into a granite countertop. The building is so close to a steep wooded hillside that the large windows in the master bath face trees. The second bedroom, next to the den, has an en-suite bath with a glassed-in shower and marble flooring.

The hilly waterfront community of West Vancouver is just across the Lions Gate Bridge from Vancouver proper. The apartment is a five-minute drive from several shopping districts with high-end restaurants, and 40 minutes from Vancouver Airport. Cypress Mountain Ski Resort is a 10-minute drive, as is Ambleside Beach. Ferries leave nearby Horseshoe Bay for the recreational mecca of Vancouver Island.

The sale price also covers two parking spots and a storage area in the underground garage.

MARKET OVERVIEW

Concerns about global financial turmoil have made buyers more cautious in recent months, said Jeff Fitzpatrick, a Vancouver-based agent for Sotheby’s International Realty Canada. New mortgage lending restrictions have reduced buying power for many Canadians; the total number of sales in the Vancouver area was down 30 percent in 2012, Mr. Fitzpatrick said. Despite this, he added, sellers mostly are sticking with their prices, which have fallen only about 10 percent over the same period.

Some segments of the market are faring better than others: condominiums have held their value better than single-family homes, for example. Their prices grew more slowly during the boom years, so the price corrections over the past year didn’t affect them as drastically. “The ones that took it on the chin were higher-end homes,” Mr. Fitzpatrick said.

Many buyers prefer West Vancouver, a separate municipality, because of its large lots and scenic views. The Cypress Park Estates area has both condos and single-family homes, said Iain Edmonds, a broker with Prudential Sussex Realty who works exclusively in North and West Vancouver. He put the average neighborhood sale price for a single-family house at 1.9 million Canadian dollars ($1.888 million, at 0.99 Canadian dollars to the dollar), and for a condo at 1.39 million Canadian dollars. The condo profiled here costs slightly more than that because it has coveted panoramic views and is in a newer building, said Mehrnaz Chitsaz of Coldwell Banker City Centre Realty, the listing agent.

WHO BUYS IN VANCOUVER

As many as a quarter of the buyers in the Vancouver area are foreigners, Mr. Fitzpatrick said. The majority come from Asia, especially mainland China, but the United States is also well represented, and there are even a few buyers from Europe.

That said, however, international buyers have been fewer in number over the past year, Mr. Fitzpatrick added, because of concerns about the financial crisis.

BUYING BASICS

Canada welcomes foreign buyers, said Rob Zwick, an agent for Vancouver-based ReMax Crest Westside. “If you’re from the United States, it’s fairly straightforward,” he said, adding that American buyers can obtain mortgages in Canada. “You can use U.S. income and U.S. assets to build a case for financing a mortgage.”

Transfer taxes vary from province to province. In British Columbia, they make up 1 percent of the first 200,000 Canadian dollars of the purchase price, and 2 percent of the remainder, Mr. Zwick said. If the property profiled here sells at asking price, taxes will be around 30,000 Canadian dollars. Legal fees cost 800 to 2,500 Canadian dollars, and real estate agent commissions are paid by the seller.

WEB SITES

Cypress Mountain Ski Area: cypressmountain.com

West Vancouver official site: westvancouver.ca

Visit Vancouver: tourismvancouver.com

Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver: rebgv.org

LANGUAGES AND CURRENCY

English, French; dollars (1 Canadian dollar = $1.01)

TAXES AND FEES

Condominium fees are 776 Canadian dollars a month, according to Ms. Chitsaz, the listing agent. Property taxes came to 5,451 Canadian dollars in 2012.

CONTACT

Mehrnaz Chitsaz, Coldwell Banker City Centre Realty, 1-604-351-1962;

city-centre-realty.com

http://city-centre-realty.com/officelistings.html/details-27307838

Categories: Uncategorized

16 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Michael Geller // Feb 24, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    Before commenting on the accuracy of any numbers, it is important to distinguish between foreign buyers who may become residents, and foreign investors.

    That being said, I suspect the correct answer as to the percentage of foreigners buying real estate in Metro Vancouver is somewhere between the 1/4 estimate in this story, and the 1% to 4% foreign investors noted in Andrea Woo’s recent Globe & Mail story.

    Regardless of whether they are resident buyers or investors, I do believe foreigners are having a bigger impact on our market than most politically correct analysts care to admit publicly! :-)

  • 2 Waltyss // Feb 24, 2013 at 2:34 pm

    Whatever the %, the issue is not whether they are foreigners but whether they are residents. I have at least 2 houses within sight of my house in Dunbar that have never been occupied. Apparently both owned by Mainland Chinese. They undermine the neighbourhood. While I don’t favour bans on non resident ownership, I would very much support double and even triple municipal taxes to make it less attractive.

  • 3 Roger Kemble // Feb 24, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    http://www.theyorkshirelad.ca/5poetry/lyla/lyla.html

  • 4 brilliant // Feb 24, 2013 at 3:32 pm

    @Michael Geller 1-Then why didn’t you and the affordability task force even raise this factor in your report?

  • 5 PW // Feb 24, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    Leave it to the historians to determine how much of a factor Mainland Chinese were and file it next to Hongcouver. This version of the yellow peril has run its course.
    Direct ownership of property is just a visible form of the capital flows that are shaping events globally (and certainly not the most important form). For the past decade Canada has been an attractive place to invest as this chart of the Canadian dollar’s performance shows

    http://www.xe.com/currencycharts/?from=CAD&to=USD&view=10Y

    Interesting how similar it is to property prices and sales in Vancouver. Not a coincidence.
    But as they say in capital markets: “Like investing in Canada is like so 2010.”
    Capital is now flowing out, mostly south of the border and the Mainland Chinese are going with it. As the Loonie heads down toward .90 US$, prices will go with it.

  • 6 Joe Just Joe // Feb 24, 2013 at 9:59 pm

    Waltyss #2
    “They undermine the neighbourhood. While I don’t favour bans on non resident ownership, I would very much support double and even triple municipal taxes to make it less attractive”

    They are already subsidizing the neighbourhood by paying taxes for services they aren’t consuming. An empty house doesn’t use water/sewer/garbage pickup but pays for it, same goes for schools, police, fire etc. From the cities finance point of view a city of empty but tax paying homes is even more attractive then one of fully occupied homes. Of course this is a rather simple view on the matter.

  • 7 waltyss // Feb 24, 2013 at 11:03 pm

    Joe Just Joe at #6. You have certainly come up with a bean counters analysis. Surely a neighbourhood is more than filling the City’s coffers. And empty houses contribute creepiness.

  • 8 Julia // Feb 25, 2013 at 9:53 am

    we regularly get compared to Switzerland as ‘THE’ place to live. Anyone looked at what is involved as a foreigner to own real estate there? Saw a program on the tube this past week that made me think we could adopt similar policies.

  • 9 Raingurl // Feb 25, 2013 at 10:28 am

    Well, well, well…..I see the tides they are a changin’……Gone are the days of the “white man” taking over/raping/killing everything meaningful and/or bountiful.

    (This post is in no way meant to be racist.)

  • 10 Joe Just Joe // Feb 25, 2013 at 11:12 am

    Can certainly be argued that money is the weapon of the 21st century, Guess that means jobs are the new POW camps.
    Andrea Woo in the globe has a good article about the empty condo numbers. Depending on which goal posts you use the numbers vary from 5% to 17%. The goal posts aren’t that accurate as my condo falls into it but is my permanent home, I just don’t use much electricity.

  • 11 Everyman // Feb 25, 2013 at 11:40 pm

    @Michael Geller
    I find Woo’s figures in the G&M article absurdly low. Didn’t an analysis of hydro use show 5% of downtown units were consuming less electricity than that required to run a fridge? That’s your bare minimum of unoccupied units. Then add all those where the owners have never bothered to unplug the fridge!

  • 12 Joe Just Joe // Feb 25, 2013 at 11:59 pm

    Do people know how much a modern condo fridge uses? It’s about 450Kwh per year, that’s less then 40kwh a month plugged in. You’d have to have more then just the fridge on to even get up to the 75kwh. I think the threshold was sent so high to try and inflate the numbers and they still weren’t too bad.
    FWIW I use right around the 75kwh each month and rarely do I exceed the 100kwh/month threshold and that’s in a two bd apt and I’m not an eco warrior by any means.

  • 13 MB // Feb 27, 2013 at 7:23 am

    I agree with Waltyss (#2) & Brilliant (#4). I’ve suggested as much to both Vision, NPA & provincial gov’t (higher taxes for investment properties & other disincentives) which they all dismissed.

    @ Geller – “Regardless of whether they are resident buyers or investors…”

    The difference is major & ignoring the impacts on our communities is having a negative effect.

    Communities do not benefit from empty houses, constant construction & growing “ghost” communities that only contribute property tax. Occupied homes are cared for with residents that contribute daily to the local communities, businesses, and our local economy, and not just increasing the pocketbooks of developers and investors.

    To the contrary, all this density development, rezoning & redevelopment that continues to be fast-tracked by COV & it’s “task forces” has only driven up rental & real estate prices for those who actually live here, and made Vancouver extremely expensive, and less livable.

  • 14 Jak King // Feb 28, 2013 at 9:58 pm

    What about these 22,269 dwellings? Vacant or foreign or …? http://jaksview3.wordpress.com/2013/02/26/the-over-building-of-vancouver/

  • 15 jesse // Mar 2, 2013 at 3:50 am

    “As many as”

    There you go. Not 25%. As many as 25%. Sort of a big difference.

    I don’t agree with Joe, in extrema we could state that a city full of unused but ratepaying housing uses no resources so it’s the most desirable. Nothing, I think, could be further from the truth in the eyes of council, who want a vibrant, active, commercial, and consuming city, not empty shells taking up vast tracts of land, used as vessels for land speculation.

    I get reamed for this by more than a few people, but I would state that an unoccupied dwelling has greater impact than one occupied not only by blighting a neighbourhood’s intended density (ie lower than the original architects had envisioned) but also by impairing the impetus to expand city services, including transit and community amenities, into those areas.

  • 16 jesse // Mar 2, 2013 at 3:54 am

    “all this density development, rezoning & redevelopment that continues to be fast-tracked by COV & it’s ‘task forces’ has only driven up rental & real estate prices for those who actually live here”

    A slight irony, perhaps, that the only way from point A — older vintage but affordable rental housing — to point B — soon-to-be older vintage but affordable housing — is through the high prices of non-depreciated capital stock. Let this be a lesson for the need for long-term and smoothed-out planning.

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