Vancouver’s real estate boom: The rising price of ‘heaven’
Richard Kurland, an immigration lawyer who works with wealthy Chinese migrants, says “the main difference” between previous waves of Asian immigration to Vancouver and the current flow of wealthy investors is “the mega-size of the [Mainland] Chinese economy.”
The tectonic economic rise of China has created – in the most populous country on Earth – an enormous new millionaire class. And nearly half of all wealthy people in China also want to immigrate to a developed country within five years, according to a Barclays PLC survey.
At least 30,000 millionaires from Mainland China have immigrated to B.C. over the past decade using the federal government’s investor immigrant program, almost all of them settling in Vancouver. The federal program allowed those with a net worth of $1.6-million to lend the government $800,000 interest-free in exchange for permanent residency. The program was ended in the 2014 budget – with a backlog of 80,000 applicants, roughly 80 per cent of which were from Mainland China – but is expected to be relaunched soon.
“We’re going to continue to get a solid supply of millionaire investors,” Mr. Kurland says.
While Chinese demand is practically unlimited, supply in Vancouver – particularly for detached homes – remains restricted: There are mountains to the north, the U.S. border to the south, the agricultural land reserve, multiple rivers and bridges, and the vast Stanley Park. “There’s not a lot of dirt here,” says David Goodman, a principal at real estate firm HQ Commercial.
A 2013 report from Sotheby’s said 40 per cent of Vancouver’s luxury home sales went to foreign buyers – mostly buyers from Mainland China, but also from Iran and the U.S.
Ryan Rosenberg, another Vancouver-based immigration lawyer, says wealthy Chinese see Vancouver as a safe haven. Some immigrants, however, still spend much of their time overseas, especially businessmen who leave their wife and child in Vancouver, he says. At some luxury homes on Vancouver’s west side, he notes, agents have noticed a pattern: A lot of master bedroom closets contain only women’s clothing. “If China is a place to make money, Canada is a place to save it,” he says. “Canadian immigration status is one of the world’s best insurance policies. Vancouver has become an international bedroom community.”
As per VANCOUVER — The Globe and Mail.