Tag Archives: Foreign buyers

Brent Toderian, Former COV Director Of Planning – “The competition between external demand and local demand is one of the reasons that barring a collapse and a crash, we are going to remain a very expensive city to own in.”

Question (woman at microphone): “I would like to hear your comments on limiting foreign ownership as it addresses local affordability.”
Brent Toderian [Brent Toderian, former Director of City Planning, COV]: “Great question.”
Other male panelist: “I call that the elephant in the room.”
Toderian: “I’m really glad you brought it up because I had it on my list. That is the elephant crushing the table. It’s not under it, it’s not on top of it. It’s something the Mayor’s Task Force on Housing Affordability dropped the ball on. The competition between external demand and local demand — that’s the nicest way I can put it — is one of the reasons that barring a collapse and a crash, we are going to remain a very expensive city to own in.”
– from exchange at a keynote panel discussion on “Living Affordably in Greater Vancouver” at BUILDEX (convention on designing, building and managing real estate), Vancouver Convention Centre, 13-14 Feb 2013. Quoted in comment by ‘urbanizta’ at their own blog ‘CityHallWatch’, 15 Feb 2013 at 12:01am

To say “barring a collapse and a crash, we are going to remain a very expensive city to own in” is a tautology; it’s like saying “if prices don’t go down, they will stay up”. In other words, to say this is to say nothing at all.
That aside, this exchange, and the article above the comment, does demonstrate how people are continuing to wrestle with the issue of ‘foreign ownership’ and how it may effect the Vancouver market. The discussion is hobbled by a number of things: lack of actual data, lack of political will to gather pertinent data, the mixing-up of local and foreign buyers, and a lack of understanding of what constitutes speculation. We anticipate that this issue will continue to be ineffectively churned over in many similar discussions while prices begin to collapse. Once the price collapse is convincingly underway, we won’t hear much about ‘foreign ownership’ for quite some time. Firstly, because foreign buyers, like local speculators, will disappear in a falling market; they are momentum players and hate any asset falling in price. Secondly, many locals will be dearly wishing for buyers – any buyer – to rescue them from their real estate holdings. Once prices have ground down into a trough (likely over years); once speculation has been wrung out of the market and the dust settles; – then there will likely be a meaningful place for civic discussion about the wisdom of regulation of foreign ownership.
Currently, the far, far larger ‘elephant in the room’ is a speculative mania that has yet to unwind.
– vreaa

‘Martin From Richmond’ Update – “Prices are down more than 15%. Another thing worth considering is that 2013 is the Year of the Snake for those of Chinese ancestry.”

“Prices have dropped more than 15 per cent in one popular neighbourhood in Richmond.
Almost a year ago, a 2800 square foot, five bedroom three bath house sold in the Garden City area for $952,000, a bit above asking price in what was described as a cash sale that followed a bidding war between two interest parties.
Within the last week, another house, a 2400 square foot, three bath house on a similar-sized lot sold in the same neighbourhood for $805,000, below the asking price of $838,900 and even below assessed value.
In both cases, the homes didn’t need any work, and were move-in ready, updated, and well-designed.
The $147,000 drop in price works out to be a 15.4 per cent price drop in the area.
And I think it’s an indication that at least one home owner seriously considered “cashing out”, and ultimately did, and that others might do the same, if the real estate industry continues to grind to a halt.
Another thing worth considering is that 2013 is the Year of the Snake for those of Chinese ancestry.
A renowned Richmond fortune teller and feng shui expert predicts that the Year of the Snake will see profit margins slip, and said business will slow down
Whether you believe in Chinese astrology is not the point; considering the influence of foreign and mostly Chinese buyers on the price spikes since late in 2010, it’s whether this significant subset of deep-pocketed people believe it.
The fortune teller said 2013 will see a significant slow down, and said people will be more careful in spending their money.
As with my earlier “self fulfilling prophecy” comment, if Chinese investors really do believe that 2013 will be a slow year, that could influence their decisions, and in fact, result in a slow down. It all depends on if enough people are drinking the Kool-Aid.
But the fortune teller also noted that the “wealthy Chinese” are unlikely to liquidate their assets by taking low-ball offers, and will decide to rather sit on their properties, awaiting better times.
So, recent sales activity (according to the Greater Vancouver Real Estate Board, January 2013 sales were the second lowest for that month since 2002) combined with the Chinese New Year, could further trigger prices to slide.
Something worth considering for those who are mullling over the possibility of re-entering the world of home ownership.”

– Martin from Richmond, via e-mail to VREAA, 6 Feb 2013

We don’t believe in astrology any more than we believe in leprechauns, but we do ‘believe’ in the fact that others believe in such things, and that those beliefs can influence herd behaviour.
A speculative mania is itself based on false beliefs.
– vreaa

“The most extreme example was a house on Wesbrook Cr that had just sold for $7M. It was a crappy house being rented for ~$2K/mo, but it was on a fantastic piece of land. It had been bought by a family from China that was planning to hold the property and eventually build on it.”

“Recently when I was looking for a new rental, I came across numerous examples of recently-purchased foreign-owned houses that were being rented out. The most extreme example was a house on Wesbrook Cr that had just sold for $7M. It was a crappy house being rented for ~$2K/mo, but it was on a fantastic piece of land. I spoke to the rental agent, it had been bought by a family from China that was planning to hold the property and eventually build on it.”
M-dash at VCI 27 Oct 2012 7:30pm

This strongly suggests that the buyers bought believing that similar properties would sell for considerably more than $7M in years to come.
So much so that they are shouldering considerable carrying expenses to simply hold the property.
– vreaa

Arguments With Myself – “The perception of offshore money pouring into the area to acquire properties without foreigners even visiting them has been overstated.”

“The perception of offshore money pouring into the area to acquire properties without foreigners even visiting them has been overstated, said Cameron Muir, chief economist at the B.C. Real Estate Association.” – from ‘UniverCity condo project feels market chill’, G&M, 23 Oct 2012

Gee. And where would people have gotten that impression?:

“There are high-net-worth Asian purchasers buying as investments, as second homes, or for satellite families.”Cameron Muir, chief economist for the British Columbia Real Estate Association, Businessweek, 24 Jun 2010


Off-shore buyers have had a small but significant direct effect on prices, and a very, very large indirect effect as a story that has fuelled locals in their speculative buying. We’ve consistently believed that.
– vreaa

“You will buy this unit, and four others like it…”

– image from ‘Vancouver Housing Bubble Doesn’t Scare Chinese Investors’, Huffington Post BC, 4 Oct 2012

Headlined for the nature of the image, and the quality of the emotion portrayed. 
Infatuated. Besotted. Entranced. Lustful.
When price drops establish themselves, these feelings change to disillusionment; guaranteed.
– vreaa

“The agent in China was caught off guard as well – the brochure showed trees and ocean!!!”

“With regards to ‘Yu Living’ green condo at UBC south campus, my in-laws in China bought a place site unseen. They are furious now that the view overlooks a future BC Liqour store and Save on Foods. The agent in China was caught off guard as well – the brochure showed a trees and ocean!!!
They should not bought a place with so little advance research; they come from a generation that respected universities and assumed that they were buying into a quality life style for future grand kids.”

‘Not too happy’ at VCI 27 Aug 2012 6:02am

It’s easy to be happy with almost any property when prices are barrelling upwards.
When prices stagnate or start falling, owners become more critical of a property’s shortcomings.
Expect lots of stories like this in the downturn.
– vreaa

“I am in the market for a downtown 2 bedroom condo as first time buyer. Here comes the death spiral.”

“Here comes the death spiral at Cosmo 161 W Georgia St:
I am in the market for a 2 bedroom condo as first time buyer in downtown for the past few months. My budget is 500k. I have been watching this building closely.
There are 6 units that are exactly the same layout on MLS. Unit 807, 1608, 1708, 1808, 2108, 2208. Asking price from 575k to 629k.
807 had open house two weeks ago (I viewed) and was the lowest priced at that time. Now 2208 entered the market last week and priced lowest. 807 (V949770) just reduced it’s price to beat 2208 (V962354) this week.
At this rate, I hope they will drop to $500k by Nov. this year.”

G at VCI 20 Jul 2012 10:14pm

If a ‘death spiral’ is beginning (as may indeed be the case), why plan to buy in November?
– vreaa