Foreign buyers a tiny fraction of housing market

They pay more but not a major influence in Lower Mainland: report

This house in Vancouver's Shaughnessy neighbourhood

Foreign investors make up a tiny share of the Lower Mainland real estate market but tend to buy much more expensive homes.

Those are the latest conclusions of researchers at Urban Futures who found just 0.4 per cent of all homes sold in the region in 2010 were bought by owners with a foreign mailing address.

“We’re dealing with pretty small numbers here,” Urban Futures economist Ryan Berlin said, adding the proportion rises to 0.7 per cent when just condos and apartments are considered.

Realtors have anecdotally reported an influx of foreign buyers from mainland China and there’s been growing debate on whether the phenomenon is driving housing prices up and hurting home affordability.

Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney recently said an influx of Asian wealth is leading to some “extreme” valuations in Vancouver’s housing market.

Berlin simply doesn’t see the evidence.

“There’s very little hard data out there that shows foreign investors are indeed having a significant impact on our real estate markets,” he said.

Urban Futures found a total of 195 sales out of 55,512 in the Lower Mainland last year were to foreign investors.

That doesn’t count foreign buyers who use a local lawyer or building manager to receive mail or immigrants who are buying and perhaps living here part-time.

But even doubling or tripling the number of foreign investor sales to account for those cases still leaves insignificant numbers, he said.

Foreign buyers have a much greater appetite for more expensive homes than local buyers, according to Berlin’s calculations.

The foreign investors who bought in 2010 paid on average twice as much for a condo as other buyers. They paid 60 per cent more on average for detached houses.

A previous report this spring by Landcor Data Corp. had also linked a large proportion of luxury home sales in recent years to buyers from mainland China. Landcor found that activity is concentrated in a few areas, particularly Vancouver’s west side, the North Shore, Richmond and South Surrey.

Berlin said Metro Vancouver residents shouldn’t be spooked by the average real estate prices in the region, which are increasingly deceptive as they are skewed by the most expensive properties on the market.

The region’s average sale price for a detached home hit $810,000 in 2010.

But if you exclude the priciest 20 per cent of homes that went for as much as $17.5 million, Berlin notes, the average price for the rest of the market is $591,000.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Open letter urges BC Liberal party to remove Laurie Throness as Chilliwack-Kent candidate

The letter says Throness holds homophobic views and should have no place in government

Community Camera: October 1, 2020

Submit your photos to news@ahobserver.com.

Harrison-Agassiz Chamber head stepping down

Robert Reyerse has been the Chamber’s exec. director for 12 years

Long-term planning for jewel known as Vedder Greenway starts with survey

It’s the most popular trail system in Chilliwack with a half million local and LM users each year

Westbound Highway 1 stall in Langley blocking left lane

Congestion starting at 264th Street, crews on scene

B.C. starts October with 82 more positive COVID-19 tests

10,899 tests a record for a single day, Bonnie Henry says

Abbotsford’s Grand River Foods reopens after COVID-19 forces temporary shut-down

Several positive results from employees shuts down plant for four days

Abbotsford family looking for pair of stolen Shih Tzu puppies

Breeder Kate Classon stated that someone stole the pooches from her Abbotsford home on Sept. 21

Missing mushroom picker in northern B.C. found dead

Witset elder found deceased in Price Creek area more than two weeks after he vanished

BC Greens focus on long-term care reform in first platform promise

Greens have promised to move away from the for-profit care home model

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

‘It’s a nightmare’: Northern B.C. family desperate after living in hotel for a year

Renae Podgorney says because of a lack of rentals, she’s now applying to rent a one-bedroom unit

Costs climb to more than $100K for BC SPCA to care for animals in B.C. farm seizure

Eight puppies, of the 97 animals seized have now died from parvovirus enteritis

Most Read