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.

Just Posted

Duo robs Harrison Hot Springs gas station

Husky manager planning to tighten security

Snow prayers answered as Manning Park ski hill opens Friday

Ski hill will be open seven days a week starting Dec. 14, and cross-country trails as well

Fleeing driver picks fight with Chilliwack police dog, loses

Good dog ‘Griff’ also locates large quantity of what police believe to be crystal meth in Abbotsford

UPDATE: Heavy rainfall, strong winds in forecast for Lower Mainland

Heavy rains, snow expected till Friday morning

Trudeau to make it harder for future PM to reverse Senate reforms

Of the 105 current senators, 54 are now independents who have banded together in Independent Senators’ Group

Boeser has 2 points as Canucks ground Flyers 5-1

WATCH: Vancouver has little trouble with slumping Philly side

Man dies after falling from B.C. bridge

Intoxicated man climbed railing, lost his balance and fell into the water below

Hundreds attend Hells Angels funeral in Maple Ridge

Body of Chad John Wilson found last month face-down under the Golden Ears Bridge.

B.C. animation team the ‘heart’ of new ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’

The animators, largely based in Vancouver, ultimately came up with a creative technique that is drawing praise

Light at the end of the tunnel for UN climate talks

Meeting in Katowice was meant to finalize how countries report their emissions of greenhouses gases

Gas prices to climb 11 cents overnight in Lower Mainland

Hike of 17 cents in less than 48 hours due to unexpected shutdown of Washington state pipeline

Janet Jackson, Def Leppard, Nicks join Rock Hall of Fame

Radiohead, the Cure, Roxy Music and the Zombies will also be ushered in at the 34th induction ceremony

Supreme Court affirms privacy rights for Canadians who share a computer

Section 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects Canadians against unreasonable search and seizure

Most Read