View of Vancouver by Brian Fagan
Buyers have not gone on holiday. The real estate market is much more active than is usual in the lazy hazy days of summer.
The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver Stats report for July shows a demand from buyers dealing with wishfully thinking sellers who hope the reported incremental price gains will be big $$$ on their homes.
In fact the market reports have been pretty consistent for the past few months.
We are seeing a cultural shift in many areas with a preponderance of Chinese buyers at the higher end of the market. The principles of Feng Shui and the belief in good luck and good fortune being affected by where you are situated on the street is impacting both buyers and sellers whether they follow the spiritual practice or not. Lot locations and home designs that were highly sought after in earlier times are now being discounted by the buyers who quote Feng Shui as a reason for lowering the price they are prepared to offer for an excellent property.
Anecdotally and statistically it is clear that wealthy Chinese immigrants are choosing to invest in Vancouver real estate as a place to park money that can later be freed up in hard dollars. Reports have come out about a hidden Chinese government program that gave the Bank of China permission to transfer large amounts of yuan to foreign countries to be invested in real estate. Canada, the US, Australia, the UK all have strict money laundering regulations so the yuan being transferred out of China to investments in the above countries had to be done with government approval.
The Harper Government has not reinstated the Immigrant Investor program. However it is alive and well in La Belle Province. Quebec wrested control of its immigration program from the Feds and has been encouraging Chinese investors. Quebec allows higher numbers of immigrants and a lower investment amount than did the federal program. All the investor immigrants have to do is leave the money in Quebec and wave as they fly over to Vancouver or Toronto. Former Immigration Minister Jason Kenney made the point that the taxpayers of BC and Ontario are picking up the bill for education, health care, social programs for new investor immigrants who have not brought their investment monies to the province where they reside.
July's sales in the Greater Vancouver region exceeded the 10-year sales average by 3.8 per cent. Residential property sales increased by 3.9 per cent compared to the previous year - the number of sales rose from 2,946 to 3,061. The summer slowdown still occurs in our market, marked by a 10.1 per cent decline of sales compared to June 2014.
The strength of the current market can be easily illustrated on the number of sales of detached properties in July 2014 compared to July 2013 and July 2012. While there were 787 detached units sold in July 2012, there were 1,249 homes sold in July 2013 and 1,322 homes sold in July 2014, which is 68 per cent increase over the two years. A similar trend is seen in apartment sales where the current 1,212 apartment sales in July 2014 represent a tiny increase in comparison to previous year's July sales of 1,210, it's still 30.7 per cent more than in July 2012, when we recorded only 927 sales of apartment properties.
Property sales in Richmond, BC are level in a year-over year comparison, there were 405 properties sold in July 2013 and 406 in July 2014. Richmond remains affordable in the context of the Greater Vancouver region, with the average sales price rising only by 3.6% year-over-year to $592,700.