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

Mixed bag of weather ahead for Chilliwack

Week starts off with rain before clearing for sunnier days midweek

Watercolours by late Chilliwack artist to be unveiled at Yarrow Library

The public is invited to a special unveiling of three of Heinz Klassen’s watercolour paintings

Yarrow Library one of the stops on Cubetto’s grand tour

FVRL’s friendly wooden robot, Cubetto, travels throughout Fraser Valley to teach programming basics

No home for Agassiz Community Garden on school district land

The garden is still homeless after SD78 said no to the society using the McCaffrey School property

Chilliwack PEO: ‘We who are sisters’

International oganization celebrating 150 years of service

‘No answers:’ Canadians react to Sri Lanka bombings that killed hundreds

The co-ordinated bomb attacks killed at least 207 people and injured 450 more on Easter Sunday

RCMP confirm witnesses say body found at Kelowna’s Gyro Beach

Police tape is blocking part of the beach and several RCMP officers are on scene.

Police say ‘no major incidents’ at 4/20, Vancouver Park Board assessing

The first smoke-out held since legalization saw 60,000 people at Vancouver’s Sunset Beach

VIDEO: Langley firefighters spend hours battling blaze in vacant home

Cause of the late-night fire in Willoughby is still under investigation

B.C. fire department rescues kittens

Enderby homeowner not aware kittens in wood pile near garbage pile fire that got out of hand

RCMP looking for witnesses to four-vehicle crash in Burnaby

Police suspect impaired driving was a contributing factor

QUIZ: How much do you know about Easter?

Take this short quiz and put your knowledge to the test

B.C. VIEWS: NDP’s lawyer show is turning into a horror movie

Court actions pile up over pipelines, car insurance, care aides

Most Read