Canadian real estate is attracting the interest of foreign investors, says the president of Coldwell Banker Real Estate’s operations in this country.
John Geha, who was in Red Deer on this week to conduct a management development workshop, said Canada’s low dollar, cheap interest rates, diminished property values and stable banking system makes it attractive to buyers elsewhere.
“There’s a lot of money coming up from the States, but also the Asian markets and the European markets coming into Canada,” he said.
Mountains, oceans and other natural features, as well as economic drivers like natural resource development and manufacturing, are also helping generate interest, he added.
“There are so many positive things that we see in the markets here that is opening the real estate industry to multiple buyers from all over the world.”
The Chinese in particular are seeking opportunities in Canada, with British Columbia and Alberta high on their list of preferred locations, he said.
The property they are interested in includes both residential and commercial. Some buyers are looking strictly for investment purposes, while others hope to make Canada their future home.
As domestic demand grows, there will be upward pressure on prices, he said.
Also entering the real estate market in greater numbers are first-time home-buyers, said Geha. Many of these, as well as home owners looking to move into bigger or better houses, were squeezed out of the picture during the recent housing boom.
“We’re going to have such a pent-up demand when the market turns that we have to be ready in the business to deal with all the potential new buyers that are coming onto the market.”
Geha said he’s already seeing signs that the real estate market is turning around: attendance at open houses and multiple offers on listed properties. Some of this activity is being generated by the warmer weather, he said, but other factors are at play.
“It’s consumer confidence. I think once you feel that your job is secure, and you have withstood any additional layoffs within your company, you will make some decisions.”
With more home sales, said Geha, come spin-offs. At least 360 products are purchased to outfit a new home.
Federal stimulus programs will also have a positive impact, he added, as infrastructure projects increase the flow of money.
“That will drive revenue into the market and that will drive new buyers into the market.”
Earlier this week, Coldwell Banker released the results of a North American survey that found many first-time home-buyers want property that’s beyond their means. It attributed this to young people’s expectations being influenced by their parents’ lifestyle.
While it’s a good idea to purchase a home as soon as possible, said Geha, buyers should be willing to settle for something modest and then move up when they have the financial resources to do so.
“You don’t have to buy that big home right now,” he said, adding that it can also be a mistake to postpone a house purchase because you can’t afford an extravagant property.