Chinese inquired about US$1.45B worth of Canadian properties last year: Juwai

MONTREAL — A website for buyers of overseas properties says Chinese nationals expressed interest in about US$1.45 billion worth of Canadian properties last year, with interest in Toronto and Vancouver slipping following the introduction of foreign buyers taxes.

Juwai.com says consideration of properties in Canada’s largest city dropped by 25 per cent in 2017 after nearly doubling between 2015 and 2016.

Vancouver inquiries fell 18 per cent last year after growing by 9.3 per cent the previous year.

Metro Vancouver has had a 15 per cent tax on foreign home purchasers since 2016. The new provincial government hiked the levy to 20 per cent and imposed it in the Victoria and Nanaimo areas, as well as the Fraser Valley and central Okanagan.

A 15 per cent tax was imposed in the Greater Golden Horseshoe area — stretching from the Niagara Region to Peterborough — on buyers who are not citizens, permanent residents or Canadian corporations. In the first month after the tax was imposed in late April, foreign buyers made up 4.7 per cent of home sales in the region, according to Statistics Canada.

With no tax in place, Montreal was the hot destination, growing by 84.5 per cent in 2017 and 43.3 per cent a year earlier.

A separate report says no additional foreign buyers taxes are expected to be imposed in Canada and Australia this year, with New Zealand being the only major investment destination considering one.

Juwai says Chinese were unfairly blamed for property price increases, even though data suggested it was due to other factors such as historically low interest rates.

More than half of Chinese buyers considering Canada were motivated to invest for their own use, nearly 26 per cent for investment and 17 per cent for education.

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