Foreign buyers bolster housing cycle

by Olivia D'Orazio26 Nov 2014
Mother Nature is promising to play favourites with agents on one side of the country, as seasonal forecasts predict buyer-friendly winter weather in one key market.
 
While many Canadian agents are preparing to hibernate through another brutal winter – and slow housing market – industry players in British Columbia are gearing up for another year of warmer-than-normal temperatures, lending to a continued upswing in foreign buyers.
 
“I think [the strong market] is a reflection, some of it, of the Asian market,” says Helen Wong, an agent in Vancouver, pointing to May, June and October as the busiest months in her real estate calendar. “They have their international holidays – New Years, there is a big holiday in May and in October, so [buyers] come over then. That has a little bearing on [the market]. Then, of course, the normal spring market, which is usually the best market.”
 
Wong says these foreign buyers, especially those from Asian countries, typically make big spends during these times, bolstering an already active housing market in cities like Vancouver. That only works to accentuate the traditional housing cycle, which shows a healthier market in the warmer months.
 
According to data from the Canadian Real Estate Association, actual sales are traditionally strongest in May – mainly due to the warmer weather, though seasonally adjusted sales suggest strength in August, before the start of a new school year, giving families plenty of time to settle into a new neighbourhood and new school district.
 
This winter, though, agents like Wong will be focused more on the local market – especially considering foreigners know enough about Canada to stay away during the winter.
 
“I’m reactive rather than proactive, so I work with whatever comes my way,” Wong says. “Outside [those busy] months, I work with my local market more – my past clients, my buyers or sellers or empty nesters, or their kids. My offshore market is usually the Asian market, so they come, they look, they buy and they leave. They might refer their friends but they won’t buy again.”
 

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