Chinese invest in Vancouver

Added On April 13, 2014

Many of China's investors are looking to North America as a place to put their money. They're betting on the real estate market. Not just homes, but properties that can be developed commercially.
Our correspondent in Vancouver has more.
More than 3,000 international delegates involved in real estate development, investment and urban planning met in Vancouver on Wednesday for a three-day session discussing the future of global real estate markets.
One of the hot topics at the conference, organized by the Urban Land Initiative, was Chinese investment in Vancouver, a west coast city regarded as Asia's gateway to Canada for immigration, tourism and trade.
One of the local trends over the past couple of years has been a shift by Chinese investors away from buying single-family homes and into larger scale projects, such as apartments, mixed-use developments and even hotels, according to Edmond Luke, whose Fasken Martineau company helps Chinese clients invest in the region.
SOUNDBITE: EDMOND LUKE, Fasken Martineau. 
"We're seeing a different type of investment coming in from China. Traditionally for the last 10 years it has been immigrants coming in buying single-family houses, maybe condos for themselves or their kids. But I would say in the last two years it's becoming very visible that we're getting institutional money coming in, investing in projects and developments."
Luke says his Chinese clients are less concerned with Vancouver's infamous land costs, which are among the highest in the world, and are more interested in simply getting their hands on buildings or property with re-development potential. 
STANDUP: EVAN DUGGAN, CNC correspondent 
"Vancouver has long been known as Asia's gateway into Canada when it comes immigration, tourism and, of course, trade. Here at the Urban Land Initiative Conference in downtown Vancouver, thousands of delegates are on hand to get a sense of what makes the Vancouver real estate market so attractive. It was Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson who spoke first, and he made a particular sales pitch to would-be Asian investors." 
Mayor Robertson, who has led Vancouver City Hall since 2008, told delegates that Vancouver has now become the most Asian city outside of Asia, on a per capita basis. 
"There's a real balance and an interesting mix of people. That also means we have extraordinary talent that drives our economy and means we have amazing array of entrepreneurs in Vancouver, and that then attracts more investment and more talent."
Vancouver has become a development success story thanks in part to its rich diversity and various sources of international capital, the mayor says. 
"Well we've seen Vancouver built from day one with a mix of Asian and European immigrants, and now our city is an incredibly rich blend of many cultures, and certainly the investment and the culture of Chinese immigrants has shaped our city and continues to be really important in our growth."
The ULI became interested in Vancouver for this year's conference thanks to the city's best-known qualities — walk-ability, residential density and an accessible transit system, says local architect Alan Boniface, who helped to bring the conference here. 
He said Chinese investors increasingly see Vancouver as a hotbed of innovative urban development. 
SOUNDBITE: ALAN BONIFACE, Architect with Dialog Design 
"Chinese investors are actually flocking to the city both for individual condos but also as a developer. As an architect, we have Chinese developer clients doing work in Vancouver. Doing high-rise mixed-use towers in Vancouver."
Luke points out, however, that one of the keys to success for Chinese investors is to be patient with the somewhat slower urban development style here. 
It's also important to find a solid partner on the ground, he says.
SOUNDBITE: EDMOND LUKE, Fasken Martineau. 
"The most important thing is finding that partner. There is a lot of local knowledge that they need to still learn and gain and the best way to do that is to partner up with someone that best fits their profile."