Already-tight student rental picture expected to worsen this fall | Vancouver Sun

Metro Vancouver is heading for a rental housing crisis this fall as a “perfect storm” of factors pushes an already record low vacancy rate even lower, says a leading Vancouver-based real estate firm.

“There has traditionally been a shortage of rental housing for students when they start school in the fall, but this year it looks like that shortage is going to be a lot worse,” said Nick Marini, vice-president at Macdonald Property Management.

Based on government statistics, Macdonald is forecasting a seven-per-cent increase this year in international students attending B.C. educational institutions. Meanwhile, the market-dampening 15-per-cent foreign buyers’ tax and tighter mortgage qualification requirements mean that parents of students are less likely to buy homes for their children, said Marini. As a result, a larger number of students will be hunting for rental housing this fall, increasing demand for accommodation.

Marini said the government steps to cool the red-hot housing market — such as the 15-per-cent foreign buyers’ tax and mortgage restrictions requiring that first-time buyers have higher incomes — have only pushed the housing affordability crisis to the rental market.

[Read more…]

Active Victoria Real Estate Listings Slide Below 2,000 Mark | Times Colonist

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    The median sale price of a single-family home in the capital region was $759,000 last month, a 14.3 per cent increase from the $664,000 recorded in July last year. Photograph By BRUCE STOTESBURY, Times Colonist
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    Strong sellers' market continues in Victoria Photograph By Times Colonist

With less than 2,000 active listings, Victoria’s real estate market remains firmly weighted in favour of the seller, according to data released Tuesday by the Victoria Real Estate Board.

There were 1,921 active listings at the end of last month, a drop from the 2,161 on the market in July 2016, which led to sellers getting excellent prices for their homes.

The median sale price of a single-family home in the region was $759,000 last month, a 14.3 per cent increase from the $664,000 recorded in July last year.

[Read more…]

Capital region homeowners consider locking in after interest-rate hike | Times Colonist

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Josh Ray is accompanied by his dog, Harley, outside his home in Saanich’s Glanford area on Wednesday. Photograph By DARREN STONE, Times Colonist

First-time homebuyers and owners about to renew their mortgages are nervous about the first benchmark interest-rate hike, a Victoria mortgage broker said Wednesday.

The increase, the first in nearly seven years, might prompt some people to lock in their mortgage rates, Colleen Flynn of Select Mortgage Group said. “It’s a concern for people. They are saying: ‘What’s this going to mean for me?’ ” she said. “I think more people are locking in to be cautious.”

Flynn said she’s also getting calls from homeowners who want to renew their mortgages early.

The Bank of Canada raised its key interest-rate target to 0.75 per cent from 0.5 per cent on Wednesday, prompting the five big banks to raise their prime rates a quarter of a percentage point. At the Royal Bank of Canada, that puts the prime rate at 2.95 per cent, up from 2.7 per cent.

Economists expect a gradual cycle of rate hikes amid rising confidence in the economy and projected growth.

[Read more…]

Victoria ranked second in world for luxury real estate | CHEK News

A new report from Christie’s International lists Victoria as the second hottest luxury real estate market in the world.

When you think of a luxury home you probably picture a house on the ocean, or a large estate, but with the Victoria real estate market booming, the face of luxury is changing.

One townhouse in Oak Bay Village is about to go on the market for just over a million dollars.

“If this was a single family home we’d be talking about a much different number especially in today’s market,” said Jordy Harris, a realtor with Newport Realty.

Home prices, especially in desirable neighbourhoods like this one, have gone up.

“In the last three years has gone up by about 40 to 50 per cent,” said Ara Balabanian, President of the Victoria Real Estate Board.

And that may be why a new report from Christie’s International lists Victoria as the second hottest luxury market in the world, behind Toronto, and just ahead of San Francisco.

“Luxury can be something that is just over a million, and I say that with some respect, but our prices have risen to that point,” said Jack Petrie, Managing Partner of Newport Realty, a Christie’s International real estate firm.

While 2016 saw a big increase in homes that sold for a million or over, only a handful went above three million.

“We had approximately 16 homes in 2015, we had 20 homes sell in 2016,” said Balabanian.

The report lists offshore buyers, put off by Vancouver’s new foreign buyers tax, as one of the driving factors for the luxury sales boom, but local realtors aren’t seeing it.

“It’s not as if there was a sudden floodgate where all those buyers, foreign buyers, looking to buy in Vancouver, came over here, it just didn’t happen like that,” said Harris.

“It’s still a small component of the marketplace, it’s somewhere around 5 per cent,” said Balabanian.

They say the largest segment of home buyers remains locals, followed by those from elsewhere in Canada.

But if prices continue to soar, “luxury” may need to be re-defined.


 

The article was originally posted on CHEK News, May 10, 2017. Written by April Lawrence.

Election result provides no easy answers to housing issues | Vancouver Sun

At least one major Vancouver real estate firm believes that the election results mean that housing policy in the province will remain uncertain for the foreseeable future.

“The one thing you want the government to provide is certainty in policy,” said Dan Scarrow, vice-president of Macdonald Realty, which has almost 1,000 staff and agents throughout B.C.  “This election result means that housing policy in the province will be up for negotiation between the three major parties.”

Scarrow said many believe that government holds the solution to issues like affordable housing.  He said the reality, however, is that governments’ power, particularly the power of provincial governments that do not control either immigration or interest rate policies, is limited because there are so many forces that impact the real estate market.

“People have already forgotten that when the 15-per-cent foreign buyer tax came in, it was a shock to the system,” he said. “At the time, even the most vocal critics of foreign investment in Vancouver acknowledged that this was a far bigger move than anyone could have anticipated. And now, less than a year later, it has had no discernible impact on demand.”

Scarrow points to examples all over the world of cities struggling with affordability. “The one commonality seems to be that governments are incapable of stopping demand. Draconian policies to restrict demand have been tried in Hong Kong, Singapore, Sydney and many first-tier cities in China with limited to no effect. Vancouver can now be added to this list,” he said.

In fact, some argue that local governments often make things worse by artificially restricting supply. The 13th Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey: 2017, which ranked Vancouver as the world’s third-least affordable market, states: “The affordability of housing is overwhelmingly a function of just one thing: the extent to which governments place artificial restrictions on the supply of residential land.”

Scarrow said that affordable housing is a complex problem for which there is no easy solution. “Everyone’s definition of affordability is different,” he says. “So if no one’s defined the end goal, we just end up building a highway to nowhere.”

Ultimately, regardless of what policies are eventually introduced, the issue of affordability will likely remain. Says Scarrow: “I expect to see this as a major election issue in 2021. And 2025.”

 

 


The article was originally printed in The Province newspaper on May 11th, 2017 and posted on vancouversun.com May 12, 2017. Written by Michael Bernard.

Macdonald Realty Website Recognized for Excellence

2017WQC_blueVANCOUVER, B.C. – (April 3, 2017) – Macdonald Realty has been awarded the Website Quality Certification (WQC) from Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, a global community of more than 550 high quality independent real estate firms in over 60 countries. The certification was presented in recognition of excellence in website design, content and functionality.

Macdonald Realty’s website, macrealty.com, received high marks in a variety of critical areas relating to website performance, including usability, design, content, interactivity, customer service and mobile responsiveness. The evaluation was conducted by Virtual Results, LLC, a real estate internet and social marketing firm selected by Leading Real Estate Companies of the World to review the websites of participating members.

The specific measurements for the WQC are updated each year to reflect the most current online marketing strategies, as well as evolving consumer preferences. Companies must be re-certified every two years to maintain the certification.

“The 140 companies that earned the WQC this year have created websites that engage consumers with thoughtful design, rich local content and up-to-date information on homes in the local market and around the world. We are pleased to recognize them for giving consumers a superior online experience and supporting that with exceptional customer support,” said Leading Real Estate Companies of the World President/CEO Pam O’Connor.

“We’re very excited to be one of the first Canadian real estate websites to earn the WQC designation. This lets our clients know they can search listings across BC, save and favourite properties, and connect with nearly 1000 real estate professionals using the latest technology in a secure environment,” said Rosey Hudson, Marketing Director of Macdonald Realty.  “For our internal website team this is recognition of the hard work that went into launching our new macrealty.com website last May, and a subsequent 300 agent websites in the latter half of 2016.  Macdonald Realty has made a significant investment in our online presence and are excited to roll out even more tools for our agents and clients in the next year.”

As a member of LeadingRE, Macdonald Realty provides a quality real estate experience, global marketing reach and access to top real estate professionals in markets spanning 6 continents.

For more information about Macdonald Realty, please visit macrealty.com.

# # #

About Macdonald Real Estate Group:
Based in Vancouver, Canada, Macdonald Real Estate Group (MREG) has an annual sales volume of over $8 billion and over $2 billion in assets under management.  With 20 offices and nearly 1,000 staff and REALTORS®, MREG offers a full range of real estate services, including residential and commercial brokerage, property and strata management, project marketing, and the Canadian Real Estate Investment Centre in Shanghai, China.  Macdonald Realty is the residential division of Macdonald Real Estate Group. For more information, visit www.macrealty.com.

Macdonald Realty nominated for Top Luxury Brokerage Award

VANCOUVER, B.C. – (March 28, 2017) –   Macdonald Realty was nominated for the Luxury Portfolio International® Top Luxury Brokerage Award, presented for overall engagement in Luxury Portfolio; embracement of tools, meetings, events, advertising and brand usage; and outstanding marketing strategy in the discerning market of affluent buyers and sellers.  They were nominated with Slifer, Smith & Frampton Real Estate of Colorado and, the winner, Houlihan Lawrence Real Estate of New York. The award was presented during the Leading Real Estate Companies of the World™ Conference Week, a series of events that drew an impressive audience of 2,000 real estate professionals from 25 countries.  The conference took place at Fontainebleau Miami Beach earlier this month.

Macdonald Realty's Luxury Home Marketing Team of Alyssa Mori and Rosey Hudson at the Luxury Portfolio Summit in Miami Beach.

Macdonald Realty’s Luxury Home Marketing Team of Alyssa Mori and Rosey Hudson at the Luxury Portfolio Summit in Miami Beach.

Affiliates of Luxury Portfolio market high-end homes to affluent consumers worldwide through the network’s strategic marketing program, including the award-winning website Luxuryportfolio.com, which marketed over 50,000 luxury homes to over three million high-net-worth visitors last year and featured a total inventory of available properties exceeding $54 billion.

Macdonald Realty is the largest British Columbia representative of LeadingRE (www.LeadingRE.com). With a global membership that spans six continents, LeadingRE connects more than 550 firms and 130,000 sales associates who produce over 1.2 million real estate transactions each year. As a member of LeadingRE, Macdonald Realty provides a quality real estate experience, global marketing reach and access to top real estate professionals in virtually any market worldwide.

Since 1944, Macdonald Realty has been helping British Columbians make some of the biggest decisions of their lifetime during real estate transactions. Beyond their dedicated team of nearly 1,000 residential real estate professionals operating in 20 offices across BC, they are also Western Canada’s largest integrated real estate firm who’s services include residential sales; commercial sales and leasing; project marketing; property and strata management; mortgage services; and luxury home marketing.

For more information about Macdonald Realty, please visit macrealty.com

# # #

About Macdonald Real Estate Group:
Based in Vancouver, Canada, Macdonald Real Estate Group (MREG) has an annual sales volume of over $8 billion and over $2 billion in assets under management.  With 20 offices and nearly 1,000 staff and REALTORS®, MREG offers a full range of real estate services, including residential and commercial brokerage, property and strata management, project marketing, and the Canadian Real Estate Investment Centre in Shanghai, China.  Macdonald Realty is the residential division of Macdonald Real Estate Group. For more information, visit www.macrealty.com.

Macdonald Realty: A Giant Tree from a Tiny Acorn

Vision and hard work – that sums up how Lynn Hsu grew a real estate company from one office to 20 offices and 1,000-plus employees, making it Western Canada’s largest full-service brokerage firm

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    Luxury home listed by Macdonald Realty

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    Macdonald Realty's leaders: Lynn Hsu, owner and CEO, and Dan Scarrow, managing broker

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    The Wade in Victoria, marketed by Macdonald Realty's new-home marketing division Platinum Project Marketing

As seen in… Profiles of Excellence 2017

Originally from Taiwan, Hsu immigrated to Canada in the late 1970s – alone, with no family or friends, no job prospects and speaking little English. Today, she has turned Macdonald Realty into Western Canada’s largest full-service brokerage firm.

From the moment Hsu purchased that single boutique residential firm, she had a vision.

“The real estate industry has two distinct businesses – one creation, the other servicing. On the servicing side, almost all the companies in BC were a single-purpose company, i.e. residential or commercial brokerage, property management or project marketing firms,” says Hsu. “I wanted to create a company that could provide our clients all-encompassing real estate solutions under one roof –from guiding a home buyer through the biggest investment of their lives, helping an investor manage and add value to their properties, to assembling ground intelligence to assist developers to create the right products for the marketplace.”

Today, the company’s interests encompass residential sales, commercial sales and leasing, property management, strata management, development and project management, project marketing and mortgage brokering and lending. It now includes the Macdonald Commercial and Macdonald Realty Platinum Project Marketing divisions.

Dan Scarrow, vice-president, says it’s Hsu’s ability to hire the right people that also helped propel her to the top of the industry. “Lynn has always understood how important it is to empower employees. She is a leader who inspires people through a shared vision and she has created an environment where people feel valued and fulfilled,” says Scarrow. “Her strongest point is that she has never wavered from her commitment to serve and protect our customers.”

Hsu believes that a business model based on a fundamental principle of upholding the highest standard of excellence, coupled with a strong conviction that every problem has a creative solution, would allow Macdonald Realty to grow organically. “When you have the belief and knowledge that you are doing your best to adhere to your core values, problems, rather than deflating you, energize you to action,” adds Hsu.

Hsu went on to explain: “Professionalism and integrity mean a great deal to me and my entire team. They are our company’s core values.”

[Read more…]

Macdonald Realty’s Rosey Hudson Presented at Global Luxury Real Estate Conference

VANCOUVER, B.C. – (March 23, 2017) – Rosey Hudson, Marketing Director with Macdonald Realty presented at the Luxury Portfolio SUMMIT on February 28th at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach. This invitation-only event was hosted by Luxury Portfolio International®, the luxury face of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World.

Rosey Hudson, Marketing Director, Macdonald Realty

Rosey Hudson, Marketing Director, Macdonald Realty

The 2017 Luxury Portfolio SUMMIT kicked off by exploring the changing expectations of luxury consumers and what sales associates can do to better serve their clients and provide them with the “wow” that they are looking for. Participants engaged in a collaborative program focused on how the high-net-worth buy today, the five secret languages of communication, leveraging their Luxury Portfolio relationship, marketing strategies in a mobile and digital world, growing business with global buyers and attracting attention in a world of noise by learning public relations best practices.

Hudson spoke on best practices of Presenting Luxury Portfolio Successfully, sharing insights on how luxury real estate specialists can leverage the international exposure and marketing power of their Luxury Portfolio affiliation to increase local and global interest in luxury listings.

“Vancouver is a global gateway city and our luxury homes appeal to international buyers from Europe, America, Asia and the Middle East. Everyone in our market is aware that prestigious residences need to be marketed both locally and globally. Macdonald Realty is fortunate to be one of only 5 Canadian brokerages with access to Luxury Portfolio’s extensive international reach,” said Hudson.

Macdonald Realty is the largest Canadian Luxury Portfolio affiliate, along with Profusion Realty in Montreal, Harvey Kalles Real Estate in Toronto, CIR Realty in Calgary and The Whistler Real Estate Company in Whistler, BC.

[Read more…]

Macdonald Realty Wins Marketing Award at Global Real Estate Conference

VANCOUVER, B.C. – (March 15, 2017) – Macdonald Realty was presented with a marketing award from Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, a selective global community of the highest quality independent real estate firms. The award was presented during the Leading Real Estate Companies of the World™ Conference Week, a series of events that drew an impressive audience of 2,000 real estate professionals from 25 countries.

First Place in Referral Promotions Marketing

Macdonald Realty received the award for Referral Promotions, for superior marketing relating to referral contests and programs, helping raise awareness of the company’s global real estate capabilities through its affiliation with LeadingRE.  The company place in the largest category for companies with 500+ sales associates and was chosen for excellence in creativity, quality and overall presentation and effectiveness.

“Our marketing team works hard to give our agents the best tools to grow their businesses, as well as to showcase our own brand,” said Rosey Hudson, Marketing Director of Macdonald Realty.  “This award for our Referral Toolbox – a series of social media and traditional marketing pieces that help our agents engage their clients with “We’re Local, We’re Global” – is a major kudos to the whole team.”

“We are pleased to recognize the winners of our Marketing Contest for creating distinctive materials and campaigns that convey the unique character of their companies, with a focus on compelling content, original graphics and effective delivery,” said LeadingRE President/CEO Pam O’Connor. “Our visual display of these award-winning materials is always a highlight of our conference, providing inspiration to all of our members.”
Referral-Promotions-First-Place-2

[Read more…]

Macdonald Realty’s Alyssa Mori Addresses Global Real Estate Event

Alyssa Mori, Relocation Director on an international panel at LeadingRE Annual Conference

Alyssa Mori, Relocation Director on an international panel at LeadingRE Annual Conference

VANCOUVER, B.C. – (March 13, 2017) – Alyssa Mori, Relocation Director with Macdonald Realty, spoke at the Leading Real Estate Companies of the World Annual Conference, which took place March 1-3 at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach. The conference was part of the Leading Real Estate Companies of the World (LeadingRE) Conference Week, a series of events that drew an impressive audience of 2,000 real estate professionals from 25 countries.

The prestigious event was open only to brokers, managers and relocation professionals affiliated with LeadingRE, a selective global community of the highest quality independent real estate companies. Attendees examined the dynamic factors impacting today’s real estate market and explored ways to best meet the needs of home buyers and sellers.

Mori presented information on Creating a Local Global Mindset sharing insights on how international relocations work, how they differ from country to country and how to set up a successful relationship with the client and destination brokerage.

“The insights the panel provided and our wildly differing business culture worldwide were eye opening to the mostly American audience. Being able to share how important it is to be culturally competent and recognized as a leader in this type of transaction was an honour,” said Mori. [Read more…]

Darin Germyn of Macdonald Realty becomes the Vice President of the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board

Darin

(left to right) Darin Germyn, Vice-President; Gopal Sahota, President; John Barbisan, President-Elect

SURREY, B.C., Canada (February 22, 2017) – At the annual Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB) Annual General Meeting, Darin Germyn from Macdonald Realty South Surrey/White Rock office was elected to be the Vice President of the Board.

The FVREB is a professional association of more than 3,280 Realtors in the Fraser Valley providing its members with a variety of membership services including the Multiple Listing Service®, professional development and technological innovation. Fraser Valley’s new Board of Directors takes office on March 1, 2017.

For more details about FVREB Annual General Meeting in 2017, please click HERE.

Stewart Henderson of Macdonald Realty receives the 2017 John Armeneau Professional of the Year Award

Stewart

SURREY, B.C., Canada (February 22, 2017) – At the annual Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB) Annual General Meeting, Stewart Henderson from Macdonald Realty Langley office received the John Armeneau Professional of the Year Award. This is the highest honour the board can bestow on an FVREB member, and is awarded to someone who demonstrates outstanding leadership and dedication to the real estate industry over their career. Stewart joins a list of 31 other prominent members who have won this award, we are very happy and proud of him.

In 1992, John Armeneau was the seventh board member to receive the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board Professional of the Year Award, which was created in 1985. The award was subsequently renamed the John Armeneau Professional Award after John passed away. He epitomized what it meant to be a professional REALTOR®. He was a member of the Board from 1972 to 1996.

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For more details about FVREB Annual General Meeting in 2017, please click HERE.

About Macdonald Real Estate Group
Based in Vancouver, Canada, Macdonald Real Estate Group (MREG) has an annual sales volume of over $8.9 billion and over $3 billion in assets under management. With more than 20 offices and nearly 1,000 staff and REALTORS®, MREG offers a full range of real estate services, including residential and commercial brokerage, property and strata management, project marketing, and the MREG Canadian Real Estate Investment Centre in Shanghai, China. Macdonald Realty is the residential division of Macdonald Real Estate Group. For more information, visit www.macrealty.com.

BC Market Report 2016-17: Our Annual Review and Forecast

MarketReportCover

It would be an understatement to say 2016 was a memorable year for BC real estate. The recent spate of policy changes, along with a looming provincial election, have given buyers and sellers much information to absorb as we enter the 2017 spring market. The Feature Story of our 2016-17 Market Report, “The BC real estate market in 2016: a year with many chapters“, offers an industry insiders look at these important changes.

The BC Market Report contains a 2016 review and 2017 forecast for each of our geographic markets across B.C., contributed by our local managers, as well as summaries from our residential, commercial, property management, project marketing and global relocation divisions.

Click to view:

PDF BC Market Report (English)  |  (中文)

Digital brochure BC Market Report (English) 

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Media: For further comment please contact Dan Scarrow, VP Macdonald Real Estate Group, dscarrow@macrealty.com

As Vancouver’s housing market cools, commercial property sales soar | The Globe and Mail

Claire Wyrostok, owner of popular Vancouver vegetarian restaurant Black Lodge, wonders how long it will be until Vancouver’s hot real estate market pushes her out of business. In the four years that Ms. Wyrostok has been at her current location, on Kingsway just off Fraser Street, many of the buildings in her strip have been sold and property values have more than doubled. Since Ms. Wyrostok’s three-year lease came up for renewal in March, she says the landlord is allowing her to rent only month to month.

“Every day I don’t know if I am going to get a notice with 30 days to get out,” Ms. Wyrostok says. “Our business is done,” she adds. “You develop a business to make it bigger, but we can’t expand, and we can’t sell our business. Our business has no value on paper, because the asset is the lease.”

While the residential real estate market in Vancouver is cooling, sales of commercial properties in the region have skyrocketed. The Re/Max Commercial Investor Report says there was a 94-per-cent increase in the total dollar value of Lower Mainland sales in the first half of 2016 compared with the first half of 2015, to $7.1 billion from $3.7 billion. The number of commercial property sales in the first half of 2016 was 1,464, compared with 1,138 in the same period last year.

And some, including Tony Letvinchuk, managing director for Macdonald Commercial Real Estate Services, believe that the foreign-buyer tax on residential purchases will play a role in driving the market, which is generally perceived as a balanced mix of local and foreign buyers.

“There’s no question that the additional 15-per-cent property purchase tax will motivate foreign entities – being those who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents – to consider purchasing commercial properties located in Greater Vancouver, where such transaction tax does not apply,” he says.

[Read more…]

Macdonald Realty opens boutique offices in Sidney and Sechelt

Macdonald Realty has opened two new locations, the first in Sidney on Vancouver Island and the second in Sechelt on the Sunshine Coast.  These boutique offices join the province-wide network of 20 offices operated by Macdonald Realty, a B.C. owned and operated brokerage with a 70 year history of service and excellence.

“We’re focused on serving British Columbians in communities of all sizes” says Jonathan Cooper, Vice President, Operations. “Smaller offices like Sidney and Saanich, led by strong local REALTORS®, have become an important part of Macdonald Realty’s growth strategy over recent years.”

In Sidney, the new office opened with six agents and was spearheaded by Chace Whitson, a multiple MLS® Gold Award winner who has been with Macdonald Realty since 2013.  “Having our large office in Downtown Victoria, and now one in Sidney, allows us to serve our clients better across the whole region,” says Whitson. “Our affiliation with Luxury Portfolio International® gives our high-end clients a unique opportunity to market their home to the luxury elite across the globe, something that no other Victoria brokerage can offer.”

The Sechelt office is the result of a meeting between Managing Broker Patricia Place and Medallion Club REALTORS® Barbie Whitworth and Shay Moudahi who decided to switch their office to Macdonald Realty after being attracted by the company’s strong leadership, systems and brand positioning. “The new office is opening at just the right time with the Sunshine Coast market really heating up,” says Place, a part-time Sunshine Coast resident herself who also manages the company’s Squamish, West Vancouver and North Vancouver locations.  

Macdonald Realty Ltd. – Sidney | 2411 Bevan Avenue, Sidney, BC  V8L 4M9  |  Office: 778-426-2262

Macdonald Realty Ltd. – Sechelt | #3 – 5764 Wharf Road, Sechelt, BC  V0N 3A0  |  Office: 604-747-2222

[Read more…]

Tougher mortgage rules could dampen condo, townhome sales in Vancouver, Toronto | The Globe and Mail

Sales of condos and townhomes could soften in Canada’s two largest housing markets as first-time buyers face tougher lending rules that take effect on Monday.

The mortgage changes will likely be felt especially hard in Greater Vancouver and the Greater Toronto Area, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association.

“First-time home buyers, particularly in housing markets with a lack of affordable inventory of single-family homes, may be priced out of the market by the new regulations that take effect on Oct. 17,” CREA chief economist Gregory Klump said in a statement on Friday.

He made the comment as CREA released data showing the average price for various housing types sold nationally in about 100 markets in September reached $474,590, up 9.5 per cent from the same month in 2015. Sales volume increased 4.2 per cent.

Last week, the federal government announced measures to tighten mortgage rules. Ottawa is also closing tax loopholes used by some foreign buyers.

In most cases, homeowners who are looking to upgrade to larger houses must first sell their existing properties before they are able to acquire their next place.

[Read more…]

BNN Interview about Ottawa’s New Housing Policies

The federal government announced new measures for housing market to slow the injection of foreign cash and to tighten eligibility rules on prospective borrowers. Jonathan Cooper, vice president of operations at Macdonald Real Estate Group, joins BNN with perspective on Ottawa’s new housing policies.

Realtor: Ottawa’s new housing policies ‘logical step’

(To view the video on mobile devices, please click here for direct play on BNN.)

About Macdonald Real Estate Group
Based in Vancouver, Canada, Macdonald Real Estate Group (MREG) has an annual sales volume of over $7 billion and over $2 billion in assets under management. With more than 20 offices and nearly 1,000 staff and REALTORS®, MREG offers a full range of real estate services, including residential and commercial brokerage, property and strata management, project marketing, and the MREG Canadian Real Estate Investment Centre in Shanghai, China. Macdonald Realty is the residential division of Macdonald Real Estate Group. For more information, visit www.macrealty.com.

BNN interview about tax evasion in B.C. real estate market

B.C.’s finance minister, Mike de Jong, urges Canada Revenue Agency to “diligently” enforce the law following a report that speculators are flipping homes in B.C. without paying tax. Business News Network (BNN) invites Jonathan Cooper, Vice President of Operations at Macdonald Real Estate Group to share his opinions.

Tax evasion in B.C. real estate market happening but rare

(To view the video on mobile devices, please click here for direct play on BNN.)

 

About Macdonald Real Estate Group
Based in Vancouver, Canada, Macdonald Real Estate Group (MREG) has an annual sales volume of over $7 billion and over $2 billion in assets under management. With more than 20 offices and nearly 1,000 staff and REALTORS®, MREG offers a full range of real estate services, including residential and commercial brokerage, property and strata management, project marketing, and the MREG Canadian Real Estate Investment Centre in Shanghai, China. Macdonald Realty is the residential division of Macdonald Real Estate Group. For more information, visit www.macrealty.com.

Housing tax not as painful in Maple Ridge | Maple Ridge News

Currently, the real estate industry is in the middle of its usual summer slowdown. - Phil Melnychuk/THE NEWS

Currently, the real estate industry is in the middle of its usual summer slowdown. — Image Credit: Phil Melnychuk/THE NEWS

Slapping another 15-per-cent sales tax on homes to foreign buyers could cool the red-hot real estate market in higher priced areas of Richmond or Vancouver, but it might take longer to learn of any effect in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.

The announcement by the B.C. government last week saw a rush to complete deals by the Aug. 2 deadline, but Tom Garvey, managing broker with Macdonald Realty, says it will be at least a month before the full effect of the tax is known in Maple Ridge.

“There’s not a huge amount of foreign buyers who are coming out to Maple Ridge,” said Garvey, who said he hasn’t noticed any effect so far in the local market.

But it’s early yet and time will tell.

“Let’s see what happens over the next two to four weeks.”

[Read more…]

B.C. Real Estate In ‘Absolute Mayhem’ Amid Talk Of Sales Collapse|The Huffington Post Canada

Greater Vancouver’s real estate market is in the throes of chaos as buyers, sellers and industry insiders try to adapt to a new tax on foreign buyers that went into effect on Tuesday.

Though a recent poll showed nine out of 10 British Columbians back a tax on foreign buyers of residential real estate, many industry insiders and entrepreneurs are lining up against it, saying it risks destabilizing the housing market and Vancouver’s economy.

The tax has even taken on shades of a political controversy, as a prominent Vancouver real estate marketer and provincial Liberal fundraising chief denies he knew in advance the tax was coming.

B.C. Real Estate In Absolute Mayhem Amid Talk Of Sales Collapse

Vancouver realtor Steve Saretsky told Global News his analysis of MLS data found that detached home sales collapsed by 75 per cent in the few weeks after the provincial government announced it was introducing a 15-per-cent sales tax on foreign buyers of residential real estate in Greater Vancouver.

Saretsky described the market as being in “absolute mayhem.” But other realtors told media it is too soon to tell what the precise impact will be on the housing market.

[Read more…]

Foreign Buyers Tax: Realtors begin to report sales deals collapse | Vancouver Sun

Realtors and lawyers desperate to get in under the deadline filed a record-setting 15,000 property transfer applications on Thursday and Friday, the last business days before B.C.’s punishing new 15-per-cent tax on foreign property buyers went into effect.

More than 9,200 transactions were filed on Friday, breaking the June 30 record of more than 8,400 in a single day, according to the B.C. Land Title and Survey Authority. It also reported over 5,800 transactions on Thursday, representing nearly as many deals registered at month’s end in April.

The demand was so heavy that it crashed the land titles office’s electronic filing service on both days, the authority said.

Now, as a new dawn breaks in Metro Vancouver’s real estate market, realty companies and real estate boards are reporting the first anecdotes of deals falling through as foreign buyers forfeited deposits on binding deals rather than pay the new tax. And they report evidence of local buyers withdrawing offers in expectation that the market will soften.

Elton Ash, executive vice-president of Re/Max Western Region, said it is too early to accurately quantify how many deals fell apart, but he’s heard from realtors in some of the company’s 30 Metro Vancouver offices of cases where foreign buyers who couldn’t rearrange previously negotiated closing dates have already walked away.

“Our expectation is that there will be a percentage of transactions collapse due to the buyer basically defaulting on the contract,” Ash said.

He and other realty experts say it may take up to two or three months to gauge the full effect of the new tax.

Jonathan Cooper, vice-president of operations at MacDonald Realty, expects many cases to go to court because deposits are held in trust by realtors and usually can’t be released without a court order.

“I think the next chapters in this story are going to be written by lawyers,” Cooper said. “There are going to be cases for sellers trying to get the deposit out of trust and maybe suing the buyer for specific performance trying to get them to complete, and/or for damages if they are not able to find a buyer at a similar price point.”

[Read more…]

‘Fundamental Issue in Vancouver Market Is Supply’ | Bloomberg TV Canada

Jonathan Cooper, Vice President, Operations at Macdonald Real Estate Group joins Bloomberg TV Canada’s Rudyard Griffiths to discuss the impact of the 15 percent property tax for non-Canadian citizens and non-permanent residents in Metro Vancouver.

 

About Macdonald Real Estate Group
Based in Vancouver, Canada, Macdonald Real Estate Group (MREG) has an annual sales volume of over $7 billion and over $2 billion in assets under management. With more than 20 offices and nearly 1,000 staff and REALTORS®, MREG offers a full range of real estate services, including residential and commercial brokerage, property and strata management, project marketing, and the MREG Canadian Real Estate Investment Centre in Shanghai, China. Macdonald Realty is the residential division of Macdonald Real Estate Group. For more information, visit www.macrealty.com.

B.C. turns from foreign buyers to investor immigrants as Vancouver’s affordability crisis continues | Georgia Straight

A whopping 90 percent of Metro Vancouver residents support the region’s new 15-percent tax on foreign buyers of residential real estate. At the same time, only three percent of respondents to the same poll, conducted by the Angus Reid Institute, say the tax goes far enough, and 71 percent describe it as simply a step in the right direction.

While the region waits to see what kind of impact the new tax will have on the market, pundits are debating what additional measures the government should take. That’s turned a lot of attention to the Quebec Immigrant Investor Program (QIIP), a path exclusively for wealthy immigrants that, despite its name, lets newcomers settle in B.C. Those home buyers are counted as locals and therefore are not subject to the region’s new tax on foreign nationals. Some observers argue the QIIP deserves much of the blame for driving up the price of a home in Vancouver.

On July 28, Premier Christy Clark revealed she’s approached her Québécois counterpart and opened discussions on the issue.

 “We’re going to work together on it,” she told Global News. “We’re going to try and support him [Premier Philippe Couillard] in finding ways to make sure their program, their investor program, is for Quebec and for Quebec alone. And that when people come into Quebec, that’s where they stay.”

But eliminating this source of wealthy immigrants might not have as sizable an effect on Vancouver real estate as some have suggested.

[Read more…]

Reality of B.C.’s foreign buyers tax begins to bite as realtors report deals collapsing | Financial Post

Realtors and lawyers desperate to get in under the deadline filed a record-setting 15,000 property transfer applications on Thursday and Friday, the last business days before B.C.’s punishing new 15-per-cent tax on foreign property buyers went into effect.

More than 9,200 transactions were filed on Friday, breaking the 2007-2008 record of more than 8,400 in a single day, according to the B.C. Land Title and Survey Authority. It also reported over 5,800 transactions on Thursday, representing nearly as many deals registered at month’s end in April.

The demand was so heavy that it crashed the land titles office’s electronic filing service on both days, the authority said.

Now, as a new dawn breaks in Metro Vancouver’s real estate market, realty companies and real estate boards are reporting the first anecdotes of deals falling through as foreign buyers forfeited deposits on binding deals rather than pay the new tax. And they report evidence of local buyers withdrawing offers in expectation that the market will soften.

Elton Ash, executive vice-president of Re/Max Western Region, said it is too early to accurately quantify how many deals fell apart, but he’s heard from realtors in some of the company’s 30 Metro Vancouver offices of cases where foreign buyers who couldn’t rearrange previously negotiated closing dates have already walked away.

“Our expectation is that there will be a percentage of transactions collapse due to the buyer basically defaulting on the contract,” Ash said.

He and other realty experts say it may take up to two or three months to gauge the full effect of the new tax.

“I think the next chapters in this story are going to be written by lawyers”

Jonathan Cooper, vice-president of operations at Macdonald Realty, expects many cases to go to court because deposits are held in trust by realtors and usually can’t be released without a court order.

“I think the next chapters in this story are going to be written by lawyers,” Cooper said. “There are going to be cases for sellers trying to get the deposit out of trust and maybe suing the buyer for specific performance trying to get them to complete, and/or for damages if they are not able to find a buyer at a similar price point.”

[Read more…]

Thousands of Metro Vancouver real estate deals caught by tax deadline

‘Last week was pretty hectic,’ realtor said of rush to avoid new tax by midnight cutoff

house-key-turning-in-lock-real-estate-tax-image

For some the last few weeks was a rush to wrap up real estate deals before Aug. 2 tax was imposed on Metro Vancouver property deals. (DeWitt Clinto/Flickr)

Thousands of home buyers and sellers in Metro Vancouver reacted with ‘shock and disbelief,’ madly rushing to beat the Aug. 2 deadline of the new 15 per cent foreign buyer real estate tax.

Realtors estimate 3,000-to-4,000 deals were affected.

“It’s so fast. Just everyone is shocked,” said Jin Liu, a realtor with Remax.

After the legal documents flutter to the floor industry watchers warn there will be challenges to the new tax, seen by many as unfair.

Some say it violates the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which prohibits governments from imposing policies that punish foreigners. Top lawyers say the tax is ripe for a constitutional challenge.

The foreign buyer tax, aimed at cooling Vancouver’s torrid housing market, was announced July 25. The aim was to chill speculative investing and preserve affordable homes for people living and working in Canada.

Up to 4,000 deals affected by new tax

Buyers and sellers were caught in the sting of the Aug. 2 tax that has been applied even to deals struck long before it existed.

“We weren’t given notice …. so most likely the deals will collapse. It’s not fair for everyone,” added Liu.

[Read more…]

Vancouver just hit foreign homebuyers with a massive tax | CNNMoney

If you’re not a Canadian, buying property in Vancouver will cost you.

Starting Tuesday, foreign buyers purchasing property in the Canadian City will be hit with a 15% property transfer tax.

The swift implementation of the tax was in response to exploding home prices in the city, and goes into effect eight days after it was announced.

It will also apply to buyers already in contract.

Real estate in Vancouver has been hot lately, with home prices up 23% from a year ago, according to the the Teranet-National Bank Composite House Price Index.

iStock_000010833733Medium

Low inventory and strong demand has created a highly-competitive market where it’s common for sellers to get 10 offers or more.

Adding to the demand is a flood of foreign buyers investing in the city. In a five-week period earlier this summer, more than $676 million ($885 million Canadian dollars) in foreign cash poured into Metro Vancouver, according to recent government data. During that time, 10% of all purchases were made by foreign buyers.

In Richmond, a suburb within Metro Vancouver, foreigners accounted for almost 20% of total investments.

Many of the buyers are investors looking for a safe haven to park their cash, while others are emigrating to Canada, according to experts.

While there’s little disagreement that affordability has become more elusive — especially for middle-class buyers — the swift implementation and broadness of the tax has some real estate agents worried.

The tax will apply to foreign buyers who are already in contract, but not yet closed. That means their purchase is about to get 15% more expensive, even though they’ve already made the deal.

The benchmark price for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver was $700,924 in June (917,800 Canadian dollars). The new tax would add $105,139 to the purchase price.

The tax can also have consequences for home sellers. If a foreign buyer decides to back out of the now more expensive deal, the seller could be left in the lurch if they were shopping for another home or had plans for the money from the sale.

The move has already given some foreign buyers pause.

Op-Ed by Jonathan Cooper

Jonathan Cooper, vice president, operations at Macdonald Real Estate Group

Jonathan Cooper, vice president, operations at Macdonald Real Estate Group in Vancouver, said there’s been a rush among foreign clients to close before the tax goes into effect, and that one client decided not to move forward with a purchase.

The housing crunch has been hitting middle-class house hunters particularly hard.

“It is difficult for even dual-income families to create enough to have a down payment to enter the marketplace,” said Jason Soprovich, a luxury real estate agent in Vancouver.

Soaring prices are pushing buyers outside the city to find some relief.

“North Vancouver has traditionally been a middle-class area, but the demographic is changing and young families can’t afford to live close to downtown,” said Dan Morrison, president of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver. “People are moving farther and farther out for affordability.”

While some government officials have said the tax aims to bring more accessibility and affordability for middle-class residents, real estate agents noted that it will be hard to prove its impact.

The market was starting to show signs of some cooling in recent weeks as more inventory has trickled online. Late summer also tends to bring a slowdown in activity.

“It was almost a knee-jerk reaction from the government,” said Soprovich. “A lot of people believe this cold be political posturing with an election coming in the fall.”


The article was originally posted on CNNMoney, August 2, 2016. Written by Kathryn Vasel.

Opinion: The true cost of the new real estate tax

This week, the B.C. government introduced a new 15-per-cent tax on all non-citizen and non-permanent-resident buyers of residential real estate in Metro Vancouver. Macdonald Realty opened its first office in the Kerrisdale neighbourhood over 70 years ago. Though we now have 20-plus offices and 1,000 staff and agents, the heart of our organization is still in Vancouver.

We understand that the government felt the need to take concrete action to curb speculation and related price inflation. We understand also that the increase in real estate prices over the last few years is a topic of much concern to many Metro Vancouver residents. That said, we do take strong issue with the retroactive nature of this new tax. Specifically, that it applies to all transactions that close after Aug. 2, regardless of when those contracts were entered into. This will have profoundly negative consequences for many Canadian families, who weren’t the intended targets of the tax.

To highlight the consequences, let us give you a few real-life examples.

One of our clients is a new immigrant family in the process of moving to Canada. They have both children registered for school — their daughter will be studying English literature at the University of B.C. in the fall. They have already entered into a firm deal to buy a resale home priced at $765,000 (from a Canadian seller), but since the sale closes after Aug. 2, they are now looking at a sudden $114,750 increase in their cost — on a firm and binding contract. This is neither just nor reasonable.

Op-Ed by Jonathan Cooper

Op-Ed by Jonathan Cooper

Our second example involves a Canadian family who recently listed their home for sale in Surrey. They have a firm deal with an immigrant family for $480,000; however, that deal is now in peril, because the buyer’s cost just went up by $72,000. The sellers, as Canadian citizens, weren’t meant to be the subject of this tax, but now it has placed their financial lives in jeopardy.

The Canadian sellers in both examples point to a broader reality: the knock-on effects of this tax throughout the Vancouver real estate market that could be immensely damaging for many Canadians. Real estate is traditionally a linked economic activity. Once they have a firm deal on their property, many sellers promptly go on to buy their next home. If foreign buyers begin defaulting en masse, we could see a contagion scenario wherein a single default by a foreign buyer will result in many more defaults by Canadian buyers. In addition, the resulting flood of lawsuits from these defaults could overrun the court system. We believe that the government has not anticipated this very likely scenario.

There is a prevailing impression that all foreign buyers are big-moneyed cash buyers. But the reality is that there are many more hardworking, middle-class immigrant families who are stretching themselves in order to get a foothold in the Vancouver market and give their families a better life. It is very reasonable that some of these families will not be able to afford an additional 15-per-cent tax that was neither anticipated nor budgeted for. For many, their only option will be to default on their purchase and lose their deposits.

Furthermore, this tax damages our province’s credibility as a place to do business in the eyes of the world. If our government is willing to drastically and retroactively increase costs in one major sector of the market, a reasonable investor would have to conclude that they might be willing to do so in any sector. Do we want to be known as a place where legally binding contracts can be, without recourse, altered after the fact by the government? And in a country built by immigrants, do we want to be known as a place where we impose severe, retroactive costs on families merely because of their country of origin?

Once again, while we do not necessarily agree that the government’s move to implement a foreign-buyers’ tax is the most effective means of addressing affordability, we do understand the immense public pressure to respond to Vancouver’s escalating house prices. However, the punitive nature of the tax’s implementation will cause immense — and completely unnecessary — damage to Canadian families, with no discernible benefit.

Premier Christy Clark expressed concerns that grandfathering would create a run on the market, but this could easily be avoided by only including contracts that were agreed to before July 25, the date on which the tax was announced. Imposing a 15-per-cent tax while exempting existing contracts will achieve the government’s goals without financially imperiling blameless Canadian sellers. In the strongest possible terms, we urge the government to reconsider their position.

—————–

This op-ed by Jonathan Cooper was published in the Vancouver Sun on Friday, July 29th 2016.  Jonathan Cooper is vice-president of Macdonald Real Estate Group Inc.

One in 10 home sales in Vancouver region went to foreign buyers | The Globe and Mail

B.C. Premier Christy Clark says new data that show foreigners bought one in every 10 homes sold in Metro Vancouver’s superheated market over five weeks forced her government to introduce a new and substantial tax on international buyers, but she says the surprise levy is intended to stop the spike in prices, not devalue the equity built up by existing homeowners.

Foreign buyers in B.C.
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Statistics the province released on Tuesday show buyers who were not Canadian citizens or permanent residents made up 10 per cent of all home sales in Metro Vancouver between June 10 and July 14. Those transactions totalled $885-million. An earlier release of data covering June 10 to 29 and not including end-of-month sales found only 5 per cent of the sales in the region involved foreigners.

The proportion of international buyers was higher in the suburbs of Burnaby and Richmond, with nearly one in five of all homes sold in those cities going to people from countries other than Canada. The rate for Vancouver proper was 11 per cent, and 7 per cent across all of British Columbia.

“There need to be more houses on the market that are available to local people,” Ms. Clark told The Globe and Mail.

Next Tuesday, 22 communities will start levying 15 per cent in additional property transfer taxes on any foreign home buyer without permanent residency in Canada, as well as foreign corporations or Canadian-registered corporations owned or controlled by foreigners.

[Read more…]

BNN Interview about the New 15% Foreign Buyers Tax

The B.C. government announced a new plan to introduce a 15% property transfer tax for non-Canadian citizens and non-permanent residents in Metro Vancouver. The move comes as the government attempts to combat the growing affordability crisis in the Vancouver area. Business News Network (BNN) speaks with Jonathan Cooper, Vice President of Operations at Macdonald Real Estate Group about the impact.

 Vancouver realtors unhappy with new foreign buyers tax

(To view the video on mobile devices, please click here for direct play on BNN.)

 

About Macdonald Real Estate Group
Based in Vancouver, Canada, Macdonald Real Estate Group (MREG) has an annual sales volume of over $7 billion and over $2 billion in assets under management. With more than 20 offices and nearly 1,000 staff and REALTORS®, MREG offers a full range of real estate services, including residential and commercial brokerage, property and strata management, project marketing, and the MREG Canadian Real Estate Investment Centre in Shanghai, China. Macdonald Realty is the residential division of Macdonald Real Estate Group. For more information, visit www.macrealty.com.

Soaring property values push businesses out of Vancouver’s west side | The Globe and Mail

Vancouver’s sky-high real estate prices are changing the shape of its retail districts – with pricey neighbourhoods feeling some pain, and formerly neglected pockets of the city getting a boost.

Several long-time businesses on the city’s expensive west side are either closing down or moving as retail strips transform under the pressures of rent and tax increases, redevelopment and a shifting demographic. The shopping strip along West Broadway, in the once-trendy heart of Upper Kitsilano, suddenly has vacant storefronts. Long-time shops are moving or shutting down.

“There is something wrong with West Broadway – an unprecedented number of businesses are closing their doors,” said Marion Jamieson, director of the Upper Kitsilano Residents Association. “I think the kinds of issues we’re facing in the residential areas of gentrification are also having an impact on commercial areas.”

[Read more…]

What I learned as a real estate VP selling my home

In real estate services, you get what you pay for

Posted on Inman News  June 2, 2016

Key Takeaways

  • With real estate agents, you generally get what you pay for.

  • The process of achieving the successful sale of your home begins long before the home is actually listed.

  • Even in a hot market, good agents more than earn their commission by helping you achieve a higher relative sales price, and by de-stressing the whole process.

Jonathan CooperI’ve worked in the real estate business for almost a decade. While my firm (Macdonald Real Estate Group) is active in residential sales, we also have other divisions including commercial brokerage and leasing, project marketing (new homes and condos consulting), property management and our expanding presence in Mainland China (the topic of several past Inman articles).

I’m a “corporate guy” and my job with the parent company mainly involves working with our leadership team to implement the CEO’s vision for the overall operation. But I am surrounded by talk about the real estate market daily: prices, supply of condos or detached homes, buying and selling, etc.

Kitsilano condo for saleIt had been almost a decade since I had gone through the listing, selling and moving process myself. My wife and I live in Kitsilano, on Vancouver’s Westside. We love our 99-Walkscore neighborhood, near the beach and beautiful parks, extensive shopping and amenities.

However, we recently had our second child, and it was time to make a move. This meant listing our home with one of Macdonald Realty’s agents. But with over 230 agents in our three vibrant Vancouver offices, how was I going to choose?

After extensive discussions with my wife, we wound up selecting an agent who was both a neighborhood expert and someone with whom we had a good personal rapport.

The Vancouver real estate market is currently red hot. March 2016 was a record month with over 5,000 transactions in the board, and prices have gone up 15 percent (or more) in the past six months.

A very active market notwithstanding, we didn’t want to take any chances. Our agent visited our home in late January, five weeks before we put it on the market; he gave us extensive guidance as to how and what to declutter and fix up so that the home showed well. He also put us in touch with an excellent handyman, who helped with the tasks we couldn’t do ourselves.

After this work was done, he came back to offer a few final suggestions, and then he brought in a professional photographer, whom he personally supervised. He prepared beautiful online and off-line marketing materials, and he advised us on a price that was geared to generate maximum interest.

We listed in early March, and after a busy weekend of showings and open houses, our agent brought us five offers to consider. Even though all offers were over our asking price, he skillfully lead the negotiations, so we achieved a record price for our building, and we got the dates we needed for moving out.

We achieved a record price for our building, and we got the dates we needed for moving out.

Our market is awash with low-cost competition and firms that loudly advertise 1 percent commission or low flat fees. The message is: cheaper is better. And in a hot housing market, I’ve heard some people ask why they should use a real estate agent when houses are selling themselves right now.

The decluttering and staging advice we received from our agent, the photos and the comprehensive marketing plan, his aptitude in negotiation: these factors I would estimate earned us at least an extra $25,000 on the sale price, far more than we would have saved by going with a discount house.

Our agent helped us get at least an extra $25,000 on the sale price.

As someone who spends his working life deeply enmeshed in the business of real estate, it was great to be reminded of an old truism: In real estate services, as in so many other things, you get what you pay for.

Jonathan Cooper is Vice president, Operations at Macdonald Real Estate Group. You can follow him on Twitter @jtscooper or on LinkedIn.

BNN interview about the Vancouver housing supply problem

Business News Network (BNN) speaks with Jonathan Cooper, Vice President of Operations at Macdonald Real Estate Group about David Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff + Associates comments on policymakers and housing supply constraints and how they would relate to the Vancouver real estate market.  What change are needed to address the Vancouver housing supply problem?

 

Best policy levers to address Vancouver’s housing supply constraints


(To view the video on mobile devices, please click here for direct play on BNN.)

[Read more…]

Macdonald Realty nominated for HGTV’s Ultimate House Hunt 2016

It is time for HGTV.com’s Ultimate House Hunt once again!

This year Macdonald Realty is nominated in the Best International Home category for a spectacular Three-Level Penthouse in Vancouver, Canada.  This is the category we won last year for The Sanctuary, a luxury home we listed and sold in Squamish B.C.

spectacular Three-Level Penthouse in Vancouver

SENSATIONAL TROPHY VANCOUVER PENTHOUSE – Atop a 32 storey skyscraper this three level sky mansion sprawls over 6,000 square feet of living space and 1,700 square feet of terraces. Outstanding first impressions from the direct elevator access leading to a grand living room featuring soaring 16 foot ceilings, panoramic English Bay views and a grand curved staircase. Master boasts gas fireplace, large steam shower and a two person jetted tub situated mid room. Main level offers second master suite with fireplace and numerous built-in cabinets. Bespoke chef’s kitchen with 48 inch Décor six burner range, numerous built-in ovens and appliances anchored by huge granite island and access to 700 square foot terrace with fireplace and built-in Viking BBQ. Family room with grand wet bar, air conditioning, concierge and six-car private garage. LP $7,838,000

Macdonald Realty nominated for HGTV luxury home contest

Tour amazing homes across the globe, vote for your favourites, and enter for your chance to win a $10,000 cash prize! And remember you can vote for your favourites once a day. Follow the instructions below to vote for Macdonald Realty’s Nominee for HGTV’s Ultimate House Hunt 2016:

Step 1: Tour the homes in the category.
Step 2: When you’ve found your favorite, click “I’m Ready to Vote.”
Step 3: Choose your favorite by clicking “Vote.”
Step 4: Click “Continue to Next Category” to tour more homes.

Click here to vote.

Vote for HGTV's Ultimate House Hunt 2016

LeadingRE exceeds $351 billion USD in sales

Macdonald Realty is pleased to share that Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®, our global real estate network of market-leading independent brokerages, has announced its most recent sales statistics for 2015, reflecting ongoing dominance in the residential real estate market. Network affiliates produced over one million transactions valued at $351 billion USD in home sales last year, outperforming its closest network competitor by $86 billion, which further widened the margin over the previous year.
LeadingRE Annual Sales 2015 Graph

Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® affiliates had 27% of the total sales among the top 500 firms in the U.S., outselling all other networks in home sales by 48%, according to REAL Trends 500, a ranking of the largest U.S. companies by transaction sides and sales volume. Members also represented 14 of the top 25 firms in the U.S. in sales volume among this prestigious group.

[Read more…]

B.C. takes aim at shadow flipping in the real estate market

Business News Network (BNN) speaks with Jonathan Cooper of Macdonald Real Estate Group on the BC government’s new regulations aimed at what is called “shadow flipping”. While the aim is to further protect sellers in residential real estate transactions, just how much of an effect will this move have on the hot housing market?

Click the video to watch.

(To view the video on mobile devices, please click here.)
[Read more…]

2016 Chamber Award Nominees: Macdonald Realty Victoria and Branch Manager Nathalie Ghoos

This year our Macdonald Realty Victoria office was a finalist for Employer of the Year in the 2016 Greater Victoria Business Awards held by the Chamber of Commerce! In addition, Victoria office’s Branch Manager Nathalie Ghoos was a finalist for Employee of the Year.

129_Ara_Balabanian                     natalievictoria
Ara Balabanian                                                   Nathalie Ghoos
Managing Broker, Victoria                                Branch Manager, Victoria

Congratulations to all the nominees, finalists, and winners who were a part of this great event. Find out more info about the Victoria office in the video below.

[Read more…]

Loonie Driving American Home Buyers Interest in BC

Jonathan Cooper, Vice President, Operations of Macdonald Real Estate Group, was on Business News Network (BNN) speaking about the pick-up in American home buyers in BC and how the loonie has been driving that interest.

Click the video to watch.

Macdonald Realty Recognized for Excellence in Service and Marketing at Global Real Estate Conference

VANCOUVER, B.C., Canada – (March 2, 2016) – Macdonald Realty received the prestigious Global Alliance Award from Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® (LeadingRE), a global network of more than 500 high quality independent real estate firms. The award was presented at the network’s Annual Awards Gala February 25 at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach. The event was part of LeadingRE’s Conference Week, which has attracted a distinguished audience of nearly 2,500 real estate professionals from 25 countries.

Winner Global Alliance Award

For the fourth consecutive year, Macdonald Realty was presented the Global Alliance Award. This award is presented to the international firm that closes the most cross-border referrals, utilizing the strength of the LeadingRE network to assist their local clients with global real estate investment and relocation services.

“The companies recognized with one of these prestigious awards have shown a real commitment to maximizing specific services available to them through their affiliation as a way to extend the scope of their offerings,” LeadingRE President/CEO Pam O’Connor said. “We are pleased to pay tribute to these outstanding companies for their focus on excellence and their exemplary participation in our global community.”

Macdonald Realty accepts 2016 Global Alliance Award in Miami

Jonathan Cooper, Alyssa Mori and Rosey Hudson of Macdonald Realty accept the 2016 Global Alliance Award.

 

Top 3 International Luxury Brokerages

Macdonald Realty was named one of the Top 3 International Luxury Brokerage by Luxury Portfolio International®. The award is presented to the firm based outside of the U.S. that epitomizes the quality, strength and luxury market expertise synonymous with the Luxury Portfolio brand.   Macdonald Realty was the only Canadian nominee, along with firms from South Africa and Italy.

Top 3 Consumer Materials and Video Marketing

Macdonald Realty was also recognized with top three finishes in two categories of the LeadingRE annual Marketing Competition.  The award-winning entries in the Consumer Materials and Video categories were chosen based on creativity, quality and overall presentation and effectiveness.

“It’s an honour for our marketing team to be recognized by LeadingRE, and in the company of outstanding firms from New York, Chicago and South Africa,” says Macdonald Realty’s Marketing Manager Rosey Hudson.  “It shows that the materials our in-house team produces are truly world class. Our new listing presentation is informative and beautiful, and is a tool that our agents should be very proud to share with prospective clients.”

2016 LeadingRE Awards for Macdonald Realty

 

Macdonald Realty, the residential division of Macdonald Real Estate Group, is the largest British Columbia representative of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® (www.LeadingRE.com), an extensive network of premier locally-branded firms in more than 50 countries producing over one million annual home sale transactions. As a member of LeadingRE, Macdonald Realty provides a quality real estate experience, global marketing reach and access to top real estate professionals in any market.

For more information on Macdonald Realty, visit www.macrealty.com  or call 1-877-278-3888.

——————–

For comment please contact
Jonathan Cooper, Vice President, Operations
Macdonald Real Estate Group Inc.
Direct: 604-264-6789
Email:  jcooper@macrealty.com

About Macdonald Real Estate Group
Based in Vancouver, Canada, Macdonald Real Estate Group (MREG) has an annual sales volume of over $7 billion and over $2 billion in assets under management.  With more than 20 offices and nearly 1,000 staff and REALTORS®, MREG offers a full range of real estate services, including residential and commercial brokerage, property and strata management, project marketing, and the MREG Canadian Real Estate Investment Centre in Shanghai, China.  Macdonald Realty is the residential division of Macdonald Real Estate Group. For more information, visit www.macrealty.com.

 

In search of a great real estate brokerage | Real Estate Magazine (REM)

When you are serious about a career in real estate and want to find a brokerage that aligns with your career aspirations, selecting the “right” brokerage is critical to your success.

A fallacy exists that higher commissions should be your ultimate goal, but agent productivity statistics repeatedly reveal that this is not case. If you receive 100 per cent of the commission, you have to ask yourself what kind of support and services you can expect from the brokerage. The answer should be obvious: you get what you pay for, but this is fine for some.

John Lusink, vice-president at Chestnut Park Real Estate in Toronto, says, “A brokerage’s financial stability question only seems to surface when the economy starts to weaken, but realistically you should always be thinking about this. I also see a shift occurring in the industry back to the ‘truly’ full service, responsive brokerage models, especially as the public and our provincial regulatory bodies focus more on professionalism and competency.”

[Read more…]

Macdonald Realty CEO Lynn Hsu recognized in the 2016 Swanepoel Power 200 List

Macdonald Realty’s President and CEO Lynn Hsu has been included in the Swanepoel™ annual list of The Most Powerful People in Residential Real Estate for 2016.

Ms. Hsu’s acquisition of Macdonald Realty in 1990 coincided with Vancouver’s emergence as an Asian hub on the international stage. She has subsequently grown the firm to 20 offices throughout British Columbia (Canada) with nearly 1,000 agents responsible for an estimated $5 billion in annual sales.

Lynn Hsu, recognized for growing Macdonald Realty from one office in 1990 to 20 offices and nearly 1000 agents 25 years later, is listed as #105 for the Power 200. This is the overall SP200 list which identifies the 200 leaders that have the most power and influence to impact the residential real estate brokerage industry.

In addition Lynn Hsu ranks in the Top 20 on their Women Leaders list, along with Pam O’Connor of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®, our global network of market-leading independent brokerages. We’re also happy to see Stephanie Pfeffer Anton of Luxury Portfolio International® and LeadingRE named #1 in the Top 20 Social Influencers of Residential Real Estate.  Our friend and colleague Paul Boomsma, President of Luxury Portfolio International® also made the Power 200 list.

View the complete 2016 Swanepoel Power 200 lists.

 

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Macdonald Realty #1 in 2015 list of “Biggest BC businesses owned by women” | BIV

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In the August 4, 2015 edition of Business in Vancouver, Macdonald Realty was ranked #1 on their annual list of the biggest BC businesses owned by women.  With 930 employees in B.C., Macdonald Realty’s Owner, President and CEO Lynn Hsu tops a list that includes SimpeQ Care, TPD, Purdys Chocolatier and CEFA Early Learning Schools in the Top 5.

Macdonald Realty also ranks 11th on BIV’s list of Biggest B.C. organizations managed by women.

Business in Vancouver newspaper is the flagship publication of Business in Vancouver Media Group. Since its creation in 1989, the weekly newspaper has been an essential source of news, features, analysis and data for Vancouver business leaders and influencers. It remains a must-read source of unique, unduplicated business insight.

See the full list at Business in Vancouver.

 

Over 300 Macdonald Realty Agents Achieve the Certified Negotiation Expert Designation

VANCOUVER, B.C., Canada (August 11, 2015) – Macdonald Realty is pleased to announce that as of August 11th, 2015, over 300 of its real estate agents have received the Certified Negotiation Expert (CNE®) designation – this represents over 50% of the agents from Macdonald Realty’s residential sales offices.

“In decades past, agents were the conduits of listing information.” Explains Macdonald Real Estate Group (MREG) CEO Lynn Hsu. “Now, there is an enormous amount of listing data readily available to the public online, and the value proposition for the real estate agent has changed.  Agents must provide cogent analysis of the data available, and expert negotiation skills to resolve conflict, build bridges, and bring deals together for the benefit of all parties involved.”

Jonathan Cooper, MREG Vice President, adds: “The bottom line is negotiation skills are fundamental to the real estate business.  Successfully managing the ebb and flow of interpersonal communications—often under considerable time constraints—is vital to real estate transactions, and it’s not something that can be replaced by a computer.”

Offered by the Real Estate Negotiation Institute (RENI), the CNE® course applies up-to-date research in negotiation dynamics to the real estate sales process.  It provides agents with tangible tools and insights to achieve better outcomes for their clients.  Since 2006, tens of thousands of real estate agents across North American have earned the CNE® designation.

Suze Cumming, the Canadian Director of the RENI, has collaborated with MREG over the last twelve months – “I  would like to congratulate Macdonald Realty on being the only brokerage in Canada to have successfully certified over 300 of their real estate professionals in this critical area of expertise.  Their commitment to a higher level of service excellence proves that they are leaders in the real estate industry.”

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For more information, please contact:
Jonathan Cooper, Vice President, Operations
Macdonald Real Estate Group, Inc.
Phone – 604 264 6789
Email – jcooper@macrealty.com
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About Macdonald Real Estate Group:
Based in Vancouver, Canada, Macdonald Real Estate Group (MREG) has an annual sales volume of over $6.3 billion and over $1.75 billion in assets under management.  With more than 20 offices and nearly 1,000 staff and REALTORS®, MREG offers a full range of real estate services, including residential and commercial brokerage, property and strata management, project marketing, and the MREG Canadian Real Estate Investment Centre in Shanghai, China.  Macdonald Realty is the residential division of Macdonald Real Estate Group. For more information, visit www.macrealty.com.

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HGTV’s House Hunt Winner in Best International Home 2015: Timber Frame Home in Squamish

The HGTV House Hunt has finished and the votes are in. Congratulations to all the winners! Thank you to all who helped Macdonald Realty’s International Home nomination become the 2015 winner. Find out more about this amazing listing below on the HGTV House Hunt website:

Timber-Frame Home in Squamish

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This backyard view of the home shows off the pairing of stone and neutral siding that were used for the exterior. The landscape and hardscape includes a small pond and evergreen trees.

Special thanks to our luxury home marketing network partners at Luxury Portfolio International for coordinating our nomination.  What an honour!  Our Squamish listing won over fellow nominees from Queenstown New Zealand, Paris France, Marrakesh Morocco, Australia, South Africa, Mexico and other exotic global locations.

Lynn Hsu, CEO of Macdonald Realty, named one of The 50 Most Influential Women in BC | BCBusiness

From politicians to bankers, charity mavens to retail entrepreneurs, these are the leaders who are having a big impact behind the scenes and at centre stage in British Columbia.

If you’re a reader of the business press—or any story featuring the power brokers in our midst—you’ll be struck by one thing above all else: the paucity of women. While some may argue that “them’s the numbers”—and yes, women are poorly represented in the boardrooms and backrooms of B.C.—the fact is that we in the media bear some responsibility. The evidence of powerful and dynamic women leaders abounds. It’s just not being reported as frequently.

That, in part, is why BCBusiness decided to do this survey of B.C.’s Most Influential Women: to put a distinctly female face on power and influence in B.C….

Lynn Hsu
President and CEO, Macdonald Realty

Influence: Taiwanese immigrant Hsu has helped turn Macdonald into one of the largest full-service real estate firms in B.C–and the gateway for Mainland Chinese investors.

The panel says: “Macdonald is far bigger than even the real estate industry realizes, in terms of the amount of transactions. They’re one of the largest residential brokers in B.C., and on the commercial side, the amount of real estate that they’re transacting–they’re doing deals that are as big as what Colliers or CBRE is doing.”

Read about the other 50 Most Influential Women in BC at BCBusiness

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BC Real Estate is Front and Centre in Shanghai | BCBusiness with Dan Scarrow

Beyond Borders
Macdonald Realty’s Shanghai office is meeting the needs of its clients and bearing fruitful results

As seen in BCBusiness July 2015 issue.

As the demands of the BC real estate market change, realtors and their respective real estate agencies must react accordingly to stay in the game. For one agency, this meant thinking outside of the box and stepping out of its time zone.

When Macdonald Realty opened its office in Shanghai, China, last year, it was branded as “The Canadian Real Estate Investment Centre.” But Dan Scarrow, who manages the Shanghai office, says that his Chinese clients had their own words to describe it. Impressed with the office’s scope, they say that it covers “an entire dragon of services.”

Those services include residential resale, commercial sales and leasing, new development project marketing and property management. While American, Australian, New Zealand and European real estate companies had established offices in China, Macdonald Realty was the first company in China with a sole focus on Canadian real estate. The company decided to open the office as a response to their clients’ desire for better access to the Chinese market.

Scarrow is uniquely qualified to run the office. He has been working with Macdonald Realty for nearly 10 years, and has worked as an executive assistant for the CEO, and as a residential and a commercial agent. He is a born-and-bred Vancouverite, but he is half Taiwanese. “The upshot is that Mainland Chinese see me as a white Canadian, but I’m also able to communicate with them in Mandarin,” he says. “I guess you could say that, in China, I am an authoritative foreign curiosity and hence memorable.”

His company, says Scarrow, has several competitive advantages. “Our intimate knowledge of the market is what makes us uniquely valuable to investors here,” he says. “We are small enough to be agile, but big enough to provide a full range of brokerage, management and advisory services.”

Scarrow works with Chinese clients who are in the process of immigrating to Canada, with new Canadians and with pure investors. Those interested only in investment tend to look at new condos and commercial properties. “What resonates with investors in China is the perception of Canada as a safe and secure investment climate, in contrast with China’s robust, but volatile, environment,” says Scarrow.

In order to stand out in today’s highly competitive real estate market, Macdonald Realty has undertaken several innovative marketing strategies. As technology has made property information widely available to the public, Scarrow notes that the role of the real estate agent has shifted: from gatekeeper of information to interpreter and negotiator. To meet the demands of those roles, Macdonald Realty has been working with an outside training organization to offer all agents the exclusive Certified Negotiation Expert (CNE) designation. Macdonald Realty has also launched its own magazine called Macdonald Realty Luxury Homes, to help market its luxury home listings in Canada and in China. Produced by the company’s own in-house creative marketing team, the magazine has proven to be a hit.

But from his own experience, Scarrow says that the most important way for an agent to get ahead is to be a competent professional first. “Doing a fantastic job with one client will generate more long-term business than even the most successful email campaign,” he says. “Start with the people who know and trust you, do an unbelievable job for them and continue learning about how to be a professional from the good agents and managers around you.” Dan Scarrow manages Macdonald Realty’s Shanghai office sults just come a lot easier.”

This article was originally posted on BCBusiness, June 12th, 2015. 

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Big Fat Deal: This is what $15 million will buy you in Vancouver | BCBusiness

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Each week, BCBusiness takes you inside one of the most outrageously upmarket real estate offerings in the province in their Big Fat Deal real estate blog.

Price: $14,988,000
Address: 1268 Tecumseh Avenue, Vancouver
MLS: V1100762
Listing agents: Erin Mulhern and Manyee Lui at Macdonald Realty Ltd. in Vancouver

Custom built in 1984 with a Georgian design, this 7,000-sq.-ft. residence’s stately grandeur matches its location just off Vancouver’s exclusive Crescent enclave in the city’s First Shaughnessy district. For history buffs, the Crescent has always been synonymous with wealth and power, being the preferred address of lieutenant governors and the city’s elite over the past century.

Fast forward to present day and the area still holds cache with numerous august homes and estate-sized lots. This gated residence is described by listing agents Erin Mulhern and Manyee Lui as “simply exquisite” with a beautifully appointed interior that starts with a dramatic foyer accented by 18-foot ceilings and a sweeping double staircase leading to a galleried landing that sets the tone for the rest of the home.

The kitchen counts professional-line appliances while an expansive great room with vaulted and coffered ceilings provides an outlook that spans the entire south-facing garden. A butler’s pantry serves as a connection between the kitchen and the dining room, where mirrored ceiling panels and a chandelier add a touch of glamour.

The formal 23-foot living room can easily accommodate a baby grand piano, while hardwood floors flow through to the adjoining study where wainscoted walls imbued with a deep red gloss add a further notch on the imperial chart.

The upper level is home to four bedrooms including a private master wing endowed with the required walk-in closet and a spa-like ensuite bathroom complete with a rain head shower and bench seating, plus a stainless-steel freestanding bathtub. A one-bedroom suite above the three-car garage provides additional accommodation.

Pull up a chair in the recreation room downstairs where a well-stocked bar and separate wine cellar will keep the libation flowing, or decamp into the media room for movie watching.

Multiple french doors lead out into a garden oasis with large terraces that are perfect for summer entertaining, and a swimming pool and a tennis court for friendly—or more serious—competition.

This article was originally posted on BCBusiness, April 24th, 2015.  Written by Nicola Way.

Nicola Way runs the property listing sites BestHomesBC.com and AssignmentsCanada.ca.

Vancouver firm offers a one-stop real estate shop for Chinese investors in B.C. | The Vancouver Sun


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When Vancouver-based Macdonald Realty dispatched Dan Scarrow, the agency’s vice-president of corporate strategy, to China last March to investigate the feasibility of launching a branch office in Shanghai, the assignment was initially only going to be for four months.

A year later, Scarrow, a second-generation Chinese Canadian who is fluent in Mandarin, is still there. The Vancouver Sun reached Scarrow in Shanghai by phone last week to discuss his progress, objectives and challenges in building a bridge for residential and commercial real estate investment between China and British Columbia as the new managing director of Macdonald Realty’s Canadian Real Estate Investment Centre in Shanghai.

Q When you first were dispatched to Shanghai at this time last year, it was for a four-month assignment to investigate opening up a Macdonald Realty branch in China. Why are you still there?

A We actually have ended up opening up an office here. We have a representative office over here in Shanghai now doing project marketing and commercial and residential prospecting for our Vancouver and British Columbia offices. We’ve branded it as the Canadian Real Estate Investment Centre, so it’s offering a one-stop shop for Chinese investors looking toward anything to do with Canadian real estate, specifically B.C.

Q Why did Macdonald Realty want a presence in China?

A It was sort of two-fold. The first one is that Chinese investors are becoming a bigger and bigger part of our market — both on the residential side and the commercial side. And after our investigation over here we found that there are no other Canadian [real estate] companies over here in China that actively do this, so we would be the first one.

Q What’s been the biggest adjustment living in China for you personally?

A Shanghai is a pretty easy city for an expat to get used to. I think that the rest of China would be a much more difficult adjustment, but Shanghai itself is a pretty cosmopolitan city with a pretty global outlook and a pretty robust expat community. So it’s not as difficult. The challenge, I guess, that everyone talks about is the pollution aspect. They talk about it here the same way Vancouverites talk about the rain.

Q What’s your mandate in terms of building links between commercial real estate in B.C. and the Chinese market?

A Our main mandate is to promote B.C. commercial properties over here in China. I think we all acknowledge that China has been growing. It has created the fastest-growing wealthy and middle class in human history, so tapping into that market I think is going to be increasingly important for Canada and Canadian companies over the next decades.

Q What’s the most common question you hear from Chinese clients interested in investing in British Columbia’s commercial real estate?

A The most common question actually isn’t about real estate. It’s with what is happening in immigration. The biggest question is what is Canada’s current immigration policy and what will it be moving forward, just because there have been so many changes to Canada’s immigration policy in the last few years, and I think everyone is a little bit confused as to what it will be moving forward.

Q Any unwelcome surprises or challenges doing real estate business in China?

A Not really. It’s been interesting in the last year because there were the big changes to the immigration program — the investor immigrant program in the middle of last year and continuing until today. And also with the collapse of oil prices and the subsequent drop in the Canadian dollar. That’s been another thing we’ve had to deal with, but more in a positive sense from our investors’ point of view because now Canada’s real estate market is seen as even cheaper than it was prior to that change.

Q In a blog post last year you wrote that wealthy clients in China are more interested in placing their children and a portion of their wealth outside of China than they are in immigrating themselves. Why do you think that’s the case, if it still is the case?

A It still is the case. If you’re a wealthy Chinese individual it’s likely because you have a large business still in China. China does not recognize dual citizenship and it’s just more difficult for you to actively operate your business without Chinese citizenship. So a lot of people, they’re not willing to give up their business so they’re not willing to give up their Chinese passport either.

Q Which areas of Vancouver’s commercial real estate market are your Chinese clients eager to get involved in?

A For a lot of our clients it’s hotels. But it’s an education process as well, letting them know which asset classes are involved or available in B.C. Hotel investment is more of an active business, so while we have a lot of hotel operator clients who are interested in buying hotels, if they don’t have that kind of experience we like to talk to them about some of the other opportunities that might be available. Some of the hotter ones would be street-front retail with redevelopment potential. That goes very quickly for us. We probably have 15 very serious-type buyers that would snap up products like that immediately, but we can’t find enough product for them. It’s a lot of investment-type product that has income right now but has development potential in five to 10 years.

Q What’s the next step for your operations in China?

A Right now we’re working with a couple of developers to promote their projects over here [in China] and so we’re doing project marketing and then also working with our residential agents to make sure the listings that we have are exposed to the widest possible audience. And finally — obviously — exposure of the commercial real estate realm. I think that’s really the big push right now. A lot of investors have already bought a home for themselves in Vancouver and they’re looking for ways to diversify their investment portfolio in Canada, and really the promotion of the commercial real estate, and the education of those buyers, is our next step.

 

This article was originally posted on The Vancouver Sun, February 24th, 2015.  Written by Evan Duggan.

BC assessments show strong appreciation in Vancouver single-family home values | The Vancouver Sun with Dan Scarrow

Metro Vancouver homeowners have grown accustomed to healthy increases on their annual BC Assessment notices, which are now landing in mailboxes.

What’s new this year is that condo values are also rising in the region, after a few flat years that saw condo construction outpace homebuyer demand.

“Condominiums, that’s apartments and townhouses, up until 2014 had been relatively flat over three years,” said Cameron Muir, chief economist of the B.C. Real Estate Association.

Over 2014, however, Muir said condo sale prices have risen in step with inflation. Condo prices in Vancouver and its nearer suburbs were up about two per cent as of July, when B.C. Assessment sets its values for the next year’s assessment roll.

Single-family home values were up a more substantial 6.5 per cent, Muir said, but some of the condo valuations were a departure from the previous year.

“We’re probably looking, in Vancouver, at sales (increases) of 16 to 17 per cent in 2014,” Muir said, “so, there’s much stronger demand, and we’re also seeing inventory levels steadily decline.”

B.C. Assessment doesn’t produce average assessment values for property types in Lower Mainland markets but does highlight representative examples.

In Vancouver, a typical east-side two-bedroom apartment increased 4.7 per cent to $381,000, from $364,000 a year earlier.

On Vancouver’s west side, values for a typical two-bedroom apartment rose 7.5 per cent (to $616,000), in line with the growth in value of a detached home on a 33-foot lot (up 7.5 per cent to $1.575 million).

In its real estate assessments a year ago, B.C. Assessment had highlighted decreasing condominium values in the range of four to five per cent — the second consecutive year that condo prices declined or offered minimal increases.

“Changes within a plus or minus five per cent range, that’s what we categorize as stable,” said Dharmesh Sisodraker, B.C. Assessment’s deputy assessor for the Vancouver Sea to Sky region, which takes in Vancouver and the North Shore all the way to Whistler.

Assessments, which are used by municipalities to set property taxes, tend to lag the overall market by the time they are released.

In east Vancouver, a typical detached house on a 33-foot lot saw an increase of 11.3 per cent, to $993,000.

In Vancouver Heights, typical detached home prices rose five per cent to $955,000.

“(Condominium) prices are still under pressure versus detached homes, mostly because there is so much (condominium) product on the market,” explained Ray Harris, president of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, and the increases in condo prices are “sporadic.”

In Metro Vancouver, demand for new condos has been in high-growth areas linked to rapid transit, such as the Marine Gateway development at Cambie and Marine in Vancouver or the Metrotown and Brentwood town centres in Burnaby.

“If a complex is in demand and there are not a lot of units in the market, you can get more of a lift,” Harris said.

Suburbs such as Burnaby, Coquitlam and Port Moody — communities either on SkyTrain, or where SkyTrain is being built — are among those that have seen modest increases in the range of two to three per cent.

However, the gains weren’t shared equally and some spots still showed decreasing assessment values. B.C. Assessment cited an example at Simon Fraser University’s UniverCity development, where the assessed value of a two-bedroom highrise unit declined 2.5 per cent from 2014.

“There are a few pockets where values decreased slightly,” said Zina Weston, a deputy assessor for B.C. Assessment in its North Fraser region, which takes in the eastern suburbs closest to Vancouver.

“If there is a lot of building that comes on in a short period of time in a finite area, there might be some (downward) pressure on pricing,” Weston said.

Harris added that condo owners trying to re-sell are having a tougher time because developers are selling new units at lower prices than they would be if the market were stronger.

Condo values also declined in Fraser Valley suburbs from Langley to Chilliwack, where single-family home prices are in the reach of more buyers.

Dan Scarrow, a vice-president at Macdonald Realty in Vancouver, added that some municipalities are more encouraging to condo developers and “as a result of that, maybe some areas tend to get overbuilt.”

“Then, in some municipalities, say Vancouver, it is more difficult to get a project off the ground, but demand is actually quite high,” Scarrow added.

Markets that rely on recreational property sales — such as Whistler, the Okanagan and Kootenays, where sales collapsed and values declined following the 2008 recession — also took part in some of the rebound in 2015 assessments.

B.C. Assessment cited examples in Kelowna where assessments were up from four to seven per cent. In Whistler, a typical home in the White Gold area increased in value 7.4 per cent, to $1.06 million.

 

Homeowners can look up their assessments on the B.C. Assessment website.

This article was originally posted on The Vancouver Sun, January 3, 2015.  Written by Derrik Penner.

The Impact of Asian Investors in Vancouver | Globe and Mail & BNN

Macdonald Realty is mentioned several times in a Globe and Mail article published this morning on the impact of Asian investors on the Vancouver housing market.  See a repost of the full report below including comments from Dan Scarrow, VP of Corporate Strategy for Macdonald Real Estate Group.

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This Globe and Mail article lead to a mid-day live TV interview on the Business News Network, featuring Tony Letvinchuk, the managing director of Macdonald Commercial Real Estate ServicesClick here to watch the interview.

 

Vancouver housing data reveal Chinese connection

One of the largest real estate companies in British Columbia says that more than one-third of all the single-family detached homes it sold last year went to people with ties to mainland China.

Macdonald Realty Ltd., which has over 1,000 agents and staff in B.C., said 33.5 per cent of the 531 single family homes sold by its Vancouver offices in 2013 went to people who the company said were a mix of recent immigrants and Canadian citizens.

Those buyers, the company added, tended to spend more money, too, with the average cost of a house sold to these clients topping $2-million, compared to $1.4-million on average overall.

The figures did not include Macdonald’s sales in suburban areas such as Richmond, Burnaby or North Vancouver.

“This is our snapshot of Vancouver,” says Dan Scarrow, vice-president of corporate strategy at Macdonald Realty.

The information is based on reports from the firm’s sales, anecdotes from its agents and Mr. Scarrow’s own experience working with mainland Chinese clients, and it’s a glimpse into the influence of mainland Chinese money on Vancouver’s real estate market, which is considered among the most expensive in North America.

Vancouver has been flooded in recent years by tens of thousands of investor-class immigrants from mainland China, who have seen the west coast city as a stable – and picturesque – place to park their capital in luxury property.

That has helped drive up the average price of a single-family home in Vancouver to around $1.2-million.

Mr. Scarrow, who noted the firm does not query buyers about immigration status, believes that investment flowing from mainland China into Vancouver real estate is a quantifiable phenomenon, but has not personally seen much of the more controversial type of buyer: Those from abroad who buy for investment purposes but never live in the city. “We still see very few pure investors from China who have no connection to Vancouver,” he says.

Getting a handle on foreign buyers is difficult and Macdonald’s survey is far from exact – though one major property developer in Richmond said “that sounds about right.” The federal government does not collect meaningful data on the number of foreign buyers purchasing Canadian real estate, leaving industry participants to debate the impact of foreign capital on the local market. And that debate has gotten heated recently, with some developers accusing others of racism and criticizing those who want to slap curbs on foreign investment. The issue is complicated by the fact that some of Vancouver’s ethnically Chinese-Canadian citizens with ties to Hong Kong view newer immigrants from mainland China with a degree of suspicion, assuming their wealth might have been accumulated in part by proximity to China’s Communist Party, rather than in a free market with the rule of law like Hong Kong.

The lack of hard data has also complicated discussions about the city’s affordability crisis and fuelled a local cottage industry where analysts attempt to decipher the scope of foreign money by looking at things like electricity usage in downtown neighbourhoods where some suspect foreign buyers have bought condos in which they never live.

“People always say there are no stats. Well, here are the stats,” says Mr. Scarrow. “This is actual evidence.”

There have been some reports and statistics about the scale of foreign money in Vancouver real estate before, but few have been conclusive – and none have settled the debate. One Sotheby’s report based on a survey of its agents found that 40 per cent of the luxury properties it sold in Vancouver were to foreign buyers – but not all of them were from China. Many developers trying to downplay fears about Chinese investment cite a statistic showing that only 1 to 3 per cent of Vancouver real estate purchases are “foreign” buyers – but, as is the case with Macdonald’s sales, many more expensive homes are still sold to people based here but who have come, at some point, from mainland China. A 2011 study by Landcor Data showed that 74 per cent of luxury purchases in Richmond and Vancouver’s expensive west side were by buyers with mainland Chinese names.

Mr. Scarrow says his company is “indicative of the overall market,” since his firm has some real estate agents who target overseas Chinese buyers, but is also firmly oriented toward domestic sales, unlike other real estate firms that deliberately target Chinese buyers.

At the same time, Mr. Scarrow and Macdonald are so bullish on the potential for Chinese investment that he is spearheading the company’s efforts to open an office in China. “While there is very little data about foreign investors in Vancouver real estate, our own internal data is enough for us to commit to investing in a representative office in Shanghai,” said Mr. Scarrow, whose mother Lynn Hsu, who came from Taiwan in 1979, is the majority owner and president of Macdonald.

Others remain unconvinced – not about whether there is an influx of Chinese money, but whether the flow of foreign capital will continue unabated.

Richard Kurland, a Vancouver immigration lawyer who works with wealthy Chinese immigrants, believes Vancouver may see a slowdown in foreign investment. He said some wealthy Chinese buyers might get anxious and sell off second properties because of the current crackdown on corruption in China.

In meetings with top real estate agents earlier this year, Mr. Kurland predicted that luxury residential real estate could drop in value by as much as 25 per cent as foreign investment dips. As evidence, he points to July real estate figures that showed 106 homes for sale on the west side in the $3-million to $3.5-million price bracket, and just nine sales, compared to 73 active listings and seven sales during July of 2013.

Originally published by The Globe and Mail on Friday, August 22, 2014.  Written by IAIN MARLOW.

Macdonald Realty tops 2014 list of “Biggest BC businesses owned by women” | BIV

Once again, for 2014, Macdonald Realty is number one on Business in Vancouver’s list of Biggest BC businesses owned by women.  Lynn Hsu tops this list which in which businesses are ranked by total number of staff.  Thank you to all of our Realtors and staff who make up this impressive number!

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See all the rankings at Business In Vancouver.

Macdonald Realty-LeadingRE #1 Network in North America | REAL Trends 2014

Macdonald Realty is a proud member of the Leading Real Estate Companies of the World ® (LeadingRE), a global affiliate network of independent real estate firms. We are pleased to announce that two years in a row, Macdonald Realty-LeadingRE is the number one selling network (by unit sales) in North America – more than Remax, Keller Williams, Coldwell Banker, and other well known real estate brokerages.

In addition, Macdonald Realty has continued to be consistently strong in the rankings for the REAL Trends 250 Survey, placing in the Top 10 of the Largest Brokers in Canada and Top 5 of Independent Brokers in Canada.

REAL Trends is a company based in Denver Colorado that has been ranking the Top 500 American residential brokerages since 1988 and has been ranking Canadian brokerages since 2009.


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Jonathan Cooper on Working with International Buyers | Inman News

Don’t take it for granted that you need to know a foreign language to understand where your international buyers are coming from, says Jonathan Cooper, Vice-President of Operations at Macdonald Real Estate Group.

The Vancouver, British Columbia-based brokerage does a lot of business with Chinese buyers and investors, and Cooper says Chinese clients often bring a translator along with them, or work through an attorney.

For many reasons, Cooper says, Chinese “have a cultural predisposition toward real estate investment.” Often, a home purchase is just the first of several real estate transactions.

Macdonald Real Estate Group makes a point of introducing Chinese homebuyers to the company’s commercial real estate brokers — often over a meal — a practice that’s led to some significant deals.

This article was originally posted on Inman News, Mar 21, 2014.  The video has since been removed.

Macdonald Realty looks for luxury buyers in China | The Globe and Mail

Sales of high-end properties are on the upswing in the Vancouver region, spurring one of British Columbia’s leading real estate firms to search for wealthy buyers by setting up shop in China.

Dan Scarrow, vice-president of corporate strategy at Macdonald Realty Ltd., said he has heard enough anecdotal evidence of well-heeled home buyers with roots in China to make it worthwhile to invest in a Shanghai office.

In February, Mr. Scarrow will start the first of two three-month assignments in 2014 in Shanghai. After his fact-finding mission, he plans to hire Mandarin-speaking staff in China to keep the overseas branch office going.

While real estate experts have estimated the proportion of foreign buyers in the Vancouver region’s housing market at only 1 to 3 per cent, Mr. Scarrow said if the statistics were to include recent immigrants with origins in China, the influence of rich Chinese buyers would be greater, especially on single-family detached homes in pockets of Vancouver’s West Side.

Most high-end transactions occur on Vancouver’s West Side and the Municipality of West Vancouver. In the luxury market, there were 644 properties that sold for $3-million or higher in the Vancouver area last year, up 47 per cent from 439 homes that traded hands in 2012, according to data compiled by Macdonald Realty. Of homes that sold last year, there were 148 that fetched at least $5-million, compared with 107 sales in that category in 2012.

Mr. Scarrow said it is hard to determine how many of those elite sales went to recent immigrants from China, noting that the ripple effect due to an influx of new money can easily be exaggerated. Still, he believes the proportion was significantly higher than 3 per cent last year.

“There isn’t this wave of offshore investors with no ties to Canada who are coming in to buy, but the genesis of their wealth is from mainland China,” said Mr. Scarrow, a Canadian who speaks Mandarin fluently. “Most of these people land in Canada first as investor-class immigrants.”

He dismisses tales circulating of wealthy offshore buyers snapping up Vancouver properties sight unseen as false, emphasizing that he will instead seek to nurture a market in which China-Canada family ties are crucial.

The 30-year-old Mr. Scarrow said that as a product of a mixed-race marriage, he is acutely aware that the issue of foreign shoppers is a sensitive one in British Columbia. “The perception among some sellers is that mainland Chinese money is driving the luxury real estate market here,” he said.

But Mr. Scarrow cautions homeowners against hiring real estate agents based only on ethnicity, stressing that the best representatives know Vancouver’s neighbourhoods well, no matter what their race.

Mr. Scarrow’s mother, Lynn Hsu, moved in 1979 from Taiwan to Vancouver. Ms. Hsu is the president and majority owner of Macdonald Realty, which has more than 1,000 real estate agents and staff across British Columbia. Her ex-husband, Peter Scarrow, is a lawyer who has worked in Asia for the past dozen years, including advising wealthy Chinese on Canadian immigration and tax rules.

Dan Scarrow said there will be opportunities to tap into the Chinese market during his stay in Shanghai. Besides seeking contacts who are interested in single-family residential properties, he will be on the lookout for investors in Vancouver’s commercial real estate market and also new condo projects.

Benchmark index prices, which strip out the most expensive properties, have jumped 17.3 per cent to $2.1-million for single-family detached houses over the past three years on the city’s West Side, according to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver. By contrast, West Side prices have risen only 4 per cent for townhouses and 3.5 per cent for condos over the same period.

This article was originally posted on The Globe and Mail, Jan 19, 2014.  Written by Brent Jang.

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Big Fat Deal: $10 million for a castle-like home near Victoria | BCBusiness

Each week, BCBusiness takes you inside one of the most outrageously upmarket real estate offerings in the province in their Big Fat Deal real estate blog.

Price: $9,990,000
Address: 9750 West Saanich Road, North Saanich
MLS: 336209
Listing agent: Peter Nash at Macdonald Realty Ltd. in Victoria

For those seeking a little ooo-la-la in their home life, try this French-inspired chateau sitting on a six-acre estate for size. Even its name ‘Chateau de Lis’ conjures up romance and elegance.

Better still, you don’t have to travel to Europe to find it. Located 30 minutes from downtown Victoria, North Saanich plays host to this 9,800-sq.-ft. residence, which was constructed in 2007.

La noblesse would surely feel at home here. As listing agent Peter Nash explains, the house has been “designed, crafted, engineered and built to a very high standard with great attention to quality and detail.” An exhaustive list of bespoke finishings dominate the house with plastered Italian tile ceilings, turrets, concrete surround with decorative sculptures, travertine fossil floors, custom-made gargoyles, imported antique chimney caps, Juliet balconies, a slate and copper roof, limestone and porcelain floors, and stained-glass windows.

And the gardens wouldn’t look out of place at the Palace of Versailles, either. Along with exquisite landscaping, manicured lawns, fountains, bridges, an orchard, and vegetable gardens comes one of the property’s other showcases: almost 300 feet of easy-access oceanfront and a prime westerly exposure with far-reaching views across the Saanich Inlet.

Beyond the old-world elegance are also two levels of luxurious living, incorporating modern desires such as a theatre room comprising a state-of-the-art projector and two-tier seating with plush leather seats. Of course no stately home would be complete without a wine cellar and this 1,000-bottle temperature-controlled one will not disappoint.

The great room and dining hall would impress even Louis XIV with lofty vaulted ceilings, carved fireplaces, murals and panoramic water views. The commercial-grade kitchen ups the ante with high-end appliances, including a concealed Sub-Zero fridge and freezer and a copper-hooded, vented pizza oven.

There is separate accommodation for guests—designed with the same flair as the main residence—and above the garages for six cars are, of course, those caretaker quarters. After all, what’s a chateau without staff?

This article was originally posted on BCBusiness, January 8, 2015.  Written by Nicole Way.

Nicola Way runs the property listing sites BestHomesBC.com and AssignmentsCanada.ca.

2013 BC’s Largest Privately Owned Company Managed By a Woman | BIV

Business in Vancouver released it’s annual list of Biggest BC organizations managed by women in 2013. Overall, Macdonald Realty placed 11th however, we continue to be BC’s Largest Privately Owned Company Managed By a Woman. We are proud to see our organization on the list. If you wish to see the rest of the list, please visit biv.com

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Maple Ridge balanced conditions provide stable backdrop for buyers, sellers | Maple Ridge News

Balanced conditions provide stable backdrop for buyers, sellers

Stable and balanced. Those are the descriptors used by the managing brokers for two local real estate companies when it comes to the Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows housing market today. Which means it’s a good time to be buying or selling because there’s finally some predictability in the marketplace after several years of ups and downs.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) concurs, noting in its July market report that, across the region, “balanced conditions provide a stable backdrop for today’s home buyers and sellers.”

The report’s benchmark price index bear this out, showing that Maple Ridge’s residential composite one-year change from June 2012 to June 2013 was a meagre minus two per cent, while in Pitt Meadows prices increased 1.5 per cent.

For single-family detached homes, the drop in Maple Ridge was 1.1 per cent, while in Pitt Meadows it was just 0.1 per cent.

Townhomes were similar, with Maple Ridge experiencing a 2.7 per cent drop in the benchmark price and Pitt Meadows a 0.1 per cent again.

The greatest fluctuation was in apartments, which was at minus 5.6 per cent in Maple Ridge and plus 5.5 per cent in Pitt Meadows.

“To me, this is the sign of a stable market,” says Harvey Exner, managing broker with Macdonald Realty Maple Ridge.
“There have not been huge changes in any pricing [for the past year], which is a good thing for buyers and sellers because it creates some predictability for both.”

Glenn Chivers, managing broker at Re/Max Lifestyles Realty, likes what he sees right now because “a balanced market is fair for everybody.

“You don’t have to play the lowball game as much if you’re a seller, and buyers are getting a fair price provided the home is priced right.”

Of course, price is just one factor in determining market conditions, and both Chivers and Exner agree that balance and stability can only be achieved if there’s adequate inventory available.

Year-over-year statistics from the REBGV show that for the months of January through June, combined numbers for the two communities show detached home listings down 11 per cent, at 1,234;  townhouse listings down three per cent, at 407; and apartments down less than one per cent, at 369.
Those numbers are good enough for Exner, who says there’s an adequate amount of inventory in both Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows to supply the needs of both local residents and those looking from outside of the community.
The sales numbers are equally promising, says Chivers, who suggests low interest rates and stable prices are the main reasons for sales right now.

REBGV stats show there were 540 detached homes sold in the two communities from January through June, down about 11 per cent.

Townhouse sales have dropped quite a bit, with 183 being sold compared to 228 over the same time period in 2012.

Apartment sales dropped about 13 per cent, with 129 getting a sold sticker so far this year.
The median selling price for detached homes through June was $474,900; for townhouses it was $302,750; and for apartments, $210,000.
Both brokers agree that things are generally good in the market right now, and probably will be for at least the rest of the year.

If there is a weakness going forward, they also agree that it’s in the apartment market, where a “glut” of new apartment units has hit the market recently.

Chivers figures there’s about an eight- to 10-month supply – “maybe more” – of apartments on the market, with many of them brand new, meaning anyone trying to sell an apartment over the course of the next year will face some stiff competition.

However, don’t panic, he adds, because as long as you price your house, townhouse or apartment well, it will likely sell.

His best advice?

“Listen to your realtor. He or she knows the market.”

Article Written By Robert Prince – Maple Ridge News
Published: July 26, 2013 Article is available for viewing http://www.mapleridgenews.com

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2013 CFO of the Year Sharon Federal Macdonald Realty | Business in Vancouver

Macdonald Realty is proud to announce that our CFO Sharon Federal will be receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award from Business in Vancouver.

We here at Macdonald Realty are so honoured to have Sharon as part of our team as her dedication over these past 30 years has helped Macdonald Realty flourish and grow to become a leader in BC real estate.

Congratulations!

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If anyone wants to attend the CFO of the Year awards dinner it will be held May 15th, 2013 6:15pm – 9pm at the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel the ticket price is $135.

For more information on the winners visit the Business in Vancouver

BC luxury home sales above $3-million fell by a third in 2012 | The Vancouver Sun

“Based on a Macdonald Realty Luxury Report, this past year the sales number of luxury homes over $3 million has fallen one third since 2011. However, 2012 is only second to 2011 in sales. In a Vancouver Sun article, Dan Scarrow, Vice President of Macdonald Realty, commented on the impact immigrants buying patterns, investor sentiment and psychology has changed in the past year affecting the lower mainland’s luxury market.

“For the past few years, we’ve seen lots of new investor-class immigrants coming into the market,” Scarrow said. “ … They’re not just buying a house for themselves, but also three or four residential investment properties as well.”

This “exuberance” among immigrant buyers has slowed, Scarrow said, as the economy slowed in China and prices rose rapidly in Vancouver.

Macdonald Realty, REALTOR Will McKitka also commented in the article discussing his specialty of luxury penthouse homes, a segment of the market considered to be attracting buyers.

Read more www.vancouversun.com
Vancouver Sun article BC home sales above $3-million fell by a third in 2012 from March 1, 2013

Why Macdonald Realty is exploring opening an office in Shanghai, China | Inman

After 70 years in business in British Columbia, and much consideration and analysis, Macdonald Real Estate Group has decided to explore opening an office in China. To that end, my colleague, Dan Scarrow, our vice president of corporate strategy, left for Shanghai early in February.

In order to understand our rationale, it is first important to appreciate how Chinese investors have shaped the real estate market in Vancouver, B.C., where our company is headquartered.

Over the past three decades, Macdonald Real Estate Group has assisted thousands of Asian families and investors in real estate transactions in the Vancouver area and across western Canada. In the 1980s and ’90s, there were overlapping waves of Hong Kong and Taiwanese investment, and more recently we have seen the mainland China wave.

Our experience has given us the chance to develop a sizable network of Asian clients, both commercial and residential.

While the official percentage of foreign buyers in the Vancouver area is around 3 percent, Chinese clients make up a much higher proportion of certain segments of the market. The exact percentage is hard to pin down, but our research would indicate that Chinese families account for at least 50 percent of Vancouver home sales over $3 million, and our commercial division has put together dozens of major transactions with Chinese investors on a range of commercial real estate asset classes.

Asian clients are not arbitrarily choosing Vancouver as a destination for real estate investment. Our Chinese clients generally have close family and business ties to the areas in which they invest.

For example, aside from business considerations, the primary factor in shaping immigration-related real estate decisions for Chinese families will be proximity and availability of educational opportunities for the next generation.

Aside from business considerations, the primary factor in shaping immigration-related real estate decisions for Chinese families is educational opportunities for the next generation.””
That said, these clients often maintain a foothold in their country of origin, where they often have ongoing commercial interests.

If we open an office in Shanghai, we will be better able to serve our clients who are based in China, or who those spend significant time there. They will have somewhere to go to review documents, and get insight on real estate issues.

In addition, having a presence in China will give us another channel for promoting real estate opportunities.

I will be providing periodic updates to Inman as we go through our due diligence in Shanghai. Hopefully you can find something in our experience that is useful to you in your business, or at the very least you can enjoy watching the process unfold.

Jonathan Cooper is vice president of operations at Macdonald Real Estate Group (MREG). Based in Vancouver, British Columbia, MREG has 20 offices and 1,000 staff and Realtors, and offers a full range of real estate services across the province, including residential and commercial brokerage, property and strata management, and project marketing.

This article was originally posted on Inman News, Feb 21, 2014.
View the original post at Inman News

For more information contact Macdonald Realty at 1-877-278-3888

Lynn Hsu Macdonald Realty: From humble beginnings to extraordinary success | Vancouver Observer

Success: Why and How

In 1985, while raising a young family, Lynn Hsu began her real estate career despite being a new immigrant with limited English and no social network.

From 1987 through 1989, Hsu was the number one salesperson for Western Canada at a large, national real estate firm. In 1990, Hsu bought Macdonald Realty; at the time a single office in Vancouver’s Westside. Fast forward 25 years and Hsu is heading Western Canada’s largest real estate brokerage firm, with over 1,000 realtors working in 20 offices across British Columbia. Macdonald Realty’s reported figure for gross sales in 2010 was $4.7 billion.

Hsu has been honored many times for her achievements, including:

“Self-made” is the phrase that comes to mind when I think of Lynn Hsu. Most of my small business consulting clients certainly aspire to achieve a success story like hers. On a more personal level, Hsu’s accomplishments as a female business owner absolutely dazzle me. Seeking insight into her success, I reached out to Hsu in hopes that she would share some of her personal and business tips:

Don’t accept the glass ceiling

One of the rare female top business executives in Canada, Hsu has never believed that a glass ceiling exists for women. “To succeed in business, one must put in time. Women traditionally have had less time to devote to career development, and this pattern holds true today,” said Hsu, who was never willing to accept that she would hit a glass ceiling. “If you begin to believe that it is impossible to move forward, you will stop looking for solutions to the hardships you face.”

Adversity builds character

Hsu named her mother as her inspiration because of the seemingly insurmountable obstacles, hardships, and poverty she faced while raising seven children. “Instead of caving in and accepting it as her reality, [my mother] took on three or four jobs at a time and worked until midnight to provide for our family,” Hsu recalled. “She taught me, not so much by words but by example, that any obstacle, no matter how big or difficult, can be overcome if one has the strong desire and works hard enough.”

Successful people are the product of their mistakes

When asked which of her attributes helped her succeed as an entrepreneur, Hsu pointed to her ability to quickly recover from mistakes. “I’m a risk taker and I’m not really afraid of failure, but I do make a conscious effort to learn from my mistakes.” Fear can be a paralyzing agent in business and in life. In order to grow, it’s important to be willing to risk making the occasional mistake and then be ready to use your ingenuity to rectify the situation.

Perseverance and hard work save the day  

Hsu’s colleagues would identify her boundless energy as her most valuable attribute. Her capacity to put in long hours and her tremendous appetite for problem solving have been indispensable both to the stakeholders of Macdonald Realty and to Hsu herself during the development of her entrepreneurial career.

“By a combination of hard work, a supportive family and a bit of luck, I was able to overcome my challenges. I believe one can always find a solution to a problem.”

 

Written by Sandy Huang, Posted: Oct 20th, 2011, Source – The Vancouver Observer

To view this article click here.

 

Macdonald Realty Voted Best Neighbourhood Real Estate Office | Georgia Straight

For the second consecutive year, the readers of  the Vancouver Magazine the Georgia Straight have voted Macdonald Realty number one in the Best Neighbourhood Real Estate Office category.  You can see the rankings here.  Covering Vancouver business and culture, the Georgia Straight is a weekly publication with over 690,000 readers; for the 2011 (16th annual) Best of Vancouver rankings, the magazine received over 10,000 ballots from Vancouverites.

 

Luxury real estate booming in Vancouver | Financial Post with Dan Scarrow and Matthew Lee

If you think Vancouver’s housing prices are overdue for a major price adjustment, tell that to the surging number of luxury home buyers.

According to MLS statistics provided by Macdonald Realty, a record 375 homes — including nearly 50 condos — sold for over $3-million in 2010, breaking the record of 209 set in 2009 and more than double the 167 sold in 2008.

Of those, 73 homes sold for over $5 million.

The sales were primarily, but not exclusively, on Vancouver’s west side, with the priciest home going for $17.5-million at 3489 Osler.

The second and third priciest homes — the second also on Osler and the third on Point Grey Road -both sold for about $11 million.

As well, Macdonald Realty says, if current patterns hold, the number of $3-million-plus homes is expected to reach 550 this year, raising the spectre that in some neighbourhoods a $3-million home may no longer be considered particularly exclusive.

In 2000, just 10 properties in Metro Vancouver sold for over $3-million, none of them condominiums.

The market for luxury homes is now “insanely hot,” with mainland Chinese buyers — who are also affecting the Richmond market in a big way — the primary purchasers, said Dan Scarrow, Macdonald Realty vice-president of corporate strategy.

“Ninety-per-cent (of the luxury home purchases) are on the west side, probably some in West Vancouver,” he said in an interview. “But it’s incredibly striking, when you think what the prices were 10 years ago.”

Scarrow said that while a $3-million house has always been categorized as “luxury,” he no longer knows if that’s the case in key West Side neighbourhoods, including Shaughnessy and Point Grey.

“We’re part of a global luxury market by the ultra-wealthy,” he said. “And from the buyers’ perspective, prices here are cheap for what you get.”

Tsur Somerville, director at the centre for urban economics and real estate, Sauder School of Business at the University of B.C., said in an interview that just because there are more homes selling for over $3-million doesn’t mean they’re not luxury homes.

“It’s pretty subjective,” he said. “But $3-million is an expensive home. And just because it’s on a small lot doesn’t mean it’s not a luxury house.

“And the fact that there’s a whole lot more ($3-million homes) than a decade ago, with the price increases, there’d better be.”

Mr. Somerville also said that China is a huge source of immigrants to B.C. and that mainland Chinese immigrants tend to be investors and entrepreneurs.

“Clearly, there’s a very targeted demand for higher-end properties that many associate with the mainland Chinese market.”

But he said there’s an absence of clear data on the specifics of those buyers, whether it’s primarily immigrants or investor money from China. As an indication of how the luxury condominium market has grown, Mr. Scarrow said that last year a total of 49 condos sold for over $3-million — including seven for over $5-million — with the top three closing in on $6-million each, the priciest at Two Harbour Green, 1139 West Cordova, in Coal Harbour, for $5.8-million and the other two at the Shangri-La in downtown Vancouver.

Scarrow said many more properties are crossing the $3-million threshold, which now buys a new or newer house in the 2,500-to 3,000-square-foot range on a smaller west side lot.

“Now, you see multiple $3-million-plus homes on every block. I’d say $5-million is now where you’re going for that luxury range.”

Alice Zhang, who moved from Hangzhou, China, to Vancouver two years ago, now lives in one of six properties that she and her husband have purchased in Vancouver since moving here.

Zhang, who has two children, is waiting to move into a new home they’re constructing on a Shaughnessy lot that they bought for about $3.1-million. The house is expected to cost another $3 million, which Zhang believes is a good deal.

“We moved from the most beautiful city in China to Vancouver, which we consider more beautiful,” said Zhang, whose family owns hotels and a real estate development company in China.

“I think that compared to other Canadian cities, Vancouver is expensive. But, China is more expensive (than Vancouver).

“And the air is very fresh here and it’s very green. You feel like you’re in a garden.”

Scarrow cited another client who purchased a 2,600-square-foot condo in Coal Harbour for about $1,600 a square foot.

“(She and her family) has homes all around the world. In Knightsbridge, London, a flat was sold to her for $8,000 (Cdn) per square foot. Their flat in London was 3,000 square feet and they paid $24 million for it.”

She also has two homes in Hong Kong, one in Lake Tahoe, one in San Francisco, one in New York and one in Madrid, Spain, Scarrow said. “They all say their Vancouver property is their favourite home. They think it’s the best value.”

Macdonald Realty sales manager Matthew Lee, whose firm sold the three most expensive homes in Vancouver in 2009 and two of the five most expensive homes in 2010, believes that it’s not just mainland Chinese who are fuelling the luxury market, “but buyers from Europe and the U.S. are willing to pay these prices as well. Globally, Vancouver is still seen as a relatively good bargain.”

While the west side of Vancouver had the largest number of luxury homes sold, other areas in B.C. have also seen some very expensive sales, including the Fraser Valley’s top three sales between $5.3-million and $6.1-million, the Okanagan, from $5.4-million to $10.7-million, and Victoria, from $3.9-million to $6.8-million.

And while Vancouver has seen some very expensive homes sold over the past decade, including one for $17.5 million in 2008 and one for $17-million as far back as 2004, it’s the sheer numbers that are striking. In 2000, just 10 homes sold for over $3-million, and 78 in 2005.

 

To view this article in Financial Post click here  By:  Brian Morton, Financial Post – Postmedia News

 

Chinese Love Affair with Canada continues | South China Morning Post with Dan Scarrow

Love can blind us to traits others may see as red flags. The Chinese love Canada and it seems even an uncertain performance in the property sector cannot dampen their ardour.

While Canada has fared better of late than its southern neighbour, the United States, its property market has not always reflected that. At times “red hot”, at others lacklustre, buyer activity has been up and down amid worries that external economic forces that could stunt the country’s growth. In its Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2011 survey, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) notes that, even in Toronto, a city with an “impenetrable financial sector, diverse manufacturing industries and immigration flows supporting growth and intensifying tenant demand”, some investors still worry about flattening apartment rentals.

Vancouver’s office and condo markets remain “red hot”, fuelled by international visitors who bought after last year’s Winter Olympics. Yet the PwC report finds that despite the inherent attractions of the city, some investors are uneasy. Says one: “The market is artificially inflated: it’s been hot for too long.”

Market inconsistencies are also reflected in Canada’s Scotiabank Global Real Estate Trends report, which notes that Canada had one of the better performing housing markets among advanced nations last year, but also one of the most volatile.

An “unusually active” winter and spring were followed by an unusually soft summer. Pricing has mirrored demand, the market gaining 16.6 per cent year-in-year in the first quarter, and declining by 1.5 per cent in the third quarter. The bank hedges its bets on Canada, declaring it is “neither overtly optimistic nor pessimistic” in its outlook for this year. It expects interest rates will remain at historically low levels – an “extremely powerful inducement” for buyers. Demand will likely be tempered by more moderate employment and income growth as government restraint takes hold.

Scotiabank is projecting “a fairly lacklustre year” for residential housing. That doesn’t seem to worry the stream of buyers from the mainland and Hong Kong who call Canada their second home. Vancouver-based Dan Scarrow, vice-president of strategy at Macdonald Real Estate Group, says Chinese – mainly from the mainland – are the largest players in the luxury market, where they’re out-bidding the locals at “a ferocious rate”.

In the months before he moved out of sales to focus on management early last year, Scarrow sold 12 C$5 million-plus (HK$39.21 million) condos and multiple C$3 million-plus homes, mostly to mainlanders, but also to buyers from Taiwan, Hong Kong and local Canadians.

“The market in Vancouver for Chinese buyers is extremely hot,” says Scarrow, a Putonghua speaker who is half-Chinese. “It’s a top destination for wealthy mainlanders looking to emigrate from China and, when they land, many immediately look to purchase a principle residence.”

He says wealthy Chinese tend to be more comfortable with real estate as an investment. “Because of the language barrier, many of my clients are less comfortable with putting their investment dollars into financial products or services they do not understand, or know what the risks are. With real estate, they get to see something tangible.

“They are willing to put a greater weighting of their portfolio into real estate. In the wealthier areas, Chinese buyers are consistently out-competing locals for properties. Our research indicates that on the wealthier West Side of Vancouver, 78 per cent of homes of more than C$2 million were sold to Chinese buyers in 2010.” Scarrow says the Vancouver market continues to be strong. “Canada is in the strongest fiscal position of any country in the G8 and has an over-abundance of natural resources to feed its economy in the 21st century,” he says. “Vancouver may be the best-positioned city in the world.”

Stu Bell, of Prudential Sussex Realty West Vancouver, says: “Home buyers coming from [the] mainland and Hong Kong have intensified in the past six months and boosted home prices by up to 46 per cent in the past two years.”

They come because it’s “the best city in the world,” he says. “The buzz for Vancouver must be experienced firsthand to truly appreciate. In winter, gorgeous snow-capped mountains tower over the Northshore, and in summer the beaches and marinas are flooded with activity. Fine restaurants, excellent shopping, world-class outdoor activities, such as golf, skiing and boating and a thriving city centre filled with entertainment, keeps Vancouverites active.”

Bell agrees West Side is “the hottest real estate in Vancouver”, and one most popular among overseas Chinese. Buyers on property-hunting tours will often buy multiple properties with cash, Bell says. Here, the average price of a detached home is C$1.7 million, up 46 per cent from January 2009.

 

Source:  SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST, SPECIAL REPORT by Peta Tomlinson

The Price of Paradise Vancouver Real Estate | Report on Business with Lynn Hsu & Manyee Lui

The house Manyee Lui is showing today is listed at $2.2 million. Although the lot is only 33 feet wide and the house is nothing more than a blandly handsome two-storey, Lui expects it to sell quickly, even though the market’s turned a little tepid. With 2,900 square feet, the place is big enough for four bedrooms and an additional self-contained suite. All things considered, she says, “It’s not so expensive.”  Lui is simply telling it like it is: This house in the Dunbar neighbourhood may not be anyone’s idea of a dream home, but it delivers respectable accommodation for a reasonable price, at least by the standards of Vancouver’s west side. With a standard city lot trading hands for around $1.4 million and construction costs running at least $200 a square foot, it doesn’t take much of a house to hit the $2-million mark. And this summer and fall, as real estate markets wilted in most of the country, vertigo-inducing prices for properties on Vancouver’s west side held steady or even edged a little higher.

The question a lot of people were asking is, Who on Earth is buying them?

Lui explains why she’s so confident the home will sell: “It will appeal to a buyer from China.” She allows there was a time when Chinese buyers’ architectural preferences differed significantly from the local norm, but over the last 10 years their tastes have widened and become more westernized. Now long-term Vancouverites and incoming Chinese are seeking almost exactly the same thing-except, Lui says with a laugh, “we can’t afford it.”

True. When Lui says “we,” she’s talking about the locals, people who make their living in Vancouver. Now that the forestry industry has been eclipsed and the place has a median household income that is only average by Canadian standards, Vancouver is a city with no visible means of support. The affordability ratio has rocketed upward so quickly that it is now the steepest on the continent: more than double the Canadian average and more onerous than in places like New York and San Francisco. No wonder Vancouver is at the top of the media’s suddenly urgent bubble watch, not just in Canada but also in the United States; outlets ranging from Reuters to Businessweek have reported on a housing market they suspect is ripe for the kind of downfall the Americans are only too familiar with.

 

If “buyers from China” answers the “who” question about Vancouver’s unique real-estate market, the follow-up question-”Where is this leading?”-is harder to answer. The torrid affair between eastern Asia and Vancouver real estate, now in its third decade, is actually a love triangle from which each party derives very different things. When wealthy Chinese immigrants buy property in Vancouver-and they utterly dominate the top end of the market-they’re actually buying a form of insurance. What the federal and provincial governments get out of these newly minted Canadians turns out to be a modern form of the infamous head tax that was imposed on Chinese migrants in the 19th century. And what Vancouver gets is an economy that boasts a lot of froth, and not much substance. From all three angles, it feels like a relationship that is built not so much on Commitment as on enjoying the good times while they last.

In 2003, renowned Vancouver architect Bing Thom remarked that his city was becoming “the Switzerland of the Pacific.” The Hong Kong-born Thom was referring to the way the city offered a safe and comfortable harbour to elites from around the Pacific Rim in search of fresh air, good schools and geopolitical peace of mind. About the same time, Andrea Eng heard a Korean billionaire refer to the city as “the Geneva of the Pacific.” Eng, who has spent most of the past two decades brokering deals on both sides of the Pacific for Li Ka-Shing-the world’s wealthiest Chinese businessman-picked up on the phrase and began to use it on her website. By 2009, the concept had received academic validation, after University of British Columbia historian Henry Yu invoked it in a journal article about the network of Asian-born and -descended Canadians who link this country to the world’s newly dominant economic zone-a place that will increasingly determine Canada’s own prosperity. “Vancouver, in particular, is an incredibly sought-after location,” he says.

Yu is careful to add a caveat, though. Vancouver is popular as a lifestyle destination for those who can afford it-not as a place to make a living. More ambitious immigrants, Asian and otherwise, are more likely to choose Toronto. In fact, British Columbia (which essentially means Greater Vancouver) receives about 15% of all Canadian immigrants, which, given its population, is only slightly more than its proportional share. On the other hand, it gets about half of the annual 10,000 or so people who can prove they are already wealthy and therefore eligible for easier, if more expensive, rides in the entrepreneur and investor classes. And the rest of Vancouver’s 15% share fits a distinctly different profile than do immigrants to places like Toronto and Montreal: more skilled and better educated, and much less likely to arrive as refugees.

A couple of kilometres east of Dunbar, in the old-money Shaughnessy neighbourhood, Lui is showing another home-a 1920 Georgian listed at a hair under $5 million. Here the seller is an immigrant from China who’s building a larger home. The buyer will likely be from China as well: Lui estimates that up to 80% of recent sales in this price range have been going to buyers from mainland China.

Moving a little downmarket, the proportions are lower but still significant. At Wesbrook, a high-rise development on the University of British Columbia campus where units typically run $1.5 million to $2 million, some 40% to 50% of buyers are from mainland China, according to George Wong of Magnum Projects, which markets condos for Wesbrook’s builder, Aspac Developments. Another 30% of units go to longer-term Canadians of Chinese descent. Across the Fraser River in Richmond, at a massive new development called River Green (average condo price: $930,000), the proportions are roughly the same.

UBC geographer David Ley has attempted to address the question of “Who’s buying these places?” in a different way, checking sales data for Vancouver neighbourhoods against variables like interest rates, unemployment levels and house construction-none of which correlated well. Instead, the strongest indicators of price movement were related to international investment and immigration. The arrival of other Canadians from elsewhere in the country actually dampened prices. The same effect showed up when Ley widened his lens to Greater Vancouver: The highest values occurred in areas with high immigrant populations and a predominant Chinese ethnicity. So Vancouver may be the first North American city where the phrase “there goes the neighbourhood” should be uttered when a Caucasian moves in next door.

The data used in Ley’s study are more than a decade old, but the same conclusion springs from the relationship between Vancouver’s west side-home to neighbourhoods like Dunbar and Shaughnessy, as well as the downtown peninsula-and the City of West Vancouver, which is just across the Lions Gate Bridge and boasts a beautiful mountainside setting right on the ocean. The two areas have always contained the region’s highest-priced real estate, with West Vancouver’s bigger houses on bigger lots historically 10% or 20% more expensive. However, West Vancouver is less appealing to Chinese immigrants and, at least partly as a consequence, homes on the west side of Vancouver proper have been appreciating much more quickly-by 66% in the last five years compared to West Vancouver’s 23%, according to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver’s benchmark index.

Price increases of that sort are irresistible to smaller-scale residential renovators and developers, who have been transforming the west side and other Asian-preferred areas such as Vancouver’s east side and suburban Richmond at breakneck speed. On some blocks in Dunbar, virtually the entire stock of mid-sized homes from the 1920s through to the 1950s has been replaced by 3,500- and 4,000-square-foot open-plan designs with exteriors dressed up to look like bank managers’ manses from the turn of the 20th century. Houses like these, which executives or energy traders might pay $1.5 million for in Toronto or Calgary, and engineers and educators might pick up for $800,000 or $900,000 in Winnipeg, sell for $2.5 million to $3 million each.

Back in the late 1980s, before Tiananmen Square kicked off the great Vancouver land rush, it would have taken a particularly prescient forecaster to pluck Dunbar from among the west side’s also-ran neighbourhoods and anoint it as a contender. The area is largely deficient in the mountain and ocean views that can add several hundred thousand dollars-millions at the high end-to the value of a home. But it does benefit from another feature that most Asian immigrants view as more important: its proximity to the region’s best schools. UBC is handy, several of Vancouver’s best private schools are located in the area, and even its public schools score near the top of the Fraser Institute’s annual ranking of B.C. schools.

A common scenario for an investor immigrant from mainland China unfolds like this, explains immigration lawyer Steven Meurrens: One member of the household qualifies under a category of the Business Immigration Program and posts a $120,000 bond in lieu of making the $400,000 investment stipulated under the program. (Some qualify instead as “provincial nominees,” and follow a somewhat different scenario involving an actual investment.) Portions of the money are divvied out to various immigration advisers and service providers, while the interest accrues to the federal government, which in turn spreads it around to provincial governments-about a half billion dollars annually of late. Essentially, the money is treated as the cost of Canadian entry-although in a further wrinkle, many breadwinners never move to Canada, instead retaining their offshore jobs or businesses as well as Chinese citizenship, to maintain their income stream and taxpayer status in China, which helps shelter income from higher Canadian taxes.

Researching places to live in Vancouver is simple enough: There’s a vast network of expats to survey, and Chinese-based websites discuss favoured neighbourhoods in considerable detail, with special attention paid to schools. Typically, one of the parents, usually the wife, moves to Canada with the children while the husband stays in Asia, coming for visits when he can.

This arrangement is a rational response to the reception immigrants typically receive: High-status entrepreneurs or executives back home, they are rarely given an opportunity to duplicate that success here, and instead are often relegated to work in retail, in restaurants or even delivering newspapers. The syndrome was outlined in a 2007 Statistics Canada report indicating that new immigrants’ incomes have recently been dropping compared to previous eras. “There was unanimous sentiment among all respondents that economic success in Canada, even limited success, was extremely difficult to achieve,” confirmed UBC’s David Ley, after conducting dozens of interviews and focus groups for his 2010 book on Vancouver’s Chinese phenomenon, Migrant Millionaires.

The children, meanwhile, are enrolled in private or public schools, quickly picking up English-complete with the Canadian accent, which is preferred to British- or Australian-sounding speech or regional American accents. When they have graduated from high school or, more likely, university, the sons and daughters may return to Asia to take over the family business from their father. At that point, the couple may retire to Vancouver-a place that women in particular grow to appreciate-or the entire family may return to Asia, ending the cycle, which, as Ley points out, could more accurately be termed one of “migration” rather than “immigration.”

The scenario is a generalization, of course, and every story is different. Take the experience of Fang Chen. A litigation lawyer back in China, Chen arrived two years ago, while her husband stayed behind to manage a successful business, visiting when he can. Their son, now 6, arrived in Canada to start school this year. Chen is boning up on the Canadian legal system, but has no plans to join the bar here, because, she says, “it would be almost impossible for me to break in.”

The couple bought a house in Port Coquitlam, a middle-income bedroom suburb nearly an hour’s drive east of central Vancouver. To the free-thinking Chen, the place holds an advantage: The proportion of Chinese is among the lowest in Greater Vancouver. “I want my son to know more about Canadian culture,” she says. “I didn’t want a neighbourhood where most of the children are Chinese.” If all goes according to plan, Chen and her son will rejoin her husband back in China in about two years, after the son has become fluent in English and has gained a jump-start from an education system that Chen views as more enlightened than China’s. Joint Chinese-Canadian citizens, the family may well return at another stage of his education-another common trait of Chinese parents, who often see an advantage in blending the rigorous but also rigid system back home and Canada’s more liberal approach.

Historian Yu, who is descended from families who were kept apart by Canada’s discriminatory Head Tax, views the growth of Canada’s Asian population not as a new phenomenon but as a renewal of North America’s Pacific ties. At the turn of the 20th century, B.C.’s population was about 10% Chinese-a proportion that was only regained around the beginning of the 21st century. The largely Chinese-constructed CPR was not so much an act of nation-building, Yu says, but rather a gamble by investors who hoped to cut transportation time to Europe for precious Asian goods like silk and tea. For most of the 20th century, Canada looked east toward Europe, the source of most immigrants and non-U.S. trade. But today more than half of all immigrants are from the Asia-Pacific region (more than 90% in B.C.), and trade across the Pacific easily exceeds its Atlantic equivalent.

Yu is optimistic that the resentment that bubbled up in B.C. during the late 1980s, when Hong Kongers and Taiwanese first began to arrive in large numbers, has subsided considerably. That animosity was a function of Canada’s legacy of white supremacy, he believes; of so many middle-income people-”accountants of empire”-having had it so good for so long. Vancouverites, especially younger ones, now see the real estate situation for what it is, a simple case of market economics, he thinks. “Almost no one under 40 cares,” he says, suggesting that Vancouver’s rapid transformation has been relatively painless, all things considered. Even in the wake of the arrival of a ship carrying Tamil asylum seekers, British Columbians remained more favourable to immigration than any other Canadians, according to a September Angus Reid Public Opinion poll. “In B.C. there’s a sense of a gain from immigration,” confirms Reid.

Still, it’s undeniable that there has been a downside to the influx of wealthy people; Bing Thom, whose firm has given Vancouver some of its most iconic buildings, expresses a common view when he laments how real estate prices have banished young families from close-in neighbourhoods, except for the increasing number who choose high-rise condos over houses. He also worries about the city losing the bohemian air that has always contributed to the Lotus Land effect: Where will all the chefs and designers live, let alone the artists and musicians? “We are emptying our city,” he says. “A lot of young people are forced to leave.”

At the same time, there’s a vein of thought that Vancouver’s recent focus on rezoning land to provide places to live-especially a downtown condo forest that has become the city’s defining feature-has left it with a dearth of office buildings and factory sites where all those new residents might actually be able to find work.

Still, if Vancouver must be on guard against some of the changes wrought by the influx, a city with an economy disproportionately dependent on the real estate industry must also be wary of the day the arrivals lounge empties. This past summer, when the pace of sales eased right across the country, the soul-searching in Vancouver was particularly intense, even though local prices did not decline. If a real estate slump were a mere reflection of Canadian circumstances, that would be one thing; but if a breakdown in the Asian relationship, that’s quite another.

Lynn Hsu owns Macdonald Real Estate Group, home base to Manyee Lui and almost a thousand other agents; since buying a single office in 1990, Hsu has turned the company into Western Canada’s largest realty operation, and she is well aware that Vancouver is vulnerable to changes in Asian investment and immigration. After 1996, when immigrants from Hong Kong stopped arriving and many in fact returned to Asia, real estate swooned, reviving only around 2002, when economic conditions improved and immigration from mainland China began to surge. Hsu says there is little agreement about what would happen to the market if China itself experienced a real estate meltdown of some sort. “One view is that it may have a negative effect,” due to the depletion of fortunes built on real estate and development (the primary contributor of wealthy migrants, alongside manufacturing and mining, she says). “But the other view,” she says, “is that Vancouver will look more appealing as people look for ways to get their money out of China.”

Hsu cites another factor that has the real estate industry on tenterhooks: the imminent doubling of requirements for investor and entrepreneur immigrant programs, raising minimum net worth to $1.6 million and minimum investment to $800,000. What will this change do to the supply of wealthy immigrants? “That’s the question everyone is asking,” says Steven Meurrens, the immigration lawyer.

Some 80% of immigrant investors are from Asia; at Immigration Canada offices in cities such as Beijing and Hong Kong, there are three-year backlogs of applicants who qualify under the old rules. Thus it will likely be years before the number of people arriving under the investor program dwindles. And as long as wealthy immigrants continue to arrive, pretty much everyone believes they’ll continue to buy homes here, rather than, say, invest in American cities where property is now much cheaper. “They’re here, not there,” says Hsu flatly. “They need a place to live.”

There’s also general agreement that a large proportion of Chinese immigrants won’t opt to rent instead of buying, even if the economics make more sense. “People in China always feel very insecure if they do not own their own house,” says Fang Chen. “Even those with a very low income will spend their savings to buy.” It’s a trait common to any country with an agricultural heritage and limited land, explains Tsur Somerville, an associate professor at the UBC Centre for Urban Economics and Real Estate. “There are some countries where the only collateral has been real estate.” Historian Yu even compares Vancouver real estate to a Swiss bank account-not for its secrecy, but for its rock-solid value and political peace of mind. The icing on the cake: Capital gains on a primary residence are tax-free in Canada.

So there’s a consensus of sorts: Vancouver real estate prices are unlikely to rise in the near future and may or may not fall. But if they do fall, the primary reason will not be a dearth of wealthy immigrants. That still leaves the bigger question: Is Canada’s third-largest city forever doomed to make its living selling condos, or will its connections and favoured geographic position translate into something new and significant? In other words, will it be New York, or will it be Halifax-a place haunted by a heyday it failed to exploit and can never recapture?

Most of those near the centre of the Vancouver/Asia nexus are inclined toward the more prosperous scenario. “Hong Kong was the entrepôt to China. Now that Hong Kong is part of China, Vancouver is the next stop, the Asian gateway,” says Thom. In a world connected primarily by air and electronics, the city’s isolation is no longer an issue, he says; second homes are being purchased and offices established because a place once seen as remote is now becoming central. Andrea Eng adds a classic Left Coast wrinkle to the same argument: “This is the best time zone in the world,” she says. “I get up at 3 or 4 in the morning and do all my Europe, Asia and East Coast e-mails, and then I go to yoga.”

Eng believes that the obsession with real estate is merely a phase for the adolescent city. True, she says, Asians get their first look at Canada’s huge expanse and say, “Let’s urbanize it!” But that impulse will pale compared to the continent’s appetite for Canadian resources, which is rapidly becoming the next chapter in this story. As ownership regulations loosen and Asian companies rush to secure their necessary shares, Vancouver, their North American toehold, will be in a position to wrestle away some of the action from places like Toronto and Calgary, not to mention Houston and London. Or so the theory goes. The desire to live here is certainly strong enough, Eng believes. A generation ago, many Asian immigrants landed in Canada as a consolation prize because the U.S. had lower quotas and stricter entry requirements. Opinions differ, but Eng thinks Canada is now a first choice, not a fallback. “It’s definitely preferable to the U.S.,” she says. “By miles.”

Meanwhile, there’s a sense that the rivets joining local and Asian economies are finally being hammered down. “The notion that there are limited business opportunities connecting Vancouver and Asia is an increasingly outdated one,” says Yuen Pau Woo, CEO of Vancouver-based Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, a think tank charged with analyzing and supporting those links. He points out that many national and international legal and accounting firms are beefing up their Vancouver offices to serve the Asian market. In September, Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson sought to capitalize on the China connections on an 11-day Chinese mission, with green technology the primary focus.

Even the apparent failure of many immigrant families to take root may be advantageous, thinks Woo. The foundation estimates there are as many as 600,000 Canadians living in Asia-an instant network in waiting. Given that there is arguably more human interaction between Canada and China than between any other OECD countries, there is nothing “heritage” about Vancouver’s Asia-Pacific status, unlike a city like San Francisco, the original would-be Geneva of the Pacific. Woo cites the recent spread of British Columbia’s White Spot hamburger chain in Asia as a case of “taste transfer” of a sort that will only accelerate as Asian and North American cultures become more intertwined.

At the same time, he says, “the opportunity to tap into Vancouver’s Asian knowledge and networks is grossly underutilized.” Asians and non-Asians alike often still see Vancouver chiefly as a retirement or lifestyle destination. “But the raw material to be a hub is already in place,” Woo argues. It’s a matter of “mobilizing, energizing and creating a critical mass of business, networking, and intellectual activity.”

Angus Reid the businessman has a slightly different take on Vancouver’s position than Angus Reid the sociologist. From the latter perspective, the city’s multiculturalism is paramount. But as CEO of Web polling firm Vision Critical, which is expanding rapidly around the globe, he seconds the views of Thom and Eng about Vancouver’s privileged position. “It is as mundane as time zones,” he says, “but Vancouver is also a really good source of talent.”

And maybe that’s a start: a high-end workforce if not yet a lot of high-end jobs. What Vancouver needs now is a hundred more enterprises like Reid’s that bubble up from within to capitalize on the talents of the multilingual and multicultural children of the multimillionaire immigrants, the folks who are now bussing tables and delivering papers. When that happens, maybe Vancouver will have finally found a way to parlay its Asian connections into an economy that’s capable of supporting its Swiss-watch lifestyle.

By Jim Sutherland, Globe and Mail Report on Business, December 2010,  Price of Paradise Vancouver Real Estate

The 2010 Olympics, the Luxury Market, and Asian Buyers | Square Foot Magazine (Hong Kong)

Vancouver’s property market bounces back and is poised to be stronger than ever

With the Pacific Ocean to one side and the Rocky Mountains to the other, Vancouver is one of the world’s most scenic and liveable cities — and anyone from Vancouver will tell you that. Urban without being overwhelming, Canada’s third largest metropolitan area has a laid back pace that belies its economic importance and has been attracting buyers from around the world — and Asia in particular — for years. Only moderately affected by the financial meltdown of 2008, Vancouver’s property market looks to be holding firm, and the immediate future is looking bright.  A bump from the 2010 Winter Olympic Games would be expected, but the rise in interest in Vancouver pre-dates the actual Games. “The Winter Olympics resulted in a bump in the real estate market prior to the event. Vancouver won the bid in 2003 and real estate prices have been on a relatively strongupward trajectory since that time,” explains Macdonald Real Estate Group’s Vice President of Corporate Strategy Dan Scarrow. “The [effects] on real estate prices post-Olympics has been more muted; however, the long-term effect of the Olympics on real estate activity in Vancouver will be positive.”

Few were spared the wrath of 2008’s global financial agony, but things could have been much worse than they were in Canada. The country’s mixed economy spared it from more considerable damage and, “Vancouver, in particular, fared very well through the turmoil,” in Scarrow’s view. Property prices were off 25 percent from their mid-2008 peak but rebounded strongly enough in mid-2009 to surpass their previous peak. “This indicates that the housing market in Vancouver was effected largely by psychology rather than market fundamentals,” theorises Scarrow.

So who is driving the market these days, and what kind of market exactly is Vancouver? Scarrow breaks down the three traditional buyer segments: “The lower end is still driven by local buyers. Before the financial crisis, investors played a large role in Vancouver’s real estate market, however, since then, the market has shifted more towards owner/occupiers as investors remain relatively skittish about the global economy.” Pure investment has been on a slow rise in the last few months, but it has yet to reach pre-2008 levels, as global economies are still in a recovery process.

It comes as no surprise to determine who’s driving Vancouver’s luxury market. “The higher-end of the real estate market (over CA$2 million) is being driven largely by Mainland Chinese buyers. That’s not to say they are the sole purchasers of these properties, but their presence has resulted in this price range being highly active over the pastseveralyears.” According to a February report in the  Vancouver Sun, 31 homes priced over CA$5 million were sold in Greater Vancouver in 2009. But as Scarrow pointed out, they’re not alone: Australians, Europeans and Americans are also getting on the Vancouver bandwagon. Properties in key locations like Shaughnessey, South Granville, urban Yaletown, and tony Coal Harbour, Point Grey and Dunbar (Vancouver’s most expensive location per square foot of land), even with a strong Canadian dollar, are also something of a bargain — with land — for Hong Kong and Mainland buyers.

Vancouver, and Canada in general, has the kind of government and social atmosphere that has made it an investment and immigration preference for decades. “Canada is in a unique fiscal position in the world with relatively low public debt and deficits and a quality of life that is second to none. Thispoliticalandeconomic stability is attractive to a whole host of people from around the world who see troubling times ahead. This, combined with Vancouver’s natural beauty, makes it a perfect place to raise a family,” Scarrow reasons. For Asian buyers, Canada is a strong choice for wealth protection and a good spot to send children for a Western-style education. In addition, Vancouver is, quite simply, relatively close to home.

The same luxury pattern evident in Hong Kong is slowing broadening in Vancouver. The high-end market has been strong for the last few years, including the recent recession, and the city’s burgeoning international image is attracting affluent buyers. “Vancouver’s famous Coal Harbour neighbourhood, overlooking the mountains, ocean, and Stanley Park, now sells at nearly $2,000 per square foot, where less than 10 years ago, it sold for less than $500,” states Scarrow. That’s a middle-class or entry-level price in Hong Kong, where space it at a premium. If Canada has one thing it’s land, and Vancouver has seen its share of shifting with the influx of overseas wealth. “There are two distinct markets in Vancouver, the luxury market and the local market. Like Hong Kong, Mainland Chinese buyers are the largest players in the luxury market and are bidding up prices at a ferocious rate,” admits Scarrow. “This includes former family neighbourhoods like Dunbar and Point Grey, which now boast ‘average’ prices well in excess of $2 million.” But unlike in Hong Kong, the local market can move, and has, “responded by moving east, with former low-end markets such as Main Street, and Commercial Drive gentrifying in order to accommodate local buyers,” who aren’t willing to leave town altogether. “Vancouver is a lifestyle city,” said Macdonald Realty’s Gregg Baker in a press release earlier this year. “It’s no secret that people like being here.”

 

From a 2010 edition of Hong Kong’s Square Foot Magazine.

Recreational Real Estate Hot | The Times Colonist

Buyers of recreational property are pushing up sales — especially in the entry-level price range — but the market has not recovered to pre-recession levels, says a new report by real estate giant Re/Max.

“I have never been busier,” said Sandra Smith, an agent for Macdonald Realty on Saltspring Island.

The upcoming long weekend sees her “booked solid with buyers” at a time when inventory gives buyers plenty of choice. Water view properties from $500,000 to $800,000 are especially popular.

“My personal thought is that we are not going to see a big spike in prices,” Smith said yesterday.

Buyers are arriving from such areas as the northwestern U.S., Alberta, Vancouver and the Island, Smith said.

Some are seeking an island getaway that will be a retirement home in a couple of years, while others are young families.

Smith said buyers held off last year because of the recession.

Allan Bruce of Pemberton Holmes on Saltspring is also seeing a steady stream of buyers.

“We still have a steady market but certainly the volume is down,” he said. The strongest activity is for properties below $500,000.

Across Canada, 79 per cent of recreational areas saw an increase in the number of sales for the first three months of this year, compared to the same time last year, the Re/Max report said.

“Stronger than expected economic recovery, combined with additional incentives such as rising interest rates, stricter lending criteria and a new sales tax have served to kick-start activity in recreational markets from coast to coast,” said Elton Ash, regional vice-president for Re/Max in Western Canada.

Buyers are looking to stretch their dollar as much as possible, he said. “This is especially true in Western Canada, where values have softened considerably year-over-year but are now starting to firm up.”

The starting price for a three-bedroom, winterized waterfront property on a standard lot on Saltspring Island would be $750,000 to $800,000, the report said. “Recreational property sales have more than doubled on Saltspring Island over last year.”

Five years ago, international and American buyers were more active in the market than today, it said.

On Vancouver Island’s west coast, the starting price for the same three-bedroom house is $499,000 in Ucluelet, and $875,000 in Tofino.

A two-bedroom waterfront condo starts at $245,000 in Ucluelet and $429,000 in Tofino, the report said.

Inventory is high, creating an “overabundance of listings at all price points,” which affect price, Re/Max said.

Showings have increased in the Comox Valley-Mount Washington region, where an “oversupply of inventory has placed buyers firmly in the driver’s seat,” the report said.

The starting price for a three-bedroom house was pegged at $475,000.

 

Article from The Victoria Times Colonist – May 21st, 2010

Macdonald Realty Named Largest Brokerage Firm in Canada | REAL Trends 2009

With a total sales volume of $4.7 billion in 2009, Macdonald Realty placed first in the REAL Trends 200 survey of Canada’s largest brokers.  The results were published in the May 2010 edition of REAL Trends magazine and reported by the National Post, Vancouver Sun, & The Province.   Based in Castle Rock, Colorado, REAL Trends has been ranking the top 500 brokerage firms in the United States since 1988. This is the first year their publication has included Canada.  We are very proud to have been named the largest brokerage firm in Canada during this inaugural list.

 

Click here to see a list of the top 23 firms in the survey