Attack of the dragon buyers in Vancouver

Chinese Canadians may boost the Vancouver housing market during year of the dragon

There’s a pearl of wisdom Vancouver realtors hold about 2012: the year of the dragon should heat up an already super hot housing market. Last February, the tendency of Chinese Canadians to spend around the new year—considered a time of good luck—boosted the market. Realtors hope that since the dragon is considered the most auspicious sign, even bigger purchases will come through this year.

Re/Max agent Sarah Daniels, who sells homes in the west-end suburb of south Surrey, is already booking more viewing appointments than usual for more expensive homes, a niche that Chinese buyers have dominated for the past few years. She says the $1.8-million-plus market in her area is 70 per cent driven by Asian buyers.

The potential boost, however, has some observers worried. Vancouver was just ranked the second-most expensive housing market among large English-speaking cities (behind Hong Kong) with a median home price of $678,000, according to a recent Bloomberg study. Many middle-class residents have already been priced well out of the market for houses. Last year Daniels made a sale to one overseas Chinese buyer for around $250,000 more than the property was worth just six months before.