A growing belief that Metro Vancouver's hot housing market is being driven by Asian investment, primarily from mainland China, is a misconception, according to experts in the real estate field.
In fact, they say, evidence suggests buyers are mainly Canadian citizens, immigrants or new residents in Canada -many with strong links to mainland China and many residing and working in China while their families establish roots in B.C.
Most purchases are also being made as long-term holdings - in some cases for children attending local universities -with little of the quick "flipping" prevalent in previous hot markets.
"From what we've seen from most of the major launches, it's a different buying habit than previous runs on the market," Jennifer Podmore, real estate advisory leader for accounting giant Deloite, said in an interview Friday. "Generally, we're not seeing the investor as the main drivers of the market. There are certainly a lot more Asian purchasers, but not Asian investors coming to purchase a condo and then leaving.
"Most [buyers] have strong ties to Vancouver, meaning they're Canadians, immigrants or live here," added Podmore.
Daryl Simpson, Bosa Properties' vice-president of sales and marketing, agreed, citing their 202-unit Sovereign tower in Metrotown that recently sold out in one day, largely to ethnic Chinese buyers.
However, it's incorrect to identify the buyers as mainland Chinese, he said, because most came from other parts of Metro Vancouver. Some may have connections with mainland China, but no more than "half a dozen buyers" had addresses outside Canada.
Podmore's and Simpson's comments follow a surge in investment, largely by ethnic Asian buyers with links to mainland China, that's branching out from Richmond and Vancouver's west side as buyers look to other communities.
Several condominium towers in Burnaby, including Sovereign, sold out quickly in recent weeks, mainly to Asian buyers.
"If you see the type of demand that we've seen on the west side of Vancouver and Richmond spread elsewhere, it will push up prices, but it's unlikely to have the same dramatic effect on prices because there's much more of a supply of units elsewhere," Tsur Somerville, director of the centre for urban economics and real estate at Sauder School of Business at the University of B.C., said, adding that it's hard to conclude mainland Chinese buyers are behind the sales.