While San Francisco has seen its fair share of lucky number eight sales, especially at the high-end, over the past few months, it’s nothing compared to the impact buyers from mainland China appear to be having on Vancouver.

Sales of detached homes, townhouses and condominiums in metropolitan Vancouver jumped 70 percent in February from January, to 3,097 units from 1,819, and were up 25 percent from a year earlier, according to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver. In March, sales climbed 32 percent from February, to just shy of a record for the month of 4,371 transactions set in 2004. Sales increased by 80 percent from two years ago.

And developers and remodelers take note, “Every new house has two kitchens: a large Western- style one and a small “wok” kitchen with a stove, sink, strong exhaust fan and door to seal off cooking aromas.”

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by eddy

    Maybe I missed something but what does this have to do with the 1209 Filbert house?
    [Editor’s Note: 1209 Filbert closed for $6,888,000 having been listed for $7,000,000. Care to guess whether or not the three lucky number eights were simply a coincidence?]

  2. Posted by joh

    I would have predicted more mainland money pouring into Burnaby than Westside or West Van.
    And shame on Bloomberg for illustrating this article with two photos of Vancouver’s Chinatown, a neighborhood not even mentioned in this piece.

  3. Posted by Willow

    Not surprising. Vancouver is an amazingly beautiful city. Sydney is also insanely expensive for many of the same reasons. While neither city is perfect they don’t have some of the infrastructure / quality of life challenges facing San Francisco so I’m not surprised they are attracting foreign buyers.

  4. Posted by [anon.ed]

    I’m certain that Vancouver is attracting Chinese interest and San Francisco isn’t attracting any Chinese interest whatsoever. Aren’t you?

  5. Posted by Mikey

    Not surprised. Canadian immigration policy is far more coherent than US, the currency is pretty strong, quality of life is generally better, and the Chinese food is much, much better.
    A lot of Chinese are also moving to the San Gabriel Valley in LA, but that area is such a dump.

  6. Posted by Willow

    “I’m certain that Vancouver is attracting Chinese interest and San Francisco isn’t attracting any Chinese interest whatsoever. Aren’t you?”
    No doubt San Francisco is always going to be a destination for the Chinese community given the historical ties. I just think some buyers may be broadening their net and assessing the relative merits of SF versus other international cities.

  7. Posted by sfrenegade

    They sort of mix up a lot of things in there when giving numbers. They talk largely about Vancouver’s Westside, but the real estate numbers are for Greater Vancouver (which includes the City of West Vancouver, the City of Richmond, and many other municipalities). When they quote the number of investors visas, it’s for all of BC. So it seems like the number of investor visas annually in BC is about the same number as monthly sales in Greater Vancouver? I wonder how we compare.
    The City of Vancouver is about the size of SF, by the way, just a shade smaller probably, although maybe 20-25% lower population, even though it’s very dense. It has a lot of micro-neighborhoods like SF too (with one called Sunset), and they even had a massive fire close to the turn of the century. I was also surprised by the number of single family homes in some areas, as in SF.
    Contrasts are that Vancouver probably has better planning policy (more dense housing is not actively discouraged), and Canada probably has better immigration policy (this goes without saying).

  8. Posted by sfrenegade

    “A lot of Chinese are also moving to the San Gabriel Valley in LA, but that area is such a dump.”
    Parts of it are nicer than others, and it has better schools than the City of LA generally, so that explains it. Also, Chinese food in the SGV is generally better than LA Chinatown, sort of like how Peninsula Chinese food is generally better than SF Chinatown.
    What will keep Asian buyers out of SF is the schools. The Peninsula is probably a better destination for Chinese buyers’ needs.

  9. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    @joh: why Burnaby? No Chinese live there. You’re thinking of Richmond (more than 70% Chinese by now). Burnaby is a backwater for white people who can’t afford Vancouver.
    Conversely, my parents’ house in West Van went up >25% last year. The market there has always been expensive but now it is becoming insanely expensive. Which is good, of course, because the family has owned property there since the early 1970s. The main driver has always been lax immigration laws for people with enough money, relatively good weather and excellent public schools such as the ones I attended.
    The US should follow suit but it won’t, of course, because we don’t particularly need or want rich immigrants the way Canada does. Public schools are not a priority, neither is healthcare, and, well, why even work too hard when you can just print as much money as you will ever need?

  10. Posted by OH MY

    the chinese are buying everything. hide yo wife, hide yo kids.

  11. Posted by noearch

    Vancouver is cleaner, safer, more high rise housing on the edges. Great urban core.
    Sydney (which I’ve been to several times) is cleaner, safer, greener (many more trees), great transit system, better weather, great beaches and the Aussie way of living; more relaxed, not so stressed.
    We can learn a lot from both of these great cities.

  12. Posted by joh

    @Jimmy,
    You obviously haven’t spent any time in Burnaby recently. The area around Metrotown has a large Taiwanese population, who made up the second wave of Chinese immigration. There’s a huge T&T market within Metrotown mall (an Asian supermarket that’s much cleaner and nicer than any you’d find in the Bay Area). And Crystal Mall (Asian) is right next door.
    If you go a little further out and north to Coquitlam, there’s a sizeable Korean community. And along Kingsway near the Burnaby/Vancouver border, the Vietnamese population appears to be growing.
    Anyways, I figured Burnaby would experience more of a boom, since there are two Skytrain corridors that go through it.

  13. Posted by joh

    @sfrenegade,
    Most of Vancouver is made up of single family homes, thus the lower overall population density than SF. Downtown Vancouver is another story, where it’s mostly high-rise living.
    Vancouver undoubtedly has better planning than SF. Perhaps because it’s a much younger city (less “historical” value than SF), there are less hurdles in planning. Downtown is of course very dense, and the city and surround metro area seem to encourage very dense living near transit corridors, specifically, near Skytrain stations.
    A friend of a friend’s partner I once met (who worked for the city of Vancouver) told me that headhunters from Abu Dhabi were recruitting Vancouver city planners. Basically, they were offering double their salary to quit their job to go work for them. Many of them supposedly did.

  14. Posted by joh

    The area around Metrotown has a large Taiwanese population, who made up the second wave of Chinese immigration.
    I should correct that to state “second recent wave of Chinese immigration (the article refers to the current wave as the third wave since 1990).

  15. Posted by sfrenegade

    “Most of Vancouver is made up of single family homes, thus the lower overall population density than SF.”
    Much of SF is made up of single family homes too. They’re just closer together. Vancouver is very similar in density to Daly City, which is also mostly single family homes. SF’s density is maybe 30% higher overall. The eastern shore, West Portal to Lake Merced, and geographic features lower the average a bit.

  16. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    @joh:
    I have never spent much time in Burnaby, or anywhere else way out there, and frankly I wouldn’t want to either. “Real” Vancouver extends from West Van to Point Grey.

  17. Posted by noe

    bought my noe prop for 1.875M. darn should’ve went with my cultural heritage and offered 1.888… anyone know how I can undo this now????

  18. Posted by Morgan

    Regarding the “dump” that some called the San Gabriel Valley that Asian buyers are flocking to …….
    http://articles.latimes.com/2011/jan/31/business/la-fi-san-marino-housing-20110131
    It’s ALL about the schools. San Marino, which looks like Atherton with better architecture would surprise Bay Area snobs, it did me on a recent visit to the Huntington Museum and Gardens.
    http://www.huntington.org/default.aspx
    The neighborhoods of 100 year old spanish style estates are very attractive, and well kept.

  19. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    noe – Just mail a check for $13000 to :
    Professor Milkshake de Despair
    International Institute for Reconciliation of Inauspicious Numbers and Lager Consumption
    PO Box 88888
    Lagos, Nigeria
    …. $13k … oh wait, that’s a bad number for me. Make it $14k instead and I’ll refund $1000, Lagos-style.

  20. Posted by lol

    I have some friends who gave up on the Vancouver experience last month. 6 months, almost no sun. Very depressing. They came back to Britain running. Of course high RE prices were a factor. Vancouver does not have the high paying jobs that could justify these prices like SF.
    SF is no SoCal, but at least you can see the sun 4/5 of the time and very decent daylight for the rest. I have a decent tan almost all year. My Brit friends were just pale last time I saw them…

  21. Posted by Morgan

    “If you go to mainland China and someone asks, ‘Where do you live?,’ San Marino represents that you are wealthy,” said YanYan Zhang, a real estate agent whose clients include overseas buyers looking for homes here.
    From L.A. Times article linked above. Yet again the true wealthy migration to Southern California is ignored, no need for 8’s in your price listing if the home has a San Marino address. Vancouver is not San Francisco’s competition, it is the greater Southern California area. I would rather be attracting San Marino buyers than Vancouver buyers, for they are two completely different groups of people. Weather helps, but it really starts with better schools.

  22. Posted by Mikey

    Regarding the “dump” that some called the San Gabriel Valley that Asian buyers are flocking to …….
    Well, yes, of course San Marino, Pasadena, etc are very nice.
    But Temple city, Walnut, (parts of) Hacienda Heights, (parts of) Rowland Heights, City of Industry, (parts of) Alhambra, etc ARE dumps.

  23. Posted by Fishchum

    lol – Your friends got tired of almost no sun for 6 months in Vancouver and went running back to BRITAIN?
    That may be one of the funniest things I’ve read on here.

  24. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    @Morgan: unfortunately for Californians everywhere, you will have a very hard time competing with the best schools in Vancouver.

  25. Posted by Morgan

    ^^Agreed- Canadian schools are good, BUT, my point is that Vancouver is not drawnig Asian buyers from San Francisco, Southern California is.
    My parents live in Newport Coast right above the http://www.pelicanhill.com/ Resort and their neighborhood, with homes selling between 4.5 and 11 million is almost 50% foreign Asian buyers in the last two years. The Pelican Hill Resort has done an admirable job of taking a large share of the Asian/European golf tourist from Pebble Beach, so I still stand by my theory that the choice of most Asian buyers is not between San Francisco and Vancouver, but between the Bay Area (especially the Peninsula) and Southern California.

  26. Posted by Jimmy (No Longer Bitter)

    I assume you mean “most Asian buyers with US visas” in your above statement. Those US visas are not so easy to get anymore. I even had some potential clients from mainland China turned down for a visa (2 months ago) … just a simple visa for a two-week business trip to the US was rejected!

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