Low loonie ignites Vancouver's commercial property market

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Plus, B.C. issues panda bonds and Bamfield wants tourists

Foreign investors
Two big commercial real estate deals this week are driving home the value of Vancouver's property market for foreign investors. On Wednesday, the Financial Post reported that one of Vancouver's largest office complexes, the Royal Centre at Burrard and Georgia, had been purchased for a reputed $425 million by German multi-billionaire Klaus Michael Kuehne. And then on Thursday, real estate broker Jones Lang Lasalle announced that it had acquired Bill Goold Realty, a local commercial realtor that specializes in multifamily buildings and development sites. While the terms of the deal were not disclosed, Bill Goold processed $335 million in commercial transactions last year.

Both sales fit into a pattern much talked about at an Urban Development Institute forecast panel on Thursday: high demand in Vancouver and a low dollar make property in the city an ideal asset. Amid global volatility, Canadian real estate is a stable performing asset, and that trend will continue in 2016, according to John Horton of Shape Properties. Furthermore, interest rates will remain at historic lows for the foreseeable future. The low Canadian dollar is generally good for Lower Mainland real estate, said Wesgroup Properties president Peeter Wesik.

Panda bonds
The B.C. government has raised $665 million, or $3 billion renminbi, in a Chinese currency-denominated bond issue in Beijing. On Friday, Finance Minister Michael de Jong was at the Beijing Financial Assets Exchange to oversee the ceremonial issuance of a three-year term bond, priced at a rate of 2.95 per cent. Bank of China and HSBC are the lead underwriters on the bond. It's part of an effort to deepen financial ties with China, which has emerged as a global financier in the last decade. In November 2013 the government issued its first dim sum bond in Hong Kong, making it the first to do so. Bonds are traditionally priced and issued in major financial centres such as London or New York—B.C. is the first foreign government to issue bonds in renminbi in China.

Bamfield's ambitions
Deep in the wilderness of Vancouver Island's west coast, a town accessible only by dirt road is hoping to kick-start its tourism industry. Bamfield, situated across the inlet from Tofino on the Island's south coast, is currently a destination for trekkers and kayakers willing to brave the rough drive. So on Friday, the Huu-ay-aht First Nation announced that it had purchased 11 properties near Bamfield, including a lodge, small island, airstrip and marina. Development, which will begin with a tourism reception centre, begins later this year. (Times Colonist)



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