Bob Rennie Downplays End of Immigrant Investor Program

The top 20 per cent of Vancouver condo sales have little to do with the local market, says Rennie

Vancouver’s top real estate marketer is bullish despite the cancellation of immigrant investor program

Condo marketer Bob Rennie downplayed the effects that the end of the immigrant investor program will have on Vancouver’s property market in an address Tuesday at the Mortgage Brokers Association of BC’s annual conference. 

“We’ve always expected China to follow in the footsteps of Hong Kong: when one person comes here, seven people start thinking about it,” said Rennie, as he argued that Vancouver’s fundamentals remain attractive to Chinese buyers, despite the end of the immigrant investor program.

The program, which the federal government nixed as part of last week’s budget announcement, allowed high net worth applicants to lend the Canadian government money in exchange for permanent residency. As a result, 59,000 backlogged applications were scrapped.

While the cancellation of the investor immigrant program will be a game changer, Vancouver’s property market will continue to attract wealthy Chinese investors, said Rennie. He cited the city’s clean air, climate, education system and lack of government interference as long-term draws.

“If there were only one thousand applicants, I’d be concerned,” said Rennie, estimating that there are 250,000 high net worth individuals interested in coming to Canada.

“When money from China wants to flow, it flows,” said Rennie, citing a meeting he had with an unnamed executive at HSBC. While the executive cited HSBC’s tight policies on anti-avoidance and moving money, he indicated that the Bank of China, which also has a presence in B.C., may not be as stringent.