UBC prof looks at role of recent immigrants in B.C. housing market

53 per cent of B.C. immigrants buy a home within five years of arrival

A large proportion of immigrants to B.C. become homeowners within five years of arriving, according to a study by UBC professor of geography Daniel Hiebert. Although his research has not been completed, Hiebert says he feels confident about the statistics in a table he shared with the Vancouver Sun. Based on national household survey data, 53 per cent of landed immigrants who arrived between 2006 and 2011 became homeowners in that period. Chinese immigrants showed the highest rate of home ownership at 73 per cent, followed by 52 per cent of South Asians, 51 per cent of South Koreans and 44 per cent of white and Filipino immigrants. 

“Most of the stories that appear in the press on immigrants are about the difficulties they’re having getting economically integrated into Canada, and yet their rapid acquisition of home ownership suggests that there’s a piece of the puzzle we’ve been missing,” Hiebert told BCBusiness. “Maybe things aren’t quite so easy in the labour market, but at the same time they are managing to buy houses pretty quickly so there’s more things going on.” The landed immigrants he studied purchased about 100,000 homes in Metro Vancouver, but Hiebert doesn’t know what the properties were worth. “I just have the home ownership rate. I can only speculate that it’s a wide spectrum of home values.”

Whoever was buying, a record number of homes sold in B.C. last month. According to the latest sales figures from British Columbia Real Estate Association, the total value of B.C. residential sales increased 73.6 per cent in the past year with unit sales up 40.1 per cent and the average price up 23.9 per cent to $769,424. Sales in February 2016 alone were up 44.7 per cent over last February, beating the previous record set in February 1992.

In Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, active listings dropped 37 per cent while average prices rose 25.6 per cent in Vancouver and 24.9 per cent in the Fraser Valley in February 2016 compared to February 2015. In the past year, the total value of transactions rose 72.3 per cent to $7.4 billion in Greater Vancouver and 118.7 per cent to $2.4 billion in the Fraser Valley.

Meanwhile, the 2016 Wealth Report from global property consultants Knight Frank shows that the value of Vancouver’s prime residential property rose more than any other market in the world in 2015, increasing 25 per cent, followed by Sydney, Australia, at 14.8 per cent. The report attributes Vancouver’s “stellar performance” to a lack of supply, coupled with foreign demand, spurred on by a weaker Canadian dollar.

For another look at what’s driving Vancouver’s luxury real estate market, this is who’s buying homes on Vancouver’s Angus Drive. 

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