APPEALING alternative

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 19 August, 2011, 12:00am


The attractiveness of Canada has often been overshadowed by more glamorous countries, until now. With the United States and Europe facing uncertainties, a lot of global funds are turning to the Canadian dollar - as well as the Swiss franc and yen - as a safe haven.

People from this part of the world are no strangers to Canada, and its properties, and there is data to prove it. Property market analyst Landcor Data Corp examined the sales of luxury homes over the past three years in Vancouver's ritziest areas. The conclusion drawn by company president Rudy Nielsen is that 'the China factor' is very real. 'The Chinese are here and they're buying,' he says.

Landcor's research found that 74 per cent of 164 homes sold last year above the 'luxury' threshold - C$3 million (HK$23.6 million) for houses on Vancouver's west side and C$2 million for condos in Richmond - were purchased by Chinese buyers, up from 60 per cent in 2009, and 46 per cent in 2008.

'Hot' areas include Richmond, parts of Vancouver, West Vancouver and even South Surrey, where properties near good schools appeal.

Apart from a clean environment, stable economy and safe society, Vancouver and its environs offer some of the finest luxury real estate in Canada, from mountain estates in Whistler - home to the 2010 Winter Olympics - to stunning island waterfront properties, to hip downtown condos and penthouses.

Shara Turner, of Sotheby's International Realty in Vancouver, says Chinese are the most prolific buyers of her multimillion dollar homes. 'They love the beauty of our city, the cultural dynamic, the highly-praised education system and they see good real estate value.'

While many Chinese live in Richmond and the western areas, one of Turner's finest listings is Blue Raven, a world-class oceanfront estate on Galiano Island. The gated estate is set on nearly 2,400 sqft of waterfront amid 10 acres of West Coast forest. It is 10 minutes from Vancouver International Airport via float plane arriving at the private docking in front of the estate. Features include two docks, a helipad and three residences, including a custom-designed 5,000 sqft main house.

Coal Harbour is downtown Vancouver's most prestigious location. Prized for its water, mountain and Stanley Park views, it has a marina, restaurants and shops, and is home to the most luxurious condo buildings in the city centre - among them Two Harbour Green. Realtor Christine Louw is offering a northwest facing three bedroom, four-bathroom home of 3,636 sqft, with deluxe gourmet kitchen, large balcony and spacious living areas.