calgary-foreign-real-estate-investment Photo: Michael Gil/Flickr

After the BC government announced a new tax on foreign homebuyers in Metro Vancouver last month, some speculated interest from overseas investors would shift to Toronto.

But Juwai, a Shanghai-headquartered search portal geared towards Chinese buyers of international properties, says Chinese residents could have their sights set on another Canadian market in the wake of the levy, which took effect August 2nd.

While Juwai notes “it’s still early days yet,” it says Alberta — and Calgary in particular — may see an upswing in foreign investment now that foreign nationals have to pay an extra 15 per cent on residential real estate in the Vancouver metro area.

In fact, citing internal data, Juwai suggests Chinese interest in Alberta homes was already surging prior to word of the surprise tax.

In the first quarter of the year, Juwai says Alberta property enquiries from prospective Chinese buyers soared 70 per cent compared to the same period last year.

“It would seem that they’ve (Chinese property investors) found their new investment destination in Canada — especially in Calgary, which offers better value for money when compared with the inflated housing prices in Vancouver,” suggests Juwai in a recent blog post titled “3 reasons why Calgary is on the rise for Chinese buyers.”

The benchmark price of a home, including both low-rise and high-rise dwellings, in the Calgary region was $485,623 in July, compared to $930,400 in Metro Vancouver, according to local real estate boards.

Once one of the country’s hottest housing markets, Calgary has been hit hard by the struggling energy sector, a main economic driver for Alberta.

But cheaper list prices amid economic uncertainty and the absence of a levy like BC’s are not the only draws for investors, however. Juwai also says Alberta’s “appealing and laidback lifestyle” resonates with buyers from China.

“Equally famed for its wilderness and for its ski slopes and resorts — a legacy as a host of the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics — this makes Alberta an enticing nature haven and a breath of fresh air (literally) for wealthy Chinese,” the listing-service says.

Then there’s the fact that Alberta, at least for the time being, has no provincial sales tax, Juwai notes, bringing down the cost of living.

And getting to Calgary from China just got easier as Hainan Airlines, a China-based airline, launched non-stop direct service to Calgary International Airport late in June.

“With Chinese being avid travellers and big fans of speed and convenience, it’s safe to say that Alberta would be receiving an influx of Chinese visitors in the future — many who may consider to purchase a home there should they fall in love with Calgary or other parts of Alberta,” says Juwai.

BuzzBuzzNews reached out to Juwai for comment but did not hear back as of publication.

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