ottawa-foreign-homebuyers Ottawa is one of the city’s that Juwai.com, a website buyers in China use to find properties abroad, expects to see more foreign buyers eye. Photo: Tony Webster/Flickr

Economists say the recent BC tax on foreign homebuyers in Metro Vancouver will send overseas investors to other markets — but which ones?

Well, according to Juwai.com, a website catering to Chinese buyers of international property, Seattle will see the greatest rise in overseas interest as a result, although three Canadian cities are also poised to see increased activity.

“We see Seattle benefitting the most, along with Toronto, Calgary and Ottawa,” says Matthew Moore, Juwai’s president of the Americas, in an email statement.

Compared to the month before, there was a 8.3 per cent drop in August in inquiries from buyers in China for Vancouver properties listed at $1 million or less on Juwai, according to projections the website made toward the month’s end.

For properties priced in the $1-million-and-up range, interest plummeted 55.6 per cent month-over-month. “The inquiry fall has been much greater for luxury properties,” says Moore.

And on July 25th, the very day the 15-per-cent property-transfer tax was announced, Juwai saw Chinese-buyer inquiries into Canadian properties fall to the lowest level in close to two weeks.

Moore suggests the Chinese media has spooked buyers with reports on the tax, implemented August 2nd. “Part of the problem is that the media coverage has been very dramatic and abundant within China, raising uncertainties,” he explains.

But even months before first word of the tax, a shift to different markets was underway. High prices had foreign buyers setting their sights on more affordable markets, says Moore.

“Right now, Seattle is the number-one city in North America for Chinese buyer enquiries, even displacing Los Angeles,” he adds.

Last month, Juwai flagged Calgary as a destination for foreign investors following the tax. It listed access to nature, an absence of a provincial tax and a new direct flight from China to Calgary as draws.

However, Moore notes it will take more time to get a clear idea of just what kind of impact the tax will have.

“Remember, Vancouver enquiries have been very volatile — with big monthly variations — in the past. So looking at a short period like this may not give us an accurate view of long-term trends,” he says.

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