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Photo: Chung Lun Chiang/Flickr

Some say overseas investment in Toronto real estate is already on the rise as buyers from China search for desirable markets that don’t have a foreign-buyer tax — like the one Vancouver implemented this summer.

Toronto isn’t the only city seeing more interest following that provincial policy move, suggests Juwai.com, a website that helps users in China find international properties.

“There is no question that the tax in Vancouver is displacing some buyers to Seattle. How long will it go on? That depends on what happens north of the border,” says Matthew Moore, president of the Americas for Juwai.com, in a statement.

Starting in early August, the BC government began requiring non-residents to pay a 15-per-cent tax on residential property purchases anywhere within Metro Vancouver.

Home sales in Greater Vancouver have since skidded, with November activity down 37.2 per cent from a year ago, according to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver. This is “just below” the 10-year average, the board notes.

Also in November, the number of inquiries Juwai.com received from Chinese buyers looking into Vancouver properties soared 140 per cent compared to that month last year.

Year-over-year enquiries into Vancouver listings on Juwai.com outpaced last year’s search traffic in each month following the tax by a minimum increase of 63 per cent, which was recorded in August.

September and October enquiries surged 93 per cent and 78 per cent, respectively.

“If Vancouver stabilizes or comes roaring back, you could see interest in Seattle decrease,” notes Moore.

As of September, Seattle was the most popular North American city for Chinese buyers in terms of enquiries logged on Juwai.com.

Moore provides a second explanation for the surge in enquiries in November.

“One reason the November stat looks high is that November 2015 was just one of those months where the number of enquiries wasn’t particularly high,” he says.

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