Anshu Arora LLM, MSc, PMP

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A study of Vancouver’s real estate market suggests that while foreign money affects home prices, it might not be as significant as many think.

 

“The primary effects (of foreign money) are very focused in certain neighbourhoods,” said a co-author of the study, Tsur Somerville, a professor at UBC’s Sauder School of Business.

 

The study by Somerville and Andrey Pavlov of Simon Fraser University looked at the change in prices in neighbourhoods favoured by Chinese immigrants in the period following the closure of the federal immigrant investors program to new applicants in July 2012.

 

The investors program, which started in 1986 and was finally eliminated in February 2014, gave wealthy immigrants a fast track into Canada if they could provide the federal government with investments that reached $1.6 million in 2010. An estimated 120,000 people took advantage of the program to move to B.C., with many settling in Vancouver and Richmond.

 

The report showed that when the program was closed in 2012, property prices declined by an average of 2.5 per cent in neighbourhoods preferred by Chinese immigrants compared to other neighbourhoods.

Somerville also noted that the study did not address “the totality of foreign capital” entering the local real estate market, just the effect of the immigrant investors program.

 

“Our findings show that immigrants who come with wealth, drive up housing prices in their destination areas more than they affect the overall market,” the report concluded. “Using transaction data from the Greater Vancouver area, we find that the closure of the program had a negative impact on the neighbourhoods and market segments most likely to be favoured by these investor immigrants.

 

“The negative impact we document was quick, happening within the first three months following the policy change, likely reflecting declines in seller expectations and demand by developers for sites to redevelop for wealthy immigrants. The price declines are larger for more expensive houses in the target neighbourhoods and for neighbourhoods where the share of recent Chinese immigrants among the population are highest.”

“Following the suspension of the immigrant investor program, house appreciation in neighbourhoods with high concentration of recent Chinese immigrants underperformed the rest of the metropolitan area,” the report said. “The underperformance starts in the month following the announcement, and extends over the following 24 months.”

 

Somerville said “the price change was three per cent lower in the immigrant investor neighbourhoods. But after 24 months, that difference disappears. We can’t say why that (difference) disappears.”

The report concluded that wealthy immigrants prefer to live in areas with high numbers of immigrants of similar ethnicity.

 

“This makes prices in immigrant-dominated neighbourhoods sensitive to immigration policy. Local residents, whether of foreign descent or not, have little or no desire to segregate and purchase homes wherever they can find good value. This suggests a moderate spillover effect from immigrant to non-immigrant neighbourhoods both in terms of price and number of transactions.”

 

Somerville noted that according to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, the benchmark price of all residential properties rose by 48.3 per cent over the past three years.

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The ancient Chinese art of feng shui uses design principles to create harmonious spaces that encourage health, wealth and happiness. According to the practice, colors encourage energy to flow freely throughout a structure, and each color is thought of as an expression of one of the five feng shui elements: fire, earth, metal water and wood.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when designing your home using general feng shui color principles.

1. Wake up a space with yellow
Yellow energizes spaces and is great for brightening rooms and adding a welcoming feeling. Yellows can be an excellent choice for kitchens, living rooms, hallways and offices.

2. Hues that work for you
If it's a calm sanctuary for a restful night's sleep, feng shui rules suggest water-element colors of calming blues to create tranquility. If you'd like your bedroom to be more passionate than peaceful, fire element colors like red can help crank up the heat.

3. A blank canvas for the kitchen
In feng shui, white is one of the preferred shades for a kitchen because it encourages purity and freshness. Plus, it creates the perfect palette for the rich colors of food.

4. Better than a lullaby
Shades of green in a child's room help make calm, serene spaces for sleeping. Plus, wood-element shades of green also encourage growth and learning.

5. Mind your reds
While red is the Chinese color of luck and happiness, too much of the fiery color can throw things off balance, bringing aggression and overstimulation.

6. Shades for success
Wood-element colors like greens and browns promote creativity, and water elements like blues and blacks promote wealth. Combining shades of each can change the energy of your home workspace.

7. Look outside your walls
According to feng shui principles, adding accent pieces and furniture in elemental shades also can help change the energy of a space. You don't need to go big (or commit) with an entire wall.

Color can help bring balance to your home, but it works best when you're living in a place that suits your needs. Looking for harmony in a new zip code? I Can Help

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School's almost Over! For two months of the year, they finally have a break, and staying indoors looking at a screen is the last thing they should be doing! So, here are some fun ideas


Take a Hike! How many times have you explored your own neighbourhood? Chances are it has plenty of things you haven’t taken the opportunity to explore, and there is no better time than the present. Alternatively, if you are planning on making a move to a new neighbourhood come fall, this is a great time to take the kids and help them get a head start on adjusting to their new surroundings.

 

Host a Lemonade Stand! Getting involved in your community is not only a fun activity, but is a great learning lesson while school is out. Pick a charity or community event that your family is passionate about, and host a lemonade stand with proceeds benefiting your favourite organization.

 

Host a Campfire! Whether at a cottage in a popular cottage destination or just enjoying time at home, there is very little that can compete with family time around the campfire. Make sure you are prepared with your favourite campfire stories, and of course S’mores!

 

Plant a Garden! Last but certainly not least, there is no better time to start understanding how gardening works than the present. As a family, do some research on the best types of flowers to plant in your location and building type, and start a garden that the kids can continue to care for all summer long.

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