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Foreign buyer agents swoop into Victoria

Posted on September 1, 2016

Just days after a 15 per cent foreign buyer tax blanketed Metro Vancouver, Vancouver real estate agents specializing in luxury properties swooped into Victoria via a chartered helicopter for wine, dining, golf and a serious push on selling a $4.8-million estate near Elk Lake.

The day-long event was also staged on the same day Central 1 Credit Union proclaimed Vancouver Island as “B.C.’s new housing hot spot.” The credit union’s economists predict median home prices on the Island will climb by 10 per cent this year, a further 5 per cent in 2017.

Alex Burns of VictoriaRealEstate.com brought over 11 real estate agents whose clients include Asian and Iranian buyers. They were shuttled to the property for a tour and gourmet lunch. The seven-acre property features a 7,800-square-foot home with six bedrooms, pool, guest cottage, barn and extensive landscaped grounds.

“We had some local high-net-worth people come to the house today as well,” Burns said at Bear Mountain, where his guests played golf and took part in wine tastings.

It is not unusual to market luxury listings this way, Burns said. “This has been done in New York and Los Angeles for many years.”

Agents such as Burns are using creative strategies to get the word out about luxury listings, many of which are found throughout the capital region, including Oak Bay and the Saanich Peninsula.

In Greater Victoria, more than 20 properties are priced at $4 million and above. More than half are on the Peninsula. The highest priced home is a contemporary-styled house with an internal river, offered at $28.8 million.

The benchmark price for a typical single-family house in Victoria’s core area was $741,000 in July, up from $599,800 the year before.

B.C. housing prices are predicted to continue rising into 2018, Brian Yu, senior economist for Central 1 Credit Union, said in a recent housing report.

The new foreign buyer tax imposed in Greater Vancouver will reduce sales into next year, possibly by 10 per cent, the report said. But B.C.’s economic growth, a surge of new residents and low interest rates are all underpinning the market’s strength, according to Yu.

Vancouver Island’s sales of existing homes are predicted to climb by more than 20 per cent this year, led by the capital region, Yu said. Higher sales are expected through 2018 because of higher employment and waves of property owners from Vancouver cashing out to buy on the Island, he suggested.

Story by: Frank O’Brien