Well, we already know that Chinese buyers are snatching up a third of all Vancouver homes on the market, but apparently some percentage of these are even being bought by “students.”
Last week, the Vancouver Sun reported that one of the city’s most expensive homes, sold for a record $31.1 million CAD ($24 million USD) by Peter Brown, the founder of investment banking firm Canaccord, now has a new majority owner — a Chinese “student.”
Property records show that Tian Yu Zhou has a 99% stake in the 14,600 square-foot mansion on a 1.7-acre lot at 4833 Belmont Ave. With five bedrooms, eight bathrooms and picturesque views of the North Shore mountains and Vancouver, the property was recently ranked as the 16th most expensive home in Vancouver.
Documents list Zhou’s occupation as “student.” Meanwhile, the owner of the other 1% is Cuie Feng, a “businesswoman.” The pair took out a $9.9 million CAD mortgage in April, with bi-weekly payments of $17,000 CAD.
While the buyers and the realtor have yet to speak with press or comment on the sale, it seems like everyone else is doing just that, pondering over how a student with no/little visible income would be able to splurge on a luxury mansion.
The Vancouver Sun spoke with New Democratic Party housing critic David Eby, who said that the sale flew in the face of the city government’s message that “everything is under control in the Vancouver real estate market.”
Eby said it also links to a theme uncovered in a 2015 study by Andy Yan, an adjunct professor at the University of B.C., which found homemakers and, to a lesser extent, students, are often the listed occupations of the owners of many newly purchased multi-million dollar Vancouver properties.
“It’s incredibly strange that a student would be able to afford such a luxurious and multi-million-dollar property,” said Eby. “This is part of a trend of homemakers and students mass-buying property. I don’t know how that can be possible with the income of homemakers and students typically have, which is close to zero.”
A report earlier this year found that Chinese buyers made up one-third of the sales in Vancouver’s real estate market in 2015, causing the average cost of a stand-alone homes to rise by 30% to $1.8 million CAD. One Chinese businessmen even purchased a 2.7-acre property in the city’s Point Grey neighborhood for over $51 million CAD ($39 million USD).
This massive influx of overseas cash has caused local real estate prices to inflate beyond the budgets of locals, sparking calls for the government to do a better job of controlling the market against outside investors.
If this “student” does decide to live in his new Vancouver crib, he can likely become part of the blossoming fuerdai scene in the city, where a group of Chinese children of the super-rich have started their own reality show on YouTube called “The Ultra Rich Asian Girls of Vancouver.”
Back at home, some netizens have reacted with resigned resentment at this latest Chinese real estate acquisition:
“I’m a student too. I live with five other people in a 16-square-meter dorm room, but I pay much less than $31 million. Do you want to trade?” one netizen wrote.
“I can’t wait to find out which government official is this kid’s father,” another commented.
Other netizens weren’s so impressed by the story or the figures:
“It’s not illegal, so what businesses is it of yours?” one netizen commented.
“Those prices are about the same as the real estate market in Beijing or Shanghai. Not a big deal,” another wrote.
“Why do you need so many bathrooms?” another wondered.
While the situation may be particularly extreme in Vancouver, Chinese investors have been snatching up properties across the world in recent years. From New Zealand islands to mansions on London’s “Billionaire row” to Bordeaux vineyards.
[Images via Weibo]