Will foreign investors leave Vancouver

by Jamie Henry11 Feb 2014

Still, Vancouver real estate agents say property prices could take a serious hit after Canada eliminates a program allowing wealthy immigrants to bypass the visa process.

Originally launched in 1986, the Immigrant Investor Program offered visas to foreign investors with a net worth of at least $1.6 million who were willing to lend $800,000 to the Canadian government for investment across Canada for a term of five years.

However, the program was temporarily halted in 2012. This was due to a huge backlog of applications from wealthy investors from mainland China hoping to immigrate to B.C. and actively invest in its real estate. Now, the federal government announced it will scrap the incentive outright, eliminating 59,000 applications backlogged worldwide.

Losing the foreign investors could potentially be damaging to B.C.'s real estate markets, particularly Vancouver, which is often reliant on interest from foreign buyers. This, in turn, could also be damaging to Vancouver's economy.

"When you suddenly stave off the intake of literally hundreds of millionaires in the Vancouver property market, prices can only go one way and that's down," immigration lawyer Richard Kurland told CBC News.

But the move is just as likely to help the market as hurt it, say Canadian property investors and homebuyers long concerned that wealthy foreign buyers have inadvertantly driven up prices, particularly on B.C.'s Lower Mainland and in Toronto.

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