Foreign buyers driving luxury real estate sales, Re/Max says

Foreign buyers are driving demand for luxury homes priced at over $3 million in Vancouver and Toronto, according to a report today from Re/Max.

In Toronto, Vancouver a luxury home is over $3M, a luxury condo over $1M

A luxury home in West Vancouver. Re/Max says foreign buyers are driving the luxury market in Vancouver and Toronto. (Sotheby's )

Foreign buyers are driving demand for luxury homes priced at over $3 million in Vancouver and Toronto, according to a report today from Re/Max.

In June 2015, there were 379 homes in that price range sold in Toronto, compared to 179 a year ago. In Greater Vancouver, 572 homes above $3 million were sold in the month, compared to 319 a year ago.

The highest price paid for a Greater Vancouver property was $17.5 million.

In Toronto and Vancouver, the average cost of a detached home is in excess of $1 million and that is no longer considered a luxury price.

Re/Max brokers and agents reported luxury buyers, primarily from China, are typically families with children who are relocating to Canada to live.

"While there has been a lot of concern about foreign investors in Canada's housing market, we're seeing that the foreign buyers in our major luxury markets are living in their properties," said Gurinder Sandhu, executive vice-president of Re/Max Integra Ontario-Atlantic Canada.

He said the relative strength of the yuan, which wasn't devalued until mid-August, helped make most Canadian real estate affordable.

There also has been a substantial increase in luxury buyers in Montreal in the first seven months of the year, attracted by the cheaper prices found in the city, Re/Max said.

About 340 homes in the $1-million plus range sold in Montreal in June, the company said, a 24 per cent increase from the previous year.

More condos in the $1-million range — considered a luxury price — are selling in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal, the real estate firm reported.

Luxury condominium buyers tend to be baby boomers who are downsizing during retirement. Many spend part of their time in a second home or travelling and want something lower-maintenance than a house, it reported.

Of seven Canadian cities monitored by Re/Max, only Calgary saw a decline in sales of homes valued at over $1 million. About 517 such homes sold in June, a 28 per cent decline from last year.

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