A real estate executive who specializes in selling properties to Chinese investors says Vancouver is often seen as a cheap deal, despite local perceptions that prices are astronomically high.

Dan Scarrow moved to Shanghai in February to open a new office for Macdonald Realty targeting Chinese clients who want to invest in Vancouver's real estate market.

He says over the last six months the low Canadian dollar has given Chinese investors much more purchasing power in Canada.

"They now see it as a good time to maybe take the plunge," says Scarrow, who is in Vancouver to speak about the real estate market and the impact of foreign investment.

"The purchasing power of the RMB (Chinese Yuan) has increased by 25 per cent in the last six months to a year, not just against the Canadian dollar but against a lot of other currencies, except for U.S dollars," said the second generation Chinese-Canadian, whose mother is the president and majority owner of Macdonald Realty.

"People that were considering the U.S. or Canada, now there is no real consideration [of U.S. properties] any more."

Vancouver a bargain on global market

The impact has also increased investment in the Australian and European market, notes Scarrow, where cities such as Sydney and Melbourne are popular alternatives to Vancouver for Chinese investors.

Scarrow says the local perception that Vancouver real estate is expensive is not shared by global investors who see Vancouver as significantly cheaper than other comparable global cities.

"We have perception that we are a very expensive market, but I think globally we are seen as a very cheap market."

"You aren't going to find a single family home on a leafy treed lot in Manhattan or London and if you were to find that property, it would be astronomically expensive.

"You are comparing these single-family homes in Vancouver to a 500 square foot condo in a London or a New York or even in a San Francisco, and that is where these sort of things are getting a bit out of whack. If you are looking at a purely price per square foot basis, Vancouver is still very reasonable on its pricing on a global standard."

In addition Vancouver is often on the top of many "best city" lists, which also makes it an appealing place to invest, he notes.

Scarrow will be speaking at a luncheon hosted by Chartered Financial Analyst Society of Vancouver on Tuesday.

With files from Tina Lovgreen