Calgary

Calgary realtor says foreign buyers not affecting local market

Foreign buyers are being blamed for driving up real estate prices in major Canadian markets like Vancouver and Toronto, putting home ownership out of reach for many. But that's not the situation in Calgary, says a local realtor.

Hong Wang says her foreign clients buying homes to live in, or for their children while here studying

A Calgary realtor says there could possibly be more interest in the local real estate market when direct flights from Beijing begin in a few weeks. (Robson Fletcher/CBC)

Foreign buyers are being blamed for driving up real estate prices in major Canadian markets like Vancouver and Toronto, putting home ownership out of reach for many.

But that's not the situation in Calgary, says a local realtor.

A study released earlier this year by the Simon Fraser University-based Centre for Public Policy Research found "the dominant explanation for the crisis in Vancouver is a large and continuous flow of foreign money into the region, especially from China."

It's a trend that's also on the rise here in Calgary. However, realtor Hong Wang — who deals almost exclusively with immigrant and foreign buyers —  told the Calgary Eyeopener it likely won't reach the same heights.

Are Chinese foreign buyers starting to scoop up houses in Calgary? We speak to a realtor whose clients are making offers from halfway across the globe. 5:58

"I would say my clients, a majority of them came from China as new immigrants and a lot of them are international students," she said.

"For new immigrants, if they come as a family, normally the first thing they seek are homes in a good school district.

"Usually they come with young children."

Calgary real estate agent Hong Wang works mainly with foreign and newly immigrated buyers. (Dave Dormer/CBC)

Wang said buyers in other markets are largely speculators looking to flip the property for a tidy profit, while most of her clients are looking for somewhere to live for themselves or for their children while they attend school.

"Some will go with a condo, close to the University [of Calgary], close to SAIT, close to Mount Royal University," she said.

"Some, if they have a little bit more money, they think a detached home is a better idea because their child can stay there and he or she can have a few friends rent out the other rooms and immediately they will see income coming in."

Fellow Calgary real estate agent Richard Chau said he's seeing an increase in the number of clients from Asia, fuelled by falling prices.

"I think they heard some rumour that prices are coming down Calgary, especially in Alberta, and they start to ask questions," he said.

The start of direct flights between Calgary and Beijing at the end of June could add to the number of foreign buyers, said Wang.

"That will put our city into a lot of people's vision," she said. "They will realize what a big bargain it is in terms of real estate."

With files from Stephanie Wiebe

now