Chinese New Year boosts Vancouver real estate sales

(March 07, 2015, posted in Real Estate)

The festive mood of Chinese New Year is continuing to linger in Vancouver’s housing market weeks after celebrations are over.

Cory Raven, managing broker at Re/Max, says Chinese New Year heightens whichever housing trend is dominate in that year. “Any year where we have an already busy market, it seems like Chinese New Year speeds [it] up even more.”

Weekly home sales continue to soar into the Year of the Sheep. In fact, sales for attached and detached homes during the last week of February were the highest in six weeks since January 18. Based on statistics published by Urban Vancouver Properties, attached homes sales stands at 79 sales more than the weekly average of 344 of the five preceding five weeks. Detached sales also rose 97 sales higher than the average of 212, an increase of 46 per cent.

“If it’s a slower market like we saw in 2008 and 2009 with less sale, we didn’t notice it as much,” added Raven. “But generally speaking, if the market is busy, then Chinese New Year is even busier.”

Based on data reported by The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) February is trailing the highest-selling January since 2010.

Chinese New Year is traditionally known as an auspicious time of the year when people buy new clothes and give their houses thorough cleanings. These customs are practices of renewal — whereby the old, accumulated energies of the past year are cleared away in preparation for positive energies of the coming year.

Realtor Joe Chan, who sells mainly condos in East Vancouver, says given the New Year's festivities and the weak Canadian currency, he expects prospects from foreign buyers to grow. Despite markets being active months after Chinese New Year, they begin to stall in June and July. And areas like Coquitlam, Maple Ridge and Surrey start to slow down in September and October, he said.

“It always starts on the west side first,” says Chan, describing a domino effect of housing activity that starts with Chinese buyers purchasing homes on the west side, then sets off a ripple effect of selling and buying into the surrounding neighbourhoods.

Ray Harris, president of REBGV, acknowledges that the Asian community is an important population group driving the housing market. Realtors and brokers use their own anecdtoal experiences to back up their forecast for the coming year.

“January and February are usually busy months in general for the full marketplace. People are coming back after New Year’s Eve,” explains Harris.