Ban on foreign buyers will spur ‘largest pent-up demand for real estate in Canadian history’

The Canadian luxury market has reached a crossroads this year. On the one hand, soaring interest rates and financial market instability have cup prices and sales; in addition to that, a two-year ban on foreign investors entered into force on 1 January.

On the other hand, the splashing luxury condos continue to sprout in urban centers like Toronto And Vancouver. Many of them share a promotion partner: BakerWest, a specialist in the marketing of pre-construction residential projects.

“Our mandate is to bring development and inventory in Canada to the international stage,” Jacky Chan, CEO of the Vancouver-based company, told Mansion Global. The company is part of a real estate conglomerate that includes Sotheby’s International Realty Canada.

“We are considered a Navy SEAL/special forces operation,” he said. “We act as an extension of a developer’s in-house sales and marketing department. If they don’t, that’s what we become.

Born in Hong Kong and fluent in Cantonese and Mandarin, Mr. Chan spoke about the ban on foreign buyers in Canada, why sustainability matters to buyers and why experiences are the new conveniences.

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Mansion Global: What’s going on with luxury buyers these days?

JC: Traditional marketing still plays a huge role in the luxury sector. Most of the population is older, say 40 or 50+. …Right now we’re marketing Curv, Vancouver’s tallest residential skyscraper and the tallest passive house building in the world. So we’re trying to capture people who own a Tesla or a Lucid Air. We try to reach the academically inclined. We are targeting high net worth clients who own yachts and jets, browse certain brands, visit certain places. The data allows us to organize buyer lists for Curv’s 358 homes.

MG: Is sustainability a big motivation for buyers?

JC: It is. Just by living there, they contribute positively to the environment by saving 90% of the energy used compared to conventional buildings, even with high efficiency. This is the only opportunity where the buyer can be part of the change. Gandhi said “Be part of the change you want to see in the world”. You can buy the most expensive thing in New York, but it’s only high end and luxurious. With Curv, it’s no longer just luxurious, but very conscious. And useful. It is enormous. It’s not about instant gratification, it’s about forward-looking human beings. And it reflects the City of Vancouver’s vision for an energy-efficient and green future.

MG: How long have you and BakerWest been involved with developers on luxury projects?

JC: We get involved before the start. It can start with land acquisition. Developers will come to us and say, “We’re looking at this site. What do you think? What could we build here? What are buyers looking for? Can we create a new community? We take care of the zoning process and communications with the city. Many developers have experience overseas, but not in Vancouver or other Canadian cities. We also engage in discussions with architects and consultations on unit composition, unit size, and interior and exterior designs.

MG: What luxury amenities are attracting buyers’ interest at the moment?

JC: More than amenities, experiences are trending. Curv will have the highest clubhouse amenities in Western Canada, on the 60e floor, with spectacular views. Even from the 60se at 61st floor will have a glass jump elevator with stunning views.

We integrate a VR experience room, it’s new for us. There is a whiskey and sake lounge. There will be a sky bar that mimics what you would see in Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok or Hong Kong. There will be a resident library with beautiful views. We will have indoor and outdoor dining facilities served by partnerships with Michelin starred chefs.

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MG: Have buyers told you they are hesitant to consider Canadian property because of the two-year ban on foreign buyers that came into effect in January?

JC: It didn’t change the feeling at all. The people most affected by this ban are real estate professionals interested in Canadian property. Their inventory source has been cut. Canadian soil is no longer a place they can consider territory. Some of these brokers have spent years building knowledge, networks and connections for this market. Canada’s immigration policy is so welcoming, but you don’t let people buy property until they are residents. This will create the largest pent-up demand for properties in Canadian history.

MG: And Canada itself is still an attraction for foreign buyers?

JC: It is. For many buyers, Canadian real estate is seen as a bargain, even in the luxury realm. It’s a fraction of what a property costs in Hong Kong, Taipei or Shanghai, or even in New York, Dubai and Delhi. We are also in a country known worldwide as one of the most environmentally conscious countries in the world.

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MG: Where are there still opportunities for buyers in Canada?

JC: Montreal. It is much cheaper than Vancouver and Toronto. It’s a beautiful city, with the best food in Canada. And it is growing at a very rapid rate.

MG: What is your definition of luxury?

JC: Luxury is having the ability to achieve and obtain something that you didn’t originally have and that you really wanted or wanted. It makes you feel comfortable, satisfied and fulfilled.

The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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