Photo: James Bombales

Educational opportunities are driving Chinese homebuyer inquiries for Canadian properties, despite foreign-buyer taxes in two of the nation’s hottest housing markets.

Last year, over 132,300 Chinese students were enrolled in Canadian schools and colleges, up 10 per cent compared to 2015, according to Juwai.com.

China was the biggest source of international students in Canada in 2016, where they represented roughly 32 per cent of all international students.

“Chinese students have been coming to Canada for an international education since the turn of the century, with their numbers growing every year,” Carrie Law, CEO of Juwai.com, tells BuzzBuzzNews in an email statement.

“This fits in with the government’s goal of nearly doubling the number of foreign students studying in Canada from 2014 to 2022,” she adds.

Juwai.com is a global platform based in China that allows homebuyers in the country to search property listings in over 80 countries.

According to Juwai.com’s report, published last week, Canada’s appealing education system has historically been a prime motivator for property investors from China to buy homes in the country.

Educational opportunities continue to attract Chinese buyers even though foreign-buyer taxes have been introduced in two of Canada’s biggest metros: Greater Vancouver and the Greater Toronto Area.

In fact, Canada had 30 per cent more Chinese buyer inquiries in September compared to a year ago, says Juwai.com.

In August 2016, the BC Liberal government introduced a 15 per cent foreign-buyer tax for Metro Vancouver to cool the region’s market. While home sales in the region did cool immediately following the levy, overall Chinese inquiries for Canadian properties continued to increase.

However, Juwai’s Law says provincial legislation could play a role in Chinese buyers’ decision to invest in Canadian property.

“Provincial housing policy helps determine whether those families buy a home, and where they settle down if they decide to stay in Canada,” says Law.

To address skyrocketing real estate prices in Ontario’s Greater Golden Horseshoe, the provincial government implemented the Fair Housing Plan, which includes a 15 per cent non-resident speculation tax.

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Just like Metro Vancouver, activity cooled in the Greater Toronto Area after the implementation of the levy. Law says the tax might divert some Chinese students and families from investing in the province.

“We would expect the Fair Housing Plan to be more dissuasive for those buyers who do not have personal ties to Ontario. Students who are living and studying in Toronto can obtain a rebate after two years. The tax will add to their upfront costs, but may not ultimately have that much impact on them – nor is it designed to,” says Law.

According to Juwai.com, last year Canadian tuition fees were 42 per cent cheaper than in the US. With those savings and top-tier education rankings in Canada, it’s no surprise education continues to be a big driver for Chinese buyer inquiries.

“This year, one-quarter of the Chinese buyers who contact Canadian property sellers through Juwai.com cite education as a primary motivation. I would estimate that education plays some role for at least double that share of buyers,” says Law.

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