Photo: James Bombales

Canada continued to be a favourite investment destination for Chinese homebuyers last year, despite foreign buyer taxes in BC and Ontario.

According to international listing website Juwai.com, in 2017 Canada was the third most-viewed country for Chinese investors buying property abroad — the US took the top spot, followed by Australia.

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In the first half of 2017, Chinese buyer interest in Canadian property grew 30 per cent year-over-year, according to Juwai.com’s latest report, published on Wednesday.

“While some Chinese buyers gravitated towards the US — especially nearby Seattle — Chinese demand for Canada held steady over the past 12 months, likely thanks to its top-notched education and lifestyle appeal,” reads the report.

Juwai.com also tracked the top countries for Chinese buyers by enquiry in 2017, but Canada did not make the top three. Instead, Thailand took third place, following the US and Australia.

When broken down by the most site views in Canadian cities, Toronto nabbed first place in 2017 — despite a 15 per cent non-resident speculation tax introduced for Ontario’s Greater Golden Horseshoe region in April 2017.

Vancouver was the second-most viewed, followed by Montreal and Calgary — all unchanged from 2016.

But will Canada remain an investment destination for Chinese buyers in 2018?

Although a new national mortgage stress test came into effect on January 1st, and interest rates are expected to rise this year, Juwai.com says overseas investors might continue to enter Canada’s housing market.

“After all, with home prices predicted to cool significantly this year due to this combo of stricter mortgage rules and raised interest rates, aspiring homebuyers who have been sitting on the sidelines could possibly be tempted to get back into the fray, including the Chinese,” reads the report.

BC could experience the opposite outcome, as the provincial government recently announced that its foreign buyer tax is increasing from 15 per cent to 20 per cent.

As a result, Juwai.com says Chinese buyers might turn their interest to other parts of the country, such as Montreal and Ottawa.

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