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Foreign Buyers Help Boost Halifax Real Estate Market

Foreign Buyers Help Boost Halifax Real Estate Market

Dan Cui is part of a new wave of Halifax home buyers that’s helping to energize the city’s real estate market. Dan was born in China but in 2018 she decided to immigrate to Canada and ended up moving to Halifax.

 She didn’t know much about the city when she first decided to move here and start looking for a house. “I told all my friends that I was going to the countryside,” says Dan, who is a sales professional and a mother of three.

 She had developed strong ties to Canada after nearly two decades of travelling back and forth between Beijing and Vancouver. In fact, her two youngest children were born in Vancouver and she had already purchased three condos there. But Dan knew little about Canada’s East Coast until she decided to immigrate under the Atlantic Immigration Pilot (AIP) in 2018. The AIP, a program run by the federal government and the four Atlantic provinces, offers foreign skilled workers and international students an easier and faster way to become permanent residents.

 Affordability a key attraction

 Foreign home buyers used to be primarily drawn to Vancouver and Toronto. But that’s changing. A 2018 market analysis by Juwai.com, an international real estate website in China, showed markets in Quebec, Alberta and Nova Scotia were becoming increasingly popular among Chinese property buyers and investors. From 2017 to 2018, inquiries for residential purchases in Montreal grew by 35.7 percent, in Calgary by 234.4 percent and in Halifax by 394 percent. The increase was largely the result of people looking for more affordable homes and wanting to avoid paying high foreign buyers taxes in places like Toronto and Vancouver. 

 It was the tax on foreign home buyers in Vancouver that initially convinced Dan Cui to immigrate to Canada. She was living in Beijing when she was accepted into the AIP program and started planning her move to Halifax. That’s when she reached out to Joe Zhang, a Halifax-based RE/MAX nova agent, to help her find a home for her and her family.

 “This kind of program encourages people to immigrate,” says Joe. “I would say a big portion of my clients came from this program.” Since he started working in real estate three years ago, Joe has helped a lot of newcomers find homes. Many of his clients are from China because he knows the culture and speaks Mandarin, Cantonese and English.

 Joe was born in Shenzhen, one of China’s largest cities, and came to Halifax for university. After he graduated from Saint Mary’s University with a finance degree, he decided to stay. Now he’s a big fan of his adopted city and eager to help others find their ideal Halifax home. “I’m like the tourism guy,” says Joe. “When they come to Halifax there’s no guide to tell you how to buy a house, so I work with them step by step.”

 A growing city with “real potential”

 Joe believes Halifax’s growth is just starting and that the city has “real potential.” He tells clients buying a house here is a good investment, even if they aren’t investors but are just interested in finding a home to live in.

 Most of the Chinese clients he’s worked with so far are looking for a single family home instead of a condo, which is likely what they lived in if they moved here from one of China’s bigger cities. “They want something different with a house and land.”

 That’s what Dan was looking for when she started texting Joe from Beijing asking about the best neighbourhoods for her to buy in. “I felt confident he was looking for the right house for me,” she says. “For me it was location, location, location.“

 She planned to move here with her two youngest children and enroll them in the Halifax Grammar School. She wanted to find a house close by so they could walk and ended up buying a home that backed on to the school. Dan initially intended to renovate the house but the extensive renovations she wanted to do were going to be so costly that it made more sense to rebuild. She’s hoping her new home will be finished by next summer.

 Dan may not have known anything about Halifax before she arrived, but it didn’t take long for her to feel at home. “I feel this city is already involved in my heart and in my life and in my blood. I’m so proud that I live here.” She recalls seeing the city from the water during her first ferry ride and feeling that she’d made a good choice. “The weather was beautiful and I fell in love with Halifax immediately,” she says. “I felt it was good to raise our children in this quiet city.” 


Are you interested in making Halifax your home?  If so, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us today and one of our experienced agents will be happy to help you find the perfect house for you and your family.

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