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A survey of more than 500 Chinese international property buyers before the U.S. election said nearly half felt Donald Trump would be good for Chinese investment in the United States. (Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)
A survey of more than 500 Chinese international property buyers before the U.S. election said nearly half felt Donald Trump would be good for Chinese investment in the United States. (Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)

Don’t expect a post-Trump surge of Chinese real estate investment Add to ...

Americans may be motivated to move to Canada by the prospect of President Donald Trump, but property buyers from China appear to be unfazed by the results of the U.S. election.

The Web portal Juwai.com connects Chinese buyers with property listings around the world. Traffic on the site didn’t show any unusual patterns immediately following the U.S. election on Nov. 8, the Shanghai-based company’s top official says.

Chief executive officer Charles Pittar says, if anything, investors forsee a boost from Mr. Trump.

“I wouldn’t say the Trump win is as big a shock for the average Chinese property buyer as it might be for the typical Canadian,” Mr. Pittar says. “We’ve looked into this and most Chinese think of Trump as just another president.”

Juwai.com surveyed more than 500 Chinese international property buyers before the election, and nearly half felt Mr. Trump would be good for Chinese investment in that country. Mr. Pittar added, however, that since the results of the election were a surprise, some institutions may hold back on investment in U.S. property as they wait to see what happens next.

“Family and individual investors are much less likely to hold off,” Mr. Pittar says. “That large majority of transactions by volume are actually made by individuals and families.”

Still, all that could change if Mr. Trump does something that registers as truly unsettling to the Chinese international property buyer or to the U.S. economy, he adds.

“That’s when we would see a shift of investment to Canada.”

If it really does come to pass that Chinese investment in U.S. property declines, Canada could pick up some of that traffic. This is especially true for prospective buyers swerving away from California, Washington State, Illinois and Michigan, he says. When people have to make a substitution, they tend to look for a market with similar characteristics to the location they were first scouting.

Most of the company’s users are based in mainland China but the site also serves Chinese-language speakers in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia.

The latest numbers from the Canadian Real Estate Associaton suggest Toronto’s housing market remains blazingly hot as Vancouver’s sales plummet. Shifting rules, tax policies and mortgage rates are all contributing to the changing market dynamics.

Capital Economics senior economist David Madani says what he considers a housing bubble in the Vancouver area may have burst. The government in British Columbia introduced a 15-per-cent tax on real estate purchases by overseas buyers earlier this year.

The average price in Vancouver slipped by a seasonally adjusted 0.6 per cent in October from September, but compared with October, 2015, the jump was 22.5 per cent. Mr. Madani believes the 39-per-cent drop in sales in October compared with the same month a year earlier will put further downward pressure on prices.

In the Greater Toronto Area, the average price rose 19.7 per cent in October compared with the same month in 2015. Compared with September, the average price increased 1.9 per cent in the GTA.

Many Toronto-based agents quickly spotted the marketing opportunity in touting Canadian real estate to appalled U.S. residents after Mr. Trump won the White House.

TheRedPin sent out a release urging American neighbours to bring their questions to the brokerage’s telephone hotlines. The website Zoocasa.com says it saw a significant spike in U.S. visitor traffic soon after election day. Many who called told Zoocasa representatives they have family already in Canada or they hold dual citizenship.

DeClute Real Estate Inc. set up a parody website several months ago. The trumpugees.com site is satirical in its depiction of Mr. Trump, but it also includes valid information about Canadian labour-force statistics and how to seek financing as a non-resident.

Broker Rochelle DeClute says traffic on the site surged 150 per cent between 11 p.m. on election night and 8 a.m. the day after, then tripled again by midafternoon.

Ms. DeClute has heard from one set of clients who own property in the United States and say they plan to sell it because they no longer have any interest in spending time there with Mr. Trump leading that country.

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