More than 3,000 international delegates involved in real estate development, investment and urban planning started a three-day session here Wednesday to discuss the future of global real estate markets.
One of the hot topics at the conference, organized by the Urban Land Initiative (ULI), was Chinese investment in Vancouver, a west coast city regarded as Asia's gateway to Canada for immigration, tourism and trade.
One of the local trends over the past couple of years has been a shift by Chinese investors away from buying single-family homes and into larger scale projects, such as apartments, mixed-use developments and even hotels, according to Edmond Luke, whose Fasken Martineau company helps Chinese clients invest in the region.
"We're seeing a different type of investment coming in from China. Traditionally, for the last 10 years, it has been immigrants coming in buying single-family houses, maybe condos for themselves or their kids," Luke told Xinhua on the sidelines of the conference.
"But I would say, in the last two years, it's becoming very visible that we're getting institutional money coming in, investing in projects and developments."
He said his Chinese clients were less concerned with Vancouver's infamous land costs, which are among the highest in the world, and more interested in simply getting their hands on buildings or property with re-development potential. It appears as though the love affair between Vancouver and overseas real estate investors is here to stay.
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson also attributes high real estate prices to Asian buyers.
He said Vancouver had become the most Asian city outside of Asia, on a per capita basis, and there was an interesting mix of people.
"That means we have extraordinary talent that drives our economy and means we have an amazing array of entrepreneurs in Vancouver, and that then attracts more investment and more talent," Robertson said.
Vancouver had become a development success story thanks in part to its rich diversity and various sources of international capital, the mayor said.
Robertson also noted Vancouver was built from day one with a mix of Asian and European immigrants, and now the city was an incredibly rich blend of many cultures, and the investment and culture of Chinese immigrants certainly had shaped the city and continued to be really important to its growth, including in the real estate market.