Soaring Vancouver home prices spur anger toward foreign buyers

Thu Jul 9, 2015 1:26am EDT
 
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By Julie Gordon

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - After years of watching Vancouver housing prices climb, driven in part by Chinese investment, Eveline Xia came to a painful realization: Despite having a Master's degree and solid career prospects, she might never be able to afford a home in the city where she grew up.

That didn't seem right, and so the 29-year-old grabbed a marking pen, hand lettered a sign listing her credentials, snapped a selfie, and posted it to Twitter under the hashtag #DontHave1million.

The tweet went viral, and hundreds of other young Vancouver residents soon began expressing their own frustrations in tweets about the red hot housing market - and the feverish foreign investment they believe has fueled it.

"Average, hardworking Canadian residents are being forced to compete for housing with the global wealthy," said Xia, who immigrated to Canada from China as child. "People here are getting angry."

That anger has contributed to a simmering xenophobia in Vancouver, a multicultural coastal city long known for its inclusiveness. With virtually no official data on foreign buyers available, many of those squeezed out of the market are left to believe the worst.

That has residents like Xia pressing the government to track international buyers, scrutinize the source of their funds and tax property speculation, before the anti-Chinese sentiment gets out of hand.

Last summer, a small anti-immigration group covered up Chinese symbols on real estate signs in the affluent suburb of West Vancouver with stickers reading "Please Respect Canada's Official Languages."

And police are investigating incidents on neighboring Vancouver Island, where anti-Chinese pamphlets appeared in affluent neighborhoods and signs for Chinese real estate agents were defaced with racial epithets and messages like "Go home" and "Not welcome".   Continued...