Monday, October 10, 2016

“Groundbreaking” year expected in Asian investments

Hotels, golf courses, resorts and small businesses now on the radar of foreign buyers, mostly from China
[Money laundering, maybe?]
Owen Wang with his wife Vivian Zhang at the Sechelt Golf and Country Club. Wang recently purchased the 18-hole course and is planning a new hotel on the site | Photo:Christine Wood / Coast Reporter

Last March, China-born Owen Wang, a recent immigrant to Canada, purchased the 18-hole Sechelt Golf & Country Club and said he plans to sink $20 million into improvements, including the construction of a hotel on the site.
Investors from mainland China have also purchased a marine resort at Garden Bay on the Sunshine Coast, a 43-acre island off the coast of Pender Harbour and even the Gibson’s movie theatre. A Chinese group is also eyeing a multifamily development site in Gibsons.
Chinese offshore investors were behind the purchase of an Okanagan lakeside resort last summer and an equestrian centre in Langley and are backing a $50 million hotel project in Nanaimo.
In Vancouver, the 120-room Best Western Sands Hotel at 1755 Davie Street, was recently sold for $30.3 million to a numbered company backed by Asian capital.According to study by hotel consultant HVS International, investors from China also purchased the Days Inn in Vancouver and a “good portion” of hotel-condos in the Westin Grand hotel.
In January, a Chinese-born Canadian with homes in Hong Kong and Vancouver bought a 234-acre development site straddling Port Moody and Anmore on the southeast edge of Metro Vancouver through Vancouver-based Brilliant Circle Group (BBG).
“The sale of the Anmore and Port Moody lands from Imperial Oil demonstrates the increased appetite for Vancouver real estate from offshore buyers. These buyers group are stepping up the capital chain and taking on increasingly complex and large scale projects,” said John Ramscar, a senior vice-president with Jones Lang LaSalle, a Vancouver real estate brokerage that has worked with many offshore buyers. The recent downturn in the Canadian dollar would likely ramp up offshore investments, Ramscar said.
Asian buyers into B.C. are also expected to increase because China eased its offshore-investment regulations in 2014.
This could be a “groundbreaking year for Chinese outbound investments,” according to Chadbourne & Parke LLP, an international law firm headquartered in New York City. Its 2014 report China Widens Door to Outbound Investment, noted that offshore Chinese investments “other than in the financial sector” reached US$90 billion in 2013 and hit US$20 billion in the first three months of 2014.
“This is just the beginning for Vancouver,” said Tina Mak, president of Asian Real Estate Association of America, Vancouver Chapter, and a realtor with Coldwell Banker Westburn Realty. Mak expects a huge increase in B.C. commercial real estate by buyers from China.

Last April, China’s government relaxed constraints on citizens buying in other countries. Now, deals under $300 million may not even hit regulator’s radar. “China has opened the door to outbound investment more widely than ever,” Chadbourne & Parke commented.
While much of the offshore real estate money flows from China into New York, London, England and Los Angeles – the most popular cities for Asian investors – Vancouver is considered among the top secondary targets.
While Mak said return on investment is the primary aim, some immigrant investors are apparently drawn to B.C. as much for the lifestyle.
The new owner of Sechelt Golf and Country Club, for example, said the profit motive was not the main driver for his investment decision.
Wang said he wanted to purchase the course for three reasons: his love of golf, the quality of life and natural beauty in Sechelt and the possibility of retirement in the area.
“Sechelt is a great place to live,” he said.

Small business

There is also a local trigger for Asian investments into B.C.: the province’s Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), which can speed immigrant applications for permanent residency permits through buying a business.
The minimum personal investment is $400,000 in the entrepreneur category and $200,000 in the regional entrepreneur category, which favours investments outside of Metro Vancouver and Abbotsford,
‘There is a big demand for these programs,” said Russia-born Aleksandra Magee a West Vancouver realtor and business broker who has helped more than two dozen immigrants purchase a local business.
Image result for Aleksandra Magee a West Vancouver realtor
Magee works with B.C. business brokers to locate investments for immigrants from around the world, but primarily from China.
Magee said her clients are looking for manufacturing companies, especially in plastics and clothing, coffee shops, auto part stores, “simple retail stores” and small hotels and motels, often related to their personal work experience.
“Most don’t want a big real estate component because it requires a large downpayment,” she said.
The PNP also encourages the purchase from retiring business owners in areas outside of the Vancouver and Abbotsford areas This explains, Magee said, why would-be immigrants are buying movie theatres in Gibsons and coffee shops in Nanaimo.
“Some investors don't even plan on working in the businesses. They purchase just to get their PR [permanent residency] card,” Magee said. She also warned about shady “immigration consultants and lawyers” who are trying to personally profit from the system.
Magee said she works only with reputable business brokers.