Is dirty money inflating Canada’s property prices?

China-Canada-A recent opinion piece by a well-known Canadian journalist has pointed the finger firmly at embezzled Chinese funds as the cause of high Canadian property prices.

Michael McCarthy’s opinion piece in the Vancouver Sun pulls no punches whatsoever – accusing Vancouver’s officials of sitting on their hands while “hot” Chinese money pours into the city. McCarthy cites a Bank of China report claiming up to 18,000 officials have fled China with hundreds of billions of illicit dollars – an estimated $7 million per official – some of which he contends, is laundered through Canada’s property markets.

It could be easily argued that McCarthy’s claims are xenophobic, and it’s hard to tell exactly how much of the recent price boom has been driven by Chinese money – although a 2011 report by Landcor Data showed that 74 per cent of luxury purchases in Richmond and Vancouver’s  super-pricey west side were made by buyers with “Mainland Chinese names”.

Whatever the truth of the matter, there are agents willing to do their best to take advantage of any Chinese gold rush. Vancouver’s Macdonald Realty, meanwhile, has already take those first steps, preparing to establish an office in Shanghai.

“While there is very little data about foreign investors in Vancouver real estate, our own internal data is enough for us to commit to investing in a representative office in Shanghai,” Dan Scarrow, vice-president of corporate strategy at Macdonald Realty, told the Globe and Mail.

It may be time to brush up on your Mandarin language skills.

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