A Chinese website that markets international property to buyers in the People’s Republic and elsewhere has just struck a partnership that could potentially expose 300 million new customers to real estate in Vancouver and other cities.
Juwai.com, which describes itself as the “No. 1 Chinese international property portal,” has joined with Chinese online retailer JD.com, a competitor to Amazon, to market real estate in Canada, the U.S., the U.K. and Australia to its customer base.
The arrangement will see Juwai’s listings appear on JD.com, allowing online shoppers to browse real estate alongside items such as shoes, watches and electronics.
“We are truly excited to be launching this partnership with JD.com, which is not just one of China’s but one of the globe’s most advanced commerce and e-commerce companies,” Carrie Law, Juwai.com CEO, said in a news release.
The arrangement will add an audience of almost 300 million to the existing 2.2 million monthly users who currently visit Juwai.com.
It will see “selected Canadian listings” marketed on JD.com.
The retailer asked specifically that Canadian property be included among listings because they see such strong demand for it.
Vancouver and Toronto have been prime destinations for real estate investors from other countries, with the impact of investor immigrants alone (many of whom come from China) estimated at over half a billion dollars per year.
But in an email to Global News, Law said Vancouver is just one city, “albeit a popular one,” and that she “wouldn’t expect Vancouver properties to be predominant by any means.”
Nevertheless, she expected that the partnership with JD.com would be “useful in helping sell the Vancouver property that we market on that platform.”
Law went on to say that Juwai.com and JD.com are going for “quality rather than quantity,” and will only list apartments from new developments.
“There will be a real value add for developers and agents of specific projects, but the impact on the Vancouver market overall will be minimal,” she said.
Anyone hoping to invest in Vancouver real estate via JD.com will find themselves facing a host of new taxes that were introduced by the BC NDP government in February.
They include additional property transfer tax and school tax on homes worth more than $3 million, a speculation tax targeting homes owned by people who don’t earn income in B.C., and hikes to the property transfer tax targeting foreign buyers from 15 per cent to 20 per cent, as well as extending it to areas such as Victoria, the Fraser Valley, the Okanagan and Nanaimo.
Andy Yan, the director of Simon Fraser University’s City program, wondered what effect these measures would have on those listings.
“It’s hard to say because there are so many things happening on the demand side,” he said.
Nevertheless, he said a move like Juwai’s is likely to concentrate more attention on areas where diasporic centres exist already.
“You can generally expect that this is not in Regina or Winnipeg,” he said.
“That it will follow where the diasporic centres are, in this case of the Chinese, which is metropolitan Vancouver or Toronto.”
Should the partnership kick up investment in new Vancouver apartments, then there’s potential that an already-sizable share of non-resident ownership in such property could grow even further.
Data from Statistics Canada shows the share of non-resident ownership of condominium apartments steadily growing based on the year in which it was built.
For buildings constructed in 1960 or earlier, the non-resident ownership share is 10 per cent.
But for buildings constructed in 2016 and 2017, that share grows to almost one-fifth of units.
But in an email, Juwai.com’s Law said she didn’t think the partnership with JD.com would have a “great impact market wide because we will not be putting large numbers of Vancouver projects” on the site.
“We believe it will be of measurable benefit to those projects that are marketed, but most projects will not be.”
The partnership is expected to launch officially in April.