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THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
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Vancouver’s slow-churning real estate market might see a slight uptick next week due to an influx of Chinese New Year vacationers.

The Chinese national holiday – celebrated widely in Vancouver and around the globe – begins Friday night with a week-long holiday. Many take the time off as an opportunity to travel abroad. Last year, six million Chinese left the country for vacation.

Juwai.com, a China-based website for international real estate, says a quarter of Chinese consumers surveyed plan to travel internationally during Chinese New Year, with 42 per cent of those saying they plan to shop for property while away. In total, just under 11 per cent of all people surveyed said they’ll spend the holiday property hunting.

The website also surveyed 163 realtors in Canada and found 17 per cent of international agents and 16 per cent of Canadian agents had been contacted by buyers who plan to visit during Chinese New Year.

“We also see Vancouver getting a steady stream of Chinese visitors seeking a ‘lung cleansing’ holiday,” Charles Pittar, CEO of Juwai.com, said. “Canada is a top-five country for these trips. Other top lung-cleansing spots are Japan, Thailand, Australia and Switzerland. One-half billion Chinese were affected by hazardous smog this winter. They come to Vancouver for clean air, among other things.”

But in Vancouver, the impact of the holiday may be more muted than in years past.

MLS data from 2016, 2015 and 2014 show an increase in the number of sales in Greater Vancouver in the week after Chinese New Year compared to two weeks before.

In 2016, there were 41 per cent more sales the week after Chinese New Year compared to the week before the holiday. That number was 11 per cent in 2015 and just under one per cent in 2014.

The slight growth could also be due to seasonal shifts in real estate, where there are typically more sales in the spring than winter.

The effects of the 15-per cent foreign buyers tax, implemented in Metro Vancouver in August, may dampen any possible increase in sales from overseas this year. The number of foreign buyers in B.C. shrank from 1,610 in July to 395 in November – although that number has been consistently growing since an August low point.

Between August and November, the B.C. government collected over $48 million through the tax.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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