The international real estate market has over the last three years – seen a surge in buyers from China as well as other asian markets like Taiwan. Culturally similar in terms of investment approach, Taiwanese and Chinese buyers seek safe places to invest their money as well as provide homes for their immediate families that immigrate to pursue tertiary education.
The Chinese international market is driven by two main factors. Firstly, the Chinese government restricts domestic market home purchases to two per household to curb investment speculation. This drives wealthy Chinese abroad. The second factor is the pursuit of a second residency abroad – typically Canada, Australia and the United States although there are large investor numbers in Europe and SE Asia.
A Growing Niche – Taiwanese Speaking Investors
The smaller Taiwanese client base is no less affluent and are also comprised of the wealthy business class who seek to expand their real estate portfolio and provide homes for their school-bound children abroad. A large number have made the various suburbs of Greater Vancouver and Richmond their home and their presence has been felt in the property market.
While serving the larger Mandarin speaking Chinese market has been relatively easy for realtors – given the larger number of Mandarin speaking people abroad – serving the more exclusive Taiwanese or Fukien speaking client base is more difficult. There are not as many Fukien speaking realtors in international markets. While many Fukien and Taiwanese speaking clients can operate in Mandarin – there is a cultural and emotional dimension to serving them in their native dialect. Realtors that are able to speak Taiwanese or Fukien are increasingly in demand as this niche client base expands its investment initiatives worldwide. In Vancouver, one such provider is Richmond-based realtor Wellington Sy is one of a handful of Taiwanese and Fukien speaking realtors in this market. Sy is a uniquely positioned provider being born and raised in Manila, Philippines and counts Fukien as his mother tongue. The Manila brand of Fukien has strong linguistic similarity to the Taiwanese dialect.
Who Are The Taiwanese Speaking Investors?
Taiwanese speaking clients have a strong affinity to their dialect and culture and prefer to conduct business where possible – in their mother tongue. Certainly this is a universal driving force in business. Language skills are more valuable in today’s market than ever before and the Fukien dialect is emerging as a lucrative niche for business professionals who have this language skill. It is spoken not only in Taiwan by 25 million Taiwanese, but is popularly used in SE Asia – Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and parts of Thailand and Indo China as well.
Taiwanese speaking clients have a slightly different investment mindset from their Mainland peers. While investing for profit, they also seek safe environments for residence and raising of families. They tend to be community oriented and have lower risk tolerance. There are relatively fewer Taiwanese or Fukien speaking service professionals in North America and Europe as their influx has been relatively small.
Main Areas Of Taiwanese Investors In Vancouver
The Taiwanese real estate investor community have settled in distinct areas of Greater Vancouver. The more prominent spaces where they occupy are Richmond and Coquitlam. Richmond is a suburb within Greater Vancouver that has a large general Chinese community and a large commercial and dining presence.
Coquitlam on the other side of Greater Vancouver – is more of a pocket presence of Taiwanese speaking clients who seek out the quiet serenity of neighbourhoods like Westwood Plateau which offers mountain views, greenery and a lower cost per square foot than Richmond. Both communities offer different things to the Taiwanese speaking investor.
Two Other Growing Areas
Two other growing niches of Taiwanese speaking client investors in the Greater Vancouver area are Burnaby and Surrey. Burnaby is a large suburb between the city of Vancouver and Coquitlam that has a large Asian community and the Taiwanese are fitting right in. The proximity of Burnaby to the big city amenities of Vancouver attracts many Taiwanese to the suburb. Surrey is an unlikely niche for Taiwanese speaking immigrant investors. It has long been an Indo-Canadian enclave but in the last five years, several Taiwanese commercial interests have sprouted up like a Taiwanese mall. A check with local realtors reveal that there are many Taiwanese immigrants living in the Fleetwood area of Surrey and many are heading to the more high-end neighbourhood of South Surrey.
While their more visible Mandarin speaking cousins take the limelight as international property investors, the Taiwanese speaking niche clientele could provide lucrative investment opportunities for business people seeking to serve them.