Amer­i­can in­ter­est in Sask. prop­er­ties jumps 200%

Regina Leader-Post - - FRONT PAGE - PAMELA COWAN

Af­ter Don­ald Trump was elected pres­i­dent of the United States, there was a surge of Amer­i­can in­ter­est in Cana­dian real es­tate.

The spike in in­ter­est con­tin­ues to grow in six prov­inces, in­clud­ing Saskatchewan, ac­cord­ing to Royal LePage. Based on track­ing In­ter­net Pro­to­col (IP) ad­dresses, more than 100,000 Amer­i­cans were look­ing at house list­ings on the com­pany’s con­sumer real es­tate port af­ter Trump was elected Nov. 8, 2016.

Amer­i­can in­ter­est in Saskatchewan prop­er­ties in­creased from 0.1 per cent be­tween Jan. 1, 2016 and Nov. 1, 2016, to 0.5 per cent be­tween Jan. 1, 2017 and Nov. 1, 2017.

That’s an in­crease of nearly 200 per cent, year-over-year, said Phil Soper, pres­i­dent and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer with Royal LePage.

“What it says to me is that the in­ter­est that was trig­gered by the change in fed­eral ad­min­is­tra­tion last Novem­ber, a year ago, has per­sisted,” he said. “It wasn’t a short-term spike. It has changed fun­da­men­tally the in­ter­est level that Amer­i­cans have in po­ten­tially im­mi­grat­ing.”

Even though the num­ber of Amer­i­cans look­ing at Saskatchewan real es­tate is small, it is a le­git­i­mately large in­crease, said Doug El­liott, pub­lisher of Sask Trends Mon­i­tor.

How­ever, he noted im­mi­gra­tion from all coun­tries in the first half of 2017 is down six per cent from the first half of 2016.

“It cer­tainly doesn’t sug­gest there’s any­body act­ing on com­ing here more likely than the year be­fore — in fact, the op­po­site,” El­liott said.

So why the in­creased browsers? “Per­haps wish­ful think­ing,” El­liott said.

“If Mr. Trump was my pres­i­dent I would be per­haps cast­ing around look­ing for op­tions for sure,” he added.

Amer­i­cans view­ing Regina list­ings on the re­al­tor’s home page grew by 14.12 per cent year-overyear (Jan. 1, 2017 to Nov. 1, 2017 com­pared to Jan. 1, 2016 to Nov. 1, 2016).

Mean­while, in Saska­toon, Amer­i­can page views on Royal LePage’s list­ings in the Bridge City grew by 57.70 per cent year- over-year.

While in­ter­est in Saskatchewan prop­er­ties grew, the per­cent­age of to­tal Amer­i­can page views on the Royal LePage web­site was low­est for our prov­ince.

“Roughly, the largest pop­u­la­tion cen­tres and the largest num­ber of homes for sale at­tract the largest num­ber of Amer­i­can shop­pers,” Soper said.

With the wide­spread avail­abil­ity of the in­ter­net, peo­ple are im­mi­grat­ing to ci­ties, large and small, Soper said.

“Tra­di­tion­ally, they looked at Toronto, Van­cou­ver, Mon­treal and Cal­gary — roughly in order of pop­u­la­tion,” he said.

“Now, they’re look­ing at Saska­toon and Monc­ton and places where there is eco­nomic op­por­tu­nity and the cost of liv­ing is much more rea­son­able than in our larger ci­ties and they can find that in­for­ma­tion on­line.”

Soper won­ders if there is a fun­da­men­tal shift in the at­trac­tive­ness of Canada as a des­ti­na­tion in con­trast to Amer­ica and its chang­ing ap­proach to im­mi­gra­tion.

“We don’t ac­tu­ally track the na­tion­al­ity of pur­chasers, but we con­tinue to track the ac­tiv­ity level on our web prop­erty,” he said. “What we can’t say with cer­tainty is that this per­cent­age of peo­ple are now buy­ing homes that orig­i­nate from the United States.”

On­tario con­tin­ued to lead the coun­try as the top-re­searched des­ti­na­tion by Amer­i­cans on roy­allepage.ca.

That prov­ince’s page views in­creased from 44.4 per cent be­tween Jan. 1, 2016 and Nov. 1, 2016 to 45.4 per cent be­tween Jan. 1, 2017 and Nov. 1, 2017.

Bri­tish Columbia and Que­bec came in sec­ond and third.

“Where it gets skewed a lit­tle bit was there was more in­ter­est in Nova Sco­tia and New Brunswick from Amer­i­cans than you would guess, based on their pop­u­la­tion,” Soper said.

How­ever, that has tra­di­tion­ally been a part of Canada that at­tracts a lot of Amer­i­cans from New Eng­land, par­tic­u­larly for recre­ational prop­erty.

One of the silver lin­ings of the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion is Canada will “get the pick of the lit­ter in terms of the best and bright­est from around the world who are look­ing to cre­ate a new life for them­selves in North Amer­ica,” Soper said.

“Many of those peo­ple will now be look­ing at Canada more favourably be­cause it’s a tol­er­ant na­tion with func­tion­ing fi­nance sys­tems, func­tion­ing govern­ments and a health-care sys­tem that is sta­ble,” he added.

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