Chinese ‘student’ buys $24 million mansion in Vancouver
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Chinese ‘student’ buys $24 million mansion in Vancouver

A 14,600-SQUARE foot mansion in Vancouver costing US$24 million ($31.3 million CAD) is majority-owned by a Chinese ‘student’, property records have revealed.

Land title documents for the mansion, which was sold earlier this year by Canaccord founder Peter Brown, list Tian Yu Zhou as having a 99 percent interest in the building. The remaining one percent belongs to a businesswoman identified as Cuie Feng.

Tian’s occupation is listed as a “student”, according to the Vancouver Sun. The property is said to be valued at US$19.9 million when it was last assessed this year, making it one of the city’s most expensive homes.

The property stands on a 1.7 acre lot, with five bedrooms, eight bathrooms, and sweeping views of the North Shore mountains and Vancouver.

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Views from the mansion. Image via Shanghaiist

Both Zhou and Feng reportedly took out a mortgage of over US$7 million from the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce in late April, according to mortgage documents attached the the land title papers retrieved.

David Eby, a housing critic from the New Democratic Party, expressed incredulity at the news, and said the fact that a student was able to buy one of the city’s most costly properties is at complete odds with the Canadian government’s insistence that the Vancouver real estate market is “under control”.

He told the Vancouver Sun: “It’s incredibly strange that a student would be able to afford such a luxurious and multi-million-dollar property.”

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The interior of the mansion. Image via Shanghaiist

Eby referenced a 2015 study by Professor Andy Yan from the University of British Columbia, which found that homemakers and students are often the listed “occupations” of owners of newly-bought multi-million-dollar homes in the city.

“I don’t know how that can be possible with the income of homemakers and students typically have, which is close to zero,” he said.

In March, calculations by the National Bank of Canada found that buyers from China made up about a third of purchases in Vancouver’s housing market in 2015.

According to Bloomberg, a note by financial analyst Peter Routledge said Chinese investors spent about US$9.6 billion on real estate in Vancouver, adding up to about 33 percent of the market’s total sales.

The massive influx of money from offshore buyers have driven up the prices of homes in the city far beyond what locals can afford, which has led to calls for the Canadian government to control the market better against outside investors.