Think back for a moment to 1959, a Year of the Pig in the Chinese Zodiac calendar.

Canada was basking in the glow of post-Second World War prosperity. The average annual salary of $5,000 could buy you a new house for $12,500 and a new Chevy for $2,200, while just $1 would get you a night at the movies to watch Marilyn Monroe.

Now, 60 years later, with the return of the Year of the Pig, you could hunt for a long time in Vancouver to find a new house for under $1 million, a Chevy for less than $20,000 or a movie viewing for $10 a head. But if that depresses you a bit, Andrew Leong, a Richmond realtor and occasional adherent to the world of Chinese astrology, has some encouraging words for the coming year.

“The pig has always been blessed with good fortune,” the 35-year veteran realtor says.

He said that even though the real estate market has experienced somewhat of a downturn in recent months, “it really can’t get any worse.”

“Those born under the pig sign are very realistic people. They don’t go with the trends. They go with the basics. They tend to approach challenges in a cooperative way with other people. “

They are also born optimists, he said, a good trait to possess in the context of the past year. He himself predicts real estate will show signs of recovery. “That’s how I see this market, even without the horoscopes.”


Leong, general manager and managing broker at Macdonald Realty Westmar, is one of more than 1,000 people working under the Macdonald Realty umbrella in B.C. and he isn’t alone in seeing a silver lining in 2019. Dan Scarrow, president of Macdonald Realty, previously lived in China for nearly five years and notes that immigration will remain relatively strong this year.

“We (Canada’s federal government) have actually increased our quotas again this year and we are going to be admitting the largest number of immigrants in Canada’s recent history – more than 330,000 in 2019—and all those people need a place to live.”

He forecasts that the real estate market this year will be more end user than investor driven. “With the run up in prices over the past few years, a lot of investors are stepping over to the sidelines. There will be a real flight to quality because most of the buyers are going to be purchasing for their own use. That includes both the local buyer and the Chinese buyer.

“But whereas the Chinese buyer came in prior (to the Year of the Pig) and bought a place to live and potentially bought a few investment properties, maybe this year and next year they come in and look for somewhere where they want to live.”

Scarrow said that liquidity has been more of an issue for Chinese nationals over the past year with the Chinese stock market going through a bit of a meltdown and the tighter restrictions on capital flows out of China.

“But we look at things from a longer-term perspective where there record numbers of immigrants coming to Canada. And when you look at the second and third generations, they are going to want to generally stay in Canada and move their families here over the long term.”

Meanwhile, Macdonald Realty plans to maintain its Shanghai office for the foreseeable future, he said.

“There is no doubt that Vancouver is a Pacific Rim city and a gateway city to China. Our connection with places like Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong and Taiwan are going to remain strong. And so, if you want to be in this kind of industry, you have to have a presence in those areas.”

The article was originally posted on Vancouver Sun. Written by Michael Bernard.