It’s no secret that international buyers are becoming an increasingly important group in real estate markets globally and Canada is no exception. Although most buyers tend to focus on Chinese or Latin American buyers, the South Asian market is continually growing in prominence.

While dealing with international buyers I have come across potential home buyers and investors who walk into a property under construction, a new home or a resale and say, “This is it and it feels right.” Or, they have a negative response and say, “This just doesn’t feel right.” As real estate professionals we all have come across at least one such client and wondered what went wrong. Nothing went wrong from your side really. Buying real estate is a big decision and so there will be some quick responses and a few disagreements.

The majority of the potential international  home buyers who say these things are making a judgment based on either Feng Shui (a Chinese philosophical system of harmonizing everyone with the surrounding environment) or Vastu Shastra (the Indian science of architecture and construction).

According to Feng Shui Master Lillian Too, every time you move things around and you align yourself in certain directions, you’re actually aligning to energy forces, which most people don’t understand. What are these energy forces? These are cosmic energies that have an impact to bring prosperity and good health for the homeowners.

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Vastu Shastra is an ancient Indian methodology involving elements of architecture and design that states one can align a house to nature’s five elements to create physical, spiritual and mental well-being.

As more international buyers consider real estate in Canada, most are looking for properties that follow a few strategic Feng Shui or Vastu Shastra principles that will bring prosperity and success to their home.  Home buyers have some strange preferences in a house, but there are some common themes that are popular among the international buyers specifically of Asian or South Asian origin.

Every real estate buyer is concerned about location and then direction, which often dominates their decision. The ideal is north, east or north-east facing lots with open space all around within the constructed area.

Frontage of the house is the next decision-making factor. Generally rectangular or square-shaped lots are chosen over oval, round, triangular, hexagonal or L-shaped lots. Wider front and narrow back is not the first choice. A narrow front with a wider back, north or east-facing, is the ideal choice based on a simple principle – the sun rises in the east and sets in the west and this reflects prosperity and good health to the homeowners.

International home buyers and investors look forward to a good negotiation. A deal without a negotiation is not considered a great deal. So if you are working with international buyers, make sure you offer an opportunity to negotiate.

Don’t be surprised if an international buyer presumes that a property will be furnished. Some home buyers and investors do not wish to invest the effort and stress to furnish the house, so as a real estate professional make sure you educate the seller that the buyer may want to buy a property with furniture.

Most international buyers maintain a conservative approach to trusting real estate sales professionals because some countries do not have organized real estate protocols and governing bodies to protect the buyers and sellers. Often establishing trust can be a concern, so as a best practice I recommend providing elaborate details of organized real estate, licensing practices and the governing bodies in Canada. If time permits, give them an overview of how real estate is different in Canada.

15 COMMENTS

  1. One of the key characteristics of the internet, is how it transcends geographical boundaries and almost time itself. Items posted on the internet can and will have an international readership. Anyone could potentially take a new interest in an industry that never could have caught their interest in the pre-internet era! Is it possible that one of the contributors here (CK) could be none other than: Calvin Klein, himself?

  2. Few years ago I was working with a client he had some special requirements in relates to house number and direction to buy I was new to all this at that time. Over the years I learn more about this and Try to gain more knowledge about different culturals. This is very informative article despite some clerical errors.

  3. Ross K. certainly seems to have his detractors here, however as it happens they’re all literally unknowns. I found the link that Ross has included to be very interesting reading — unlike the subject article. Mr. Bhaura’s article is intended to be light reading, as is usually suitable for a personal marketing piece.

    Let’s look at some of Garry’s material. “Although most buyers tend to focus on Chinese or Latin American buyers,…” How do buyer’s focus on buyer’s, prey tell?

    “The majority of the potential international home buyers who say these things are making a judgment based on either Feng Shui…” I have had some Asian professional’s who were clients, scoff at the question of whether we were to contemplate any Feng Shui considerations concerning their purchase.

    “So if you are working with international buyers, make sure you offer an opportunity to negotiate.” The aforesaid is an absolute direction and it’s absurd and silly as a blanket statement.

    “so as a real estate professional make sure you educate the seller that the buyer may want to buy a property with furniture.” The buyer may want to do a lot of things. It isn’t the seller who needs to be educated, it is the buyer who is visiting our cultural reality. Seller’s may be willing to part with chattels, or not, but it will come down to money, not the expectations of any buyer.

    Gary Bhaura conclude’s with the absolute pinnacle of real estate wisdom: ” If time permits, give them an overview of how real estate is different in Canada.” Wouldn’t the essence of the aforesaid be “Agency Law”? Yes, we should make time to explain Agency Law — wow!

    If those who seemed to glow with having read this article are really real estate practitioners, we can see why we don’t get strong leadership — it’s because we don’t require it. It would be interesting to read Gary Bhaura’s comments on the link that Ross K has passed along, however I’m assuming he could offer up something more impressive than this subject current effort.

  4. Bruce and Smitty, I prefer to let experts speak to such matters and I would guess the former ambassador to China would probably know more than I do.
    http://www.biv.com/article/2015/4/property-sales-spike-sparks-money-laundering-fears/

    I guess you guys didn’t read RECOs warning about BBQ discussions and flippant comments from registrants that are not supported by hard evidence. We did :) !

    Really EVERY BUYER PREFERS- a home that feels right, is a nice rectangular lot, has sound architectural design, is a home in a clean city where the stars can be seen at night, has a south facing back yard ( we are in Canada after all) unless shade is the preferred choice, frontage to allow double car parking.

  5. Great Article Garry, very informative! Just read Ross K’s comments, these types of individuals often vent by posting silly comments. Great job!!

  6. Quite some years ago the brokerage I was with, at the time, contracted a local Feng Shui expert to visit the brokerage to give a seminar on the finer points of Feng Shui. The presenter wasn’t of Asian ancestry, however my understanding was that she was considered an expert, and she was paid.
    She talked about the significance of the orientation of the mirror on top of the typical bedroom bureau, in relation to the location of the bed. She talked about the alignment of the front and back doors of a home and the significance of this as it relates to financial prosperity — money in, money out. I was fairly resolved to keeping an open mind. Eventually we got around to the subject of her own home and how she had managed her own Feng Shui reality.
    Apparently this Feng Shui expert had set her own home up to conform with all her learned understandings regarding the philosophy, and yet there was still some unexplained bad energy in her home. She couldn’t understand what it could be and then one day she realized the bad energy seemed to materialize on or about the time her husband walked in through their front door. At about this time my open mind was starting its swing towards the closed position.
    To her credit, she didn’t blame this bad energy on her marriage, it was just a Feng Shui issue, and she came up with a solution. Hence forth, her husband agreed he would only enter their home through the garage man-door. She assured us this change solved the problem of the bad energy and she was entirely serious. The whole thing just struck me as ridiculous, but then again, if going forward the first thing he saw when he walked through his door was his beer fridge and he opened it, who knows!

    • LoL!!
      Maybe the first thing he saw every time he walked through the front door was the back end of the Feng Shui expert, aka his wife.
      In my opinion the Chinese culture is well known as being a superstitious one. Look at the importance that is placed on the health benefits of Rhinoceros-horn powder, Tiger- testicle powder and other such nonsensical stuff that underpins wacky beliefs that emanate from that part of the globe. Doesn’t do much good for the Rhinos and Tigers does it? Both species are flirting with extinction thanks to these dumb-ass beliefs which science and medicine has proven to be of no medicinal value whatsoever. It’s all in their Feng Shui-filled heads.
      Why don’t these true believers grind up their own finger-nails (made of exactly the same stuff as Rhino horns) and their own testicles for their own in-house “What’s yer pleasure?” pseudo-psycho highs?
      We in this country are taught to be sensitive to other cultures’ customs and beliefs. Fine, but don’t let that politically-correct mind set hold sway over scientific knowledge and plain old common sense.
      Feng Shui? Take a walk on the weird side man.
      Note: The above comments are not intended to offend any persons reading same. They are simply observations about a belief system that belongs in the ancient past. A child born into said belief system cannot be held responsible for holding said beliefs as imposed upon him/her from birth onward whilst his/her brain is still maturing (up until about age 25-28 years). Beyond that however, mature, critical thinking combined with education ought to begin to question unproven superstitious beliefs.

      • Brian,

        I’ve found some of the Asian professionals that I’ve dealt with, have even scoffed when I asked about including Feng Shui in their search criteria. Depending on the age of the individual, I probably wouldn’t bring it up first anymore, as some don’t like being associated with the practice.

    • It is, if nothing else – interesting, Alan. The FS teachers must have made their rounds of all the courses, some even had edu credits attached, when Board supported.

      I had several Chinese clients over the years, and having learned all the pointers, I was always careful never to show them houses with Scarlet O’Hara staircases, or houses where the stairs went straight up from the front door; or stairs that finished at the top, outside double doors to the master bedroom. And never houses with a 4 as the address. Their alphabet for number 4 sounds like our word ‘death.’ 44: fast or easy death.

      When I met with a Chinese client initially I let them know I was sensitive to their, what we would call, perhaps, sensitivities. They always appreciated that, and sent me their friends.

      To other Asian groups we were made aware not to expect a one time offer process; the house was seemingly less important than the “negotiating process,” often back and forth many times was the order of the day, sometimes a movement of only a thousand dollars; running back and forth countless times to get to a consummated transaction, in all kinds of weather, all hours of the day and night (until we learned to “educate the client” that although we were obligated to play ball, most sellers and buyers here preferred not to do business in such a fashion. Negotiate yes. Foolishness just aggravates a situation. But as was pointed out to me – the saving of a thousand dollars meant a huge difference in the amount of money the client could “send back home” – wherever home and family were). And they often only felt fulfilled if they had the last and final word. Often a big learning curve for established agents to wrap their heads around.

      But one day, I learned the Asians were not the only ones who applied such diagnostics: Canadian Indians, as commonly now called aboriginals, had similar ideas, one of which is if a view through the house from the front door can see right through to the backyard, they won’t buy the house, believing they would lose everything they own.

      So, since we live in a melting pot society, it behooves an agent to know what kind of agency expectations he is engaging in – when the client’s needs are always paramount; how far should an agent’s accommodation go?

      But consider how much time (and possible aggravation) an agent could maybe only save himself, if for no other reason, and still ultimately provide the best of the best “service.”

      As Eskimos supposedly ‘rub noses’ in lieu of a handshake, and Italians brought with them as immigrants in the early 60’s, the custom of kissing BOTH cheeks, (totally foreign, and invasive, to many living here already) and in our own culture, the etiquette requirement for a man never to shake hands with a woman unless she offers her hand FIRST; each culture has its own idiosyncrasies and lexicon puzzles.

      Like the old (credited to Canadian Indian) expression: never criticize a man till you’ve walked a mile in HIS moccasins. (Ever notice that we Canadians, with pen to paper, in not formal writing, use more contractions than Americans do?)

      The study of migration and immigration/emigration and how languages blur into one another as new linguistics form and become the norm (not just accepted but finding a path to being accepted, complete with dictionary definition) is indeed fascinating, and we, in our field of endeavour, are afforded a one on one opportunity to partake of the process in a unique manner of contribution.

      It is indeed fascinating that those who come here with English not being their mother tongue manage to take the courses and become part of the real estate industry.

      I, for one, cannot even begin to imagine going to a foreign country and engaging in a n’er before learned language and skillset, right from the get go. It could be viewed as quite an accomplishment, perhaps.

      Carolyne L

  7. Garry,

    As a registrant in Ontario could you please provide statistical evidence or the studies you reference in your article? I think everyone appreciates the apprehension of any Non-Canadian would have acquiring property in a foreign country using the advice of a local real estate “agent” so building confidence and trust should be a priority.

    All buyers should be told:
    1) You are required by law to determine their threat as a terrorist to Canada and that you are legally obligated to report any suspect activity on a FINTRAC form. This includes hiding where deposit monies come from or if another Canadian Resident is being used to funnel funds to complete the purchase or act as power of attorney (etc.)

    2) In the 416 ……
    3)……
    4)……
    5)……
    etc)……

    Claiming to be an expert does not make you one and it is especially troubling when a Director of Canada’s largest real estate board misrepresents myths over statistically provable facts.

    What about House numbers or artifacts nailed to a front door????

    • Seriously Ross K. This is a ridiculous post by you Mr. Ross K, it appears there is some hidden Toronto anger resident here. Kudos to Mr. Bhaura for taking the time to publish on REM.

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