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Let your situation — and not the signs — direct real estate decisions

With Lunar New Year beginning on Friday, Vancouver realtor Grace Kwok smiles and notes that this year’s zodiac figure — it’s the Year of the Dog — carries with it advice that she would follow year in and year out in the world of real estate: Consider your needs first before consulting the stars.

Under Chinese zodiac lore, if you were born in a Year of the Dog, one of the 12-year cycle of signs, you possess the best traits of human nature. According to the website, www.yourchineseastrology.com, you are honest, friendly, faithful, loyal, smart, straightforward, and you have a strong sense of responsibility.

The same website predicts that those born under the dog sign will experience ups and downs this year when it comes to wealth and should be wary of the promise of “high interest or high return.” It also forecasts that your lucky numbers this year are three, four and nine, with the unlucky ones being one, six and seven. Lucky colours are green, red and purple, while the unlucky ones are blue, white and golden. Those born in the Year of the Dog are in good company, sharing the same birth year sign as Winston Churchill, Benjamin Franklin, Bill Clinton and Madonna, among other notables.

But Kwok cautions against taking the animal signs and forecasts too literally, as there appear to be some years when people under a particular animal sign fare better than in other years.

“Buying and selling isn’t dictated by the signs, but by personal circumstances,” says Kwok, one of Metro Vancouver’s most successful real estate agents.

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“If you look at all the signs, I don’t think there are any that indicate that you should buy or sell in a particular year. There is a certain time in one’s life when you should think about downsizing, a certain time when first-time buyers may decide to move or get married, or, if they have children, to upgrade to a bigger place.”

More importantly, Lunar New Year should be looked at as “the beginning of new things,” says Kwok, who advises people to look on the good rather than the bad attributes of the horoscope sign for the year.

“It’s a good guideline for us, whether Chinese or Western new year, a new beginning is really good to think positively about, such as ‘I hope it will continue to be prosperous, or good health, or that this year will be a better year than last year.’”

Kwok notes that feng shui — the Chinese art or practice of creating harmonious surroundings — plays a more particular role in Vancouver real estate these days than it might have historically. While traditionally, it may dictate the siting of a house relative to the light and other factors, for many Chinese who purchase condos, feng shui now is more often applied to the staging of furniture in show rooms or a person’s decisions in furnishing their own home.

Another senior Vancouver real estate executive, one who has been based in Shanghai, says 2018 may be an auspicious year for Vancouver real estate because of actions by the Canadian government late last year that make it easier for Chinese to emigrate and travel as tourists to Canada.

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The federal government announced in November that it was opening seven new visa centres in China, making it easier for millions of Chinese to obtain documents to travel as tourists to Canada, said Dan Scarrow, managing director of Macdonald Real Estate Group’s Shanghai-based Canadian Real Estate Investment Centre.

“When it comes to real estate in Canada, seeing is believing for the Chinese,” said Scarrow, who is of Chinese descent. Chinese investment has been seen as a major catalyst in Vancouver’s highly active real estate market, prompting both municipal and provincial governments to take measures to cool foreign interest in it.

Many Chinese are obtaining 10-year unlimited-visit visas and “once they see how easy it is to come and go, it makes a lot more sense for them to obtain a vacation home in Canada,” he said.

But Scarrow notes that the impact of Lunar New Year may have been somewhat more diffused over recent times because many tourists now come from a wider range of cities with large Chinese populations. The Vancouver community that has its roots in superstition surrounding New Year come from cities such as Hong Kong, he said. Now, there are more and more Chinese coming from other cities with different traditions and beliefs, he said.

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