Predominantly Chinese foreign buyers have stringent checklists for Canadian properties, whether they intend to live in them or not.
“Feng shui is tied into it,” said Jennifer Chan, a broker with Engel & Völkers Toronto Central. “You can say it’s superstition, but it’s not; it’s tied into the culture deeply. If you’re buying a house, you wouldn’t want a giant tree in front of your porch. It’s not good for technical reasons, but it’s also not good for feng shui. You don’t want light or electrical polls or giant trees in front of your door.”
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Feng shui can perhaps be best described as a form of pseudoscience which purports to direct and abet harmonizing energies throughout an abode, and in the process makes them more liveable for the inhabitants.
An additionally important facet of feng shui is location. Religious edifices, whether churches or temples, usually dominate the streets on which they’re located, therefore, they have a substantially negative effect on homes’ feng shui.
“They bring a lot of traffic but also because, like with Buddhist temples a long time ago, crematoriums used to be close by,” said Chan.
According to Engel & Völkers Toronto Central’s broker of record, feng shui adherents do not like living in homes wherein people have died. Moreover, numbers both good and bad are crucial within the philosophy.
“The buyers from China are also superstitious with numbers. Four is not a good number,” said Anita Springate-Renaud, who added that fewer buyers from Hong Kong adhere to feng shui than their Mainland counterparts.
“But as of the last 20 years, the Mainland is who is coming over with money. The younger generation isn’t as superstitious as the elder generation, but if the parents are footing the bill then they have to toe the line. I have a buyer who bought a property that had the address 44. If the money is coming in from a parent or grandparent, then they will adhere to those cultural norms because it’s not their money.”
Because China is geographically huge, different subcultures can be found through the country, so Chinese buyers typically choose areas with cultural amenities that suit their regional cultures.
“Ease of going to entertainment amenities and community events within their group” is important, said Chan. “So when they buy homes, they want to access their own mini subculture.”
However, there’s one main driver that often supersedes feng shui.
“Schools are very important,” said Springate-Renaud. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a public or private school, they want to be in a good school district. It’s a main driver for them.”