• Vancouver (pictured) and Sydney are both desirable harbour cities for the Chinese. They're now both amongst the most unaffordable in the world. (SBS Dateline)
$450 billion in personal wealth left China last year as people look overseas for investment and lifestyle. As Dateline looks at how it's pushed up property prices in Canada, SBS's Finance Editor finds a very similar story in Australia.
7 Jun 2016 - 5:22 PM  UPDATED 7 Jun 2016 - 10:16 PM

"One of the best quarters of 2016," is how Sydney real estate agent Bo Zhang describes business, and Chinese buyers are among the big spenders.

He's just sold a six bedroom house on the city's lower north shore for $8 million. It previously went for $961,000 20 years ago. The new Chinese owner plans to lease it for $5,000 a week.

"Families, they want to move here to live to enjoy the lifestyle," he tells me. "I went to China four weeks ago, I couldn't see blue sky, the air quality is very bad."

Quality of life is also an attraction to Vancouver, where Dateline has been looking at investment by Chinese millionaires, and the huge rise in property prices that's followed.

The city has more than 120,000 Chinese millionaire migrants. Many entered the country under Canada's Immigrant Investor program, which welcomed foreigners with a net worth of at least $1.6 million.

“The typical Chinese investment portfolio is half real estate,” Professor David Ley from the University of British Columbia explains. “The population of Chinese Canadians… is projected in 30 years to be 800,000.”

His analysis places Vancouver, Sydney and Melbourne in the top six most unaffordable cities in the world, along with Hong Kong, plus San Francisco and San Jose in California.

But David believes Australia is legislating better then Canada against that boom, citing Melbourne's increase in tax for foreign buyers from three to seven per cent.

Vancouver has been named the second most unaffordable city in the world for four of the past five years. Property prices rose by 40% last year alone by one estimate.

"Listed for $2.88 million," Vancouver real estate agent Eric Coulombe says, as he shows Dateline a modest 1930s house in the city's suburbs. "My guess is it will sell for north of $3 million."

The real estate agents may be happy, but those priced out of the market are definitely not.

"I'm not happy my house is worth $1.5 million, I'm not happy at all," Kerry Starchuk tells Dateline. She's become a campaigner against homes left empty as investments, driving up prices in her Vancouver community.

"Not one of my five grown children are home owners. Their generation has been priced out of the market," she says. "Money has taken precedence over our neighbourhoods."

Chinese investment in Australia up 60 per cent: report
Chinese investment in Australia has climbed to $15 billion - up 60 per cent - with real estate the dominant sector.

But could Sydney ultimately overtake Vancouver for second place in the unaffordability ranking?

"I'm working for a Chinese buyer who used to buy and was interested in Canada, Vancouver particularly," Australian agent Bo Zhang says. "He's now looking at Sydney particularly because he likes the climate."

See Dateline's full story, China's Millionaire Migration:

China's Millionaire Migration
Over 100,000 Chinese millionaires have moved to Vancouver, sparking everything from a reality show to a property boom making housing unaffordable. Dateline asks if the millionaire migrants are a blessing or curse.

* Prices in this story are quoted in Australian and Canadian Dollars respectively. AU$1.00 = CA$0.91at the time of writing.