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BC real estate: Vancouver's battle of the Asian property tycoons – CTV News Vancouver

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The Supreme Court of British Columbia has ordered Concord Pacific, one of Canada’s largest property developers, to pay about $5 million in special costs after one of its senior employees was found to be “egregiously dishonest,” in an ongoing legal battle between two Asian tycoons.

The rare special costs award is believed to be one of the highest ever awarded in Canada and sends a warning to litigants that the courts will not tolerate being misled with false claims.

In his ruling, Justice Peter Voith wrote that David Ju, Concord’s vice-president, had misled the court in the case that pits his boss, Terry Hui, against Singaporean billionaire Oei Hong Leong.

Hui is the scion of a Hong Kong family that made its fortune in taxis and real estate. He and Oei are mired in a long running legal dispute over the Plaza of Nations lands, described as one of the most valuable remaining pieces of waterfront property in downtown Vancouver.

“Mr. Ju swore false affidavits, he gave false evidence at his examination for discovery, and he gave false evidence at trial in relation to numerous issues,” he said in a scathing ruling.

Justice Voith said he also holds Concord and its president, Terry Hui, responsible for providing incorrect information.

“There were several instances where Mr. Ju and Mr. Hui gave the same evidence and where I concluded that neither had been forthright. There is therefore some basis to infer or conclude that Mr. Hui, Concord’s president and CEO, was aware that at least some aspects of Mr. Ju’s evidence were not honest.”

Concord has described the decision as “flawed” and plans to appeal the ruling, which has battered the reputation of the company and that of Ju, who is also a board member of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.

This ruling is the latest round in the battle between Concord’s Hui and Singapore-based Oei over a 4.16-hectare (10.28 acre) site known as the Plaza of Nations, which is one of the most valuable remaining developable pieces of waterfront property in downtown Vancouver, valued at over $800 million.

The legal battle stems from a suit filed by Hui against Oei for allegedly acting in bad faith and breaching an agreement to sell his Plaza of Nations land to Concord. After a lengthy court battle, in July 2019 Justice Voith dismissed the claim in its entirety, describing the evidence and conduct of Concord Pacific’s senior officials as “problematic,” “unreliable” and “dishonest.”

He concluded that Concord had negotiated with Oei and his company in bad faith. Concord Pacific is also appealing this decision.

Oei has also filed an abuse of court process case and a $245 million civil conspiracy lawsuit against Concord, both of which are before the courts. Hong Kong’s Charles Chan has been named as a defendant in the civil conspiracy lawsuit. According to Forbes, Chan is a maverick entrepreneur and dealmaker who is known as the “Shell King” for facilitating backdoor listings of companies on the Hong Kong exchange.

This lawsuit also references a $40 million “surreptitious” transaction involving the Asian property titans, as Vancouver is agog with a money-laundering inquiry looking at suspicious cash flow-throughs via the city’s red hot property market.

The allegations in the lawsuit have not been proven in court; neither is there any mention of money laundering in the documents that were filed last October.

Chan is named alongside Concord’s Hui as having allegedly “conspired” to “harm” Oei’s efforts and stop him from dealing with other development companies like the Aquilini Group, which owns the Canucks hockey team.

Oei claims that Chan put up a $40 million “good faith deposit” which was to be held in trust by Concord’s lawyers to enable Hui to continue negotiations with Oei and prevent the latter from talking to other potential partners. However, the money was transferred out of the trust account within two days without informing Oei or his lawyers.

Neither Charles Chan nor Concord responded to requests for comment filed via their companies.

Oei’s lawyer in the civil conspiracy case, William Dick, described this action as a claim for the tort of conspiracy in which two or more persons set out to economically injure another person or entity. He said the alleged wrongful conduct by the defendants led to his client (Oei) losing out on an opportunity to enter into a deal for $800 million involving a third party.

This complex legal tussle has its roots in the 1988 purchase of the entire 82-hectare waterfront property by Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing. The land was the site of the Vancouver Expo ’86, which put the Canadian west coast city on the world map. In 1989, Li sold the 4.16-hectare portion of the property, known as the Plaza of Nations, to Oei for C$40 million. Later, he sold the rest of the property to Concord.

Oei’s vision for his Plaza of Nations land is a waterfront neighbourhood of terraced buildings of up to 30 storeys including a community centre, an ice rink for Vancouverites and the Canucks hockey team, a child-care facility, and a gradual amphitheatre for cultural and performing art events.

It will also have 380 units of social housing, a seawall and extensive public spaces suitable for events and festivals, retail stores, restaurants, cafes and breweries, with a pedestrian bridge linking the area to the neighbouring Rogers Arena and BC Place Stadium.

The development project, called Expo Gardens, is unaffected by the lawsuits and is in the final stages of permitting at Vancouver City Hall.

Oei Hong Leong

Singapore based magnate Oei Hong Leong, who is world-renowned for his corporate bond portfolio and real estate assets, now owns the Plaza of Nations land, which sits adjacent to the Concord Pacific properties. He plans to build a new waterfront neighbourhood of terraced buildings, a community centre, an ice rink for Vancouverites and a gradual amphitheatre for cultural and performing art events. The project, dubbed Expo Gardens, has local community support and is in the final stages of City Hall permitting.

Terry Hui

Terry Hui, one of Vancouver’s best-known developers, leveraged his family’s wealth from taxi operations in Hong Kong to lead the Concord Group of Companies. Concord is known for building Canada’s largest urban communities. Over the past 25 years, the Concord group has diversified into other industry sectors including software and information technology, telecommunications, EV power infrastructure and projects of scale in solar, wind and hydroelectric power generation. Most recently, Concord bought the St. Paul’s Hospital site on Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver for nearly $1 billion. Concord has acquired the Westin Bayshore hotel in Vancouver and the Sundial Hotel in Whistler.

Li Ka-shing

Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing, a regular on the Forbes list of the world’s wealthiest, bought the Vancouver Expo ’86 lands in 1988 for $320 million. The controversial sale of the 82-hectare site on the north shore of False Creek made up one-sixth of downtown Vancouver. The following year, Li sold a portion of the property – 4.16 hectares – known as the Plaza of Nations land to Singapore magnate Oei Hong Leong for C$40 million. Li later sold his Concord Pacific, which had originally set out to develop condominium towers on the Expo lands, to Terry Hui.

Charles Chan

Until last year, Charles Chan Kwok-keung, was the chairman of Television Broadcasts’ (TVB) board of directors, Hong Kong’s biggest free-to-air broadcaster. He resigned shortly after the broadcaster laid off 350 employees, or 10 per cent of its workforce, and after TVB reported a net loss of US$25.3 million for the full year of 2018. According to Forbes, Chan is a maverick entrepreneur and dealmaker who’s known as the “shell king” for facilitating backdoor listings of companies on the Hong Kong exchange. Chan also chairs ITC Corp., his flagship company, which holds interests in finance, property, infrastructure, hospitality and technology businesses.

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Worry, buyer's remorse high as real estate market slowdown materializes – Ottawa Business Journal

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A wave of buyer’s remorse is taking shape in several heated real estate markets, after housing prices started dropping and the number of sales slowed over the last two months.

Realtors and lawyers in Toronto and Vancouver say they have noticed buyers looking at what options they have to get out of a purchase and sellers hoping to ensure one goes through because conditions have shifted dramatically from the previous highs and frenzied pace.

The country experienced a 25.7 per cent drop in the number of homes sold over the last year and a 3.8 per cent slide in housing prices between March and April, the Canadian Real Estate Association said Monday. The average home price last month totalled $741,517.

Such numbers have prompted some sellers to explore lawsuits to ensure transactions move forward and other purchasers to worry about the value of pre-sale properties they bought years ago but have yet to take possession of.

“With today’s real estate prices, there’s really no option but to go all in and if you’re going all in, and then suddenly you’re realizing that perhaps you made a bad bet and there’s a way out of that bet, you’re going to do whatever you can to get out,” said Mark Morris, a Toronto real estate lawyer.

In recent weeks, he has seen nine cases where buyers want to back out of deals but on Monday alone was approached by three sellers keen to use legal channels to keep purchasers from walking away.

Morris doesn’t call the encounters a trend because it’s unclear how many other lawyers are seeing the same spate, but three queries in a day is his new record. He used to see one case of that nature every few months.

“Purchasers are looking at the existing crisis, and in the best of times, they feel they overpaid, but now they have objective proof that they’ve done so because markets have started to pummel and fall and really shows no signs of slowing down,” said Morris.

“Many of those buyers are faced with the option of moving forward or upping and walking.”

People get “spooked” every time the market turns and explore what they can do about deals they signed, but few end up walking away because it’s hard to get out of such transactions, said Phil Soper, CEO of Royal LePage.

He thinks the exception to this pattern came in 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out and people wanting out of transactions had so many unknowns on their side.

Most buyers trying to end a deal this year won’t be successful because there is no legal way out, but such cases are also impractical for sellers, Morris said.

“Is a seller really willing to pursue a buyer that has no assets? Is the seller really going to go through three years of courts only to find that they have a judgment that can’t be pursued?” he pondered. “Are they really ready to put up the amount of money that it will take to pursue this to the ends of the earth if they’re able to resell? Perhaps not.”

In cases where the buyer has put money into a seller’s trust account, that money can only be released with a court action, the closing of the deal or a mutual agreement not to pursue the sale, said Morris. He’s seen buyers agree to give the seller the money, if the seller mutually agrees to end the deal.

If a deal ends, brokers can sue for their lost commission but not many explore this avenue because it’s “not a good look” to take legal action against a client, who might still turn to you when they try to sell the home from the failed transaction again, said Morris.

While Tirajeh Mazaheri hasn’t seen legal action in Vancouver, the Coldwell Banker Prestige Realty agent has seen buyer’s remorse and worry crop up among investors who purchased pre-construction homes a few years ago but have yet to take possession of them.

“A lot of those people are thinking, ‘Is the market going to be able to justify this price or keep up with the price I paid and can I get this money back if I want to sell in a year?'” she said.

The people who purchased in early rounds of pre-construction sales for a building are already ahead of the curve, but those who bought later will have to wait longer to break even or make a profit, she said.

Even though worry is at a high, Mazaheri and Soper agree the markets do rebound and homes are still a valuable investment.

“Anyone who bought a home in 2021 in this country, if they bought anywhere near market price, their home is going to be worth more in 2021,” said Soper.

“Will it be worth more one year from now? That’s harder to predict ? but even a year from now the likelihood of that home being worth less than it is today is smaller.”

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Vancouver real estate: 'Plush' new build for $7.5M | CTV News – CTV News Vancouver

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It’s new, it’s near the beach and it costs millions more than the benchmark for the area.

A newly built home for sale in Vancouver is listed at $7.5 million.

The sellers of the house on West 12th Avenue are asking more than $5 million more than the current benchmark in its neighbourhood of Point Grey.

They say it’s somewhat of a rarity for the tony region of the city, but it’s priced higher than some of the neighbouring homes because it’s brand new, and because of its features.

According to those behind the listing, the four-bedroom home has a total floor space of 4,189 square feet over two storeys and a basement.

It has a 564-square-foot rooftop deck with city, water and mountain views, the listing from realtor Faith Wilson with Christie’s International Real Estate says.

The home has “luxurious, high-end finishes, including a spa ensuite richly appointed in calacatta stone.”

It has a “spa-inspired dry sauna” on the ground floor, and its recreation and media rooms each have wet bars.

The grounds are landscaped and there’s a three-car garage past its gated entry.

The kitchen is described as “gourmet,” and the family room “boasts coffered ceilings (and an) exquisite waterfall Caesar stone cooking centre.”

Its future buyer would find themselves in walking distance of Jericho and Spanish Banks beaches.

Its property taxes are not for the faint of heart at an estimated $13,962. That estimate, however, is from 2020, before the new house was built.

Recent reports suggest Vancouver’s luxury real estate market is seeing a decrease in sales, but prices continue to climb.

The price is far out of reach for many, including most of those who live in the area.

Still, according to census data for the area, more than one-quarter of Point Grey residents have a total household income in the highest category – $200,000 and over.

The median for households of two or more people is $135,680, much higher than in many Vancouver neighbourhoods.

A quarter of those who live in the area work in “professional, scientific and technical services,” and nearly a quarter are in educational services, the data from Statistics Canada suggests.

Three-quarters of adults have at least some level of university education, from a bachelor’s degree to a doctorate.

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Canmore real estate developments back on after tribunal ruling | CTV News – CTV News Calgary

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A contentious proposed real estate development in Canmore got new life Tuesday.

One year ago, Canmore town council rejected the Smith Creek development and decided the Three Sisters Village proposal needed significant changes.

Three Sisters Mountain Village Properties Ltd., the project developer, appealed the decision to a municipal tribunal, and Tuesday the town was ordered to allow the projects to proceed.

Conservation groups fought the proposal, saying it didn’t provide enough space for wildlife to travel through the valley.

“Unless overturned, this decision will cause harm to the lands, and wildlife movement and habitat of an important part of the Yellowstone to Yukon region,” said a statement issued by Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative on Twitter. “Keeping these lands connected and intact is in the best interest of Albertans now and into the future. Connectivity provides the best chance for some of our most cherished and threatened wildlife to thrive.”

There was no word from the Town of Canmore on whether it will appeal the decision.

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