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Missing Christchurch real estate agent: Yanfei Bao had recently shown someone through house raided by police – New Zealand Herald

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Missing Christchurch real estate agent Yanfei Bao had recently shown someone through a property that is now being searched by police in relation to her disappearance.

Bao was last seen in the Wigram area about 10.30am on Wednesday. She has not been found but her cellphone was located on the Southern Motorway on Friday.

On Sunday, Detective Inspector Nicola Reeves said a man had been charged with kidnapping in relation to the ongoing investigation into Bao’s disappearance.

As part of inquiries into the disappearance of Christchurch real estate agent Yanfei Bao, police are seeking sightings of this vehicle, a silver Mitsubishi sedan, registration DPH101. Photo / NZ Police
As part of inquiries into the disappearance of Christchurch real estate agent Yanfei Bao, police are seeking sightings of this vehicle, a silver Mitsubishi sedan, registration DPH101. Photo / NZ Police

The 52-year-old man was remanded in custody and is expected to appear in the Christchurch District Court this morning.

On Monday morning, Reeves said police were searching a third property on Trevor St, in Hornby. The house is currently listed for sale by Harcourts.

A listing for the home says the owners are “already calling Aussie home so that brings this home to the market”.

“Be the one to enjoy all the hard work that my vendors have completed. Stripped back to the frames post-quake, this home is waiting for you to make memories of your own.”

The owner of the home told the Herald he had been in Australia for six weeks.

He has been told Bao “showed someone the house”.

As of Sunday evening, Bao was still missing.

The Herald understands the man who is due in court today was arrested at an airport and was planning to leave the country.

Police are searching a home on Trevor St, Hornby, in relation to Yanfei Bao's disappearance. Photo / George Heard.
Police are searching a home on Trevor St, Hornby, in relation to Yanfei Bao’s disappearance. Photo / George Heard.

Reeves said the investigation was ongoing, and several people were assisting police with inquiries.

Police are interested in sightings of the vehicle from mid-week up until last night, but with a particular focus on the vehicle’s location on Wednesday, July 19, in Wigram, Hornby, Tai Tapu, Halswell, Redcliffs and New Brighton. Photo / NZ Police
Police are interested in sightings of the vehicle from mid-week up until last night, but with a particular focus on the vehicle’s location on Wednesday, July 19, in Wigram, Hornby, Tai Tapu, Halswell, Redcliffs and New Brighton. Photo / NZ Police

“As part of those inquiries, police are seeking sightings of a vehicle a silver Mitsubishi sedan, registration DPH101.

“We’re interested in sightings of the vehicle from mid-week up until last night, but with a particular focus on the vehicle’s location on Wednesday, July 19 in Wigram, Hornby, Tai Tapu, Halswell, Redcliffs and New Brighton.”

On Saturday evening, Detective Inspector Nicola Reeves said the investigation resulted in a vehicle of interest being seized and search warrants being executed at two addresses, one in Bryndwr and one in Wigram.

The house is for sale by Harcourts. Photo / George Heard
The house is for sale by Harcourts. Photo / George Heard

“As a result, several people are assisting police with inquiries.”

The Wigram property is on Iroquois Pl, where Bao’s car was found on Wednesday.

Police left the Iroquois Pl property on Sunday afternoon.

A man who was at the home police were searching declined to comment when approached by the Herald on Sunday.

“I know nothing and I don’t think I can say anything.”

“I totally don’t know what happened.”

Asked if he knew Bao, the man said “no”.

“No comment, sorry, I don’t know.”

A neighbour told the Herald the Mitsubishi police are seeking information on was usually parked on Iroquois Pl.

“I’d see it every day nearly.”

Police are searching a home on Iroquois Place in Wigram. Photo / George Heard
Police are searching a home on Iroquois Place in Wigram. Photo / George Heard

Police investigating ‘more than 40 pieces of information’

Earlier on Saturday, Reeves said police had received “more than 40 pieces of information from the public which we are in the process of assessing”.

“We want to thank the public for coming forward, and encourage anyone who has not done so to let us know if they have information that may assist.”

One of Bao’s friends, Jin Tian, posted on her Facebook page she had last spoken to Bao, whom she called Emily, at 11.16am on Wednesday on WeChat.

A police officer outside a home in Bryndwr that police are searching in relation to Yanfei Bao's disappearance. Photo / George Heard
A police officer outside a home in Bryndwr that police are searching in relation to Yanfei Bao’s disappearance. Photo / George Heard

“She mentioned [something] about a potential client who wants to transfer money to NZ and checked about the rate and channel.

“Then she said she was going to call the person to see [what] he/she wanted and would call me back. And she did not,” Tian wrote.

In another post, Tian said she was not sure where Bao was when she called her.

On Friday, Reeves said police were “growingly concerned” for Bao.

”Ms Bao’s disappearance is unexplained, and a missing person investigation remains ongoing.

”She was last seen conducting her business as a real estate agent on Vickerys Rd in the Wigram Area about 10.30am.

”Since then, she failed to pick up her daughter from after-school care, and her car, a silver Nissan Dualis, has been located nearby the area she was last seen on Iroquois Place.

Yanfei Bao was last seen about 10.30am on Wednesday on Vickerys Rd, Wigram, where she was “carrying out a matter of business”. Photo / George Heard
Yanfei Bao was last seen about 10.30am on Wednesday on Vickerys Rd, Wigram, where she was “carrying out a matter of business”. Photo / George Heard

”Today, police searched a number of areas and located Ms Bao’s cellphone on the Southern Motorway. But Ms Bao remains missing.”

Reeves said the longer Bao was missing, the more police concerns would grow.

She said the fact she didn’t have her cellphone, which was found in bushes at the side of the motorway, was particularly concerning.

She said police had been fortunate with the information coming from members of the public.

“It’s through that good investigative work and help from the public we’ve been able to find her phone,” Reeves said.

Detective Inspector Nicola Reeves discusses the disappearance of Christchurch real estate agent Yanfei Bao. Photo / George Heard
Detective Inspector Nicola Reeves discusses the disappearance of Christchurch real estate agent Yanfei Bao. Photo / George Heard

Reeves said police would “look into” Bao and her history.

The last person who saw Bao was a homeowner, whom Bao visited.

”We are now interested to hear from any members of the public who might have been travelling on the motorway on Wednesday and noticed anything out of the ordinary.

”Anyone with any piece of information, no matter how small, is encouraged to contact police immediately.

”Police have also been conducting door-to-door inquiries in the area she was last seen.

”If you live in this area and have not spoken with police but have access to CCTV footage of the street area, police would like to hear from you.

”I would like to reiterate that police and Ms Bao’s family are deeply concerned for her safety. This is very out of character, and her loved ones are desperate to hear from her and know she is safe.”

Bao’s husband, Paul Gooch, had also prepared a statement which was provided to media.

”My family and I are deeply concerned for the safety and wellbeing of my beloved wife, Yanfei Bao.

”Our 9-year-old daughter and I are desperate for any information that could help police locate her.”

Specialist search staff searching the old Wigram Airforce Base for missing real estate agent Yanfei Bao. Photo / George Heard
Specialist search staff searching the old Wigram Airforce Base for missing real estate agent Yanfei Bao. Photo / George Heard

Bao was a “dedicated real estate consultant” who was “engaging with the local community through door-knocking when she went missing and we have not heard from her since”.

”We are incredibly worried and ask for any assistance from anyone that knows something.

”We pray for Yanfei’s safe return and would like to thank everyone for their vigilance and support at this time.”

On Friday morning, some of her colleagues were out delivering leaflets to people’s letterboxes in the Wigram area. The leaflet says: “Help us find Yanfei Bao!”.

Police say Bao's disappearance is 'highly unusual'. Photo / George Heard
Police say Bao’s disappearance is ‘highly unusual’. Photo / George Heard

Bao’s profile on the Harcourts site said she has “extensive experience” in sales, and was previously a top-selling salesperson for a major electronics brand.

“She reached the status of Apple Master, which is a rare achievement. She is highly educated and capable, with a Master’s degree in English linguistics and a post-graduate diploma in business management, and is ready to utilise the knowledge she gained from her academic achievements to enhance the result she delivers for clients and customers.”

Yanfei Bao was last seen yesterday in the Wigram area about midday, wearing the outfit pictured and reading glasses. Photo / Canterbury Police
Yanfei Bao was last seen yesterday in the Wigram area about midday, wearing the outfit pictured and reading glasses. Photo / Canterbury Police

Family was her “priority”, and she loved spending time with her partner and young daughter.

“In her spare time she loves to read, and her other interests include travel and learning something new every day. If you are looking for a highly educated, passionate and hard-working salesperson to assist you in buying or selling your most important asset, give Yanfei a call, as she would love to hear from you,” the Harcourts site states.

  • Anyone who has seen her, or has any information about where she could be, is urged to call 111 immediately and quote reference file number 230720/5911.

Sam Sherwood is a Christchurch-based reporter who covers crime. He is a senior journalist who joined the Herald in 2022, and has worked as a journalist for 10 years.

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Former B.C. Realtor has licence cancelled, $130K in penalties for role in mortgage fraud

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The provincial regulator responsible for policing B.C.’s real estate industry has ordered a former Realtor to pay $130,000 and cancelled her licence after determining that she committed a variety of professional misconduct.

Rashin Rohani surrendered her licence in December 2023, but the BC Financial Services Authority’s chief hearing officer Andrew Pendray determined that it should nevertheless be cancelled as a signal to other licensees that “repetitive participation in deceptive schemes” will result in “significant” punishment.

He also ordered her to pay a $40,000 administrative penalty and $90,000 in enforcement expenses. Pendray explained his rationale for the penalties in a sanctions decision issued on May 17. The decision was published on the BCFSA website Wednesday.

Rohani’s misconduct occurred over a period of several years, and came in two distinct flavours, according to the decision.

Pendray found she had submitted mortgage applications for five different properties that she either owned or was purchasing, providing falsified income information on each one.

Each of these applications was submitted using a person referred to in the decision as “Individual 1” as a mortgage broker. Individual 1 was not a registered mortgage broker and – by the later applications – Rohani either knew or ought to have known this was the case, according to the decision.

All of that constituted “conduct unbecoming” under B.C.’s Real Estate Services Act, Pendray concluded.

Separately, Rohani also referred six clients to Individual 1 when she knew or ought to have known he wasn’t a registered mortgage broker, and she received or anticipated receiving a referral fee from Individual 1 for doing so, according to the decision. Rohani did not disclose this financial interest in the referrals to her clients.

Pendray found all of that to constitute professional misconduct under the act.

‘Deceptive’ scheme

The penalties the chief hearing officer chose to impose for this behaviour were less severe than those sought by the BCFSA in the case, but more significant than those Rohani argued she should face.

Rohani submitted that the appropriate penalty for her conduct would be a six-month licence suspension or a $15,000 discipline penalty, plus $20,000 in enforcement expenses.

For its part, the BCFSA asked Pendray to cancel Rohani’s licence and impose a $100,000 discipline penalty plus more than $116,000 in enforcement expenses.

Pendray’s ultimate decision to cancel the licence and impose penalties and expenses totalling $130,000 reflected his assessment of the severity of Rohani’s misconduct.

Unlike other cases referenced by the parties in their submissions, Rohani’s misconduct was not limited to a single transaction involving falsified documents or a series of such transactions during a brief period of time, according to the decision.

“Rather, in this case Ms. Rohani repetitively, over the course of a number of years, elected to personally participate in a deceptive mortgage application scheme for her own benefit, and subsequently, arranged for her clients to participate in the same deceptive mortgage application scheme,” the decision reads.

Pendray further noted that, although Rohani had been licensed for “a significant period of time,” she had only completed a small handful of transactions, according to records from her brokerage.

There were just six transactions on which her brokerage recorded earnings for her between December 2015 and February 2020, according to the decision. Of those six, four were transactions that were found to have involved misconduct or conduct unbecoming.

“In sum, Ms. Rohani’s minimal participation in the real estate industry as a licensee has, for the majority of that minimal participation, involved her engaging in conduct unbecoming involving deceptive practices and professional misconduct,” the decision reads.

According to the decision, Rohani must pay the $40,000 discipline penalty within 90 days of the date it was issued.

 

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Should you wait to buy or sell your home?

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The Bank of Canada is expected to announce its key interest rate decision in less than two weeks. Last month, the bank lowered its key interest rate to 4.7 per cent, marking its first rate cut since March 2020.

CTV Morning Live asked Jason Pilon, broker of Record Pilon Group, whether now is the right time to buy or sell your home.

When it comes to the next interest rate announcement, Pilon says the bank might either lower it further, or just keep it as is.

“The best case scenario we’re seeing is obviously a quarter point. I think more just because of the job numbers that just came out, I think more people are just leading on the fact that they probably just gonna do it in September,” he said. “Either way, what we saw in June, didn’t make a big difference.”

Here are the pros of buying/ selling now:

Pilon suggests locking in the rate right now, if you don’t want to take a risk with interest rates going up in the future.

He says the environment is more predictable right now, noting that the home values are transparent, which is one of the benefits for home sellers.

“Do you want to risk looking at what that looks like down the road? Or do you want to have the comfort in knowing what your house is worth right now?” Pilon said.

And when it comes to buyers, he notes, the competition is not so fierce right now, noting that there are options to choose from.

“You’re in the driver seat right now,” he said while noting the benefits for buyers.

Here are the cons of buying/ selling now:

He says one of the cons would be locking in the rate right now, then seeing a rate cut in the future.

The competition could potentially become fierce, if the bank decides to cut the rate further more, he explained.

He notes that if that happens, the housing crisis will become even worse, as Canada is still dealing with low housing inventory.

An increase in competition would increase the prices of houses, he adds.

Selling or buying too quickly isn’t the best practice, he notes, suggesting that you should take your time and put some thought into it.

Despite all the pros and cons, Pilon says, real estate remains a good investment.

According to the latest Royal LePage House Price Survey for the second quarter of this year, the average home price in Canada is $824,300. That’s up 1.9 per cent from the same time last year, and up 1.5 per cent from the first quarter of 2024.

In the Ottawa Housing Market Report for June 2024, the average price of a home was up 2.4 per cent from this time last year to $686,535, but down 0.6 per cent from May 2024.

Experts believe many potential buyers are still hesitant of jumping into the housing market and waiting for another interest rate cut of 50 to 100 basis points.

“I don’t think it’s going to be the rush that we see in the past, because people are used to more of a conservative approach right now,” said Curtis Fillier, president of the Ottawa Real Estate Board. “I think there’s still a bit of a hold back, but I definitely do think with another rate cut, we’ll probably see a very positive fall market.”

With files from CTV News Ottawa’s Kimberly Fowler

 

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Real estate stocks soar to best day of year on rate cut bets

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(Bloomberg) — The stock market’s worst group notched its best day of the year as a cooler-than-expected inflation report stoked bets that the Federal Reserve will start cutting interest rates in September.

Shares of real estate companies jumped 2.7% Thursday for their biggest gain of 2024, climbing to their highest level since March as investors snapped up homebuilder, digital and commercial real estate stocks alike. Real estate also was the best-performing group in the S&P 500 Index Thursday, with volume that was around 30% higher than the 30-day average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Arguably the most significant news to come from the latest consumer price index reading was a pullback in housing-related inflation. Shelter costs rose just 0.2% for the slowest monthly increase in three years. Homebuilders, which have risen 7.1% this year, were up 7.3% for the session, the most since 2022. Shares of D.R. Horton Inc., which is scheduled to report earnings next Thursday, gained 7.3%.

“Housing has really been the last shoe to drop in terms of winning the battle against high inflation,” Preston Caldwell, chief U.S. economist at Morningstar wrote in a note to clients Thursday. “Leading-edge data has strongly indicated for some time now that a fall in housing inflation was in the works.”

A rally in real estate stocks is bad news for short sellers who have been piling into the group, which is the worst performer in the S&P 500 this year. To start the week, short interest as a percentage of float hovered near 49% in the SPDR Homebuilders ETF, the highest level since February for the exchange-traded fund, according to data from S3 Partners.

Property owners are rallying as well. Real estate investment trusts, which were brutally penalized during the two-year run up in borrowing costs, advanced by as much as 3%. And the outlook for the group appears to have turned a corner, according Rich Hill, senior vice president and head of real estate strategy and research at Cohen & Steers Capital Management.

“We think this is a compelling backdrop for listed REITs especially as fundamental growth remains on solid footing,” he said, referencing the latest inflation data and rate outlook. “The rally that started in October of 2023 pushing returns more than 20% above their trough looks set to continue if inflation cools and interest rates continue to decline.”

Shares of industrial REIT Prologis Inc., which reports second-quarter results on Wednesday, rose 3.3% to hit their highest level since April. U.S. Treasury yields tumbled, with the 10-year bond falling to 4.2% and the policy-sensitive two-year note slipping to 4.5%.

(Updates indexes and stock prices for market close.)

 

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