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This Multimillion-Dollar Mansion in Vancouver Is Owned by a 'Student'

Many are wondering how that's even possible in the midst of the Canadian city's affordable housing crisis.
Manisha Krishnan
Toronto, CA
May 12, 2016, 4:50pm

Better than most dorm rooms. Photo via Google Earth

A Google search of the word "Vancouver" these days reveals article after article about the city's absurdly hot rental market—one that young Canadians supposedly have no chance of breaking into. But maybe they're just not doing it right.

After all, the land title on a recently sold $31.1 million [$24.2 million USD] mansion in the city's affluent Point Grey neighborhood lists a "student" as the home's primary owner.

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Tian Yu Zhou, whose occupation is simply "student," owns 99 percent of the 14,600 square-foot property, one of the most expensive in the province. While many young Vancouverites are eating raw food out of their vans to get by, young scholar Zhou is apparently chilling in his five-bedroom, eight-bathroom crib, complete with a landscaped swimming pool, "bocce court," and views of the ocean and mountains, all sitting on 1.7 acres of land.

"It's incredibly strange that a student would be able to afford such a luxurious and multimillion-dollar property," NDP housing critic David Eby told the Province, noting that a student's income is typically "close to zero."

To be fair, Zhou reportedly shares the home with a "businesswoman" who owns one percent of the property.

According to a 2015 study cited in the Province, homemakers/housewives are commonly listed as occupations in purchases of single family homes in the city's west side, followed by businessperson. The trend could link back to the practice of foreign real estate investors naming local relatives as home owners to avoid paying certain taxes.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson recently called the affordable housing situation in the city a "crisis" while BC Premier Christy Clark has pledged to start collecting more data about foreign investment into Vancouver's real estate market. Meanwhile, a recent study found that more than 10,000 homes in Vancouver are sitting empty, and the city is conducting a somewhat mind-blowing survey on what to do with the abandoned real estate.

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