April 13, 2016 10:36 pm

Critics say new Shanghai-based website gives foreign buyers first dibs on Vancouver homes

WATCH: There are new concerns foreign investors may be unfairly getting the jump on new listings. John Hua explains how they're getting an early look, and what some say should be done to level the playing field.

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There are new concerns that foreign buyers investing in Metro Vancouver’s hot real estate market may be unfairly getting the jump on new listings thanks to a Shanghai-based website that posts new properties for sale before they become available to the general public.

“It’s pretty frustrating. It’s taking our copyrighted information and using it against our rules,” Dan Morrison of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver said.

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Shanghai-based Vanfun.com posts Metro Vancouver listings at the same time licensed realtors can see them and days before they appear on the Multiple Listing Service website.

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“If they are getting access to our information on our system, if someone is giving them those numbers…that’s clearly against our rules,” Morrison said.

On Vanfun.com you can see the price, pictures, even the MLS ID number of Metro Vancouver properties for sale. But when you copy that information and paste it into a site like realtor.ca, nothing shows up because it takes up to 48 hours for it upload it to the public site.

“So anybody that’s relying on just mls.ca or realtorlink.org, they’re behind the times,” listing agent Patrick O’Donnell said. “They need to affiliate themselves with a reliable real estate agent and they’ll have the information immediately.”

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But the Chinese-language website, owned by Shanghai Ruiying Internet Technology, doesn’t seem to have any reputable real estate ties at all.

Still it touts itself as a one-stop shop for overseas property investment — it offers tours of the city, splits commissions with local realtors, and even works with major banks.

“What we tell all of our clients is deal with reputable information, deal with reputable people,” Morrison said. “This is not that situation.”

As the real estate board continues to investigate, agents say the only real way to level the playing field is to cut the lag time for local listings.

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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