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Vancouver realtors target of racist, threatening messages after listing $12.8M Okanagan home

Two Vancouver realtors said they’ve been targeted by anti-Asian hate after marketing a luxury $12.8-million lakefront home in Penticton, B.C.

The glamourous three-storey, 6,300 sq. ft. home, located at 587 Vancouver Ave., is described as “an exquisite lakefront architectural masterpiece with unparalleled levels of luxury.”

The seller, a Caucasian man who lives at the property full-time, enlisted the help of Vancouver-based Oakwyn Realty to sell his luxury home.

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Matthew Zhang, who works for the real estate firm and is Chinese-Canadian, said he and his partner Kevin Chen noticed racist online comments after the property was featured in a Vancouver online news site called Daily Hive.

Realtors Kevin Chen and Matt Zhang listed this $12.8 million luxury home in Penticton, B.C.

Realtors Kevin Chen and Matt Zhang listed this $12.8 million luxury home in Penticton, B.C.

Courtesy: Oakwyn Realty

“The majority of it was ‘take your dirty money back to China, we don’t want your laundered money here, get out of our town, you are not welcome here or the country’,” he told Global News.

Click to play video: Hidden Hate: The rise of anti-Asian racism in B.C.

The derogatory comments culminated in a private email sent to Chen, which read, in part:

“We do not appreciate you bringing dirty laundered money to our little town. 12 million dollars for a f***ing house. You should be shot,” the email said.

“You are pushing local people out, people who have grown up here can no longer afford to be here… Kevin Chen, you are not welcome in this province or country. Please leave. Please take your dirty money and greed back to China. If not there will be dire consequences for you.”

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Chen was born in Taiwan and came to Vancouver with his family when he was a child. Zhang also moved to B.C. from mainland China when he was just a child.

“I grew up in Vancouver, I moved here when I was less than one year old, I consider Vancouver my home, I am Canadian, and honestly, it’s been around. It’s not like it’s a new thing,” he said.

There is over $1,000,000 worth of marble in this home, over $1,000,000 of custom furniture, and the Gaganeau & La Cornue kitchen is worth over $500,000.

There is over $1,000,000 worth of marble in this home, over $1,000,000 of custom furniture, and the Gaganeau & La Cornue kitchen is worth over $500,000.

Courtesy: Oakwyn Realty

Zhang said it’s frustrating when people jump to conclusions because two Asian men are selling luxury property.

“It’s sad to say but we are kind of used to it. Being younger Asian guys in the real estate world, we encounter this a lot. It’s just sad that people automatically assume things,” he said.

Click to play video: Hidden Hate: Fear in Vancouver’s Chinatown community

“It’s a bit comical how ignorant and how uneducated some people are.”

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Zhang said they reported the threatening and racist email to Penticton RCMP, who are investigating, but Zhang believes the perpetrator used a fake email and name while using a VPN to bounce off different servers around the world, which will make the suspect difficult to track down.

Global News has reached out to Penticton RCMP for comment.

Click to play video: More Asian British Columbians coming forward to tell stories of hostility and racist treatment

“I feel like there are a lot of closest racists that were scared to speak up prior to COVID, and given the circumstances now with the economic social-class differences, a lot of people did lose their jobs during COVID, that it is easy to blame others. The easy thing is point at the Asian people,” he said.

Zhang added that the property’s location and price tag has also fuelled pushback from some local residents.

“With this home being so expensive in an area that is quite calm, quite quiet, a very small town, I think it’s created a sense of hatred towards Asian people.”

The Vancouver Police Department recently reported a 717-per cent increase in anti-Asian hate crimes over the past year.

The VPD reporting an increase from 12 cases of anti-Asian hate crimes in 2019 to 98 cases in 2020.

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Zhang said his family lives in fear.

“When my mom goes out for a walk, I am worried that someone is going to attack her. She’s an elderly Asian lady,” he said.

Zhang encourages people to self-reflect before making becoming a proponent of anti-Asian racism.

“At the end of the day, we are all the same. It doesn’t matter what skin colour you have. There are so many social issues in the world right now that racism is the last thing you should be worried about.”

The $12.8 million home, listed in fall 2020, remains on the market.

“It is a home that was designed with passion and a level of dedication that you don’t really see,” he said.

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