In a recent visit to Seattle, May Lee of CGTN discussed the growing interest in Seattle with Dean Jones, President & CEO of Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty (RSIR), who told her “the secret is out and the Chinese know it.” Jones cited the state’s lack of income tax, top-ranked schools and relative affordability compared to other West Coast peer markets as contributors to the rise in foreign investment. And the Seattle appeal is certainly evident, as Lee reports that “according to a property website in China, searches for real estate here [in Seattle] have more than doubled beating out other favorites like Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco.”
As Lee describes, Chinese investors also have their eye on the Emerald City, and she chatted with Hong Kong based construction management firm Create World’s CEO, Lili Lu, whose company has a growing interest in the city. “We have high expectations for Seattle and so far, Seattle hasn’t let us down,” Lu said. She described the popular Chinese film, Beijing Meets Seattle as one reason for its allure, adding that the political exposure of President Xi Jinping’s 2015 visit also “brought Seattle to the public’s attention as well.”
“You take them on the boat, they look at this beautiful waterfront and they say ‘wow you only pay 10 million for something like this?’ That’s crazy for us to hear but the prices in some of the cities they come from like Beijing, Shenzhen and Shanghai is 3, 4, 5 times that,” RSIR broker Robert Pong added.
The influx of Chinese investment in Seattle comes amidst a recent Mansion Global report that says home prices in China are growing faster than anywhere else in the world. According to the article, Hurun Research Institute’s semi-annual report, which ranks 50 global cities, was dominated by Chinese destinations, “with six cities in the top 10 and 21 in the top 50.” The report echoes trends outlined by Lee, as the U.S. was the preferred destination for an international purchase, “with Los Angeles ranking as the No. 1 city, followed by Seattle, San Francisco, New York and Canada’s Vancouver.” Though Seattle was ranked at 27 on the list thanks to its nearly 13% price growth, the Emerald City remains a relative value for homebuyers.
According to a newly released report by RSIR’s Research Editor William Hillis, Chinese travelers, and ever more frequently, Chinese homebuyers overseas, are seeking out tee times at the world’s premier courses and investing in homes that back onto courses they can play any day. A recent local investment story outlined by Vancouver Sun highlights the acquisition of the 18-hole Point Roberts Golf and Country Club by three Chinese real estate investors, who plan to renovate and reopen it as the Bald Eagle Golf Club at Point Roberts in Spring 2018.
“The Chinese investment trend continues and it’s only going to grow further,” adds Jones. He spotted a plausible shift in overseas buyers from Vancouver to Seattle 5 years ago when he made his first trip to China. A year later, he began the steps toward the establishment of the firm’s Asia Service Group, followed by an East Meets West documentary released in 2015, an exclusive WeChat app, and the release of two editions of the all-Mandarin Seattle Luxury Living magazine, which caters to Chinese consumers in the Pacific Northwest as well as those seeking real estate and lifestyle opportunities throughout the Seattle metro area. These platforms, in addition to local and international media coverage, have improved accessibility and brought the Seattle story to life for thousands of recent and prospective buyers in local communities.