Chinese buyers drive real estate boom in Seattle

Global Business

The Pacific Northwest city of Seattle, Washington was never really on the radar of Chinese tourists or investors.

The bigger cities of Vancouver and Los Angeles were always favored. But, in recent years Seattle has skyrocketed to nearly the top of the list.

CGTN’s May Lee reports.

Chinese have discovered Seattle as both a tourist destination and a place to settle down.

Realogics Sotheby’s realtor, Dean Jones said more than half his overseas clients are Chinese.

“The secret is out and the Chinese know it,” Jones said. “We have no state income tax, we have phenomenal schools, relative affordability when it comes to home prices, and high incomes.”

Robert Pong works with Chinese clients at Realogics Sotheby’s.

“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,” Pong said.

One reason Chinese investors are flocking to Seattle is because Vancouver, Canada, once a favorite among Chinese, imposed a 15 percent tax on foreign investment last year.

So, interest turned to Seattle. According to a property website in China, searches for real estate here have more than doubled beating out other favorites like Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco.

It’s not just individual buyers pouring into Seattle. Chinese developers have also discovered the city’s appeal. Create World, a Hong Kong based construction management firm, set up operations in Seattle three years ago. The company’s first project is an apartment and condo complex in the exclusive town of Bellevue. Create World America CEO, Lili Lu said there are many reasons why Seattle is so alluring.

“We have high expectations for Seattle and so far, Seattle hasn’t let us down,” Lu said. “I think many Chinese first learned about the city because of the movie Beijing Meets Seattle. The film introduced Seattle to a lot of people as a beautiful and romantic city. Also, in 2015, President Xi chose Seattle as the first stop when he visited the U.S. That political exposure brought Seattle to the public’s attention as well.”