Experts Estimate at Least One-Third of Luxury Home Sales Above $5 Million East of Seattle are to Affluent Chinese Buyers
Executives of Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty and Tiger Oak Publication’s Seattle Magazine have just released a 92-page, all-Mandarin magazine called “Seattle Luxury Living” in response to a steady rise in affluent Chinese nationals arriving to the Seattle/Bellevue metro area. The publication will be distributed locally and overseas at select retail stores and hotels, within private and first class lounges at airports and by affiliates of Sotheby’s International Realty. The magazine will also be showcased at select Starbucks stores locally and in Shanghai and across numerous digital media platforms in China including a custom WeChat app built by AdSage.
“This first-of-a-kind magazine and targeted multimedia campaign is just another sign of the times,” said Dean Jones, President & CEO of Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty. “Partnering with Tiger Oak Publications was an easy decision as we have worked together for the last 15 years – we both recognized that this is a very important and timely publication as Seattle is now a top destination for Chinese investment and immigration.”
ABOVE: Check out a sneak-peek of my feature in Seattle Luxury Living Magazine! The all-Mandarin publication will be hitting the stands this month!
Jones says Seattle and Bellevue are gaining favor over the traditional West Coast gateway markets of Vancouver, BC; San Francisco and Los Angeles. Juwai.com, a popular real estate portal in China, suggests that Seattle is the fourth most searched city in North America. A close proximity to Asia via direct flights, a robust local economy, premier schools and universities, no state income taxes and relative housing affordability are among the many reasons for the increased interest. An enviable lifestyle was highlighted in the 2013 box office hit “Beijing Meets Seattle” throughout China and the region was a front page news story when Chinese President Xi Jinping made Seattle his first stop during his historic visit to the US in September 2015. RSIR released a video documentary called “East Meets West” to further explain the phenomenon >>
A current report by RSIR’s new Asia Services Group claims that at least one-third of luxury home sales priced above $5 million in 2015 east of Seattle were purchased by either local or inbound Chinese nationals. The research included home sales along the popular “gold coast” markets of West Bellevue, Medina, Hunts Point, Enatai, Mercer Island and Newport Shores, according to NWMLS data but did not include private sales. RSIR accessed public records to document owner names of Asian descent and excluded a dozen properties sheltered by a family trust, limited liability company or corporation as nationality was not evident (although several entities had corporate addresses outside the US). The number of home sales above $5 million in this subject area increased from 22 properties in 2014 to 27 in 2015, an increase of 23% year-over-year (only 10 sales above $5 million were closed in 2013). Chinese buyers appear to be a catalyst for growth as this consumer profile represented just 4 of the subject sales in 2014 but at least 11 in 2015, an increase of 275%. Of these 15 transactions over the past two years, two-thirds (10) were cash with the balance having only a modest mortgage.
“Demand knows no borders in a global city,” adds Jones. “We observed international home buying trends for twenty years in my home town of Vancouver, BC and now it’s happening here. Foreign buyers are creating a self-fulfilling prophecy about a rising home market as the word gets out, values increase and real estate becomes a financial safe harbor.”
As an owner of an international real estate brokerage, Jones typically flies to China several times a year to showcase the Pacific Northwest but didn’t in 2015 because he says the demand is now propagating naturally. He believes that instability in China’s equities markets combined with Obama’s policy to increase multi-visit visas for Chinese nationals from one year to ten years has helped to promote second home ownership in the US. Many are seeking permanent immigration status.
By example, Jones points to Newport Shores, a waterfront enclave just south of I-90 and west of I-405 in the City of Bellevue. This submarket had no sales above $3 million in 2011, 2012 or 2013 but by 2014 there were 3 sales and in 2015 there were 8, an increase of 267% in just one year. Of the 11 NWMLS sales in the past two years (not including off market transactions) all but two appear to be to Chinese buyers.
“We celebrate the 50th anniversary of Seattle Magazine in 2016 and this magazine is just one of the ways we acknowledge the changing landscape before us,” says John Spear, Publisher of Seattle Luxury Living. “This magazine is progressive in art direction, rich in content and speaks to the fastest-growing consumer demographic.”
Spear quickly sold out of advertising space noting that a number of local companies are hiring Mandarin-speaking sales persons to stay current with the trends. A release party, by invitation only, is being held at Starbucks Reserve on Thursday, January 7th when the magazines will be available for distribution in advance of the Chinese New Year, which typically attracts an increase in travel by Chinese to the US. According to Visit Seattle, Chinese nationals are now the number one overseas visitor to the Pacific Northwest while the National Association of Realtors reports Washington State is second only to California in real estate sales to Chinese homebuyers.
RSIR is the exclusive real estate contributor within the Seattle Luxury Living magazine and advertises alongside featured affiliates and new construction high-rise condominium projects Insignia and LUMA in downtown Seattle. Other advertisers include Luly Yang; Pacific Place Mall; Starbucks; Hainan Airlines; Four Seasons Hotel; Alvin Goldfarb Jeweler; Gordon James Fine Diamonds; Swedish Medical Center; Roche Bobois; Room & Board; Sky View Observatory; The Beauty Bar at Fairmont Olympic Hotel; Mercedes Benz of Seattle; Davis Wright Tremaine; The Condado Group; Dr. Heidi K. Horwitz Orthodontics; and AdSage.