The popular West Coast cities of San Francisco, Los Angeles and Vancouver have long been the most direct routes to New World prosperity for Asian immigrants and their families. Now that generations of Chinese buyers have transitioned to life in North America, their experience and trend spotting is bringing to bear more practical considerations of economic fundamentals, financial and educational opportunities, and overall quality of life. So it’s no surprise that relative affordability, propensity for capital appreciation and even a recently imposed 15-percent foreign homebuyer tax in Vancouver, are boosting interest in alternative markets like Seattle—the next international gateway city on the rise.
Matthew Moore, President of the Americas for Juwai.com, a popular residential real estate search portal in China, noted significant changes: “Juwai.com buying enquiries to Seattle increased by 143 percent in August 2016, compared to one year earlier. Meanwhile buying enquiries to Vancouver dropped by 81 percent during the same period, with all of that drop concentrated in the premium end of the market.”
The forested mountains and deep blue waters of Puget Sound, together with high-quality schools, a vibrant and diversified economy, and absence of a state income tax (unlike California) have drawn a gathering surge of Chinese buyers to the Greater Seattle region in recent years. Somewhat overlooked by past generations of immigrants in comparison with Vancouver BC and San Francisco, the Pacific Northwest has so far avoided the trap of high growth fueled by non-resident real estate investment. Yet, industry experts believe that’s coming and likely part of the draw. To the trained eye, Seattle, and especially Bellevue, is looking more and more like Vancouver, albeit about twenty years its junior.