The Investment Capital of the Pacific Northwest Shines
The Seattle/Bellevue metro area is experiencing a meteoric rise in homebuyers and foreign direct investment from China. Discovered for its high quality of life, economic prosperity, and relative affordability compared with other West Coast markets, The New York Times estimates 40-percent of $1 million-plus homes sold on the affluent Eastside are being purchased by Chinese buyers.
The attractions are many. A depth of arts and culture, a pristine natural environment (including extraordinarily clean air and water), renowned schools, and an internationally diverse population– much of this promoted in the hit movie “Beijing Meets Seattle”, which has become a box office favorite in mainland China.
Asians are the fastest growing demographic in Washington and in some markets, like Bellevue, they represent 30-percent of the population. Chinese grocery stores, fine dining, international schools and many Mandarin-speaking businesses have created a comfortable relocation experience for new immigrants. It also helps that Seattle now boasts numerous direct flights to Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing, which proves to be less expensive and up to two hours quicker than other international airport hubs in California.
A preference for Seattle starts at a young age. The University of Washington, ranked #15 by the Academic Ranking of World Universities, says 20-percent of its freshman class is attending from international markets and half are from China.
“Living the American Dream is more easily attained here in Seattle,” says Dean Jones, President & CEO of Seattle-based Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty. “Overseas clientele realize their children can relocate, graduate from the Seattle area’s premier public and private schools with honors, confidently secure employment and can afford to buy a home to build a family in a one of North America’s most beautiful and fastest growing regions.”
Although rising quickly, Jones says homes are still considerably less expensive than Vancouver, BC, San Francisco or Los Angeles, and unique lifestyle opportunities like living on Lake Washington, really can’t be found elsewhere. He believes the trend with international homebuying has only just begun, so there’s a much greater propensity for value appreciation ahead.
“Washington has no state income tax and the overall cost of living is much lower than either British Columbia or California,” adds Jones. “With the savings, you could greatly enhance your lifestyle by living in Seattle.”
Foreign buyers aren’t the only contributors to a booming marketplace. The region is teeming with high-paying job openings. Companies like Amazon.com, which will soon occupy more than 5 million square feet of office space in downtown Seattle, is a demonstration for the “urban campus”. The online retail giant is set to exceed 40,000 local employees downtown, eclipsing Microsoft’s Eastside headquarters. Other industries are expanding too, including aerospace, education, global health and life sciences, and philanthropy (Seattle is home to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation).
Anticipation for the housing demand can be seen throughout the metro area with scores of residential developments transforming the skyline. Other major projects include a $2 billion tunnel and waterfront park project that will rival West Coast cities for both accessibility and beauty.
“We’re seeing housing demand due to job growth, immigration, and lifestyle preferences all at the same time – it’s having a compounding effect,” says Jones. “We’re witness to a world-class city on the rise.”