With volatility and devaluation at home, Chinese investors have become the No. 1 foreign purchasers of U.S. real estate | Interest in the Seattle area showing higher than normal rates
(Seattle Luxury Living, a Chinese-language glossy magazine, seen in foreground, launched this month and aimed at wealthy Chinese buying luxury homes or shopping for them here)
The glossy magazine’s pages contain a guide to Seattle and Eastside spas and high-end shopping, as well as ads for Mercedes-Benz and Roche Bobois, an upscale furniture chain.
What’s less expected is that it’s all in Chinese, since the new Seattle Luxury Living targets wealthy people from China who’ve bought homes here or are considering such a move.
But just as the magazine launched this month, China’s stock market took its latest dive, precipitating halts in trading, new government controls and concern around the globe that shakiness in the world’s No. 2 economy would rattle other countries as well.
Is Seattle Luxury Living’s publisher, John Spear, worried that affluent Chinese individuals, buffeted by the volatile market back home, will stop coming here? Quite the opposite.
“We feel it will up the flight from China to here,” said John Spear, published of Seattle Luxury Living Magazine. “There’s now much more reason to come to a place where it’s much more secure financially.”
While China’s currency devaluation may have decreased its residents’ purchasing power, the volatility of the country’s stock market and slowdown in growth as the country moves toward a service economy have been pushing the wealthy to move their money offshore to safer havens and to diversify their investments.
And the Seattle area “is still so attractive to Chinese buyers, not only the financial value but also the culture and environment,” said Kristi Heim, president of the Washington State China Relations Council.
“Chinese buyers love to purchase property in Seattle for many reasons; beautiful scenery with mountains and lakes, plenty of fresh air and little pollution (a sharp contrast from the bad air quality in many major Chinese cities including Beijing), much more affordable than other major cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, and Vancouver B.C., and top-rated school districts — many buyers plan ahead and purchase properties now so that they can rent them out for a while, until their children are old enough to travel here and attend the schools. Seen often, Chinese buyers will continue their business/work in China while their children attend school here,” said Helen Pederslie, Chinese Market Specialist/Broker at Brazen Sotheby’s International Realty.
For the first time, buyers from China (including mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan) have been the largest group among foreign purchasers of homes in the U.S., according to the National Association of Realtors. As of March 2015, they represented 16 percent of international buyers, compared with 14 percent from Canada.
Buyers from China also spent considerably more on such homes — $28.6 billion — than buyers from any other country. Canada came in a distant second at $11.2 billion, according to the report.
A good portion of that money has landed in this area. Finishing off March of 2015, 8 percent of U.S. residences purchased by buyers from China were in Washington state, second only to California with 35 percent.
Additionally, Chinese investors were the major source of funding for at least $2 billion worth of Puget Sound-area commercial projects financed through the federal EB-5 visa program.
“Many Chinese families will be traveling to the US to purchase homes during their holidays. Be prepared to see a big influx of Chinese buyers during the Lunar New Year Festival (starting February 2016), Summer vacation, and National Day Golden Week (starting October 2016).” – Helen Pederslie, Chinese Market Specialist/Broker at Brazen Sotheby’s International Realty.
* Article courtesy of The Seattle Times