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China's wealth finds home in Washington state
Brief:This years,Washington state received a hefty share of attention, ranking second only to California in sales to Chinese buyers.
This year, Chinese visitors are on pace to top the list of international travelers to the Evergreen State. More than half of the 7,300 international students at the University of Washington are from the People's Republic.
The influx has made its way to high-end property markets, and observers don't expect it to slow down any time soon. "This is just the beginning from just a few years ago. So in a few years there will be even more," property broker Janie Lee said, interpreting for her prospective buyer, Hongbin Wei.

In anticipation, some Seattle-area homes are being built or remodeled to improve their feng shui, but other factors can help make a property attractive.

As Wei considered the Medina mansion, Lee asked the seller whether all five bedrooms had their own bathrooms. "Most of the buyers, the Asian buyers, like private suites for their parents or extended family," she said.

Behind their growing economy, wealthy Chinese homebuyers have poured into the U.S., spending $22 billion on property in the states, tops among all foreign purchasers over the 12 months preceding a March study from the National Association of Realtors. That was up from $12.8 billion the previous year, when Chinese buyers also took the No. 1 spot. The homes had a median price of more than $500,000, which again trumped other international clients.

Washington state received a hefty share of attention, ranking second only to California in sales to Chinese buyers.

The China-Washington ties include direct flights between Seattle, Beijing, Hong Kong and several other Chinese cities, and that proximity is part of what makes the West Coast attractive. Other foreign investors follow similar patterns, noting that Mexican buyers often purchase in the Southwest, while Europeans tend to favor the Northeast.

Nationally, foreign buyers spent about $90 billion on U.S. property last year, out of about $1.3 trillion in total sales. The international impact had potential to raise spot prices, but not enough to inflate costs across the U.S. or crowd out local buyers.


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