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Expansive Views of Lake Washington, Mountains & City in this East of Mountain Cape Cod

Expansive views of Lake Washington, mountains, and city in this classic 5 bedroom home with Modern Chic. Designed for entertaining and today's living. Chef's Dream kitchen with Viking/Bosch Appliances, 48" Fridge, 48"Freezer and walk-in pantry. The quality of the craftsman is evident at every turn from how every room was thought out to the the details and upgrades. Home features huge master suite, bonus room, theater, game room, kitchenette, guest suite, and putting green. Walk to downtown, plus experience Kirkland's vibrant downtown waterfront.

912 1st Streed | Kirkland
Offered at $2,398,000

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Introducing the Newly Released Cape Cod in Kirkland

Quintessential East Coast Inspired Home on an estate-size lot in Champagne Point surrounded by lush gardens, patios for entertaining and views of Lake Washington. Cozy up with a good read in Great room by warm fireplace and views. Gourmet Kitchen with range, 2 ovens stainless steel appliances, desk, and Custom Built buffet. Formal Living and dining rooms. Main floor Guest Suite and Den. Grand Staircase and Back Staircase to huge bonus/game room. Master Suite with sitting area and lake views. 3 additional Bedrooms upstairs. Over sized 3 car garage/shop/storage and more...

11224 Champagne Point Lane NE Kirkland
Offered at $1,635,000

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Kirkland Tops List of Best Markets for Sellers

With the current status of the hot housing market in Seattle, it is not surprising to see increases in median home prices, low housing inventory, and properties spending less time on the market.

 

A recent study by Zillow has found that Seattle has the fourth strongest seller’s market in the country, trailing just behind San Francisco, San Jose, and Denver. The study ranks cities based on the number of days a property spends on the market as well as the percentage of listings with prices cuts. In a seller’s market you can expect to see homes spend less days on the market and fewer homes with price cuts and even properties selling for above asking price. In contrast, a buyer’s market sees homes stay on the market for longer and prices cuts more frequently.

Zillow has found that in Seattle, only 6.6 percent for sellers cut their home prices while the average time on market is 53 days. In perspective, the #1 city, San Francisco, only 5.4 percent of the homes see a price reduction and the average time on market for properties is 50 days.

When examining the Seattle housing market, you can use the principles of time on market and price reductions to study which areas in the region are the most buyer friendly and which are the most seller friendly.

Kirkland is currently the top seller’s market in our region, as detailed in a recent Puget Sound Business Journal article by Marc Stiles. Only 1.9 percent of listings in the area have had a price cut, which is much lower than the average of 6.6 for the Seattle region. Homes also only spend an average of 47 days on the market. These two factors create a seller’s market where homes are frequently being purchased for above asking price.

If you are interested in selling a property, the Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty Kirkland team is more than happy to assist you with all of your real estate needs. To contact a Kirkland broker, please visit: RSIR Kirkland.

To read the full article, please visit: Puget Sound Business Journal | Here’s why it’s good to be a seller in Kirkland but a buyer in Eatonville

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NEW ON MARKET: Juanita Cottages, The Apple

Introducing THE APPLE. One of the largest Cottages to be built in this 5-STAR BUILT GREEN Cottage Community. This boutique development of 8 single family homes is walking distance to Juanita Village, Lake Washington and Beach.

 

Efficiently designed homes feature Common Barn for entertaining, covered porches, pet area, old growth trees, and Geothermal heating and Cooling. 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, Master on Main floor, private yard, 3 covered porches, upper bedrooms with vaulted ceilings, plus a detached 1 car garage pre-wired for electric car.

9431 128th St NE, Kirkland, Washington
2 bedrooms, 2 baths

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Market Watch Q3 2016 - Downtown Seattle Condominiums

The in-city housing market in our Emerald City has a split personality. Buy or rent, the message is the same – it’s going to cost more and more to live here. This fact is reigniting the debate between renting and homeownership and developers are listening.

Downtown Seattle is a very robust rental market, which has welcomed more than 12,500 new construction units since 2011. Despite this massive increase in supply, economist Brian O’Connor says rents have still grown by more than 40-percent over this term due to an imbalance with supply and demand. According toZumper, Seattle is now in the top ten most expensive rental markets in the nation with a median price of $1,800 per month (half are more, half are less) for one-bedroom apartments. Average rents of newer apartment towers downtown can demand $3.50 to $4.25 per square foot, per month. So a 600 sq. ft. one bedroom could easily cost a renter $2,100 to more than $2,500 per month. That kind of monthly payment could service a healthy mortgage. Recently, Zillow stated that 22-percent of Seattle’s renters can afford to buy. They have the incomes and credit scores to own, so why don’t they?

“Convenience – most of the recent apartment demand is from transplants fulfilling job openings in the Seattle area – especially within the tech industry,” said Dean Jones, President and CEO of Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty (RSIR). “A new recruit will more likely rent first to see how their job works out before laying down roots and making large financial commitments. Generally speaking it doesn’t pencil to own unless the resident lives in the home for more than a few years within a rising market.”

That said, Jones is quick to mention that the residential surge on in-city housing began five years ago so he’s not surprised that many renters are now seeking to own.

Meanwhile, developers delivered only 866 new condominiums for sale over the past five years compared to 12,500 apartments; does that mean the demand for homeownership is now 6.5-percent of the population? Jones says the condominium market overcorrected because developers preferred to build apartments. They have been just as profitable with less risk and liability, benefitting from high rents and low capitalization rents (below 4-percent). Essentially, large investment funds have been paying as much for an apartment building as they would be worth as individual condominiums. Why? Because they think that rents will grow even more and the demand for housing in Seattle is seemingly insatiable. The Washington State Department of Licensing reports that in September 2016 alone, nearly 7,000 requests for driver’s licenses were processed, led by Californians relocating to the area. The majority of these new residents will settle in the urban markets of Seattle and Bellevue. Most will rent for now, but perhaps not for long.

“These new apartment towers are effectively incubating future homebuyers,” adds Jones. “After a few years of digesting rent increases and having no tax benefits, homeownership begins to make more sense. We’re seeing many of those renters becoming buyers – some immediately targeting resale opportunities and others planning ahead exploring condominium presales.”

Rising demand to buy has led to the return of condominiums in the pipeline, finally. Still no new, for-sale inventory had delivered in downtown Seattle since 2010, until 2015 when Insignia – a 698-unit twin tower condominium built in Belltown – began closing units that started preselling in 2013. In total, 350 units in the south tower were delivered in 2015 and 348 units in the north tower began occupying in 2016. This project was followed by LUMA, the 168-unit condominium tower on First Hill that begun closing during the summer of 2016. Approximately 40 units remain available for sale at Insignia and LUMA, as well as a few resale units that are being offered at higher prices. It’s important to note that most of the closings are presales that have occurred in the years past and may reflect lower prices than what could be achieved today.

Looking ahead, Gridiron in Pioneer Square will deliver 107 units in 2017. This historic brick building in the Stadium District is being converted into new construction condominiums with approximately 25 homes sold or reserved to date. Given the lack of additional groundbreakings and protracted construction schedules required by high-rise construction, it’s unlikely any new condominiums will enter the market in 2018. Additional supply isn’t expected until 2019 and 2020, and not before consumers experience significant increases in home prices.

For the first three quarters of 2016, the median home prices of condominiums in downtown Seattle rose by 18-percent to $670,050 – the highest benchmark pricing to date. Total sales volumes also increased by 18-percent to 766 closed homes year-over-year. While it’s true these statistics are responding to a plethora of new construction units, the resale market is also rising quickly. When removing all new construction closings, the median prices of resales (built before 2015) rose 14-percent to $515,000 during the same period. The lack of inventory, however, can be seen in lighter transaction volume as resales represented by 388 closings for a more modest 5-percent increase compared with 2015, accordingly to analysis of the NWMLS. Currently, there are only 77 resale units listed for sale in downtown Seattle with an average asking price of $759,000.

The price points where these sales are occurring is also significant. Year-to-date in 2016 (as of September 30), the total volume of home sales below $500,000 decreased by 25-percent, while the number of closings from $500,000 to $1 million increased by 36-percent, year-over-year. Moreover, the number of closings priced above $1 million increased by 83-percent during this period compared with the prior year.

“The market is faced with two realities – firstly, it’s difficult to deliver new housing options priced below $500,000 anywhere in Seattle and secondly, consumers are quickly absorbing existing inventory,” adds Jones. “For some perspective, there are currently only 25 homes available in downtown Seattle with price points below $600,000.”

Jones says this price point is particularly in demand because buyers can own for as little as 5-percent down payment and conforming mortgages and low interest rates means total monthly payments are similar to prevailing rents.

Above: The demand for more attainable price points in downtown Seattle has diminished the supply of homes priced below $500,000 while developers struggle to deliver new homes in this attractive price range.

Above: The demand for more attainable price points in downtown Seattle has diminished the supply of homes priced below $500,000 while developers struggle to deliver new homes in this attractive price range.

Above & Below: Moving on up – the median home prices for downtown condominiums have continued to increase year-over-year (YTD Q3-2016) while the average days on market have steadily decreased.

Above & Below: Moving on up – the median home prices for downtown condominiums have continued to increase year-over-year (YTD Q3-2016) while the average days on market have steadily decreased.

In a demonstration of the pent up demand, 21 out of 25 resale condominiums sold in September 2016 priced below $600,000 closed at or above the asking price, many with multiple offers. Likewise, NEXUS, a new 383-unit condominium tower proposed at 1200 Howell Street in downtown Seattle, advertised priority presale reservations with homes starting in the low $300,000s would begin on June 4th, 2016. The sales team arrived to a line outside the Preview Center that stretched around the block. Some eager homebuyers even spent the night in order to secure preferred selection. Within a few days, several hundred reservations were collected. Currently, 80-percent of the 383 units have a first position reservation with many also having second position reservations, according to Michael Cannon, Sales Director for NEXUS and broker with RSIR.

Above: The NEXUS condominium tower is already 80-percent reserved for priority presales with homes ranging in value from the low $300,000s to more than $3 million – occupancy 2019.

Above: The NEXUS condominium tower is already 80-percent reserved for priority presales with homes ranging in value from the low $300,000s to more than $3 million – occupancy 2019.

“There’s a clear sense that the market is getting tighter and more expensive so reservations and presales make perfect sense,” said Cannon. “Buyers appreciate the security of a preferred purchase opportunity without the fear of multiple offers, escalating prices, or missing out altogether. In retrospect, a few hours in a line may have saved future homebuyers months or years waiting on another opportunity. In today’s market, time is not on your side.”

Reservations for presales offered a preliminary floor plan and price range and required a refundable deposit of $5,000. Reservation holders are required to be prequalified to purchase and the agreements are non-transferrable. Cannon says each reservation will convert to a Purchase and Sale Agreement this winter once the Sales Center is complete and the project breaks ground for 2019 occupancy.

The demand to live in downtown Seattle isn’t limited to first time buyers or entry-level prices. Brokers at RSIR report increased sales with all products and price points. Median home prices in surrounding single-family neighborhoods are establishing new benchmark levels exceeding their prior peak in 2007 before the Great Recession cooled the market. Many empty nesters simply stayed put, awaiting the convergence of high resale values with exciting new condominiums to choose from before deciding to downsize. By example, RSIR broker Laura Halliday sold a 6,500 sq. ft. manse in Broadmoor for $6,150,000 with multiple offers in just two weeks setting a new price per sq. ft. record for the neighborhood. And RSIR brokers Enrico Pozzoand Rick Miner accepted a contract for a 2,088 sq. ft. floating home on Eastlake that was asking $3,400,000 after less than a month on the market.

A review of the central Seattle submarket that includes Capitol Hill, First Hill, Madison Park, Madison Valley, Washington Park, Denny Blaine and Madrona (NWMLS #390) shows that single-family homes in the area are experiencing almost precisely the same trending as downtown Seattle condominiums. For the first three quarters of 2016, median home prices hit $789,500, reflecting an increase of 16-percent year-over-year while the number of closings were tighter at 702 sales, a decrease of 3-percent. Like downtown, however, the number of home sales priced below $500,000 fell more significantly by 55-percent dropping to just 54 homes in this more affordable price point. Currently, only 31 single-family homes are available priced below $500,000 representing just 21-percent of the active supply. The story is virtually identical in the in-city submarket of Queen Anne and Magnolia (NWMLS #700) where median home prices also increased 16.8-percent to $895,000 year-over-year and sale volumes slowed by 5.2-percent to 491 homes. Available homes priced below $500,000 are even slimmer with just 17 current opportunities.

“Prospective buyers of luxury condominiums in downtown Seattle can now successfully sell their current residence, whether that’s a single-family home or another condominium,” suggests Jones. “Now that liquidity has returned to the market, buyers can explore the alternatives without selling short of their expectations. That’s a healthy prognosis for our in-city condo market.”

Jones points to a few pending sales that demonstrate condo confidence. On September 20th after just two days on the market, RSIR broker Scott Wasner accepted a contract on a 5,170 sq. ft. condominium estate at Escala – the very unit and building was inspiration for the famous 50 Shades of Grey book and movie. Priced at $8,800,000, the home is among the most valuable condominiums in downtown Seattle and the closing will help establish a new product segment for trophy properties. Wasner also represented a buyer for the last unit at Four Seasons Private Residences, which was sold and closed at full price for $7,155,000 or $1,594 per sq. ft. after 2087 days on market – that’s nearly six years. A new development entity notably acquired all the unsold new construction units at Four Seasons Private Residences after the Great Recession. They patiently and effectively waited for the market to rise, which is precisely what happened.

“I believe we are witnessing the start of new condominium cycle,” adds Jones.

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What's Next: Your Weekly Event Calendar Update

We are thrilled to bring you this week’s event calendar! Your  comprehensive guide, take a peek at what’s going on! From “Foodie Friday” at Columbia Winery in Woodinville and the Friends of the Library Book Sale on Bainbridge Island, to Seattle Haunts at the Georgetown Morgue, here’s what’s happening around the sound:

Select Links Below to View Full Calendar of Events in Each Community

Bainbridge Island Events>>>     ♦     Seattle Events >>>     ♦     Eastside Events >>>

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Members of the Realogics Sotheby's International Realty Executive Team Attend the 25th Sotheby's International Realty Brand Orientation

Last week, members of the Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty (RSIR) Executive Leadership and Management Team traveled to the Sotheby’s International Realty (SIR) headquarters in New Jersey and Sotheby’s Auction House in New York for the 25th Sotheby’s International Realty Brand Orientation. The event was attended by RSIR’s Jennifer Johnsen, Vice President of Brand Development; Joe Galindo, Vice President of Operations; and Michael X. Ford, Designated Broker and Director of Sales. It offered a perfect opportunity for the group to come together with affiliates from around the world to connect and build relationships within the network.

From Left: Jon Meschke, Vice President, Affiliate Services, Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates; Joe Galindo of RSIR; Jennifer Johnsen of RSIR; & Anthony Urcinoli, Manager, Global Operations, Sotheby’s International Realty.

From Left: Jon Meschke, Vice President, Affiliate Services, Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates; Joe Galindo of RSIR; Jennifer Johnsen of RSIR; & Anthony Urcinoli, Manager, Global Operations, Sotheby’s International Realty.

“It was an incredible opportunity to experience the innovation and power of our SIR partner referrals,” said Johnsen. “We met with leaders from New York City, New Jersey, Connecticut, Chile, Thailand, Ireland, Finland, Australia, Singapore, England, Czech Republic, Japan, Hawaii, St. Vincent, The Grenadines, California, Texas, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and more. It was amazing!”

Jennifer Johnsen (RSIR) & Francis Santangelo, Senior Vice President, Sotheby’s International Realty.

Jennifer Johnsen (RSIR) & Francis Santangelo, Senior Vice President, Sotheby’s International Realty.

SIR global leaders spent 3 days in leadership training and breakout sessions with Philip White, President & CEO Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates; Wendy Purvey, Chief Marketing Officer, Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates; and Francis Santangelo, Senior Vice President, Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates.

Attendees were then treated to a presentation at the Sotheby’s Art Institute and a private dinner at the Sotheby’s Auction House. The event was headed by opening comments from Philip White and C. Hughe Hildseley, Vice President Senior Business Development of Sotheby’s, who joined the brand in 1961 to offer presentations to groups as they tasted wines and viewed exceptional works of art.

“I enjoyed the opportunity to meet new SIR friends from around the world and look forward to fostering those relationships,” said Ford. “Spending time in Manhattan at the Sotheby’s Fine Art Institute and then supping on a catered dinner at the Sotheby’s Auction House was the icing on the cake. A remarkable experience, indeed!”

Philip White, President & CEO Sotheby’s International Realty offers opening comments at the Sotheby’s Auction House.

Philip White, President & CEO Sotheby’s International Realty offers opening comments at the Sotheby’s Auction House.

“I had a great time at the 25th Annual Sotheby’s International Realty Brand Orientation. The team at our corporate headquarters pulled out all the stops to make us feel welcome and well cared for,” said Galindo. “It was a good time to learn and bond with our affiliates from around the world. So proud of this company and the five-star quality it stands for.”

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Burrard Group Appoints Sirqul to Conceive "Condo of the Future" at NEXUS; Realogics Sotheby's International Realty Says it Redefines Living in the Cloud

Digital Dream Team offers “Next Generation” in Residential Concepts Driven by IoT

The Burrard Group, developers of the 383-unit NEXUS condominium tower in downtown Seattle, recently announced a collaboration with Seattle-based IoT company Sirqul to establish a new product category for residential real estate – the smart connected building.

“Seattle is ready for NEXUS,” said Christian Chan, Executive Vice President of Burrard. “It’s about time that a city recognized globally for progress, innovation and technology meets a residential community that can keep pace.”

Chan appointed Robert Frederick, President and CEO of Sirqul, to chair a committee that will deliver the high-tech platform at NEXUS. The committee, consisting of leading experts in development, technology and consumer lifestyle marketing, will assist the Sirqul team in conceptualizing and programming an agnostic system that combines cutting-edge smart devices and cloud services into a custom app for residents, guests, building staff and 3rd party providers. The system will implement best-in-class technologies, including proprietary hardware that is being developed by Sirqul for the project, into the NEXUS building upon completion in 2019.

Frederick is an MIT grad and MIT Technology Review Magazine TR 100 award winner who has authored 32 issued patents and participated in numerous social and tech startups. He also led Amazon’s first efforts in mobile and voice recognition with Amazon Anywhere in 1999. In 2002, Frederick became the technical co-founder and chief architect of Anywhere’s evolution into Amazon Web Services (AWS), a new cloud offering that changed application development and disrupted traditional software business models.

“Smart spaces within residential communities will eventually be as expected as indoor plumbing, but it takes thought leaders like Burrard Group to change the paradigm,” said Frederick. “Together we aim to deliver a future-proof environment that will greatly enhance the lifestyle offering of NEXUS while improving the overall efficiency of its operation.”

Burrard and Sirqul are in the process of establishing the NEXUS Living Lab, a facility located in the forthcoming NEXUS Sales Center, where the team will review and test the latest evolutions in home automation and smart systems involving lighting, climate control, security, entertainment, plugs and appliances, just to name a few. Other innovative explorations include voice and gesture activation, and proximity detection systems. Upon opening in January 2017, buyers, brokers, and the general public will be invited into the Living Lab to join the conversation and take part in the demonstration of these pioneering technologies.

The prospect of a tech-savvy high-rise combined with progressive architecture, robust amenities and an enviable in-city location has already drawn significant interest. Since the opening of a limited Preview Center in June 2016, prospective buyers have reserved the opportunity to pre-purchase 80% of the 383 homes, each reservation requiring a fully refundable $5,000 deposit. Reservations will be converted to binding presales commensurate with groundbreaking, scheduled for Winter 2016/17.

Dean Jones, President and CEO of Seattle-based Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty says the market is craving innovative product concepts while the opportunity for ownership at NEXUS is particularly attractive as low interest rates and escalating rents means it can actually be less expensive to own versus lease after only a few years. Reservations also mean buyers can program their future without fear of multiple offers, escalating prices or missing out.

“NEXUS is a game changer on many levels, and a sense of excitement and community has already begun to develop amongst our buyers,” adds Jones. “We haven’t even broken ground yet; imagine what a few years of programming will do. This is the condo of the future that Seattle has been waiting for.”

 

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Realogics Sotheby's International Realty Makes the Puget Sound Business Journal List of 100 Fastest-Growing Private Companies for the Fifth Consecutive Year

Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty (RSIR) is thrilled to share that the firm made the annual Puget Sound Business Journal list of Fastest-Growing Private Companies for the fifth year in a row! In a recent article entitled “100 Fastest-Growing Private Companies pack economic wallop,” Becky Monk reveals that “the 100 companies that made the Business Journal’s 2016 list collectively had revenue of nearly $3.17 billion in 2015, an increase of 137.26 percent over their total revenue in 2013.”

“We are so proud of the hard work of our brokers, staff and executive team,” said Dean Jones, President & CEO of RSIR. “It is an honor to make the list for the fifth year in a row and we look forward to celebrating at the upcoming ‘Blue Friday Bash’ at CenturyLink Field.”

The Puget Sound Business Journal will reveal where each company ranks on their list during the celebration, which will include a welcome by the Blue Thunder drum corps followed by a tour of the field, photos in the end zone, and end with a beer and wine reception.

Monk adds that “making Washington’s Fastest-Growing Private Companies list isn’t easy. To make the list, companies must be headquartered in Washington state and be privately held between 2013 and 2015. They must have revenue of at least $500,000 in 2012 and report a revenue increase in 2015. The CEOs and CFOs or accountants have to personally vouch for the revenue reported to the Business Journal. Only those with the largest increases made the list.”

Read Last Year’s Event Coverage >>

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Market Spotlight | Chinatowns in the United States

As a country marked by waves of immigration from citizens around the world, the United States has long been home to enclaves that offer new residents a sense of “home” among those who share in their culture as they transition into American life. Since the establishment of San Francisco’s Chinatown in the mid-1800s, these neighborhoods have become staples for American cities around the country. Visually defined by a fusion of Western architectural styles with traditional Asian elements such as gilded ornaments and tiled-roofs, Chinatowns in the U.S. have emerged as popular neighborhoods where residents and visitors enjoy vibrant cultural offerings in the form of cuisine, art and events.

San Francisco

In 1848, the first Chinatown in the United States was born, and has since grown into a symbol for the city. Representing the largest Chinatown outside of Asia, it is a staple of tourism for the Bay Area. Locals and tourists enjoy visiting Ross Alley, which houses the popular Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory and provides a haven for artists as murals throughout the area offer a glimpse into the daily lives of Chinese Americans.

San Francisco, California | $2,500,000 USD | Sotheby’s International Realty – San Francisco Brokerage

Open the door to a true oasis within the coveted Golden Gateway Commons, with vaulted ceilings, hardwood floors and a contemporary aesthetic. Flooded with natural light, there is a seamless flow between indoor and outdoor living. Four south-facing outdoor terraces lend themselves to a Zen consciousness with views capturing the downtown skyline, Coit Tower, the Embarcadero and beyond. A convenient location offers ease of access to the Ferry Building and Financial District, as well as a short five minute drive to Chinatown.

Seattle

In Seattle, the establishment of Chinatown grew into what is now The International District, a neighborhood that incorporates Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, African American and Vietnamese influences. A popular destination is Kobe Terrace Park, with blossoming Cherry trees by spring that are complemented by a stunning stone lantern sculpture gifted by Kobe, Japan, Seattle’s Japanese sister city. In recent years, The International District has seen large-scale development projects that have drawn more businesses and residents to its bounds.

Seattle, Washington | $610,000 USD | Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty

The Urban Loft is a signature residence nestled in the heart of Seattle’s historic Pioneer Square neighborhood. An open entertainer’s floor plan meets high-end industrial aesthetic, from the 24” old growth beams and 11 foot ceilings down to the concrete countertops and stainless steel appliances. Take in cityscapes from the rooftop deck or indulge in a quick 10 minute walk to all that The International District offers.

Chicago

Occupying much of Armour Square, Chicago’s Chinatown has traditionally catered more to commercial interest, though recent years have seen more residential projects that have drawn those looking for an urban and culturally rich lifestyle. Attractions include Chinatown Square, a mall with a design inspired by the Chinese Imperial Court complete with statues for each of the 12 Chinese Zodiac symbols. A cornerstone of the community is the Pui Tak Center, which represents the first structure in the neighborhood to be erected in traditional Chinese architectural style.

Chicago, Illinois | $665,000 | Jameson Sotheby’s International Realty

An exquisite condo that exudes sophistication and comfort with a priceless view. High-end upgrades and custom-made features include picture framing walls, hand-painted Scalamandre Wallpaper, French shutters, PARIS ceramics, surround sound, a fireplace, Marble & Wenge hardwood floors, a Carrera Marble island, and much more. Breathtaking vistas of Millennium and Grand Park, Buckingham Fountain, boats on the lake, and the city skyline. A fifteen minute train ride hearkens in the South Loop and all that the cultural center within Chinatown affords.

New York

Second only to Asia, New York City is home to the largest ethnic Chinese population and the state houses at least 12 Chinatowns. The Manhattan Chinatown is known for its open markets, restaurants and night life. It draws residents both for the authentic Chinese culture and the excellent transportation system, with a convergence of subway lines to easily pivot across the city. Among the top destinations is Prosperity Dumpling, a Chinese restaurant offering premier cuisine whether it’s for its namesake dish or a sesame pancake.

Manhattan, New York | $999,888 USD | Sotheby’s International Realty – Downtown Manhattan Brokerage

No detail was spared in the renovation of this bright and open apartment as brand new 5” Butternut wood floors meet thoughtful updates including state-of-the-art kitchen appliances and Carrara Quartz countertops. Skyline views from every room complement sunny southwestern exposure and unobstructed views of Freedom Tower from the living room. An enviable location with the vibrant culture of Chinatown Manhattan at your doorstep.

Inspired by the sense of community and convenience afforded to those who both reside in and visit Chinatown, Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty established the Asia Services Group, a team of independent brokers fluent in foreign languages, customs and the logistics necessary for working with foreign homebuyers.

Since the formation of the Asia Services Group, Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty has further cemented itself as an opinion leader on foreign investment in the Pacific Northwest through unique initiatives that include a feature documentary entitled East Meets West and the all-Mandarin Seattle Luxury Living Magazine, which targets affluent Chinese consumers both within the United States and overseas.

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Video of the Week: Tranquil Oceanfront Home in Kittery, Maine

$3,850,000 USD | Kittery, Maine | Anne Erwin Sotheby’s International Realty

From the rocky coast of Maine, inspiration and tranquility come easy. Featuring ocean vistas on nearly all sides, this exquisitely remodeled and expanded home takes full advantage of its incredible oceanfront location and neighboring open space. Like the transition of sea and sky from the outdoors in, graceful archways move you from room to room, shrouded in light and capturing the essence of Coastal Maine living. The large chef’s kitchen is something of a dream, sharing an open floor plan with a great room which is framed by broad expanses of glass. The ocean-side deck is perfect for summer evenings, while multiple fireplaces help warm the ocean breeze on the cooler nights. Intricate details throughout this home make it one to remember, such as the dark hardwood flooring, custom master bath with a window in the shower, handsome library/office, window seat breakfast nook and ornate crown molding. This unique property blurs the boundaries between the comfort of home and the bold and daring ocean.

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As Featured in Yangcheng Wanbao "Chinese Home Buyers Rush into Good School Districts"

In a recent article for Yangcheng Wanbao (羊城晚报), a significant media outlet reaching over 14 million readers in Guangzhou, the third largest Chinese city, Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty (RSIR) Owner & CEO Dean Jones offers expert insight in the Overseas Study/Immigration Section (留学移民) on the relationship between good school systems and Chinese homebuyers in the Puget Sound region.

More and more Chinese buyers are buying houses in good school districts for various reasons: investment, education, and permanent residency. Data shows that last year, inquiries by Chinese buyers about listings in the United States had increased by 1,426-percent since 2014. About 74.8-percent of the Chinese real estate buyers in the U.S. were related to education. In Massachusetts, where top universities such as Harvard and Princeton are located [sic]*, the rate is even higher at 90.5-percent.

According to the investigation, at present, Chinese buyers of overseas real estate are mostly high-net worth individuals. Insiders predict that there will be more buyers of middle-class to join the bounty of international property purchasing.

Chinese Buyers Scramble to Buy American Houses in Good School Districts with All Cash

Last month, Zhang Xiaomei “scrambled” to buy a house in a good school district in Seattle, closing for $550,000. In September next year, her 16-year-old son will attend high school in the United States.

“In February, I returned to Seattle only to find that the scramble panic had exploded. Often, a new listing that was released on Wednesday would already be sold by the next Monday. The most exasperating experience I had was getting an appointment for Saturday on Thursday, and Friday afternoon at 3:00 p.m., before being suddenly informed by the seller that they had received an elevated offer by a buyer who was ready to make a deal. The house was listed at $490,000 and I was told that the offer was for $520,000, and that unless we were willing to bid higher than that, they were going to cancel the appointment.” Recalling her experience, Zhang Xiaomei was still dumbstruck.

Zhang Xiaomei just received her green card last year, after a 10-year application process. She said openly that she met fellow Chinese whenever she visited houses. “As each of us encountered more Chinese, I became less optimistic because I knew that those rich people would not only pay the full amount in cash, but may also be willing to bid a much higher price than we can afford.”

According to Juwai.com, an international listings portal website in Chinese, inquiries by Chinese buyers about listings in the United States on the basis of education increased by 1,426-percent when comparing 2014 to 2015. Data also showed that about 74.8-percent of the Chinese real estate buyers in the U.S. are drawn by education. In Massachusetts, where some of the nation’s top universities such as Harvard and Princeton are located, [sic], the rate is even higher, at 90.5-percent.

Dean Jones, CEO of Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty (RSIR) in Seattle revealed about 90-percent of his Chinese customers use cash to buy their U.S. property. “Compared with domestic buyers, this is indeed a competitive advantage.”

Double-Digit Increase in Chinese Buyers from May to July

Seattle real estate agent Anna Riley has been focused on Asian buyers in the area, she said. Recently, half of the properties she has sold in good school districts have been sold to Chinese buyers. “In the past two years, I’ve sold about 90 houses, of which 42 were sold to buyers from Hong Kong or Mainland China. The main attraction of these houses were that they were close to the best schools or universities.”

Riley told this News reporter that Chinese buyers with school-aged children had begun to move to Seattle so their children could have access to the best public school and a first-class university (University of Washington). “In my experience over the past five years, Chinese buyers from Asia have doubled, and now a very good Asian food market has been set up here as this demand surges.”

Eric Chen, broker at real estate agency Long and Foster’s, also revealed that although it is not easily quantified, they have also seen an increase in the number of Chinese clients. “From May to July, Chinese buyers seeking properties for their children who are admitted by U.S. universities have seen double-digit growth. This is the season in which colleges enrolls international students. Chinese buyers have rushed in to have a new home ready for them to move into before the college year starts.”

Jones observed, “In Bellevue, Chinese buyers accounted for 30 to 50-percent of all luxury buyers, and this rate increases in areas where home prices are higher and fewer local residents can afford to buy. Schools in these areas have now set up specific English as a Second Language (ESL) courses for overseas students and the school PTA also plays an active role in welcoming newcomers.”

Jones’ brokerage recently served a Chinese couple whose five-year-old boy applied for more than one of the region’s private schools. “This kind of family will usually make a transaction after receiving confirmation of school admission,” Jones said.

Cathy Yu, business development manager for the home builder Lennar, reported that international buyers (especially Chinese buyers) in recent years have increasingly been customers of their development projects and that there is an upward trend. “We see more and more Chinese buyers for our projects for the following reasons: investment, education, vacation homes and permanent residency. Most of them are wealthy individuals but we believe that there will be more buyers from a rising middle class.”

“The United States has the world’s best universities,” said Veronica Robertson, strategic marketing director of builder Taylor Morrison. “In addition to good schools, many other excellent services in the U.S. such as its outstanding healthcare system, a stable monetary system and government, and advanced community facilities are all attractive factors for Chinese buyers.”

Robertson added, “We have some development projects in which foreign buyers, and in particular Chinese buyers, account for a majority.”

U.S. Real Estate Developers and Brokers Advertise in Mandarin

This year in Houston, U.S. developer Beazer launched Bayside Crossing residences starting at $210,000 per unit. The community is close to the famous University of Houston and LaPorte High School but here, the price is more affordable than in California.

Of course, housing prices in good school districts in different regions vary greatly. For example, in Irvine, California, the average home price is now around $600,000. Around 40-percent of Irvine residents are ethnically Chinese or Korean, taking children’s education very seriously. Not only does the United States have good school districts, but sometimes the entire town has been built to accommodate quality educational resources. Irvine itself is built around the University of California. For this reason, the Irvine Unified School District has long been a hit among Asian parents and parents of young overseas students.

“American schools encourage entrepreneurial thinking. Student achievement and performance are critical criteria,” Anna Riley explained. The United States provides many opportunities as the U.S. economy is now very stable and performing outstandingly well in relation to most other developed countries, which is a huge attraction to Chinese buyers.

“On the West Coast, prices in California are more expensive and competition for jobs is more intense,” said Dean Jones. He believes that the popularity of American houses in good school districts has contributed fundamentally to where students want to settle after graduation. “Chinese families want their children to succeed, so they usually think further ahead, and it’s not limited to education.” Jones said that with an increasing number of Chinese buyers, schools are mass advertising to promote themselves in Mandarin: “this is a very important channel. The quality of primary and secondary schools can certainly drive the demand for real estate in the region.”

Quality Real Estate in Good School Districts Costs 50% More Than Typical Houses

Cathy Yu told this News reporter that this year, a Chinese client of hers bought a new Lennar house near UC Berkeley, because her son had been admitted to the university. “The client wanted a house next to the university, not just to accommodate her son at school but also for the anticipated appreciation potential.”

“A lot of communities have computed a walking index, to tell you the distance to local schools. The shorter the distance, the more popular. Houses near famous primary schools will be very expensive. Real estate agents will usually provide school test scores and ratings to prove the quality of the school,” Riley said.

Veronica Robertson said that in the United States, in addition to location and the school district, local employment is a factor in the prices of homes. “The most expensive home price in the best school district is 50% or more than that found in the average school district.”

Jones reports that Mercer Island has a preferred school system for both academics and sports, and is progressively becoming recognized by Chinese buyers. Locals pay property tax of around one-percent, but generally speaking pay no extra cost to attend school. Similarly, the city of Bellevue is extremely popular among Chinese buyers because there are several top-ranked public schools in the area.

Jones said, “Home prices are indeed rising faster in preferred school districts like Mercer Island. The average price is now $1.1 million, with a 10% annual growth rate, far exceeding communities with lower-quality schools.”

A study of Realtor.com shows that buyers are willing to pay extra for a top-ranked school district. Because top schools are more popular with buyers, homes in these school districts tend to have a higher appreciation value, performing better against inflation. In fact, Realtor.com research shows that the home prices in highest-ranked school districts are on average 49-percent higher than the nation’s median price.

Chinese Buyers are Mostly Small Business Owners

“Local residents in America, whether homeowners or renters, have access to a local public school. Renting is a big of trouble, because people usually rent for short times (usually 1 or 2 years) before they move somewhere else. You may lose your preferred school. Houses in excellent school districts are more expensive,” Riley advised.

Good school districts and quality residential homes mutually promote each other. Better school districts promote good communities, and high-quality housing in a good school district may lead to the establishment of new schools. Yu declared that “school quality is a decisive factor for companies planning development.”

Veronica Robertson told this News reporter that the school district is one of the most important considerations by companies scouting locations for new residential projects. “A good school district is the most distinguishing factor in the U.S. real estate market.”

“We are seeing more ultra high-net worth Chinese and middle-class families buying houses in good school districts. Most of them want to send their children to the United States for education,” Yu said.

Riley reported that many Chinese buyers she has worked with are small business owners averaging 40 years of age. It is most common that the mother stays in the United States to accompany the children while the father remains in China working. “To get the best experience, the most important thing is to get along with the locals. Most Chinese say they like the lifestyle here and that people are friendly. They have often converted their visiting friends into new homebuyers, so that many of the neighbors are old friends who already know each other.”

Dean Jones said his firm mainly serves families looking for quality schools. “Now that more and more Chinese middle class families are joining the bounty of overseas homebuyers, their children may not yet have reached school age but they are already planning for their children’s futures. Some families have purchased homes in good school districts when their children were still infants – one or two years old.”

Jones admitted that he also witnesses Chinese investors looking for good returns. “They buy houses in good school districts then rent them to Chinese families in rising markets.”

Riley advised buyers to find a qualified agent in the area to acquire knowledge of schools, listings and the housing market. “Many Chinese buyers tend to work with Chinese speaking agents, which is understandable, however this does not necessarily help you make the ‘best buy.'”

Eric Chen also warns that buyers need to understand that procedures for purchasing are unique, therefore it is essential to consult a qualified real estate broker.”

*While the Commonwealth of Massachusetts indeed hosts several leading universities, Princeton University is in New Jersey.

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According to GeekWire, the New Google Campus will transform the South Lake Union Neighborhood

As the architects behind Google’s proposed campus at South Lake Union prepare for their meeting with the Seattle Design Review Board tomorrow at 8pm, GeekWire writes that “New images show how Google’s Seattle campus will transform the South Lake Union neighborhood.” Nat Levy, upon viewing the recently released images, says “the tech giant will drive the next evolution of the South Lake Union neighborhood, right in Amazon’s backyard” with a design aesthetic that speaks to the walkability of the neighborhood and incorporates natural elements, as walls of windows meet greenery throughout.

So what does Google plan to build? The article describes that plans “include a pair of six-story office buildings with a combined 313,500 square feet of office space. Above one of the office buildings will be eight stories of apartments with 79 units.”

The designs awaiting approval are set to accompany already approved designs at Block 25W, a 14-story building between Fairview and Boren, “with six stories of office space totaling 145,600 square feet for Google and 69 apartments on the upper floors” in addition to Block 25E (on the same block as 25W), which “will have another six-story office building for Google.”

Levy adds that Google will sign a long-term lease between 14 and 16 years and that when “combined with Google’s recently expanded offices in Kirkland, Wash., the technology giant will be approaching 1 million square feet in the region with this new space.”

Read the Full Article >>

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Video of the Week: Unique Contemporary Villa in Italy

5.800.000 € EUR | Grosseto, Italy | Italy Sotheby’s International Realty

Ideally situated approximately 5-kilometers from the old and picturesque hilltop village of Massa Marittima and less than 20-kilometers from the coast, the estate is surrounded by an impressive natural park. The villa, completely restored in 2009, has nearly 1,000-square-feet of superbly equipped living accommodations with a luxurious and prestigious contemporary design.

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Realogics Sotheby's International Realty Announces Exclusive Real Estate Portal on GeekWire® and Launches "Geek Home of the Week" Property Showcase

Dynamic Voting Tool Targets Second Fastest-Growing Tech Community in US; Attracts Preferred Sponsors

Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty (RSIR) announced today an exclusive media partnership withGeekWire, a fast-growing and broadly followed website that has become a daily news source and events podium for the high-tech industry in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. The dynamic platform will showcase properties, highlight market trends and feature real estate sponsors. A real time voting tool puts consumers in the driver’s seat to select the current Geek Home of the Week” as more than 1 million unique visitors per month visit the website and 25,000 active subscribers digest the daily newsletter and are presented with the region’s most extraordinary properties.

The tech community is clearly an economic driver and GeekWire is an industry leader to reach this consumer,” said Dean Jones, President and CEO of RSIR. “Our platform is fun, informative and a functional way to see what’s trending in real estate. We’re just getting started.”

Recently, GeekWire reported that the Seattle/Bellevue region is the second hottest tech office market in the US behind the Bay Area, which Jones says is attracting thousands of jobs and an equal number of inbound residents to fuel the local housing market. He also believes the record number of apartment deliveries over the past development cycle is incubating future homebuyers because interest rates are low, and both rents and median home prices are escalating. These market dynamics are encouraging increasing numbers of relocating residents to consider homeownership at all property types and price points.

“We’re thrilled to partner with Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty on the new Geek Home of the Week feature, displaying some of the coolest real estate and luxury homes for sale in the region,” said John Cook, Co-Founder of GeekWire. “Our viewers geek-out about a lot of things — software, aerospace, science, startups — and now we’re excited to feature an amazing home each week and distribute timely real estate news on GeekWire.”

The real estate portal quickly attracted industry sponsors such as Burrard Group, developer of NEXUS Condominiums – Seattle’s much-anticipated high-tech, high rise and Caliber Home Loans – the #1 purchase lender in King and Snohomish County. Periodic guest authors will offer editorial content on trends in design, lifestyles, home technology and mortgage lending. The platform will also introduce educational events and promote campaigns such as the #NoPlaceLikeOwn initiative that helps consumers contrast buy vs. rent data and highlight the purchasing power of the region’s tech workers.

“Most prospective homebuyers in the tech industry don’t realize that mortgage underwriting will now consider restricted stock units when qualifying and presale opportunities in future condominium buildings can be secured with as little as 5-percent down payment,” adds Jones. “Our partnership with GeekWire will provide a timely resource center for this target audience.”

Jones thinks the region’s tech workers and Millennials will be the greatest demographic profile driving the local housing market for the foreseeable future. A recent report by economist Brian O’Connor of O’Connor Consulting Group confirms that Millennials are the largest population cohort in the Seattle/Bellevue Metro Area and comprise a massive consumer influence.

Nelson Yong is a Millennial and a marketing strategist, entrepreneur and community builder that specializes in the tech industry.

“Leave it to innovative industry leaders like GeekWire and Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty to come together,” said Yong. “Many of us are in the market or thinking about it. A real estate portal on the preeminent industry news source is both smart and well timed.”

For more information, visit a newly launched website at www.GeekWire.com/home-of-the-week

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Sotheby's International Realty to Target China's Wealthy in New Juwai.com Alliance

Sotheby’s International Realty has announced an alliance with Juwai.com that enables the luxury real estate brand to generate Chinese buyer interest on one of the world’s most prominent real estate websites with over two million monthly visitors. As a truly international brand, Sotheby’s International Realty now has the most global representation on Juwai.com, displaying luxury listings from 65 countries and territories.

Chinese Real Estate Buyers

China is already the second-largest source of visits to sothebysrealty.com, only after the United States, and accounts for one out of every 10 visitors. Additionally, in a recent report released by RSIR, the imposition of a 15% foreign investment tax in Vancouver, B.C. is increasing search traffic by Chinese buyers for real estate in the Puget Sound. Matthew Moore, President of the Americas for Juwai.com, 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 partnership with Juwai.com is timely, and offers another platform to optimize global exposure for brokers and clients. “There’s no doubt that Asian homebuyers, particularly from China, continue to be a material component of our local real estate market,” said Dean Jones, President and CEO of RSIR. “Our Asia Services Group is uniquely qualified to assist foreign buyers as they are specialized in the language, culture and logistics necessary. We view Juwai.com as a strategic portal to showcase our Asia Services Group and all the properties that RSIR represents.”

Details of the Alliance

The Sotheby’s International Realty brand alliance with Juwai.com includes the following components:

  • Listing display: Sotheby’s International Realty property listings will appear on Juwai.com and in its real estate search results.
  • First responders: Juwai.com’s Chinese-language team is located in mainland China so they can respond to consumer inquiries in real time, translate the inquiries into English and forward them to the Sotheby’s International Realty sales associate who has the listing.
  • Brand page: A Sotheby’s International Realty brand overview page carries information about the brand, a contact form and the network’s listings – all in one place.
  • Banner advertising: Sotheby’s International Realty banner ads will run on the Juwai.com homepage, promoting the company’s new brand page and listings to Juwai.com’s audience.

“We are constantly looking for opportunities to expand globally by adding new distribution opportunities that showcase properties to affluent consumers in key growth markets,” said Wendy Purvey, Chief Marketing Officer, Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC. “The alliance with Juwai.com achieves that by giving us better access to a market that is already one of our most important, and which promises great future growth.”

Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty, which has offices in Seattle, Bainbridge Island, Kirkland, Issaquah and Madison Park, offers exclusive Sotheby’s International Realty® marketing, advertising and referral services that are designed to attract well-qualified buyers to the firm’s property listings. Property listings from Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty also are marketed on the sothebysrealty.com global website, as well as on the firm’s local website, rsir.com.

As a Sotheby’s International Realty affiliate, the firm and its clients also benefit from an association with the Sotheby’s Auction House, allowing the firm’s sales associates the opportunity for real estate referrals with auction house clientele as well as the unique ability to refer real estate clientele for appraisal services for jewelry, art, antique furniture and collectibles.

The Sotheby’s International Realty network currently has more than 19,000 affiliated independent sales associates located in approximately 850 offices in 65 countries and territories worldwide. Each office is independently owned and operated.

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Video of the Week: Exquisite Shelter Island Estate in Rollins, Montana

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Video of the Week: Exquisite Shelter Island Estate in Rollins, Montana

$39,000,000 USD | Rollins, Montana | Glacier Sotheby’s International Realty

This is Montana’s Shelter Island Estate. Flathead Lake, Montana is celebrated as being one of the cleanest lakes in the world, and it is here that you will find one of the most exquisite and privately located estates in existence. Montana’s Shelter Island Estate rests on over 22 private island acres in the middle of Flathead Lake. This five bedroom, eight bath estate is a comfortable 22,000-square-feet with over 4,800 feet of private, secluded lakefront access. The estate is three levels, each level accessible via commercial grade elevator. Each element has been carefully orchestrated to maximize the visual and emotional impact on every level, starting with the jaw dropping 45-foot ceilings in the great room which is surrounded by the second story observatory that has been designed to leave you entranced by the sweeping views of Flathead Lake.

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SEATTLE: IS IT VANCOUVER DÉJÀ VU?

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.

The downtown Seattle skyline reflects a surge of new development, as cranes hearken in new buildings amidst downtown Seattle’s high-rises.

The downtown Seattle skyline reflects a surge of new development, as cranes hearken in new buildings amidst downtown Seattle’s high-rises.

A Canadian and former resident of Vancouver, Dean Jones, President and CEO of Seattle-based Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty, sees familiar signs. His company actively promotes local properties to immigrating Chinese and other Asian buyers with the deployment of an exclusive WeChat portal and establishment of their Asia Services Group, a collective of real estate advisors specialized in the language and logistics of foreign buyers. Jones is also on the Board of Directors for the Washington State China Relations Council and says the region is bracing for a wave of foreign direct investment.

Above: Kristi Heim, Executive Director of Washington State China Relations Council, with Dean Jones (RSIR).

Above: Kristi Heim, Executive Director of Washington State China Relations Council, with Dean Jones (RSIR).

“History may be repeating itself south of the Canadian border,” said Jones referring to Vancouver’s global arrival over the past two decades. “Savvy investors recognize the opportunity as do other stakeholders from Chinese developers to Chinese airlines—everyone agrees the Seattle area is fundamentally well-positioned. Fortunately, overseas demand is on top of our domestic housing drivers like job growth, increased population and wealth generation. The Pacific Northwest already leads the nation with median home price increases and rent growth.”

Unlike Vancouver, the housing market in Puget Sound region is not buoyed by immigration or foreign direct investment. Instead it has steadily lured productive capital investment in its own knowledge-intensive local businesses. Home to Microsoft, Amazon, and Expedia, and now with a large contingent of staff for Google, Facebook and a recently announced expansion by Apple and China-based Alibaba, Seattle has steadily augmented its high-tech eminence since the 1980s. These high-paying jobs draw a growing and well-paid workforce.

The above major urban campus, in development by Amazon.com, will push the company up to over 10 million SF when planned projects are complete.

The above major urban campus, in development by Amazon.com, will push the company up to over 10 million SF when planned projects are complete.

According to the Department of Licensing, for August 2016 there were 18,420 out-of-state drivers who obtained a Washington driver’s license. That’s an increase of 8 percent for the trailing 12-month period over the prior year led by inbound residents from California, Oregon and Texas, which accounted for more than a third of the relocations. During month of August 2016 there were 416 persons newly registered from Asia (102 from China), of which 83 percent reside in King County. Census data indicates Asians are the fastest-growing demographic in the region, most notably on the Eastside.

With growing influence, Seattle’s own cultural stature has risen, best demonstrated with a high-profile visit by China’s President Xi Jinping in 2015. Foreign direct investment is streaming in from China at unprecedented volumes and the immigration pipeline is seemingly boundless.

Above: Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China, While Visiting Seattle in 2015.

Above: Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China, While Visiting Seattle in 2015.

Also Bellevue is the only place in the world with the Global Innovation Exchange, or GIX, a pioneering partnership between the University of Washington, Beijing-based Tsinghua University and Microsoft to build a one-of-a-kind high-tech education program and custom facility.

The region has positioned itself as an attainable place for Chinese families to enjoy life and build household wealth in a self-sustaining twenty-first century economy. By most accounts, Mainland Chinese buyers, together with existing Chinese residents now account for 30 to 50 percent of the luxury home sales in many popular Eastside neighborhoods. The distinctive Bellevue neighborhood of Newport Shores, comprising waterfront estates and Venice-like canals, experienced zero home sales over $3 million in 2011, 2012 or 2013; however, there were three in 2014 and eight in 2015 – all but two of these luxury homes were sold to buyers who hold title in a Chinese surname. Not surprisingly, the top sale of 2015 was a waterfront manse on the north end of Mercer Island for $13.8 million—and despite being acquired in a trust, it is broadly known to be owned by a Chinese national. More recently, Jones confirms his broker’s top pending sales in August 2016 were a $5.49 million waterfront home in Juanita and a $4.85 million equestrian estate in Bridle Trails – both will set neighborhood price records and each were sold to a Chinese buyer.

“Luxury in the Pacific Northwest is still a relative bargain,” observes Jones. “In a global market, a record price can be quickly rendered a great value, especially when compared with West Coast peer cities.”

These emerging trends have attracted some of the world’s top real estate developers to build high-profile residential and mixed use projects, which can be seen from a casual stroll through downtown Bellevue or Seattle, as notices of future development appear on block after block and tower cranes reach skyward. Chinese developers like Vanke, Plus Investments, Great Eagle and Create World are taking massive stakes in new construction while many of the most valuable commercial office towers, such as the 76-story Columbia Tower, are being acquired by investment funds based in Hong Kong and Mainland China. On a more individual basis, many new developments are financed using the USCIS EB-5 immigration visa, whereby foreign families, mostly Chinese, can invest a minimum of $500,000 in qualified projects and earn future US citizenship. So in short, Chinese developers are now using individual Chinese immigration funds to build projects, in part for other recent Chinese immigrants already living in the US and others who are planning on emigrating from China.

Before reforms in 2014, Canada’s immigrant investor could simply buy in, depositing a threshold amount in government funds and then convert overseas assets into Canadian real estate. In many cases, this proceeded with little attention to the actual resale value or maintenance requirements of the assets purchased. Vancouver became a “hedge city,” as it was coined by Vancouver urban planner Andy Yan—a safety deposit box for global wealth in the form of residential real estate and a strategic windbreak from potential crisis at home. [1] This transformation continued after the Canadian visa reforms, as Chinese President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign gathered steam in China. Yet the knowledge of this overseas bid on property perversely drove prices to levels beyond those supported by Vancouver’s local economy or the ability of local Canadian buyers to keep up.

The Vancouver, BC skyline.

The Vancouver, BC skyline.

For years, the BC government denied that overseas buyers were setting the price on local property, attributing the skyrocketing price increases to the domestic economy. The government was not convinced of the relationship until two years after the Canadian investor visa program had been terminated in its prior form, returning 60,000 applications (mostly Chinese). When the realization finally dawned in the summer of 2016, BC Premier Christy Clark acted summarily and without notice or comment to enact a 15-percent property transfer tax on non-resident foreign buyers in Metropolitan Vancouver, which took effect on August 2, 2016.

The act caught the Canadian real estate industry and their clients wrong-footed, resulting in abrogation of contracts, surrenders of earnest money, and a sudden, steep drop in sales volumes across the region.  According to reports by Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, home sales of detached houses plunged by 44.6 percent year-over-year in August [2] and while still higher year-over-year, average detached home prices fell 16.7 percent from July, the sharpest monthly decline in 39 years. [3] New listings were also down 18.1 percent from July. [4] In Richmond, Vancouver, and Burnaby, the number of sales fell a bit more steeply against the long-term trend: by 50 percent, according to real estate insider Steve Saretsky. [5]

Meanwhile, prices elsewhere in British Columbia continued to rise, up by 19.2 percent in Victoria during the same month year-over-year, [6] confirming that the plunge in Vancouver indeed resulted from the tax.

“It’s too early to tell if this is going to be a sustained market correction or just cause for pause,” said Brad Henderson, President and CEO of Sotheby’s International Realty Canada. “Clearly buyers, both domestic and international, are playing wait and see. The new tax is less likely to change the demand long term, but rather get priced into the market over time. Alternative markets, like Victoria, Toronto and even Seattle will benefit in the interim.”

Juwai.com’s Moore concurs, saying that “Buying enquiries to Toronto also increased by 143 percent in August and it was the single highest-ranked month in the past three years.”

The manner in which the BC government’s tax on foreigners was enacted could not be replicated in the Puget Sound region. As Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty reported at the time in a broadly distributedWeChat article: “In Washington State, our state and municipal governments do not impose any property tax or transfer tax expressly aimed at foreign buyers. No similar bills have been put forward by the Washington State Legislature, and policy makers have remained silent on any proposals to that end. So for the foreseeable future, the only impact on Seattle and Bellevue real estate of the new tax in Vancouver is to increase the comparative affordability to foreign buyers of our real estate in relation to similar properties in this neighboring market.” [7] Furthermore, the level of non-resident real estate investment that led to the outcome in Vancouver has not occurred in Seattle or Bellevue. Immigrants to this region comprise individuals: students, workers, and their families moving here for a better life.

From Left: Michael X. Ford (RSIR); Brad Henderson, President & CEO of Sotheby’s International Realty Canada; Dean Jones (RSIR); and Andrea Savage (RSIR) met recently in Seattle to discuss international housing trends and concluded that Seattle will receive increased attention now that a new 15-percent transfer tax will be charged in Vancouver for foreign buyers.

From Left: Michael X. Ford (RSIR); Brad Henderson, President & CEO of Sotheby’s International Realty Canada; Dean Jones (RSIR); and Andrea Savage (RSIR) met recently in Seattle to discuss international housing trends and concluded that Seattle will receive increased attention now that a new 15-percent transfer tax will be charged in Vancouver for foreign buyers.

Indeed, Seattle’s quality of life compares favorably to the other West Coast gateways, especially when the cost of living is taken into account. Among the least affordable major international markets (according to Demographia, comparing the “median multiple” used by the World Bank and the UN), Vancouver ranks third worldwide among the least affordable cities in the world. San Francisco places seventh, and Los Angeles ties with San Diego for ninth least affordable. In contrast, Seattle comes in at 22nd, more affordable than any of these cities, more affordable than Toronto, New York, Miami, and Boston as well. [8] A recent report by Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty compares the Seattle/Bellevue metro area in-depth with Vancouver BC and San Francisco, explaining how the stronger fundamentals here contrast with the market disconnects seen in those competing gateways. [9] In August 2016, the median home price of a detached home in the Seattle/Bellevue metro area was $670,000, an increase of 9.8 percent year-over-year. By comparison, median prices in San Francisco at $1,106,400 [10] and in Vancouver at $1,214,250 [11] were higher than Seattle by 65.1 percent and 81.2 percent, respectively.

In a series of articles published earlier this year, Seattle’s local architecture and real estate author Charles Mudede has asserted that Seattle will find no third way to avoid the affordability challenges in Vancouver and San Francisco. [12] Arguably, Vancouver’s conundrum results from a lack of the industrial base that has nourished Seattle’s success. Meanwhile, San Francisco’s brand of gentrification has been fed by a kind of “NIMBY-ism” that has been historically uncharacteristic of Seattle, a city whose residents have shown time and again that they can and will do whatever is needed to advance their shared quality of life. All this bodes well for home values in the Puget Sound region.

“It’s not just a matter of attainability or even lifestyle but prospects for appreciation,” adds Jones. “The sustained increases of home values in targeted Pacific Rim cities are due in no small part to the foreign demand that’s now taking root in Seattle.”

Hong Kong, Sydney, San Francisco, Vancouver and Seattle share something else in common – geography. Seattle’s physical topography constrains future development, forcing physical growth and prices upward. King County has seen steady price appreciation of real estate at a compound annual growth rate of 7.17 percent since 2011. Over the same period, the number of high-end sales in King County for both single-family residences (at $1 million and higher) and for condominiums (at $500,000 and up) rose by 33.3 percent and 31.5 percent, respectively. [13] It is understandable, according to Elizabeth Harrington, a director withHURUN and publisher of the famous China Rich List, that Seattle has quickly gained favor among wealthy Chinese consumers, joining their top destination markets of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Vancouver BC, and New York City as fifth-ranked in the world.

Now recognized globally, these cultural and natural enticements serve notice that Seattle’s day has in fact arrived. Meanwhile, brokers are ready to introduce prospective new residents to the wealth of opportunities that await them here. As Jones observed, “Global citizenship isn’t a trend – it’s a movement, and global real estate brokerages like Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty are evolving to respond to this emerging demand.”

Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty has addressed these trends through groundbreaking initiatives that include the all-Mandarin Seattle Luxury Living, which will have an encore printing later the month:

The firm also produced a feature documentary entitled East Meets West, which outlines China’s influence on the real estate market in the Seattle area:

[1] Jessica Dorfmann, “New Wealth Seeks a “Home”: The Rise of the Hedge City,” Harvard International Review, April 15, 2015.
[2] Brent Jang and Tamsin McMahon, “Vancouver Home Sales Hit Four Year Low in Wake Of Foreign Buyers Tax,” The Globe and Mail, September 2, 2016.
[3] Jesse Ferreras, “Vancouver Average Detached Home Prices See Worst Slide in 39 Years,” Huffington Post Canada, September 2, 2016.
[4] Laura Kane, “Vancouver Real Estate Board Notes 26 Per Cent Drop in August,” Macleans/Canadian Press, September 2, 2016.
[5] Quoted by Tiffany Crawford, “Greater Vancouver Home Sales Tumble In August Following Foreign Homebuyers Tax,” Vancouver Sun, September 2, 2016.
[6] Ibid. This was Victoria’s sixth consecutive month with record-setting sales.
[7] “British Columbia Government Charges 15 Percent to Non-Resident Foreign Buyers in Effort to Curb Skyrocketing Real Estate Prices,” Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty (http://www.rsir.com/blog/2016/08/british-columbia-government-charges-15-percent-to-non-resident-foreign-buyers-in-effort-to-curb-skyrocketing-real-estate-prices/)
[8] Demographia, 12th Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey: 2016 (http://www.demographia.com/dhi.pdf)
[9] “Seattle Need Not Fear Vancouver’s Phantom Towers,” Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty (http://www.rsir.com/blog/2016/08/seattle-need-not-fear-vancouvers-phantom-tower/)
[10] July 2016 data from Zillow (http://www.zillow.com/san-francisco-ca/home-values/).
[11] In Canadian dollars, $1,577,300.
[12] Charles Mudede, “Seattle Is Somewhere between Vancouver BC and San Francisco,” The Stranger, February 24, 2016.
[13] Northwest Multiple Listings Service, Statistical Reviews and Highlights (2011–2015).

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