The Seattle/Bellevue metro area is on the rise by virtue of proximity and relative affordability compared to Vancouver, British Columbia and San Francisco.

Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty (RSIR) announced today that an increasing number of international ultra-high net worth (UHNW) individuals are purchasing homes as “opportunity gateways.”

The latest study released by Wealth-X and the Sotheby’s International Realty® brand, UHNW Luxury Real Estate Report: Homes As Opportunity Gateways, identifies two significant trends fueling the rise in the number of UHNW individuals who are buying luxury homes:

(1) International home-buying by UHNW individuals (defined as those with at least US$30 million in assets) from emerging nations seeking safe investment diversification.
(2) Home-buying as part of a program to gain citizenship or residency status in foreign nations.

The report specifically provides insight into the UHNW residential real estate opportunities in Sydney and Vancouver for buyers seeking safe investment diversification; and Malta, the Bahamas and Sao Paulo, which may appeal to ultra-wealthy buyers who desire citizenship or residency through property investment.

According to the report, the UHNW Luxury Residential Real Estate Index from Q2 “rose to 115.2, surpassing its previous high in Q1 of 2015 of 112.1. The index is up 8.2% year-on-year,” and “has now risen for six consecutive quarters.” Further, “the index, which represents real estate on a global basis, indicates the strength of the market generally” while providing a resource for analyzing both global and regional trends.

As the report describes, “in the past year, market volatility in a number of nations, and particularly in China, has led buyers to seek homes in economically and politically stable locations in the West as a hedge against market uncertainty at home.” Global citizenship is targeted as a popular tool, functioning to offer “greater stability and security, tax efficiency, ease of travel, higher standard of living, increased options for children’s education, and investment opportunities that may not otherwise be available.”

While Sydney and Vancouver offer property values significantly less expensive than London or New York, the Seattle area represents a desirable alternative option to those looking in Vancouver, garnering much buyer interest as of late. “We are a market on the rise by virtue of our proximity and relative affordability” said Dean Jones, President and CEO of RSIR. “The Seattle/Bellevue metro area is on the map overseas, particularly in mainland China. Global citizenship isn’t a trend – it’s a movement and local real estate brokerages are evolving to respond to this emerging demand.”

RSIR’s evolution included the establishment of the firm’s “Asia Desk” at the Connoisseurs of Life Showroom in Kirkland, Washington late last year. It provides a network of bilingual real estate brokers fluent in Mandarin, Cantonese or Korean who are experienced in working with the unique demands of overseas home buyers and features an authentic tea room to host private meetings with distinguished international guests. Further, RSIR produced a feature documentary entitled “East Meets West,” to highlight trends associated with foreign demand in the Pacific Northwest.

Jones has also become active in international industry associations including the Washington State China Relations CouncilThe Hong Kong and Greater China Association of Washington and the Asian Real Estate Association of America.

Following market movement and demand, RSIR has likewise produced various blog posts highlighting significant trends, including a look at the sky-high prices new high rise condos have garnered in downtown Seattle and a feature on Chinese buyers outranking Canadians in US home purchases.

Other key findings from the report:

• 12% of second homes purchased by emerging market ultra-high net worth (UHNW) individuals (those who reside in BRICS nations) are located outside their country of residence.
• Recent fluctuations in emerging market nations are leading a new generation of UHNW investors to consider investing in luxury residential real estate in Western markets.
• 20 nations in Europe and the Americas now offer citizenship or residency programs to individuals willing to invest in domestic residential real estate. And several more, including St. Lucia, are considering such programs.
• Many residential real estate markets with such programs – including Sao Paulo, Malta, and the Bahamas – offer good long-term investment opportunities.

According to Philip White, president and chief executive officer, Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC, this joint report was designed to provide an understanding of the trends driving buying decisions of ultra-high net worth individuals around the world. “The research reveals trends that go beyond traditional motivations and help guide real estate investments that contribute to long-term wealth,” he said. “It underscores the important role real estate plays in a larger strategy to build a valuable asset portfolio.”

Download the report >>>