When Anna Riley, a Seattle-area real-estate agent, held an open house for a new $2.3 million listing in the tony city of Bellevue late last month, the pool of prospective buyers was different from the usual assortment of tech magnates, sports stars and chief executives. Twenty groups of buyers visited the property in the Seattle metro area—and all of them were Chinese.
“Every single one,” said Ms. Riley, an agent at Windermere Real Estate, noting that Asian investors had typically, before last year, accounted for about a quarter of the firm’s prospective buyers.
Chinese real-estate buyers are suddenly descending on the Seattle region. Some are lured by perceptions the coastal city is a bargain, others by warm memories of the 2013 Chinese film “Finding Mr. Right,” which put Seattle on the pop-culture radar there.
The biggest draw, though, might be the fact that it isn’t Vancouver. In August, the Canadian province of British Columbia imposed a 15% tax on foreign investment in the city, which until recently was a popular destination for Chinese. The tax applies to anyone who isn’t a citizen or permanent resident of Canada and buys a home in metro Vancouver.