Global Real Estate Leaders Confirm Rising Demand among Chinese Investors; Cite Tax-Based Diversions of Investment to Washington State
Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty (RSIR) and Tiger Oak Media announced the distribution of an encore edition of the popular 92-page Seattle Luxury Living magazine timed with the inaugural flight of Xiamen Airlines, which arrived in Seattle on September 27th —the third airline to offer non-stop flights between Mainland China and SeaTac International Airport. The magazine is published entirely in Mandarin and is widely distributed to a Chinese readership to meet the rising demand among Mainland Chinese considering the Seattle/Bellevue metro area for investment, immigration, and education. The first edition with 20,000 copies was launched and quickly distributed on January 6, 2016, prompting the decision for an encore edition. The reprint was also motivated by recent media events that are magnifying Chinese interest in the Pacific Northwest.
“We’re definitely on the map,” said Dean Jones, President and CEO of RSIR. “Policy making by surrounding US and Canadian government bodies combined with Puget Sound’s relative affordability and close proximity to China have helped to make our region an increasingly preferred market for savvy Chinese. It’s no surprise that Xiamen Airlines and local business leaders are vying for this investment.”
Jones points to the recent decision by Christy Clark, Premier of British Columbia, to tax all foreign buyers 15 percent on new real estate acquisitions in Vancouver effective August 2, 2016. This act has since forced the luxury housing market there into freefall, prompting international homebuyers, most of them Chinese, to consider alternative lifestyle and investment markets like Seattle. Executives at Juwai.com, the largest real estate portal in China, noted that in the month of August 2016, inquiries for real estate in Vancouver dropped 86 percent, while interest in Seattle increased by 146 percent. Such dramatic shifts in demand prompted RSIR to author an article in Seattle Luxury Living titled “SEATTLE: Is it Vancouver Deja-Vu?,” which documents a shift in real estate investment toward Seattle. Meanwhile, Jones suggests that the higher property prices and income tax of California, which until recently had been among the top US markets for Mainland Chinese, has likewise diverted Chinese demand. New commercial service from companies like Xiamen Airlines and record real estate sales to Chinese buyers further validate these trends.
“Seattle is the new West Coast gateway for the US,” says Ji Rongzhong, General Manager for the recently established Seattle Office of Xiamen Airlines. “We are proud to welcome our guests with a copy of Seattle Luxury Living Magazine upon arrival.”
A welcoming ceremony for the inaugural Xiamen Airlines flight was held at 11:00 a.m. on September 27th at the SeaTac Airport arrival hall.
Other than the trending article about Vancouver’s foreign buyer tax, the magazine is largely a reprint of the prior publication. But new advertisers have been added, including The Bellevue Collection, Aegis Living and NEXUS Condominiums, to name a few. The magazine articles include features on topics such as lifestyle, culture, cuisine, shopping, the economy, and real estate.
“We will print a second edition in 2017 with all-new editorials and advertising. Clearly this is a conversation that must continue,” said John Spear, Executive Publisher of Tiger Oak Media. “Many local businesses are interested in reaching this emerging demographic. Seattle Luxury Living is a sign of the times. This is what a global city looks like.”
Matthew Moore, Juwai’s president of the Americas, said Seattle currently ranks the No. 1 most-visited market online. A majority of Chinese buyers cited education as their primary motivator, followed by lifestyle, travel opportunities, and investment potential.
“Our collaboration with this magazine is just another example of how we differentiate ourselves as change agents in our industry,” said Jennifer Johnsen, Vice President of Brand Development for RSIR. “’International’ is in our DNA, so it’s only fitting that we are at the forefront of international trends that benefit our brokers and our clients alike.”
Copies of Seattle Luxury Living Magazine are distributed across the RSIR network; in participating airline lounges and the international baggage claim area of SeaTac Airport; among host retailers and hotels; and digitally via targeted newsletters. The magazine is also available through RSIR’s popular WeChat app, which is broadly shared locally and within China, where an estimated 600 million members consume WeChat-hosted content.
According to Jones, more than 60,000 copies of the magazine have been downloaded on their WeChat app so far in 2016. The most popular story of the year was the discussion about Vancouver’s recently imposed foreign buyer tax. In response to rising interest, Jones appointed a full-time Research Editor, William Hillis, formerly a Shanghai-based analyst for a Big Four financial advisory firm, to report on trends. Hillis now researches and authors regionally-focused original content in English and Chinese for the growing consumer base that is following news in the region.
“Seattle real estate has become a viral topic in China,” adds Hillis. “Many of our top sales in Puget Sound are to Chinese buyers.”
The inaugural Xiamen Airlines flight drew attention from local media, as Puget Sound Business Journal reported that the Xiamen Airlines Dreamliner flew into Seattle, “marking the Chinese airline’s inaugural flight to the U.S. with direct service from Shenzen, China’s technology hub city.”
The article outlines that Xiamen will offer flights between Seattle and Shenzen three times per week and that “the goal is to boost business and cultural exchanges between the two cities.” The airline also “signed a partnership agreement with Seattle-based Alaska Airlines to fly Chinese tourists and business travelers landing at Sea-Tac onto connecting Alaska flights to 61 major and secondary destinations across the U.S., Canada and Mexico.”