Vancouver’s Foreign Tax Turns Seattle Into Haven For Chinese Buyers

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February 09, 2017

After the Canadian province of British Columbia enacted a 15 percent tax on foreign buyers, prospective Chinese investors set their sights on a city 120 miles to the south.

Realtor.com reports that wealthy Chinese buyers are increasing their activity in Seattle. Searches for Seattle property in China increased 125 percent year-over-year in November last year. One agent said that she held an open house for a $2.3 million listing in Bellevue, Wash., and all 20 groups who stopped by were Chinese.

Vancouver implemented its tax in August to combat rising home values caused in part by wealthy foreign investments. In December, searches in China for Vancouver properties dropped 37 percent.

A Seattle city council member said that it was exploring a vacancy tax that would discourage Chinese buyers from snatching up expensive buildings and keeping them empty.

The sudden surge in interest in Seattle comes at a time when it already ranks among the nation’s hottest real-estate markets. It led the U.S. in home-price growth in November, according to a report released Tuesday by S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices, which found prices there increased by more than 10% over the same month in 2015.

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