"These days, a lot of Chinese buyers who want to be in Seattle are middle-class," he said.
Will this trend continue?
In the short term, foreign sales have stagnated, largely because China has made it harder to get money out of the country, Aijing Wang, the real-estate alliance's CEO, said through an interpreter. But in the long run, Seattle looks like it will remain a desirable market, she said -- it's especially attractive because homes here are cheaper than Vancouver, San Francisco and New York, which traditionally have been popular for foreign homebuyers.
"I think it's just the beginning," Hu said.
But we're getting more expensive, and catching up with those cities
If anything, that only builds more confidence among foreign buyers because they know they'll get a better return on their investment, Liu said. And we're still dirt cheap -- and seeing prices rise a lot more slowly -- compared to China's top cities.
"People can buy a house like this," Liu said inside a $5.3 million listing in Medina, "for the cost of a three- or four-bedroom apartment in Beijing."
But our rising prices are already starting to price out some of the middle-class buyers in China. "One of my friends looked here but bought in Maryland" because it's more affordable, Liu said.
Have President Donald Trump's anti-immigration stances dissuaded any buyers?
Not yet, because most people from China looking to buy a house and move here are using the federal EB-5 program, which Trump and Congress haven't touched, Wang said. The program, which has led to fraud in some cases, allows foreigners to become permanent U.S. residents if they invest at least $500,000 in certain U.S. projects.
They said they've felt welcome so far in America.
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