The Silicon Forest welcomes one more company to the grove. The top search engine in the Chinese language, Baidu, has opened an office in downtown Bellevue in an effort to expand its reach in the world of artificial intelligence and cloud computing.
In a print article entitled “How Foreign Investment is Changing our Neighborhoods,” Seattle Magazine’s Jenny Cunningham prominently featured Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty (RSIR), an expert on the latest in this massive trend. After “quizzing” her readers about the most expensive housing market in North America (Vancouver, British Columbia) Cunningham describes that “in recent years, mainland Chinese have been buying Coal Harbour condos and Shaughnessy megamansions, and the general consensus is that these rich immigrants are the main reason for Vancouver’s skyrocketing housing values.” She then asks, “could Seattle be next?”
Elucidating the tendency for Chinese investors to come to the Seattle area in search of homes, Cunningham says “statistics from the University of Washington confirm that trend” as “there are more students from China at the UW than ever before.” She even adds that “believe it or not, Seattle is trending as a sexy city among China’s college-age kids.”
Another point of influence in the article? The EB-5 Investment Program. When Canada ended their popular direct foreign investment program back in 2014, Dean Jones predicted in an interview with Jake Whittenberg from King 5 News, that many investors would likely “prefer the Seattle and Eastside areas,” supported by census data at the time which revealed that Asians were “the fastest growing demographic in Washington State, with many Eastside communities comprising between 25% to 50% of the population.” This trend has come into fruition with the recent rise of developments, highlighted when RSIR attended two high-profile ground breaking ceremonies: the Portola Tower by Dargey in Belltown and the Southport Hotel by SECO Development on Lake Washington in Renton. Cunningham likewise describes the significance of the EB-5 Program, as she writes that “Chinese investors are also building market-rate housing and creating jobs for locals under [it],” and citing Kevin Stamper who told her that “85 percent of applicants are from China.”
So, Cunningham finally asks, “Who’s betting on China?” RSIR is listed as one of three companies behind this trend, as the article reads: “‘China is a top focus for us right now,’ says Dean Jones, CEO of the Seattle-area offices of Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty. Jones has traveled to China several times recently to raise awareness of the value Seattle offers, compared to other West Coast cities. Realogics launched an ‘Asia Desk’ in its Kirkland office in January, complete with tearoom and staffed with Mandarin, Cantonese and Korean speakers who can help foreign clients with everything from travel arrangements to finding a school for their children. Jones predicts this is just the beginning of an influx of buyers from China. ‘What is really surprising is that China hadn’t discovered Seattle earlier.’”