Eastside drawing many home buyers from Asia

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More Chinese home buyers are making Seattle their home, thanks to the Chinese version of the movie “Sleepless in Seattle” called “Finding Mr. Right.” Josh Green reports on the surprising trend. KING

MEDINA, Wash. – Tere Foster stood at the front door surrounded by hardwood floors and 5,370 square feet of home. She knew the $4.4 million listing would attract some high-end buyers during this open house on Thursday, but most likely one group in particular.

Buyers from the Asia-Pacific region, especially Chinese.

“I think most agents that are serious about doing this business really need to step up and really change their business model a bit,” Foster said. “Our market – with the economy growing so good in Washington – Seattle is drawing a lot of people.”

The changes in the market in the sound region have caused agencies to mold. Foster, a managing broker with Windermere Real Estate, said her group has hired a Mandarin-speaking employee and even someone to manage feng shui of properties.

“We’ll have them walk through the house before it comes on the market to analyze, so if we need to tweak it in some way. Often it’s subtle,” Foster said. “That has a lot to do with furniture as well and staging. We’ve had them switch things out because they felt it to be not comfortable.”

Moya Skillman, broker with Windermere, estimates that international buyers account for at least 1/3 of the overall purchases in west Bellevue. She also said homes above $3 million saw a 33% increase in sales. Last year by this time there were 30 sales above $3 million. This year that number is at 40, she said.

Foster said some clients will eventually buy two or three homes for convenience to schools and privacy on the weekends.

“We have a family who’s just purchased a home in the Medina-Bellevue area,” she said. “They did that because their son is going to go to the University of Washington and now they’re looking at what they consider a country home, but that’s in Issaquah, which we would consider the suburban marketplace.”

Janie Lee, a long-time broker with John L. Scott, said one thing that attracted people to the area in the first place was a movie called Finding Mr. Right.

“Like Sleepless in Seattle – a Chinese version that really drew a lot of people – they know about Seattle,” she said.

Lee grew up in Seattle and studies Chinese when she was younger.

“I’m glad I did,” she said. “My business was 80 percent local when I started 14 years ago. It is now 80 percent Asian buyers from China.”


-Josh Green, KING 5 News

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