US Housing - Global

US Housing, A Global Marketplace

The housing market is rapidly becoming an international marketplace with an increasing number of transactions representing global sales.

According to the National Association of Realtors®2014 Profile of International Home Buying Activity, for the period April 2013 through March 2014, total international sales are estimated at $92.2B, an increase from the previous period’s level of $68.2B.

Favorable exchange rates, affordable home prices and rising affluence abroad continue to drive international buyers to the U.S. to purchase properties and make real estate investments.

While international buyers are purchasing homes throughout the country, the four states accounting for 55% of the total reported purchases are – Florida (23%), California (14%), Arizona (6%), and Texas (12%). According to®, the top five cities searched online by international buyers in 2014 were Los Angeles, Miami, Las Vegas, Orlando and New York City.

Twenty-eight percent of Realtors® reported working with international clients this year. International sales are becoming a specialty among real estate professionals.

- International buyers are more likely to make all-cash purchases when compared to domestic buyers. In 2014, nearly 60% of reported international transactions were all cash, compared to only 33% of domestic purchases.

- Most homes purchased by foreign buyers, about 42%, are used as a primary residence. Non-resident foreigners are limited to 6-month stays in the U.S., so these buyers largely use the property for vacation or rental purposes or as an investment.

- Approximately 65% of purchases involved a single-family home. Nearly half of international clients preferred properties in a suburban area, about a quarter preferred a central city or urban area, and about 13% choose to purchase in a resort area.

International buyers come from all over the globe, but Canada, China (The People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong and Taiwan), Mexico, India and the U.K. accounted for approximately 54% of all reported international transactions. China held the lead in dollar volume, purchasing an estimated $22B with an average sale cost of $590,826. China was also the fastest growing source of transactions, now accounting for 16% of all purchases, up 4% from last year. Mexico ranked third with 9% of sales and India and the U.K. both accounted for 5%.

Chinese buyers are now the biggest international players in the U.S. housing market and some states are seeing billions of dollars in real estate deals as a result.

California is particularly attractive because it’s so close to the homeland, and its major cities have large Chinese-American populations and attractive climates and lifestyles. The influx of Chinese buyers has helped push home prices higher in places like the Bay Area.

According to NAR, nearly 40% of the Chinese buyers will live in their U.S. homes full-time. But nearly half the purchases made by Chinese nationals are strictly for investment with buyers not intending to live in them at all.

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