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Where the Global Homebuyers are Flocking

Posted by Richard Soto on Thursday, April 26th, 2012 at 11:07am.

The U.S. may still be struggling its way out of a recession and real estate lull, but many investors from all over the world are snatching up U.S. properties at bargain-basement prices. Although most parts of the country are not appealing to foreign investors, there are a number of large markets that are quite appealing and plenty of real estate that’s incredibly attractive. This usually means tourist areas, where sun and fun and beautiful beaches can be found.

The San Diego-based real estate data analysis company, DataQuick, has identified the top 10 markets where foreign homebuyers are buying U.S. properties:

1. Lakeland-Winter Haven, Fla.

2. Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla.

3. Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Fla.

4. North Point-Bradenton-Sarasota, Fla.

5. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, Fla.

6. Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale, Ariz. 7. New York County, N.Y. (Manhattan)

8. Honolulu, Hawaii.

9. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla.

10. Las Vegas-Paradise, Nev.

The results were calculated using the percentage of homes sold from May 20011 to January 2012 that had a foreign mailing address on the property deed for the buyer.

So, who is the foreign buyer?

  •  Foreign buyers accounted for 7.7 percent of the U.S. homes sales in March 2011. The total sales of existing homes during this time was $1.07 trillion, with foreign buyers accounting for $82 billion of those sales (up from $66 billion in 2010, according to the National Association of Realtors).
  • There are two main groups of foreign buyers: the first group has a permanent residence outside the U.S., while the second group is recent immigrants of less than two year who hold temporary visas in the U.S. for more than six months.
  •  Many U.S. real estate companies have gone global, with international websites marketing to foreign buyers. Just a few of the companies that are now setting their sights on the foreign investor include Realtor.com and Re/Max.
  •  The majority of foreign-bought existing home sales in March 2011 (58 percent) were located in four states: Florida (31 percent), California (12 percent), Texas (9 percent), and Arizona (6 percent). The other major states in terms of foreign buyers during that time were: New York, Hawaii and Nevada.
  •  Although international buyers come from dozens of countries, the largest percentage of buyers came from the following countries: Canada (23 percent), China (9 percent), the United Kingdom (7 percent) and India (7 percent). Mexico, France and Germany each accounted for between 4 and 7 percent of foreign buyers.
  •  The NAR survey revealed that only 37 percent of foreign buyers intended to use their purchase as a primary residence. About 28 percent of foreign buyers intended to use their purchase as a vacation home for family and friends, and about 16 percent said their purchase was for investment.
  •  According the NAR, most foreign investors in U.S. real estate recognized their purchase as a “secure and/or “profitable” investment. Most also said they wanted to purchase in a “desirable location.” Many international buyers see purchasing a home in the U.S. to be a safe purchase and a safe haven for their money, particularly in countries where economic and political uncertainty is commonplace.
  •  Most places desired by international investors are deemed desirable areas to vacation, often boasting warm climates, pretty beaches and an international ambience. As such, most areas chosen by international investors are tourist attractions.

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