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International Clients Take Center Stage among Home Buyers in America

Posted by Richard Soto on Tuesday, December 10th, 2013 at 11:35am.

Although international buyers are certainly nothing new to America, these last few years have brought about a surge in foreign home buyers.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) has kept tabs on foreign buyers since 2007. Here are their findings:

Foreign buyers are usually one of two varieties: (1) those buyers with permanent residences outside of the U.S., who usually purchase homes for vacations or investment; and (2) those buyers who are recent immigrants to the United States or those on temporary visas who are here for professional or educational purposes.

In the last 12 months, international clients purchase more than $68 billion worth of U.S. properties, which totaled 6.3 percent of all U.S. existing home sales. Among foreign buyers, 51 percent were those buying for vacation or investment purposes, while 49 were those buying for primary residences.

About 53 percent of realtors surveyed reported foreign buyers purchase for “profitability” and “security.”

Realtors reported that foreign buyers were from no less than 68 countries, with the majority of buyers from Canada, China, Mexico, India, and the United Kingdom. These countries made up about 53 percent of all international transactions in the last 12 months.

Canada and China have the fastest growing foreign buyers, with 10 percent of Canadians purchasing homes in 2007 and 23 percent in 2013. Likewise, just 5 percent of foreign buyers were from China in 2007, but this number increased to 12 percent in 2013.

What International Buyers are Purchasing

Most international buyers purchase single-family homes when they purchase them for primary residences. The majority of buyers purchasing primary residential homes include: international students enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities; recent immigrants; and professionals on extended visas.

The majority of international buyers (54 percent) purchase homes that cost less than $250,000, although Chinese buyers purchase homes with a median price of $425,000, followed by India, with a median price of $300,000.

Many international buyers pay all cash (63 percent), as mortgage financing remains difficult for international clients because of a lack of credit history in the U.S. and because they have no U.S. social security numbers.

The top areas in the country for foreign buyers are: California (17 percent); Texas (9 percent); Arizona (9 percent); and New York (3 percent).

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