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Realtors(R) Report Foreigners Come to America - to Buy Homes

Guest National Association of REALTORS

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Guest National Association of REALTORS

International real estate purchases in the U.S. continue to be a significant share of business for many Realtors®, according to the 2008 National Association of Realtors® Profile of International Home Buying Activity.


This new research indicates that international buying activity in the U.S. is widespread. NAR estimates that between 150,000 and 190,000 homes were sold to foreign nationals from May 2007 to May 2008. Recent foreign buyers purchased properties in every state and the District of Columbia.

The most popular states where international buyers purchased homes are Florida, California and Texas. Arizona, New York, Washington and Nevada were also popular.


"As the most trusted resource for real estate information, Realtors® have long understood what this latest research confirms -- the U.S. housing industry truly has no boundaries," said NAR President Richard F. Gaylord, a broker with RE/MAX Real Estate Specialists in Long Beach, Calif.


The typical international buyer purchased a single-family vacation home costing $297,400. Four in 10 paid for their U.S. property with cash, compared with 7 percent for all domestic buyers. The typical international owner stayed at his or her U.S. property for 2.6 months during the year, according to the NAR findings.


Foreign exchange rates have helped make U.S. homes more affordable for international buyers. The euro, for example, has strengthened 24 percent versus the U.S. dollar over the past two years. Home prices are also now more affordable in places such as Florida and Arizona, contributing to

those states' popularity among foreign buyers.


"Many international buyers recognize that real estate is an excellent investment and are drawn today by abundant inventory, low interest rates and a softer dollar. These conditions allow them to own their own piece of the American dream," Gaylord said.


International buyers are distinct from domestic buyers. International buyers tend to purchase more expensive properties, which cost an average of 36 percent more than the typical domestic buyer's home purchase. In fact, more than 14 percent of properties sold to international buyers sold in excess of $750,000. Foreign buyers also show a greater preference for condos and townhouses compared to domestic buyers.


People from North America, Europe and Asia accounted for more than 85 percent of recent foreign home buying transactions. The top six countries of origin for foreign home buyers, in rank order, were Canada, the United Kingdom, Mexico, China, India and Germany. This year, Canada replaced

Mexico as the country with the largest share of foreign buyers in the U.S. The percentage of Canadian buyers doubled from last year, from 11 percent to 23.5 percent.


"This survey confirms a pattern that we have observed for some years in Florida and other markets that are attracting buyers from overseas," said Tony Macaluso, 2008 chair of NAR's international business group. "This latest research enhances our understanding of this audience and provides insight for the increasing number of Realtors® with international



Of the Realtors® surveyed, 26 percent served international clients in the past year and about half of those clients ended up purchasing a home. The primary reasons some clients did not eventually buy a house were home price concerns, immigration laws, and property taxes. "If visa regulations that favor longer stays for overseas buyers such as retirees from abroad were in place, these sales levels would be even higher," Macaluso said.


Realtors® who have sold homes to international clients reported that their transactions with these clients accounted for about 16 percent of their entire business. For about 8 percent of Realtors® who work with foreign buyers, more than half of their transactions were international



The 2008 NAR Profile of International Home Buying Activity is based on responses from approximately 4,000 Realtors® who serve foreign buyers. It describes international home buying activity in the U.S. over the 12-month period from May 2007 to May 2008 and updates information from the 2007 survey. The full report is available from NAR's Research Division or at



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