EB-5, Immigration

Foreign Nationals Are Buying Record Amounts of U.S. Real Estate Despite Immigration Fears


Foreign National buyers are buying U.S. homes at record rates despite a strengthening USD and much political uncertainty  according to new reports from The National Assn. of Realtors. The reports show that foreign investors purchased 284,455 properties in the 12 months that ended March 31,  about a third more than the prior year. This represents a nearly 50% increase to $153 billion, also a record for the survey first taken in 2009.

The biggest buyers were Chinese nationals who purchased a massive $31.7 billion worth of property, up from the previous year's $27.3 billion and more than ever reported.  There was a surge in Canadian buyers as the Canadian real estate market has gone through the roof in recent years (partially due to the Chinese investment there). Canadians purchased $19 billion worth of residential property compared with $8.9 billion in the 12 months ended March 2016, reported NAR their annual report on international investment. Lawrence Yun, the NAR chief economist, reported that "sky-high home prices in Canada, especially in the big cities of Toronto and Vancouver" were behind the surge.

Strong foreign investment is surprising in the face of a rising U.S. dollar as it makes properties more expensive for international buyers. Additionally, it was thought that the report would reflect a negative impact on the amount of foreign investment due to the strong anti immigration rhetoric from President Trump but this appears not to have had much of an effect. 

“The political and economic uncertainty both here and abroad did not deter foreigners from exponentially ramping up their purchases of U.S. property over the past year,” Yun said. “Foreigners increasingly acted on their beliefs that the U.S. is a safe and secure place to live, work and invest.”

California and Texas tied in second place with 12% of foreign-purchased homes by dollar volume and Florida came in first with 22% with most of it's foreign buyers coming from Latin America and Europe. California's foreign buyers purchased $35 billion worth of properties, up from $27 billion the year before. California's foreign buyers were predominently (71%) from Asia and Oceania.

The National Association of Realtors survey defines foreign buyers as non-U.S. citizens with permanent residences outside the country, as well as noncitizens who have lived here for more than six months on temporary visas or immigrants who have lived here less than two years.

Foreign buyers purchased  64% single-family houses, with the remaining figure comprising condos, town homes, other miscellaneous properties and other residential land. The median price of a home for a foreign buyer was $302,290, compared with the National average of $235,792 for all homes sales. 

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