Economists' Outlook

Housing stats and analysis from NAR's research experts.

Foreigners Purchased $102.6 B of U.S. Residential Property in April 2015—March 2016

Foreign buyers purchased $102.6 billion of residential property in April 2015—March 2016, a one percent decrease from the $103.9 billion of property purchased in April 2014—March 2015, according to NAR’s recently released 2016 Profile of International Activity in U.S. Residential Real Estate. Both the increase in home prices and the depreciating value of foreign currencies against the U.S. dollar made buying property pricier and led to a pull-back from non-resident foreign buyers.[1]

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Foreign buyers purchased 214,885 residential properties, a three percent increase from the previous period. Non-resident foreigners accounted for 41 percent of foreign buyers while resident foreigners—who are recent immigrants and temporary workers or students—made up 59 percent. In past years, the number of foreign buyers was split almost evenly between resident and non-resident foreign buyers. The slowdown in economic growth in many countries and the strengthening of the U.S. dollar against many foreign currencies explains in part the drop in the number of non-resident foreign buyers. While these obstacles led to a cool down in sales from non-resident foreign buyers, the purchases by resident foreign buyers rose, resulting in the overall sales dollar volume still being the second highest since 2009.
For the second year in a row, Chinese foreign buyers were the top buyers, purchasing $27.3 billion worth of residential property which is 26.7 percent of the dollar volume of residential property sold. Canadian buyers purchased $8.9 billion of residential property; Indian buyers, $6.1 billion; United Kingdom buyers, $5.5 billion; and Mexican buyers, $4.8 billion.

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Foreigners, especially those from China, continue to see the U.S. as a solid investment opportunity and an attractive place to visit and live. This year’s findings highlight the tremendous appeal U.S. real estate still has on many foreign nationals despite the price of property becoming less affordable.

[1] Non-resident foreigners are non-U.S. citizens with permanent residences outside the United States. These clients typically purchase property as an investment, for vacations, or other visits of less than six months to the United States. Resident foreigners are non-U.S. citizens who are recent immigrants (in the country less than two years at the time of the transaction) or temporary visa holders residing for more than six months in the United States for professional, educational, or other reasons.


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