Who Lives in (and Visits) Your Market?

This is the first question you should ask yourself. People cross borders for many reasons. Examine each of these avenues to get a complete picture of the global population in your market and to identify opportunities to support their real estate needs.

Population Data

Who has immigrated to your market? Where are they from and what languages do they speak? In the U.S., the Census Bureau provides extensive reporting on population demographics.

To obtain local details:

1. For key community facts, down to the zip code level, use FactFinder.Census.gov.

2. If you only need state-level facts, take advantage of NAR’s State-by-State International Business Reports, at nar.realtor/statereports.

Common Types of International “Visitors”


Who is working in your market, as a highly-skilled international employee? Numerous companies and organizations (corporations, universities, medical centers, etc.) sponsor visas and hire employees from other countries. These workers need housing. To find out who, specifically, is hiring in your U.S. city—plus how many positions, and average salaries—check out the Work Visa Database at MyVisaJobs.com.

World Map: Top Ten Places of Origin of International Students

© National Association of REALTORS®


How many international students are attending the institutions of higher learning in your market? Many colleges and universities publish this information on their website; if not, you usually can request it directly from the admissions office. Parents of current and future students often purchase real estate for student housing, rental income, long-term investment, and/or vacation purposes. For more data on student trends, consult the Institute of International Education at iie.org/Research-and-Insights/Open-Doors.


Does your market attract retirees from other countries? Current and future retirees often purchase real estate for full- and/or part-time residency (depending on visa restrictions, and their plans for retirement). To find out which countries are attracting the most U.S. retirees, see where the U.S. Social Security System is sending payments. ssa.gov/deposit/foreign.htm


Is your market a magnet for tourism? Sometimes visitors fall in love with a destination and decide to purchase a property. Find the organizations that are facilitating tourism in your market. They should be able to provide detailed information on tourism trends and countries of origin—and suggest ways to get involved (write articles, place advertisements, etc.).



Can international visitors easily travel to your market? The availability of direct flights has a significant impact on global tourism and business opportunities. An easy way to check: Go to FlightConnections.com and enter the name of any airport, then click on a flight path to see which airline(s) service that route, plus their daily schedule.

Property Shopping

Who is showing interest in purchasing a property in your market? Each month, realtor.com® International publishes the top 10 countries of origin, for U.S. property searches, by city. Soon, this information will be available at the zip code level! nar.realtor/where-are-global-buyers- searching-in-the-united-states

SOLD: International Transactions

What properties have already exchanged hands with foreign investors? In U.S. markets, you may be able to track foreign investment via your MLS. For example, by asking “Was FIRPTA involved?,” you can identify a foreign seller without violating fair housing laws.

Other Sources of Population Data

Map of the U.S.: Top Ten Markets for International Traffic

© National Association of REALTORS®

Making Connections: International Clubs

When people take up residency in another country, they often seek out connections with others from “back home,” while also establishing ties to their new community. Filling this need are a wide range of social groups that go by many different names (cultural clubs, societies, expat groups, etc.).

Given the friendly intentions of these groups, newcomers are welcome. It’s an excellent way to meet people within a particular community. Just make sure your intentions are equally sincere. If you simply show up, looking for business, doors will close.

Notice: The information on this page may not be current. The archive is a collection of content previously published on one or more NAR web properties. Archive pages are not updated and may no longer be accurate. Users must independently verify the accuracy and currency of the information found here. The National Association of REALTORS® disclaims all liability for any loss or injury resulting from the use of the information or data found on this page.


About Global Perspectives

Global Perspectives in Real Estate is a resource for global professionals, aimed at helping them globalize their local markets. Produced bi-monthly, this newsletter serves as a how-to guide and is full of useful and actionable tips. A free subscription is given to all Certified International Property Specialists (CIPS) designees.

Learn more about earning the CIPS designation