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The National Association of REALTORS® maintains formal relationships with over 100 organized real estate associations in 75 different countries around the world. This network of global alliances gives REALTORS® the confidence of working with professionals that abide by NAR’s strict Code of Ethics and is a very powerful network and referral platform for growing the international business of NAR's 1.4 million members.
To gain a better understanding of the international business transactions in these countries, the National Association of Realtors® Research Group and the Member Engagement Group conducted a survey to gather information on the transactions of respondents with international clients during the reference period of July 2019 through June 2020. The survey defined an international client as one who is not a citizen of the country of the respondent. Respondents were asked about the characteristics of five closed transactions.
The survey was sent to 3,537 members in English (2,132), Spanish (1,357), and Portuguese (48) during the period of July 13 through September 24. The survey received 495 usable responses, which are responses where the respondent identified the country of business.
International Business Trends
The 495 respondents identified 48 countries as their business area. The countries with the largest number of respondents that accounted for at least 3% of the respondents were Mexico (24%); Spain (11%), Italy (6%), Philippines (6%), Portugal (6%), India (5%), Jamaica (5%), Greece (4%), Costa Rica (3%), and Canada (3%).
Thirty percent of respondents reported a decrease in their international client business during the period of July 2019 through June 2020 compared to the prior 12-month period. Twenty-seven percent of respondents reported a decrease in their international business over the past five years. The higher fraction of respondents who reported a decrease in international business in the past year compared to five years ago likely reflects the impact of the COVID-19 travel bans and the economic impact of the pandemic on international transactions.
Among the 472 respondents who provided information (excluding those who are not engaged in any sales transaction), 68% reported they conducted a business with an international client during the period July 2019-June 2020.
Among the respondents who reported they were an International REALTOR® Member (IRM®), 47%, reported that their international client business accounted for over 20% of their business, a higher fraction compared to non-IRM respondents, at 40%.
Nearly three-fourths of respondents reported that the international client contacted them directly or found them through a website.
Among the 184 respondents who provided information, 130 respondents or 71% reported they are an IRM®. Of the 130 IRM® respondents, 22% held a Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS®) designation.
Origin of Foreign Buyers
Respondents reported that their foreign buyers came from 48 countries. Buyers from the United States accounted for 23% of all reported foreign buyers, followed by foreign buyers from Canada and the United Kingdom that each accounted for 9% of foreign buyers. Other top countries of origin were France (7%), Germany (5%), China (4%), Italy (3%), Spain (3%), Brazil (2%), Mexico (2%), Belgium (2%), and Russia (2%).
Foreign Buyer Residential Purchases
- Sixty percent of respondents reported that prices in their home countries are less expensive than prices in other countries.
- About 57% of respondents reported that the price of the properties purchased was $250,000 or less.
- Sixty-five percent of respondents reported that the foreign buyer paid all-cash.
- Nearly half of foreign buyers purchased condominiums.
- Slightly more than half, at 56%, intended to use the property as a vacation home or as a rental.
Respondents cited a variety of reasons why the client decided not to purchase a property. "Could not find a property", "cost of the property", and "difficulty moving money" were the top reasons why the client did not purchase a property.
Foreign Buyer Residential Purchases by Country of Business
Use the data visualization below to view foreign buyer statistics in the countries of business that accounted for at least 3% of all respondents.
NAR's Global Partnerships
The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® plays an integral role in opening doors for REALTORS® to compete in the global market place. By opening markets for business and keeping members informed of the latest developments occurring around the world, NAR gives REALTORS® the tools they need to succeed in the global market.
NAR maintains formal relationships with over 100 foreign real estate associations in 76 countries. These relationships are formed to advance the interests of REALTORS® worldwide, to uphold the highest standards of real estate practice, and to facilitate network, education and international business arrangements in strategic markets for REALTORS® and non-U.S. real estate practitioners.
Additionally, the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® and its affiliates offer the widest variety of certifications and designations to help elevate professionalism. A great example is NAR´s Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) Designation which offers specialized education and services to real estate professionals who aim to build networks and profit in the global market.
For more information and resources about working with international clients, visit https://www.nar.realtor/global.
To find out about other products from NAR’s Research Group, visit https://www.nar.realtor/research-and-statistics.
About This Report
This report is a collaboration of the National Association of Realtors® Research Group, Member Engagement Group, and the Member Experience Group. For information or questions about this report, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Lawrence Yun, PhD
Chief Economist & Senior Vice President
Jessica Lautz, Doctor of Real Estate
Vice President, Demographics and Business Insights
Senior Economist and Director of Housing and Commercial Research
Director, Business Insights
Research Associate, Business Insights
Member Engagement Group
Vice President, Engagement and Advocacy Outreach
Director, Engagement and Global Strategy
Manager, Global Alliances and Business Development
Manager, Global Programs and Outreach
Global Business Alliances and Member Experience
Specialist, Engagement Ambassador
Member Experience Group
Manager, Governance and Global Volunteer Services