Highlights from the Profile of International Activity in U.S. Residential Real Estate

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This annual report focuses on two groups of international buyers and sellers of residential real estate:

  • Non-resident foreigners: Non-U.S. citizens with permanent residences outside the United States. These clients typically purchase property for investment, vacation,or visits of less than six months to the United States on non-immigrant visas.

  • Resident foreigners: Non-U.S. citizens who are recent immigrants (less than two years at the time of the transaction) or non-immigrant visa holders who reside for more than six months in the United States for professional,educational, or other reasons.


Residential Properties Purchased by Foreign Buyers

  • Foreign buyers purchased 266,800 residential properties, a decrease from 284,000 during the previous 12-month period.
  • The average price of properties purchased by the mix of foreign buyers was $454,400, a decrease from $536,900 during the previous period.
  • All dollar volume of purchases from the top five countries declined compared to the levels in the previous 12-month period. The major foreign buyers were China, Canada, the United Kingdom, India, and Mexico.
  • 72% of non-resident foreign buyers made an all-cash purchase; 30% of resident foreign buyers paid all-cash.
  • 52% of foreign buyers purchased the property as a primary residence.
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Residential Properties Sold by Foreigners

  • 48% of international clients who sold their U.S. residential property originated from Canada, China, Mexico, India, and the United Kingdom.
  • 61% of the properties sold by international clients were in Florida, California, Texas, Arizona, and New York.
Kitchen looking out to patio

U.S. Clients Searching for Properties Abroad

  • 7% of REALTOR® respondents had clients who were interested in purchasing property abroad. Mexico, Canada, Costa Rica, France, China, and the United Kingdom were the top countries of interest. 
  • Most clients seeking property abroad were interested in a residential property and intended to use the property for vacation and/or residential rental.
Mexican beach from porch

REALTOR® Interaction with International Clients

  • 23% of REALTOR® respondents reported working with international clients, a decrease from 29% in the previous 12-month period.
  • 33% of REALTOR® respondents reported an increase in the percentage of international client transactions to their business from one year ago, while 43% reported an increase from five years ago. Most respondents report no change in the share of their business that is international.
  • 62% reported that personal contacts, previous clients, and business contacts were the major sources of clients/referrals.
  • REALTORS® also help international clients lease U.S. properties. Among all respondents, 11% reported they helped a client lease a residential property.
Rooftop patio

Not So Local Real Estate

Total sales volume of U.S. residential real estate to foreign buyers from April 2017 – March 2018 was $121 billion.

Educate Yourself

NAR offers a number of courses on the business and cultural aspects of working in the world of global real estate, as well as the CIPS designation. The CIPS designation can be earned by U.S. REALTORS®, non-U.S. real estate professionals, and Association Executives.


Find the information, education, and connections you need to thrive in the growing field of international real estate.