U.S. Market Still Top Pick Among Global Home Buyers

U.S. Market Still Top Pick Among Global Home Buyers

Residential News » North America Residential News Edition | By Michael Gerrity | April 4, 2014 8:56 AM ET

According to the California Association of Realtors (CAR) "2013 International Clients Survey", international home buyers preferred purchasing properties in the United States over all other countries. These foreign buyers still view the U.S. as a safe place to put their money.

The vast majority (85 percent) of international buyers said they only considered purchasing a home in the U.S., citing that the stable government and financial system would guarantee their home investment. Fifteen percent considered investing in other countries, with Canada, Germany, Mexico, China, Singapore, Sweden, and France cited as other countries most considered.

Over $68.2 billion in residential property transactions occurred in the U.S. during 2013, down from $82.5 billion in 2012 according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

International buyers also chose to purchase in the U.S. for its desirable location and climate (20 percent), to be closer to family and friends (20 percent), investment opportunities (9 percent), changes in work and employment (9 percent), educational opportunities (6 percent), and affordable prices (4 percent).

International buyers purchased a property in the U.S. primarily for investment purposes or tax advantages (18 percent) or to rent out (14 percent), contrary to traditional home buyers, who purchased primarily because they were tired of renting (23 percent).

While Florida received the most foreign buyer activity in 2013, looking at California specifically, Los Angeles County was the top location where international buyers purchased properties (35 percent).  International buyers also purchased homes in Orange (22 percent), San Diego (20 percent), Riverside (14 percent), Contra Costa (7 percent), and Santa Clara (7 percent) counties.

The top four states in terms of number of international buyers:

  • Florida: 23% of U.S. total
  • California: 17% of U.S. total
  • Arizona: 9% of U.S. total
  • Texas: 9% of U.S. total

Additional findings from C.A.R.'s 2013 International Clients Survey include:

  • Sixty-nine percent of international buyers paid all cash for their properties, compared to 27 percent of traditional buyers who paid all cash.
  • Thirty-two percent of international buyers purchased the home as a primary residence, compared to 75 percent for traditional buyers, and 33 percent purchased the home as an investment or a rental property, compared to 19 percent of traditional buyers.
  • The primary language of many international buyers was Chinese (36 percent), yet 70 percent communicated in English, illustrating a highly educated international clientele.
  • International buyers typically spent five weeks looking for properties, compared to 10 weeks for traditional buyers.
  • Forty-four percent of international home buyers purchased homes with designer kitchens, 26 percent purchased homes with a wine cellar, and 9 percent purchased homes with a sauna.  Other home amenities that international buyers wanted include private beach, putting green, heated floors, and outdoor kitchens.

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