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Amid U.S. real estate buying binge by foreign investors, Florida remains first choice

A National Association of Realtors annual survey found record volume and activity by foreign buyers of U.S. real estate. Florida had the highest foreign investment activity, followed by California and Texas. [National Association of Realtors]
A National Association of Realtors annual survey found record volume and activity by foreign buyers of U.S. real estate. Florida had the highest foreign investment activity, followed by California and Texas. [National Association of Realtors]
Published Jul. 21, 2017

Foreign investment in U.S. residential real estate recently skyrocketed to a new high with nearly half of all foreign sales happening in Florida, California and Texas.

This year's National Association of Realtors survey of international investing in U.S. real estate once again revealed that foreign buying is focused first and foremost on Florida, where 22 percent of such activities took place. The Sunshine State was followed by California and Texas (each at 12 percent), and then by New Jersey and Arizona (four percent apiece).

Florida was the most popular state for Canadian buyers, fueled by a sharp increase in sales dollar volume. Chinese buyers mostly chose California, while Texas was the preferred state for Mexican buyers.

Overall, 284,455 U.S. properties were bought by foreign buyers, up 32 percent from 2016. Purchases accounted for 10 percent of the dollar volume of existing-home sales, up from 8 percent last year.

NAR's study found that between April 2016 and March 2017, foreign buyers and recent immigrants purchased $153 billion of residential property. That's a 49 percent jump from $103 billion in 2016 and surpasses the $103.9 billion in purchases in 2015 as the new survey high.

"The political and economic uncertainty both here and abroad did not deter foreigners from exponentially ramping up their purchases of U.S. property over the past year," NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun stated.

"While the strengthening of the U.S. dollar in relation to other currencies and steadfast home-price growth made buying a home more expensive in many areas, foreigners increasingly acted on their beliefs that the U.S. is a safe and secure place to live, work and invest."

Yun attributed the rise in Canadian purchasing property in U.S. markets that remain more affordable than in their own country.

"Inventory shortages continue to drive up U.S. home values, but prices in five countries, including Canada, experienced even quicker appreciation," said Yun.

Foreign buyers typically paid $302,290, which was a 9.0 percent increase from the median sales price in the 2016 survey ($277,380) and above the sales price of all existing homes sold during the same period ($235,792).

About 10 percent of foreign buyers paid over $1 million, and 44 percent of transactions were all-cash purchases, down from 50 percent in 2016.

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