Foreign investment in existing homes falls to $53.3 billion

Number of foreign-bought homes falls to lowest level since NAR began tracking

International buyers purchased $53.3 billion in U.S. homes from April 2022 to March 2023, according to data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

Per the organization’s newly released 2023 “International Transactions in U.S. Residential Real Estate” report, foreign buyers purchased 84,600 properties over that timeframe, down 14.2% annually to fall to the smallest number since the NAR first started keeping track in 2009. That’s somewhat in line with the overall year-over-year drop in existing home sales nationwide, a decrease of 17.8% from 2021 to 2022.

The dollar amount is down, too, falling 9.6% from the previous 12-month period. International buyers comprised 2.3% of the $2.3 trillion in existing home sales from April 2022 to March 2023.

Much of the drop, according to NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun, came simply because you can’t buy what’s not for sale.

“Sharply lower housing inventory in the U.S. and higher borrowing costs across the world have dented international buyers for two straight years,” he explained. “However, recovering international travel following the end of the pandemic will bring more foreign transactions in coming months and years.”

The supply crunch has led to an upturn in home prices for domestic home seekers, and international buyers are feeling it too: the average and median existing home sales prices for foreign buyers, at $639,900 and $396,400, respectively, were the highest ever recorded by the NAR. The average price was up 7% annually, while the median price grew 8.3% year over year. In total, 15% of international buyers bought homes worth more than $1 million during the study’s time frame.

Chinese buyers had the highest average purchase price at $1.23 million, partially due to the large share (33%) of them buying homes in pricey California. Among countries, China accounted for the most home sales by dollar amount at $13.6 billion, followed by Canada at $6.6 billion. The two have occupied the top spots in the rankings every year since 2013. Mexico ($4.2 billion), India ($3.4 billion) and Colombia ($0.9 billion) made up the rest of the top five.

“Home purchases from Chinese buyers increased after China relaxed the world’s strictest pandemic lockdown policy, while buyers from India were helped by the country’s strong GDP growth,” Yun added. “A stronger Mexican peso against the U.S. dollar likely contributed to the rise in sales from Mexican buyers.”

Florida remained the biggest destination for overseas buyers, with 23% of all residential purchases from abroad occurring in the Sunshine State. California and Texas, at 12% each, were second, followed by Arizona, Illinois and North Carolina at 4% each.

Foreign buyers living abroad accounted for roughly 56% of the dollar volume, or $29.9 billion, in total purchases. That share is up 20% from 12 months prior. Recent immigrants or foreign visa holders accounted for 44% ($23.4 billion), down 31.4% annually.


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