International Homebuyers Invest $82.5 Billion in U.S. Real Estate

International business is making up an increasingly large share of real estate transactions in the U.S.

Total international residential sales in the U.S. was $82.5 billion in the past year ending on March 2012, a 24 percent increase from 2011.

According a new report from the National Association of Realtors, a number of factors have contributed to the high international demand, among them competitively-priced homes in the U.S. and the relative weakness of the dollar to foreign currencies. Want to know more? Here were the most interesting parts from the report:

  • Sixty-two percent of international buyers paid all cash, a percentage that has steadily gone up since 2007.
  • Twenty-seven percent of agents reported they have worked with international clients in 2012, and 27 percent also reported that international transactions made up more than 10 percent of their total transactions.
  • Specializations played a huge role in agents’ success with international buyers, with foreign language skills, cultural affinity or orientation with the prospective purchaser and experience being key qualifications. Hazel Goldman, an agent with RE/MAX Pinecrest and Master Brokers Forum member, said language proficiency is a big qualifier in Miami; because she and her son manage a Spanish-speaking team, Goldman said many of her foreign buyers are from Spanish-speaking countries. Cultural affinity, she added, is also hugely important. “They stick with people from their own country as much as possible, ” she said.
  • Canadians accounted for 24 percent of total sales, while China accounted for 11 percent (up from 9 percent in 2011), Mexico for 8 percent and India/United Kingdom for 6 percent.
  • Fifty-five percent of agents reported clients were referred to them through friends, previous clients, and international and domestic referrals.

Foreign buyers are clearly an ever-growing force in today’s housing market, but does anyone wonder if it’s more a “today” situation than a “tomorrow”? For instance, will European buyers still be purchasing homes with as much fervor when the Eurozone crisis is resolved? Or will the values in the U.S. continue to be irresistible for international buyers?

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