Foreign Home Buyers Go Upscale


SARASOTA, FLORIDA, September 8th, 2015 – Home buyers from overseas are focusing more on upscale residential properties in the United States, and Florida continues to lead as the top U.S. destination of foreigners’ home purchases, the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) reported recently.

Data from NAR’s “2015 Profile of Home Buying Activity of International Clients” showed that for the 12 months ending March 2015, the mean price foreign home buyers paid amounted to nearly $500,000. This is roughly double the $255,600 mean purchase price for all pre-owned U.S. home sales during the same 12-month span and is 26% above the $396,200 mean price of existing residences sold to foreign nationals during the prior 12-month period.

A perennial favorite hunting ground of home buyers from abroad, Florida cornered a 21 percent share of U.S. residential sales to foreigners, according to the recent NAR report. On nationalities’ preferences in the Sunshine State, Canadians and Europeans gravitate toward Sarasota homes for sale in Southwest Florida, while Latin Americans and Chinese buyers tend to go to the Miami area.

More expeditious sale

Foreign Home Buyers Go Upscale

The NAR report, based on a random survey of some 200,000 realtors nationwide, also indicated why it would be smart for prospective sellers seeking an expeditious sale to have the services of a broker with a strong global network in addition to having an inside track of the local home market.

The 2015 NAR survey indicates that the bulk of international buyers didn’t go through the often lengthy process of mortgage financing as 55 percent of the reported foreign home sales were all-cash transactions. The report also hints at a sustained foreign buying interest in U.S. homes for sale as there was a 7 percent increase in the number of polled realtors who worked with international clients.

Further indicating the foreign buying shift to upscale home options, total sales value advanced year over year by 13 percent to $104 billion from $92 billion. The batting average, however, in terms of unit sales was lower as foreigners bought some 209,000 residences from April last year to March 2015, down 10 percent from the 232,600 units recorded in the previous 12 months.

NAR analysts attributed this retreat in unit sales to the relatively stronger U.S. dollar which had a dampening effect particularly on potential home buyers from China and Canada, two major sources of international real estate clients for American brokers. The recent weakness of these two countries’ currencies, foreseen to continue in the near term, pose possible headwinds on home sales to prospective Canadian and Chinese buyers of U.S residences.

Reinforced global thinking

Be that as it may, U.S. realtors, particularly those serving the Southwest Florida region, remain sharp on the market growth opportunities provided by international clients. Just this September 9, an international real estate market conference explored ways and means to help make Sarasota homes for sale more competitive in the global marketplace. This annual event is a joint project of the Global Business Council and Commercial Investment Division of the Realtors Association of Manatee and Sarasota.

Conference participants, as part of the meeting’s international real estate education, networking and relationship building objectives, were provided insights not only on the U.S. and Florida’s economic prospects. They were also presented with perspectives on converting international tourists into buyers of Sarasota homes for sale. Likewise discussed was the impact of the region’s cultural treasures and international sports tourism on the local economy and housing.