COVID-19 restrictions kept foreign buyers from spending billions of dollars on the U.S. housing market last year, reports Realtor.com. Purchases by international buyers or recent immigrants dropped 33% in 2020 compared to 2019, but the National Association of Realtors’ director of research says there will be a lingering impact on foreign buying through next year. That 33% comes out to a $19.6 billion difference. But it doesn’t seem to have a negative impact on the housing market overall, notes Realtor.com, as the market has been highly competitive on its own.
The report only looked at existing homes, and not new construction, including the flashy, amenity-laden real estate popular with wealthy foreigners.
The NAR report is based on a survey of Realtors, nearly 1,100 of whom had sold property to foreign buyers or new recent immigrants, conducted from April 7 through May 21. It measured sales to foreigners living in the United States and abroad, including new immigrants and visa holders. The sales were conducted from April 2020 through March 2021.
About 60% of these buyers live in the U.S. full time, such as students and workers here on visas, with the other 40% living elsewhere.
The largest percentage of international buyers hailed from America’s neighbors, Canada and Mexico. Canadians made up about 8% of foreign buyers, spending about $4.2 billion on U.S. real estate, followed by Mexico, at 7% of buyers, who put down $2.9 billion.
China, which held the top spot last year, only made up 6% of buyers. But these buyers spent the most on U.S. real estate, at $4.5 billion.
Next up was India, at 4% and $3.1 billion in sales, and Britain, at 4%, making up $2.3 billion in sales.
What kinds of homes are foreign buyers purchasing, and where are they located?
Foreign buyers largely avoided the high-rise condos in the biggest cities and chose single-family homes, many in the ‘burbs.