Foreign Homebuyers Choose Suburbs

Foreign buyers purchased 214,885 residential properties for $102.6 billion from April 2015 to March 2016

By Mike Chamernik, Associate Editor | September 1, 2016
Foreign Homebuyers Choose Suburbs
Foreign Homebuyers Choose Suburbs

Foreigners looking to live in the U.S. are emulating their natural-born counterparts by turning to suburban living.

According to the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) 2016 “Profile of International Activity in U.S. Residential Real Estate” report, 48 percent of foreign buyers purchased properties in suburban areas, rather than in urban areas (29 percent), small towns (14 percent), or resort areas (8 percent).

The data, based on a survey of 5,960 Realtors, is broken into two groups of buyers: Non-resident foreigners (41 percent of the total) who permanently live outside of the U.S., and Resident foreigners (59 percent), who are recent immigrants residing in the U.S. for more than six months.

Resident foreigners—who hail largely from Mexico, China, and India—more than Non-residents, prefer suburban areas (52 percent to 41 percent), and the vast majority surveyed (68 percent) intend to use their new property as a primary residence. Only 13 percent intend to use it as a residential investment.

Non-residents, who mostly live in Canada and the United Kingdom, are interested in other opportunities. Among Non-residents, 29 percent intend to use a property as a vacation home; 25 percent view it as a residential investment; and 18 percent plan to use the property as both a vacation home and an investment. Non-residents, who are just as fond of urban areas as Residents (29 percent for each), are more likely to buy a house in a resort area (16 percent to 3 percent).

Non-resident foreigners are willing to spend more for their property: The report found that, on average, these foreign buyers paid $477,462 for existing homes from April 2015 to March 2016—while the average for all existing home sales was $266,700. The NAR’s Economists’ Outlook blog reports that Chinese foreign buyers spent $936,615, on average, for a residential property, mainly in areas with higher property prices, such as cities and suburbs in California, Washington, and New York.

Altogether, foreign buyers purchased 214,885 residential properties for $102.6 billion from April 2015 to March 2016. Compared with the past year, the number of properties sold increased from 208,947, but the sales dropped from $103.9 billion.


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