BAM Key Details:
- According to a new report from the National Association of Realtors®, annual foreign investment in U.S. existing home sales fell 9.6% to $53.3 billion.
- International buyers purchased 84,600 existing homes—the fewest since at least 2009, when NAR began tracking this data.
From April 2022 to March 2023, foreign investors were responsible for a 9.6% smaller share of U.S. existing home sales, compared to the previous 12-month period.
According to a new report from the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), international buyers purchased 84,600 existing homes—down 14.2% from the year before and the lowest number since at least 2009, when NAR began tracking the data.
For context, overall existing home sales in the U.S. totaled 5.03 million in 2022—a drop of 17.8% from 2021.
Sharply lower housing inventory in the U.S. and higher borrowing costs across the world have dented international buyers for two straight years. However, recovering international travel following the end of the pandemic will bring more foreign transactions in coming months and years.
Foreign investor profile: origins and destinations
The results of a survey for NAR’s 2023 Profile of International Transactions in U.S. Residential Real Estate provide a more detailed breakdown of the foreign investor profile, including top origins and U.S. destinations:
- International buyers who hold visas allowing them to live in the U.S. or who reside in the U.S. as recent immigrants purchased $23.4 billion in U.S. existing homes—down 31.4% from the previous 12 months and accounting for 44% of the total dollar volume of existing home purchases.
- International buyers living abroad purchased $29.9 billion in U.S. existing homes—up 20% from the previous 12 months and representing 56% of the total dollar volume of existing home sales.
- International buyers were responsible for 2.3% of $2.3 trillion in existing home sales from April 2022 to March 2023.
The top five countries of origin, ranked by the number of U.S. existing homes purchased:
The top U.S. destinations for international buyers:
- Florida (23%)
- California (12%)
- Texas (12%)
- North Carolina (4%)
- Arizona (4%)
- Illinois (4%)
Florida held the top spot for the 15th year in a row, accounting for 23% of all foreign investor purchases. California and Texas tied for second place, while the remaining three states on the list tied for third.
Florida, Texas and Arizona continue to attract foreign buyers despite the hot weather conditions during the summer and the significant spike in home prices that began a few years ago.
How much (more) did foreign investors pay for these homes?
While the number of existing homes purchased dropped to its lowest since 2009, the average and median purchases prices for those homes were the highest on record:
- Average purchase price = $639,900 — 7% higher than the previous year
- Median purchase price = $396,400 — 8.3% higher than the previous year
The U.S. median sale price for all existing homes was $384,200.
Chinese buyers paid the highest average purchase price at $1.23 million. A third of those buyers (33%) purchased homes in California. Between April 2022 to March 2023, 15% of international buyers purchased homes valued at over $1 million.
If we rank foreign investors by U.S. residential sales dollar volume, here are the top five:
- China ($13.6 billion)
- Canada ($6.6 billion)
- Mexico ($4.2 billion)
- India ($3.4 billion)
- Colombia ($0.9 billion)
China and Canada have held their spots at first and second place on this list since 2013.
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. A stronger Mexican peso against the U.S. dollar likely contributed to the rise in sales from Mexican buyers.
All-cash sales and investment property uses
More than two out of five international buyer transactions (42%) were all-cash sales—compared to 26% of all existing home sales. Foreign buyers not residing in the U.S. (52%) were more likely than resident foreign buyers (32%) to make an all-cash purchase.
Of the top five foreign buyer nations, Colombia has the highest share of buyers making all-cash purchases (67%), followed by Canada (51%) and China (47%).
Asian Indian buyers were the least likely of the five to make all-cash purchases (15%).
Fostering economic investment in culturally dynamic communities, businesses, and industry is a top priority for NAR. Our work across the country provides members and their communities with tools, resources and data to identify and highlight international investment opportunities in U.S. real estate. This acts as a key pillar in our efforts to further support local communities to drive economic development in markets across the country. NAR and the Realtor® brand have developed a network of partnerships with over 100 real estate organizations across 77 countries providing growth opportunities by ensuring ethical and accessible markets that allow our members to make direct connections with global real estate professionals and international investors.
Read the full report for more details.
Takeaways for real estate agents
The prospect of buyers from other countries swooping in and buying available homes—at a time when inventory is historically low—is generally not a welcome one. But since the average purchase price for these foreign investors is well over what many Americans consider “affordable,” they may be off the radar for buyers shopping below the median price point.
As builders increase production of taller and smaller attached homes with lower price tags, first-time home buyers may find it easier and less competitive to become homeowners. .
Use data like this to make yourself and your clients aware of the competition for homes in your market, so you can help your buyers and sellers navigate the shifting landscape.