Realtor® Survey Shows Decline in Foreign Investment in U.S. Residential Real Estate

Foreign InvestmentForeign Investment Down 36%

A decline in global growth and low housing inventory contributed to a drop in foreign investment in U.S. residential real estate over the past year.

This is according to an annual survey of residential purchases from international buyers, released today by the National Association of Realtors®, which found that foreign buyers purchased fewer U.S. existing homes from April 2018 through March 2019. Global economic growth, which increased in 2016 to 2017, slowed to 3.6% in 2018 and is on pace to taper to 3.3% in 2019.

NAR’s Profile of International Transactions in U.S. Residential Real Estate 2019 revealed that foreign buyers purchased $77.9 billion worth of U.S. existing homes from the 2019 survey reference period, a 36% decline from the level reached in the previous 12 months ($121 billion). Non-resident foreign buyers accounted for $33.2 billion of U.S. existing-home sales, a 37% decline from the prior level of $53 billion. Resident foreign buyers – that is, recent immigrants – purchased $44.7 billion of residential property, a 34% drop from the prior level ($67.9 billion).

The dollar volume of purchases saw a decline as the number of purchases, as well as the average price, decreased from the previous year, as foreign buyers purchased in comparison to the levels during the previous 12 months. Foreign buyers were able to buy 183,100 properties (266,800 in the previous period) at an average price of $426,100.

“A confluence of many factors – slower economic growth abroad, tighter capital controls in China, a stronger U.S. dollar and a low inventory of homes for sale – contributed to the pullback of foreign buyers,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “However, the magnitude of the decline is quite striking, implying less confidence in owning a property in the U.S.”

Top Foreign Buyers

For the seventh consecutive year, China exceeded all other countries in terms of dollar volume of purchases, buying an estimated $13.4 billion worth of residential property, a 56% decline from the previous 12 months. The Chinese economy is growing at a slower pace compared to past years, slowing to 6.3% in 2019 compared to 6.9% in 2017. The Chinese government has also tightened the monitoring of dollar outflows since 2016 to manage its foreign exchange reserves.

Following China, the next top foreign buyer for 2019 was Canada at $8.0 billion. While Chinese investors and Canadian investors tied concerning the number of purchases, on average, Chinese buyers bought properties at a higher price point. Therefore, China ranked ahead of Canada in terms of dollar volume.

The third top international buyer was India at $6.9 billion, the United Kingdom was fourth at $3.8 billion and in fifth was Mexico at $2.3 billion. Each of the top five buyers experienced a decline in the dollar volume of purchases.

International Buyers – Where Did They Go?

Following historical trends, Florida was at the epicenter of foreign investment. The state attracted 20% of foreign buyers. Forty-two percent of Canadians purchased property in Florida. “Many Canadians and other foreigners found Florida so enticing because of its lenient tax laws,” said Yun. “Additionally, many Florida metro areas have an inventory of cheaper properties, relatively speaking – a combination which makes the state a very popular destination.”

California followed Florida, accounting for 12% of international purchases. Thirty four percent of Chinese buyers purchased property in California, which represents a decline from one year ago.

The third most popular destination among international buyers was Texas (10%), particularly desirable among Indian and Mexican buyers.

Arizona accounted for 5% of international buyers, popular for Canadian and Mexican purchasers, followed by New Jersey (4%). New Jersey appealed to a mix of international buyers, especially those from the United Kingdom.

A few other significant destinations were North Carolina, Illinois, New York and Georgia. Each of these states accounted for 3% of all foreign buyers.

Price Points

Forty-four percent of foreign buyers purchased in a suburban area, while 76% purchased single detached family homes and townhomes.

  • The median purchase price for foreign buyers was $280,600, slightly higher than the $259,600 average for all U.S. existing homes sold. According to Yun, the price difference is a reflection of the choice of location and the kinds of properties desired by foreign buyers.
  • Eight percent of international buyers paid $1 million or more for their property, compared to just 3% of all U.S. existing homebuyers.
  • Resident foreign buyers – those living in the United States either as recent immigrants or those holding visas for professional, educational or other purposes – typically purchased properties at a slightly higher price point ($282,500) compared to non-resident foreign purchasers ($277,700).

“Even though numbers were lower this year than during the previous 12 months, international investors and buyers still spent and invested a great deal of money in U.S. real estate,” said NAR President John Smaby, a second-generation Realtor® from Edina, Minnesota and broker at Edina Realty. “Home buyers from across the globe know that the U.S. market is still a safe, secure and promising place to invest.”

The survey also showed that international buyers are more likely to purchase their homes in cash than all existing home buyers. Forty-one percent of the reported transactions were all-cash sales, in comparison to 21% for all existing-home purchases during the 2019 assessment reference period.

Non-resident foreign buyers are more likely to pay in cash than resident foreign buyers, who are more likely to acquire mortgage financing from U.S. sources. Sixty-three percent of non-resident foreign buyers had an all-cash purchase transaction, compared to 25% among resident foreign buyers.

Canadian buyers, who primarily live abroad, were the most likely to pay all cash (75%). The majority of Asian Indian buyers, most of whom resided in the U.S. as recent immigrants or visa holders, obtained a U.S. mortgage. Almost half of Chinese buyers made an all-cash purchase.

NAR’s 2019 Profile of International Transactions in U.S. Residential Real Estate was conducted April 5 through May 3, 2019. A sample of Realtors® was surveyed to measure the share of U.S. residential real estate sales to international clients, and to provide a profile of the origin, destination and buying preferences of international clients, as well as the challenges and opportunities faced by Realtors® in serving foreign clients. The survey presents information about transactions with international clients during the 12-month period between April 2018 and March 2019. A total of 11,812 Realtors® responded to the 2019 survey.


National Association of Realtors® July, 2019

April Home Sales Rise Despite Inventory Challenges

April Home SalesIn April 2018, Sarasota and Manatee housing inventory levels dropped again, with pressure from rising median sales prices. Overall, April showed an increase in sales across the two counties, as well as an increase in new listings.

April reported 2,014 total sales which is a 3.3 percent increase from last year. Sarasota condo sales increased by 17.8 percent and Manatee condo sales increased by 2.5 percent. As for single family homes, Manatee sales increased by 5.8 percent, while Sarasota decreased by 5.3 percent.

Overall, inventory is down compared to this time last year. For single-family homes, the number of properties listed decreased by 10.3 percent. As for condos, inventory decreased by 8.9 percent in the two-county area.

“Sarasota and Manatee counties are following the national trend of lower inventory and higher prices,” said Greg Owens, 2018 President of the REALTOR® Association of Sarasota and Manatee. “This home shortage is a main factor in limiting sales growth.”

Dr. Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), commented on this trend in his recent 2018 midyear forecast presentation at the REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo. Yun indicated that a stronger economy, wage growth and improving job market is expected to raise sales and prices. However, low inventory and the challenging affordability for the next generation of home buyers may temper growth. Overall, he predicts a moderate and multiyear increase in home sales ahead.

Median sales prices continue to rise in Sarasota and Manatee. Manatee single-family home prices increased by 5.4 percent to $311,000 and Sarasota increased by 4.6 percent to $285,000. Condo median prices in Sarasota increased by 9.3 percent to $235,000 and Manatee increased by 23.1 percent to $209,950.

“These trends should encourage homeowners who were thinking of putting their property on the market to do so,” added Owens. “The traditional snowbird season has ended in our area, but property sales have not. Contact your local REALTOR® to find the best move for you and your family.”

A seller’s market remains, indicated by the decreased month’s supply of inventory. Manatee condos represent a 4.5-month supply and Sarasota condos are at a 4.6 month-supply. Manatee single-family homes are at a 3.9-month supply and Sarasota single-family homes are at a 4.1- month supply.

The median time to contract for Sarasota single-family homes is down by 11.1 percent to 40 days, while Manatee increased by 2.2 percent to 47 days from April 2017. For Sarasota condos, the time to contract is down by 6.5 percent to 43 days, while Manatee condos are down by 24 percent is to 38 days on the market. With tighter inventory, properties are spending less time on the market.

Pending Sales
Overall pending sales, or the number of properties that went under contract in April, decreased from last month. This is an indication that sales are tapering off the traditional snowbird season. Compared to 2017, the condo market experienced more pending sales with a 22.1 percent increase in Manatee and a 1.7 percent increase in Sarasota. Single-family homes, however, experienced a drop in pending sales. Sarasota single-family homes decreased by 13.1 percent and Manatee by 16.1 percent.

The REALTOR® Association of Sarasota and Manatee, May 24, 2018

Florida Real Estate Market Healthy but Challenged

Florida Real EstateFlorida Home Prices Up, Inventory Down and Interest Rates are Iffy.

The Florida real estate industry is healthy, though several thorny challenges confront residential sales, one of the nation’s leading economists told a gathering of about 80 agents and brokers Wednesday morning.

Lawrence Yun, chief economist and senior vice president of the National Association of Realtors, covered the proverbial waterfront during his presentation at the 12th annual Global Conference, a production of the Realtor Association of Sarasota and Manatee and the Global Business Council held at RASM’s Sarasota headquarters.

The daylong conference focused on the international real estate market, though Yun incorporated many domestic points in his presentation, “Economic and Real Estate Market Outlook.”

Foreign Buyers and Florida

On the tax reform law, “We’ll have to wait and see whether this impacts home buying in the future or not,” Yun said. But he echoed a sentiment expressed by many: The Florida market will be a “big beneficiary of net migration” from Americans fleeing such high-tax states as New York and New Jersey as the tax law chews into their income-tax deductions. “We’re already seeing that.”

Last year, foreign buyers bought $23.8 billion in Florida real estate, more than double the figure from a decade ago. Seventy-three percent of those 2017 purchases were all-cash, Yun said, because wealthy international buyers don’t need mortgages. The foreign property purchases account for 11 percent of the value but only 6 percent of the sales volume, indicating those purchases were primarily high-end homes.

The top international buyers of U.S. real estate last year came, in order, from China, Canada, Mexico, India and the United Kingdom.

Although most of the Chinese purchases were in California, “the Florida market certainly has a larger share of foreign investors,” Yun said. “We have greater contact with people of other nationalities.”

The state, he said, is also “raising the confidence of foreign buyers” with safe property investments that are bound to appreciate.

National Economic Picture

During the first quarter of 2018, a rising number of households expressed more confidence in the economy and their financial position, but only 68 percent of consumers felt now is a good time to buy a house, the lowest percentage in two years. That’s according to NAR’s first-quarter Housing Opportunities and Market Experience survey.

Income, debt and anxiety are stopping some from buying.

“They need to believe things will turn out well after buying,” Yun said. The “very, very competitive” nature of the current residential market — with inventory down 13 percent, prices up 9 percent and mortgage rates expected to rise again — is being met with caution. “They’re feeling rushed to buy.”

From 2011 to 2017, income grew by 15 percent but housing prices surged by 48 percent, Yun said. “This is a big concern for renters,” he said, and an obstacle to converting to home ownership.

Consumers should not wait for mortgage rates, at 4.5 percent now, to fall, not with the Federal Reserve forecast to raise its benchmark interest rate two more times this year and three in 2019.

“Two years from now, mortgage rates could be 6 percent,” Yun said. “Don’t take the current rates for granted.”

While national existing home sales rose last year to their highest level in 11 years, the pending home sales index has stalled and inventory continues to fall, he said. “Builders have been under-producing,” Yun said, and the annual increases in construction since the subprime disaster have been “very minimal.”

Sarasota Herald-Tribune, May 9, 2018

Sarasota Real Estate Market Report – March 2018

Sarasota Real EstateLast month, the Sarasota-Manatee residential real estate market showed an increase in the number of closed sales and pending sales, a continuation in the rise of median prices and a drop in inventory levels.

Home buyers preferred condos and townhouses over single-family homes, a likely sign that snowbird season has been good for one sector of the residential market.

March condo sales rose 9.9 percent in Sarasota to 454 and 9.7 percent in Manatee to 284 year over year. As for single-family homes, Manatee sales fell 0.2 percent to 580, while Sarasota dropped 2.3 percent to 766.

Closed Sales
In the two-county metropolitan statistical area, closed sales for single-family homes and condos reached 5,015 properties so far this year, a 2.3 percent increase from this time last year. Comparing this past month to March 2017, statistics show a 1.4 percent drop in single-family home sales but a jump in condo sales of 9.8 percent.

“With the close of ‘season’ fast upon us, we are once again showing an increase in combined sales in both counties,” said Greg Owens, president of the Realtor Association of Sarasota and Manatee.

“Pending sales showed a combined 14.9 percent increase from February 2018 to March 2018,” he said. “This increase indicates a strong finish going into summer.”

Median Prices
Year over year, single-family median prices in Sarasota rose by 9.3 percent to $287,053 while Manatee dropped by 1.7 percent to $285,000. The median sales price for Manatee condos jumped by 15.1 percent to $201,500 and Sarasota condos increased by 4.3 percent to $240,000.

Combined, pending sales for single-family homes and condos increased by 4.9 percent from March 2017.

The decline in new listings is another good indication of the selling season ending, the association said. The number of properties put on the market during March 2018 fell by 7.6 percent from 2017 in the two-county area. Combined inventory in the two-county area dropped by 14 percent from March 2017. Compared with last year, the supply of single-family homes decreased 15.4 percent, while that of condos fell 11.4 percent.

In single-family homes, Charlotte County showed a 2 percent increase in closed sales, to 411, a 10.2 percent jump in the median sales price and a 0.4 percent rise in pending sales. In townhouses and condos, closed sales jumped by 14.8 percent, the median sales price increased 10.8 percent to $176,250 and new pending sales rose 2.2 percent, to 139.

Florida’s Market

Across the state, March’s tight inventory constrained sales and pushed median prices higher, according to the latest housing data released by the Florida Realtors trade association. Closed sales fell by 3.5 percent, while median prices rose by 8.2 percent year over year.

The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes last month was $250,800, up 8.2 percent from the previous year, while the statewide median price for townhouse-condo properties was $183,000, up 7 percent over the year-ago figure.

“As the ongoing supply of for-sale homes continues to tighten, it can create a cycle of frustration for home buyers, especially those trying to become a first-time homeowner,” said 2018 Florida Realtors President Christine Hansen, broker-owner with Century 21 Hansen Realty in Fort Lauderdale. “If move-up buyers can’t find a home in their desired price range, then they aren’t likely to leave their current home, which in turn makes entry-level properties even more scarce.

“Buyer demand is high, but the shortfall of inventory — particularly around $250,000 and under — is impacting affordability in many areas.”

March was the 75th consecutive month that the statewide median sales prices for both single-family homes and townhouse-condo properties rose year-over-year.

National Numbers

Across the country, existing-home sales increased for the second consecutive month in March, but lagging inventory levels and affordability constraints kept sales activity below year ago levels, according to the National Association of Realtors. Despite the increase, March sales were still 1.2 percent below a year ago.

“The unwelcome news is that while the healthy economy is generating sustained interest in buying a home this spring, sales are lagging year ago levels because supply is woefully low and home prices keep climbing above what some would-be buyers can afford,” Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said in a press release.

The median existing-home price for all housing types in March was $250,400, up 5.8 percent from March 2017 ($236,600). March’s price increase marks the 73rd straight month of year-over-year gains.

Housing affordability is down from a year ago and fewer households can afford the active inventory of homes currently for sale on the market based on their income. That is according to joint research from the National Association of Realtors and, an online real estate destination.

Using data on mortgages, state and metro area income and listings on, the Realtors Affordability Distribution Curve and Score is designed to examine affordability conditions at different income levels for all active inventory on the market. A score of one or higher generally suggests a market where homes for sale are more affordable to households in proportion to their income distribution.

According to March data, 35 metro areas had better affordability compared to a year earlier, led by Austin-Round Rock, Texas, (from 0.55 to 0.66), Syracuse, New York, (1.04 to 1.1) North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, (0.60 to 0.66) and Palm Bay-Melbourne, (0.71 to 0.77).

Sarasota Herald-Tribune April 23, 2018

Sales of $4 Million-Plus Homes Surging in Sarasota-Manatee

Sales of big homes for big bucks continue to be brisk in the Sarasota-Manatee real estate market. Latest sales trends show buyers’ search for value, waterfront and newer homes in current market.

Over the past six months, 28 homes and condominiums in the two counties sold for more than $4 million. Over the same six months in 2016-2017, only 10 properties were sold at that high price point.

 “These are impressive numbers,” Roger Pettingell of Coldwell Banker Real Estate said. He specializes in luxury waterfront properties in Sarasota and Longboat Key. Luxury homes are “moving really good,” he said. “It’s exciting, actually.”

 Others echo those views, citing the Sarasota-Manatee market’s value and attractiveness.

“It’s a really positive trend,” said Joel Schemmel of Premier Sotheby’s International Realty. “Hopefully, the market will continue to accelerate.”

 “These are starting to make us look like a real luxury market,” Pettingell said. And the market is still not overpriced, he said, unlike Naples and Palm Beach.

Brian Loebker, a Realtor with Michael Saunders & Co., called the high-end buyer interest “extremely strong right now.”

Amenities and Value

 “Our customers cite Sarasota as a location filled with amenities and value — you would pay double, or maybe triple, for the same home in other locations like Miami or Naples,” Loebker said. “The Sarasota luxury real estate market is commanding the highest level of interest and attraction in its history at this moment.”

Schemmel calls Sarasota a “destination market.”

Buyers continue to be discriminating in the properties they view, Loebker said. “There is zero tolerance for over-paying or even viewing properties which seem over-priced. The buyers are active, paying with cash, and willing to strike a deal immediately provided it is fair and just for both buyer and seller,” he said. “Any signs of greed or over-self-confidence, and the buyers will never view the property.”

The sheer number of $4 million-plus homes currently awaiting buyers may appear to be just as mind-boggling as the sales figures.

As of April 13, 103 homes were listed for $4 million or more in Sarasota and 19 in Manatee, including single-family homes, condos and townhomes, figures from My Florida Regional MLS indicate.

“The amount of inventory currently on the market over $4 million is not unusual,” Loebker said. “Actually, the overall inventory has been down from October through February, so to see about 100 luxury homes over $4 million on the market right now is on trend with previous years. The key is getting these homes priced right for the buyer pool.”

At the end of April 2017, big listings totaled 79 in Sarasota and nine in Manatee. Listings for April 2016 stood at 70 and 12 respectively, Trendgraphix shows.

Pending sales through the end of this April will likely drop the number of listings, said Jennifer Horvat, chief marketing officer at Michael Saunders & Co.

On water but not on grade

The Realtors pointed out two other trends in the luxury market. The cost of waterfront land “has risen substantially,” Pettingell said, but buyers are less interested in older homes at grade level on water. Properties listed for $1 million to $2 million that are not on the water are the slowest to move, Schemmel said.

A lot of the luxury buyers live in Sarasota but are upgrading their homes while older residents who want to live closer to relatives and community amenities are selling and moving off the islands, thus increasing the luxury-market inventory.

Schemmel added another element to the high-end sales surge: value as an investment. “For the first time in a long time, real estate in the portfolio is a good thing,” he said, and “a great hedge against inflation.”

That is somewhat apparent in one segment of the luxury market. “Sarasota has proven itself as an exceptional location to have a second, third or fourth home,” Loebker said.

Luxury homebuilder Ryan Perrone, president of Nautilus Homes, which specializes in projects that start at about $4 million, agreed that the local market is strong. “We have seen an uptick in interest in our product. It is hard for me to say whether that is just due to a gain in market share or whether it is a trend.”

A wider pool of buyers

The interest is coming from different parts of the country, too, broadening the pool of house shoppers.

“We have taken notice that while our city has been traditionally made up of Midwest transplants, there is a shift of people coming from California and the Northeast,” Perrone said. “I believe that this is because people from these markets are used to looking at those sorts of price points. In fact, those prices look like a deal when coming from L.A.”

Steve Murray, president of Murray Homes, is also seeing an increase in clients from California. Murray Homes is building six homes in the $4 million-plus price bracket, an increase over last year.

“We believe that this is in part due to the state income tax in those states, as well as the new tax regulations,” Murray said in an email. “In addition, our area is seeing an increase in nationwide appeal due to awards, marketing and high-end hotels bringing new visitors to our region.”

Murray echoed the view that Sarasota-Manatee homes represent value. “These clients are used to higher residential prices and so we are seen as a relative bargain when compared with Naples, Miami and their home towns.”

Sarasota Herald-Tribune, April 17, 2018