During the 12-month period ending in March 2020, foreign buyers purchased 154,000 existing homes in the U.S., down 16% from the previous year, according to a new report from the National Association of Realtors. This was the smallest number of existing-homes that international buyers have purchased since 2011, and the third consecutive year that the number decreased.
Altogether, international buyers purchased $74 billion-worth of U.S. residential real-estate, down from $77.9 billion the year before and $121 billion two years ago. The report includes purchases by buyers who live abroad as well as foreign residents in the U.S.
China was the largest buyer of U.S. homes once again, accounting for the purchase of 18,400 homes worth roughly $11.5 billion. But among the top five international buyers — which also included Canada, Mexico, India and Colombia — China was the only country where the number and value of homes purchased between 2019 and 2020 decreased.
“ ‘The Chinese government has become much more restrictive about how much cash they can take out of the country.’ ”
“The Chinese government has become much more restrictive about how much cash they can take out of the country,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors.
“There’s always a way to go around it, but the fact that the Chinese government is placing capital controls means there could be more monitoring of their citizens,” Yun added. “Just the sense the government may be watching them has reduced the number of Chinese buyers here in the U.S.”
Continued trade tensions between the U.S. and China has also worked to hold back some activity, as have restrictions on visa issuance to Chinese visitors.
How the pandemic will affect international purchases of U.S. homes
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) report only covers the period between April 2019 and March 2020, so it doesn’t reflect the full impact of the coronavirus pandemic.