The National Association of Realtors has just released its Profile of International Home Buying Activity, relaying information about foreign national buying practices in the 12-month period between May 2007 and May 2008. Although the survey of 4,000 realtors across the nation indicates that buying was widespread and spanned almost every state (the most popular states being Florida, California, Texas, Arizona, New
York, Washington and Nevada), the report also shows that foreign buyers purchased less property during the period than they did a year earlier. The decline in reported transactions can be attributed to the general downturn in the U.S. housing market. In fact, it appears, according to the report, that foreign buyers, like U.S. buyers, may be reticent to invest in U.S. property until they are assured that the investment will “pay off.”

While MLS statistics don’t track sales data based on nationality, our own personal experience tells us that while foreign buyers are here in plentiful numbers, they are more apt to rent than buy. In keeping with this survey’s results, less than 25% of our home sales during the survey period can be attributed to foreign buyers, while our vacation rentals show that foreigners have accounted for a much higher level of that business than it has in the recent past. Foreign buyers are nevertheless a group well worth cultivating! Four
in 10 pay cash for their U.S. property, as opposed to only seven percent for all domestic buyers. In addition, foreigners, whose primary destination tends to be Florida, tend to benefit greatly from strengthened foreign exchange rates. The Euro alone has strengthened 24 percent versus the U.S. dollar in the last two years.

We of course work hard to understand the varying attitudes about real estate among different cultures. Part of this includes foreign language ability: Among Duncan realtors, we can work fluently in French, Spanish, German, Portuguese and English, of course! And, we make it a point to instruct our foreign nationals about the real estate process, step by step, and including financing if they so desire. We know buyer reticence is only a passing thing, and we’re ready to help every buyer when their vision becomes more clear. In the meantime, Bien Venu, Wilkommen, Bien Venidos, Para Bems! You’re always welcome at Duncan Real Estate.

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