Florida Ranked No. 1 for Foreign Home-Buying for 12th Straight Year

The Miami skyline and architecture at sunset. Image by MustangJoe from Pixabay

Florida has ranked number one in most foreign buyers of private property in the entire United States for the 12th year in a row, according to Miami Agent Magazine. For us here in Florida and more specifically in Miami it comes as no surprise, since many Miami residents are foreign-born. But surprising to some, however, may be the fact that there are many foreign buyers in other metropolitan areas aside from Miami.

Places like New York City and Los Angeles for example, came in a close second to the Miami area of Florida. This is even during a global pandemic, which originated in Wuhan, China.  A decline in international tourism, especially a steep drop-off in the number of Chinese travelers, has also worked against foreign investment.

Chinese buyers paid the highest purchase price per home of any cohort, spending a median $449,500, compared to a median sale price of $274,600 for all sales in the year through March 2020.

Florida made the top spot at number one with 22% of all international purchases happening in the Sunshine State. California ranked second as the destination of 15% of foreign buyers. Texas at 9%, New York at 5%, and New Jersey at 4% completed the top five U.S. destinations for international buyers. Nearly half of the foreign buyers (48%) purchased a home in the suburbs and 29% bought a home in an urban area, a figure that’s held steady over the last five years; 7% of international buyers bought property in a resort area, down from 15% in 2009. The decline in the share of foreign purchases in resort areas reflects, in part, fewer buyers from the United Kingdom and Canada, who tend to buy vacation homes.

“While we’ve seen a recent softening of demand, interest in U.S. real estate from international buyers remains strong overall, especially in the most affordable metropolitan areas,” said National Association of Realtors (NAR) President Vince Malta, broker at Malta & Co., Inc., in San Francisco, California.

All-cash sales accounted for almost two out of five (39%) international buyer transactions, with a higher percentage among non-residents compared to resident foreign buyers at 59% and 27%, respectively. Nearly two-thirds of Canadian buyers (66%) made all-cash purchases, the highest share among foreign buyers. Asian Indian buyers were the least likely to pay all-cash at just 8%, and the most likely among international buyers to obtain a mortgage at 87%. Forty-percent of Chinese buyers made an all-cash purchase.

Half of foreign buyers purchased the property for primary residence use and three in four (74%) purchased detached single-family homes and townhouses.

The 2020 Profile of International Transactions in U.S. Residential Real Estate presents information regarding REALTOR® transactions with international clients who purchased and sold U.S. residential property during the 12-month period of April 2019 March 2020. The report also provides some information on U.S. clients seeking to purchase property abroad.

The term international or foreign client refers to two types of clients:

  • Non-resident foreigners (Type A): Non-U.S. citizens with permanent residences outside the United States.
  • Resident foreigners (Type B): Non-U.S. citizens who are recent immigrants (less than two years at the time of the transaction) or non-immigrant visa holders who reside for more than six months in the United States for professional, educational, or other reasons.