A new study released by the National Association of Realtors suggested that CUs should consider marketing real estate they might hold on their books to buyers from overseas.
According to the "2011 Profile of International Home Buying Activity," total residential international sales in the U.S. for the past year ending March 2011 equaled $82 billion, up from $66 billion in 2010.
Total international sales were split evenly between nonresident buyers and recent immigrants, while combined total domestic and international existing-home sales in the U.S. were $1.07 trillion.
"The U.S. has always been a desirable place to own property and a profitable investment," said NAR President Ron Phipps, broker-president of Phipps Realty in Warwick, R.I. "In recent years we have seen more and more foreign buyers coming here to take advantage of low prices and plentiful inventory. In addition to the advantageous market conditions, Realtors in this country have a global perspective and experience in working with clients from different cultures and real estate practices, helping them bring value to their international clients."
NAR said overseas buyers often find real estate in the U.S. to be less expensive than similar property at home and that real estate in the U.S. has been seen as more secure and more likely to appreciate. In addition, more recently, the NAR has noticed other trends as well.
Many U.S. colleges and universities have a significant number of international students, and some foreign families are purchasing U.S. properties in college areas so their child has a place to live. Another source of international demand is foreign executives temporarily working in the U.S., some of whom prefer to purchase a residence instead of renting.
"Besides the strength of the dollar and the general economic trends in the U.S., international buyers are also recognizing the benefits of home ownership in this country, especially in the case of recent immigrants," said Phipps. "Many foreigners perceive owning a home here as an important accomplishment in their efforts to become established in this country."
Recent international buyers came from 70 different countries, up from 53 countries in 2010, NAR reported. For the fourth consecutive year, Canada was the top country of origin, with 23% of sales to foreigners. China was the second most popular country of origin, with 9% of international sales this year. Tied for third were Mexico, the U.K. and India. Argentina and Brazil combined reported an increase in foreign sales with 5%, up from 2% in 2010. The top five countries of origin accounted for 53% of international transactions in 2011.