Key Facts: 2014 Profile of International Home Buying Activity

  • $92.2 Billion of purchases sold to foreign buyers, 12 months ending March 2014
  • Sales split approximately 50/50 between resident and non-resident foreigners.
  • Foreign sales approximately 7 percent of $1.2 Trillion EHS market.
  • 28 percent of REALTORS® reported having international clients. Market is a niche market—a relatively few REALTORS® handle many of transactions: e.g., 4% of REALTORS® have 11 or more clients.
  • Market fluctuates from year to year substantially; long term market trend is up: 20 percent of REALTORS® report market increasing over past 5 years compared to 6 percent reporting declining.


  • Foreign buyers are upscale: Mean purchase price above that paid by domestic buyers.


  • Five countries (Canada, China, Mexico, India, U.K.) accounted for 54 percent of foreign sales.


  • Four states (Florida, California, Texas, Arizona) accounted for 55 percent of sales to foreigners.


  • Foreign purchasers are diverse:

– Trophy properties
– Modest vacation homes
– Rental and investment properties
– Personal residences

  • Prices paid cover a wide range: 46 percent less than $250,000; 9% greater than $1 million.
  • 60 percent of purchasers paid cash
  • Predominantly single family homes, although many condos also sold.


  • Reasons for buying: Location (i.e., U.S.), investment, and security of property/legal system.
  • Reasons for not buying: Cultural differences, lack of understanding of business and real estate practices, difficulties understanding the U.S. lifestyle, customs, and procedures. (Opportunity for REALTORS® to educate/work with clients to increase understanding).
  • To supplement the survey, data obtained from® concerning U.S. cities most frequently searched by foreigners over 4/2013 through 3/2014 time frame. Cities ranked as follows: Los Angeles, Miami, Las Vegas, Orlando, New York, Detroit, Houston, Ft. Lauderdale, Chicago, San Diego, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, and San Francisco.

– Canadian Searches: Las Vegas, Detroit, Los Angeles, Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, Orlando, Chicago, Naples.
– Chinese Searches: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Irvine, New York, Las Vegas, Detroit, Seattle, Miami, Orlando, Boston Anderson SC, Chicago, Houston, San Diego

Jed Smith, Managing Director, Quantitative Research

Jed Smith is Managing Director, Quantitative Research with the National Association of Realtors®. He has worked on real estate issues for the past 20 years, providing input on a variety of housing, commercial real estate, tax, and planning issues. Recently he has been involved in several international studies.

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  1. Misty Wood

    This is far more information than I or the majority of Real Estate Agents will ever need.