International investors encouraged by record affordability and fear of a European collapse purchased $82.5 billion of residential real estate in the U.S. from March 2011 to March 2012, according to a National Association of Realtors survey cited by the Wall Street Journal. This comes as a 24 percent or $18.5 billion increase from the year period ending in March 2011. Approximately 55 percent of the foreign investment came from just five countries: Canada, China, Mexico, India and the United Kingdom, with Canadians representing the largest share of U.S. investment, nearly 25 percent. Similarly, five states accounted for 55 percent of the international sales: Florida, California, Texas, Arizona and New York.
Almost half of these investors identify themselves as temporary visa holders or recent immigrants to the U.S., although the other half say that they are permanent residents of foreign nations that spend less than six months each year in America.
As with the huge demand for luxury properties in the country, and especially in New York, the stable perception U.S. real estate holds among foreign buyers appears to be behind the surge. Some 50 percent of those surveyed said that they viewed U.S. real estate as secure and profitable, while around 40 percent claimed that the desirability of location was the most important factor when they buy. International investors “are either looking for safe havens or bargains, so we’re seeing it at both ends of the spectrum,” said Kenneth Rosen, University of California, Berkeley’s Fisher Center for Real Estate Research chairman. [WSJ]