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Foreign investment in US housing booms

U.S. home sales to foreigners surged 49 percent between April 2016 and March 2017, to a record $153 billion, according to the National Association of Realtors. (Courtesy National Association of Realtors)

WASHINGTON — U.S. home sales to foreigners surged 49 percent between April 2016 and March 2017, to a record $153 billion, according to the National Association of Realtors.

The D.C. area continues to have its fair share of those foreign homebuyers, but nearly half of all foreign sales were in three states: Florida, California and Texas.

Overall, 284,455 residential properties in the United States were purchased by foreign buyers during the 12-month period, including roughly 10,000 in Maryland and Virginia, or about 2 percent of all residential sales in the two states during that time.

Figures for sales to foreign buyers in D.C. were not available.

“This region is popular for the same reasons that other top regions are popular. If they’re looking for investment properties, they want to go into an area that has a stable and secure housing market, which is usually based on a sound job market, and the D.C. area definitely has that,” Danielle Hale, with the National Association of Realtors, told WTOP.

Virginia ranks as one of the most popular states for Chinese buyers.

China led foreign investment in U.S. residential real estate in the last year, at $31.7 billion. But Canada ranks second, with $19 billion in transactions in the last year, more than double the number in the association’s 2016 survey.

China and Canada are followed by the United Kingdom, Mexico and India for foreign purchases of U.S. residential real estate.

Why the increased interest?

“We think foreign buyers are acting on their beliefs that the U.S. is a safe and secure place to live work and invest, and they’re continuing to come here in spite of political and economic uncertainty both in the U.S. and aboard,” Hale said.

Buyers include those seeking vacation and investment properties, as well as temporary workers who are in the U.S. for more than six months for professional or educational reasons, the association said. Some foreign buyers however plan to relocate permanently to the U.S.


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