US Home Purchases by Chinese, Other Foreigners Plunge Below 2012 Level. And the (for me) Chilling “Chinese Reaction” to it from the Largest Chinese Portal for US Homes for Sale

“For developers and agents in most parts of the country who rely on foreign buyers, there is really no alternative to buyers from China”: CEO of

The puzzle in the US housing market was this: Mortgage rates have dropped since November, and as expected mortgage applications to buy homes have surged, and this was a total no-brainer. But home sales, which had been expected to surge this year, given the much lower mortgage rates and the much higher mortgage applications, have woefully disappointed.

We suspected, based on anecdotes we hear from the industry, that part of it had to do with foreign buyers – particularly Chinese buyers – that must have gotten cold feet for a slew of reasons. And now the National Association of Realtors in its annual report on foreign buyers shed some light on it: Yes, foreign buyers have gotten cold feet. In the two-year period between April 2017 and March 2019:

  • Purchases by resident foreigners (red) plunged 43% to $44.7 billion;
  • Purchases by non-resident foreigners (blue) collapsed by 56% to $33.2 billion, on par with 2011:

Purchases by all foreign buyers in the period between April 2018 and March 2019 plunged 36% from the same period a year ago and 49% from the period two years ago, from $153 billion to $78 billion, below the level in 2012 – with purchases by Chinese buyers, the largest group, collapsing by 58%.

Foreign buyers fall into two categories, according to the NAR report:

  • Resident foreigners (red in the chart), about 60% of foreign buyers: Non-US citizens who are recent immigrants (less than two years at the time of purchase) or non-immigrant visa holders who reside for more than six months in the US for professional, educational, or other reasons.
  • Non-resident foreigners (blue in the chart), about 40% of foreign buyers: Non-US citizens with permanent residences outside the US, who normally purchase for investment, vacation, or visits of less than six months on non-immigrant visas.

The interest by foreign buyers – though small compared to total US home sales – is concentrated in a handful of urban areas, particularly along the coasts of Florida and California. In these limited markets, the plunge in purchases by foreign buyers does leave skid marks, the NAR concedes.

“The luxury markets in the biggest cities are typically the most affected,” the NAR points out. “It has led, in some cases, to an oversupply of high-end units, longer times to close a deal, and potentially even price drops.”

Top 5 Countries of origin of foreign buyers & their plunging purchases from 2017:

  1. China, which in the report includes Hong Kong and Taiwan: -58% to $13.4 billion.
  2. Canada: -58% to $8.0 billion.
  3. India: -12% to $6.9 billion.
  4. UK: -60% to $3.8 billion
  5. Mexico: -75% to $2.3 billion.

Note that despite the 58% plunge in purchases by Chinese buyers, they remained Number 1.

All major US brokerage firms advertise US properties in China in deals with Chinese real estate portals that specialize in this, such as, “the biggest Chinese international property portal,” as it says. This includes Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, the second largest residential brokerage in the US, which belatedly in 2017 inked a marketing agreement

“The Chinese reaction” by the CEO of

Interestingly, there was an email in my inbox this morning from, concerning the NAR report, titled, “Chinese Reaction from” In it, CEO Carrie Law addresses the NAR’s report and specifically the plunge in purchases by Chinese buyers:

“Chinese buyers remain the biggest spending foreign buyer group of all, although they invested significantly less last year than in the year before. For developers and agents in most parts of the country who rely on foreign buyers, there is really no alternative [to] buyers from China.

“Actually, I’m surprised Chinese buying is still so high. It turns out that Chinese demand for US real estate cannot be killed — not by the trade war, not by the Trump effect, not by visa restrictions, and not by capital controls.

“Yes, the trade war has had an impact. The data from’s platform closely tracks that of the Realtors [NAR]. In the first quarter, Chinese buyer enquiries on U.S. property were down 27.5% from a year earlier. By contrast, Chinese spent more on real estate in competing markets like Canada, the UK, Australia, and Japan. Chinese buyer enquiries for US property were down in four out of the five last quarters.”

She then lists some of the primary factors that drive the Chinese to buy properties in other countries, citing a survey by Hurun:

  • Education “is a factor for 83% of Chinese who move overseas.”
  • Environmental quality “is a driver” for 69% of Chinese buyers.
  • Food safety is “a factor in their decision to come to the US” for 57% of the Chinese buyers.

And she added in the emailed statement:

“Without Chinese capital controls and the Trump effect, I think we would see an avalanche of Chinese investment in US real estate, just like we saw in 2015 and 2016. Capital controls are not a tap that completely turns off the flow of cash escaping from China, but more like a constriction in the pipeline that reduces the amount that gets through. That is why Chinese residential real estate investment remains so high in the US and is actually growing in several other countries around the world.

“The industry still relies on Chinese buyers. Just in the last few months, has signed new or renewed contracts with agent networks representing more than 100,000 agents and their properties across the USA.”

Yup, there’s always another side to everything.

For folks who don’t make their money by selling to Chinese buyers, and who have to pay the higher prices that this foreign buying pressure causes, Carrie Law’s message has a chilling effect.

And there are a couple of factors she didn’t mention: In the US, property owners actually own the land, and they have property rights that are fairly well established and protected; in China, they can only lease the land from the government, which owns all land. In addition, Chinese buyers seek to have one foot in another country as an escape hatch, in case things go sour at home, such as a corruption purge going the wrong way.

So yes, for US brokers, selling homes to Chinese buyers is big business, in particular since Chinese buyers are at the high end where commissions are huge, and the money must continue to flow for these brokers.

For years, Chinese buyers had been the biggest spenders per home purchased, but in the latest period, the median price of homes purchased by Chinese dropped 16% from the peak in 2016 to $454,000. Back in 2016, Chinese buyers paid double the US median price. In the latest period, they paid 75% more than the US median price during the period.

And thereby, in terms of the median price, Chinese buyers have fallen into second place, behind buyers from the UK, which moved into first place with a median price that surged 19% over the same period to $510,700.

The next three in line of the top five are India with a median price of $358,600 (-13% from 2018); Canada at $268,200 (-8% from 2018), and Mexico at $170,100 (-10% from 2018).

The median price paid by all foreign buyers was $280,600, compared to the median price across the US of $259,600 during the same period. According to the NAR report, which was based on a survey of its Realtors, 8% of foreign buyers purchased homes with prices of $1 million or more – compared to 3% of all existing-home buyers.

The Top 5 Destinations:

  • Florida, 20% of all purchases by foreign buyers. This is where Canadian snowbirds like to go, with 42% of Canadians buying in Florida.
  • California, 12% of all foreign buyers, but that’s down from 14% in the prior period as the number of Chinese buyers dropped. Of all Chinese buyers in the US, 34% bought homes in California.
  • Texas, 10% of all foreign buyers, a favorite with Indian and Mexican buyers.
  • Arizona, 5% of all foreign buyers.
  • New Jersey, 4% of all foreign buyers.

Of all foreign buyers:

  • 47% said they would use the home as primary residence.
  • 41% paid all-cash from the US point of view and 51% obtained a US mortgage.
  • 44% purchased in a suburban area.
  • 76% purchased detached single-family homes and townhomes. The remainder purchased condos.

By Country:

  • Canadians: 48% purchased as vacation homes (the snowbirds) and 15% as rental
  • Chinese: 37% purchased as primary residence and 28% as rental
  • Indians: 75% purchased as primary residence and 12% as rental
  • Mexicans: 63% as primary residence, 13% as rental
  • British: 38% as primary residence and 29% as vacation home.

Just as the flood of foreign buyers in a handful of expensive US markets has roiled those markets and helped drive up prices in recent years, so is the decline of those foreign buyers going to take some pressure off. And this explains in part why, despite the plunging mortgage rates and the surging mortgage applications, the housing market in those areas, especially at the high end remains challenged.

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  123 comments for “US Home Purchases by Chinese, Other Foreigners Plunge Below 2012 Level. And the (for me) Chilling “Chinese Reaction” to it from the Largest Chinese Portal for US Homes for Sale

  1. Cookie says:

    I just got back from Vancouver. I see a lot of homeless Canadians tent city along Powell Blvd and also East Hastings. The Chinese pretty much own the whole city. How did the Canadian government let this happen?

    • qt says:


      • alex in San Jose AKA Digital Detroit says:

        Pitchforks beat $$$$$…..

        • sierra7 says:

          Like Jon says to Arya in “The Game of Thrones””……just stick them with the pointy end!”

        • FluffyGato says:

          Pitchforks are pretty useless against private armies equipped with the latest technologies.

    • Cookie says:

      It’s so sad that the cost of living there is so high now that Native Canadians can’t even afford housing there anymore.

      • Anthony Aluknavich says:

        One more step towards Chinese domination worldwide. It will take a while, but they have the money and make the trinkets we all buy via Amazon and Alibaba.

        • Bobber says:

          I guess the money ultimately goes to those who produce something of value.

        • William Smith says:

          Reminds me of the story of Manhattan being bought for $24 of beads from the native Indians. The story might not be 100% correct, but it has very eerie echos of what is happening now: getting cheap crap from someone and then (by some financial chicanery) losing the whole farm. History always repeats, and Chinese are anything but dumb!

        • max says:

          Gary North :

          China is a Keynesian laboratory. It has more central bank inflation than we do. It has more government intervention than we do. The apparatchiks who run it are stupider economically than ours are. They steal from their people on a massive scale. It is a rigged mercantilist economy. It is better than communism, but it is certainly worse than anything in the United States.

          This is also true of Russia. This is also true of Latin America, with the possible exception of Chile.

        • NBay says:

          Bobber, not trying to split hairs on you personally, but the money goes up the manager food chain, just like here, not to “those who produce something of value”. Just a pet peeve from someone who grew up in the 50s-60s, heyday of the middle class.

        • Bobber says:

          NBay, I agree. Managements are way over-rewarded relative to labor. Rigged system?

      • Paulo says:

        You are talking about Vancouver and a few other select places in Canada. Where I live you can often buy a nice 3 bedroom view home for in the low 200s, and watch the cruise ships pass by all summer long. You can say the same thing about 10 cities at least in the US, infact, the other day I saw that peope now rent pods for sleeping in SF.

        Vancouver and Victoria have always attracted lots of homeless because to the climate. Think about it, Winnipeg, Edmonton, TO, or…. Victoria, where it seldom even freezes and has a modified Mediterranean climate?

        When I first started reading the article I was going to comment, “Foreign buyers are not just Chinese, in fact Canadians…..” Then the article said just that, namely, the largest group of foreign buyers of US RE are Canadian. This fact was jumping out at me all morning as I am curious about how much has dropped off due to the Trump effect and the developing nastiness we see day after day in the news, particularly with friends and allies. Seriously, we have a short tripped planned for this October to visit my sister in WA, and I’m not sure we even want to go anymore? I wonder what percentage of declining sales are Canadian, seeing as how we are all lumped in to the same classification? I know many people who have stopped traveling south and even try to arrange flights elsewhere to avoid going through US customs. I’m sure this is affecting RE sales.

        • Wolf Richter says:


          No, Canadians are NOT the largest group. They’re the SECOND largest group WAY, WAY behind the Chinese in dollar terms. Chinese: $13.4 billion, Canadians $8.0 billion.

          But interestingly — I think that is what you hinted at — purchases by both groups have plunged by 58% since 2017.

        • robt says:

          Canadian buying has not dropped off in the US and especially Florida because of the ‘Trump effect’, it has dropped off because of the 30% depreciation of the CDN$ and the fact that US house prices rebounded strongly.
          And the nastiness is Canadian nastiness and propaganda; any time I’ve visited the States the people are warm and welcoming, anywhere you choose to visit.

        • Gian says:

          Not to worry, Canadians are still pouring into the US and in particular WA state where they help fuel the economy of Bellingham and Blaine (borders Vancouver, BC). Too bad you do not have a “Trump effect” so that your dollar would be worth more than $.70 US and you would not have to scoop up all the dairy products and gasoline that will fit in your vehicles before crossing back into Canada. I guess we’ll call that the Trudeau effect”.

        • SomethingStinks says:

          If by Trump effect you mean putting Americans first and demanding fair trade practices from partners that have been leeching off of us for a while, absolutely! it’s working and we love it.

        • Marina says:

          Can you be a tad more specific as to where these houses are in BC ? ” nice 3 bedroom view home for in the low 200s” Thanks.

        • yerfej says:

          Its good that someone like you avoids reality and allows government propaganda machines to do your thinking for you.

        • Michael Fiorillo says:

          Not to quibble too much, but it’s way beyond a stretch to describe Victoria’s climate, pleasant though it is, as “Mediterranean.”

        • Bet says:

          From where I live in sequim across the strait. It seems to me the blue hole always seems to be over Vancouver island.

        • char says:

          According to the report Canadians and Chinese buy 19900 homes each so the Canadians could well be the largest buyers of homes.

        • NBay says:

          Don’t worry about it at all. Especially if you’re taking that restored bus.
          Even the worst skin heads (leaders, and therefore their young followers) admire someone who restored old iron, extra points if you did it mostly yourself. Get ready for admiring looks. Still very much a car culture in most places.

    • robt says:

      I just got back from Vancouver too. Statistically, the Chinese and other East Asian population is about 30%, and the city, its atmosphere, and cleanliness were generally just fine.
      What is troubling, perhaps in the longer run, are the pandering to drug addicts and homeless people, a magnet which will attract more of the same as is demonstrated in other West Coast cities.
      Soundbite at a community meeting in Portland: ‘We’ve spent a billion dollars and everything’s just gotten worse!’ Well, yeah …

    • Bag says:

      Dude, lots of Chinese/Asian people are born in Vancouver. They’ve been here since 1900s dieing and building the railways among other things.

      But if you’re asking why the wealthiest parts of the city is typically Asian look no further than immigration policies. Which are typically merit based.

      People with the highest incomes, know multiple languages, advanced degrees and children get let in first. Typically, so they’re less likely to be a burden to society.

      You need to head farther into the suburbs to see where quotation marks “Canadians” have moved to and lets face it, culturally people from Asian countries are more accustomed to denser city life.

      • Nicko2 says:

        Your racism is apparent. The vast majority of immigrants to Canada, Chinese or otherwise, are hard working, tax paying, productive members of society.

        As for golden visas….what of it? Dozens of countries around the world have them. Governments compete for emigrant millionaires.

      • backwardsevolution says:

        Nicko2 – it’s the same playbook over and over again. You simply call the person a “racist” or a “fascist” or a “whatever”. Doesn’t work anymore.

        And it’s classic projection – accusing the other of the very thing you embody. Similar to Antifa proclaiming they’re anti-fascist when their behavior (breaking windows, smashing cars, trying to shut down free speech) is screaming out who the real fascists are.

        Multiculturalism comes right out of the neoliberal/globalist handbook. It does not bring a country together; it serves to divide and conquer.

        High levels of immigration is nothing but a Ponzi scheme lobbied for by the hustlers of society (real estate/developer/corporate lobbies) who could care less about the new immigrants or the cultures they destroy. Parasitic and psychopathic in nature.

        Globalism is now dying. People are finally waking up and noticing the destruction.

    • EM says:

      Homeless tent cities are not a housing shortage problem. They are a drug problem. Until cities start incarcerating and providing adequate drug addiction services, drugs treatment like methadone, and counseling this problem will continue to plague cities.

    • Poloz cut the Bank of Canada rate twice in 2015 and blamed it all on the fall of the price of oil. This came at the worse possible time as the Chinese were bidding homes skyward. The locals tried to compete with the Chinese as mortgage rates fell.

    • Andrew, says:

      Canada enjoyed social programs like unemployment insurance, public health care, welfare, etc for many years, and we all benefited indirectly from these social safety nets. What corrupted these programs was the rise of big business, the plundering of public resources (fish, trees, oil), and corporations paying less tax revenue. Military spending has also risen disproportionally.
      When governments like Canada refuse to fund public education, hospitals, and social programs, the result is an unequal society of homeless and rich people.

      • max says:

        “What corrupted these programs was”

        those programs are problem — they are based on lies — something for nothing

      • Nicko2 says:

        Where do you get this stuff from? Canadian public schools are among the highest rated in the world.

        As for social programs, the Liberals big new program is Socialized Pharmacare.

  2. kitten lopez says:

    Wow… i just spent 2-1/2 hours at the gym with a sobbing 25 year old trainer who is going to model for me, and she’s breaking down emotionally because she’s commuting a few hours a day (it’s definitely costing her to simply go to work at this point), can’t find a place to live in san francisco after bad roommate situations here, and is over $50k in debt and has a shxtty job at the gym getting $20 for training clients out of the gym’s fee of $120, and sees no way out in any future she can see anywhere.

    she was relieved to talk about this in the open as she has to psych herself up in the car to give her clients good energy, which to me is like trying to cuddle burn victims after getting gang raped.

    that’s life in america now.

    now i see more of WHY.

    Wolf, i know you said you can’t read comments before bed time but it’s gotta be hard to wake up to this REALITY right about now, too.

    this is heinous because there’s no end in sight. NO ONE’s talking about this and they really cannot.

    you’d have to change the SYSTEM. everything that is maiming polluting starving addicting bleeding and killing us is completely legal and considered freedom and what life is all about apparently.

    i have no idea how i ended up here at this time. sometimes i think i’m the pigeon here to shit on the wires that short out the entire coastline but other times i swear i slept through my stop…. i mean who really is going, “f**k YEAH! these yep… THESE are the good f**king TIMES, y’all.”


    however there IS a freedom to knowing you’re just not meant to win at this game. at all. ever.

    and that’s what i hope the other 25 year olds start to truly see and maybe like Puerto Rico finally going ENOUGH, maybe they’ll see a similarity to the self-interest of the people getting drafted igniting the anti-Vietnam war protests of the ’60s hitting the streets because this is the SAME kinda self interested soylent kinda green “you’re f**ked so the rich folks to eat you” thing.


    this is DEEEP.

    Wolf, i worry for you, brother. you’re opening america’s kimono and giving its Reality a flossing wedgie with the stars n’ stripe sash.

    • a reader says:

      “however there IS a freedom to knowing you’re just not meant to win at this game.”

      No, the freedom is in realising you don’t have to play this game.

      • kitten lopez says:

        i wanted to ignore your comment because it’s cute. but i’m in san francisco and the world can’t afford any of us canaries misrepresenting what you all are in for:


        even checking out “not playing” and being homeless is good for the economy… your body is counted then we tax the rich companies and nimby zoning gives no new homes but the money gives some liberal elite college educated person an executive job and some staff to send others in bio suits making $71-184k incomes to hose off their feces or do si do them to the other side of the street according to the conventions in town.

        and if they can get you in prison where you’ll render your own fat for america.

        i’d love to know how to not play. my whole life i never wanted to play. other artists who also didn’t wanna play long ago got evicted or committed suicide for feeling as irrelevant as the silent film stars most of us are relegated to now.

        not play?

        you’re absolutely darling.



        • max says:

          man your mentality is killing you — this advice is from a person who arrive in Australia as refugees with nothing except sports bag with some spare clothes.

        • NBay says:

          Hey Kitten,
          No need to engage, just read and try to figure reasoning and viewpoints. Same reason I watch Fox and Joel Osteen from time to time. Life is ALL about learning your environment. That’s what allowed the first Hominids to survive 1-3M years ago, against huge odds. Their brains were just as big as ours, Neanderthals were actually bigger. And they all did Art, too.

        • kitten lopez says:

          (Max and NBay, i’m replying to you in a NEW post way below so my text doesn’t ribbon down so far…)

    • KGC says:

      The SYSTEM you’re talking about is being run by those very same individuals who in the 1960’s were protesting. Until we get all the over 65 year olds out of positions of power (mandatory retirement for ALL Federal and State employees anyone?) that’s not going to change. And then the new crowd will game it so they are the primary beneficiaries. It’s actually amusing that anyone would think differently.

      • kitten lopez says:

        TOUCHé times a zillion, KGC.

        i guess that’s why i’ve given up on any sensible revolt/revolution and am back to plotting scheming planning the new decentralized black market underground. i’ve decided to go ahead and write about it here above ground because it’s not the “n” word that google will nick Wolf over. /besides i’ve already been surveilled by the SF district attorney’s office for some of my prior work and i played chicken as the suicidally insane writer salivating for a new story; i’m the tin foil hat lady and could just be writing a new fantasy cartoon…

        but we’re on our own and i don’t know about you all but i don’t wanna depend on some exploited miserable migrant/american i don’t care worker in a miserable evil american system to try and keep my dessicated body festering with bed sores alive for the hospital’s bottom line and all the community jobs.

        you’re right. everything’s rancid. amazon’s selling expired sunscreen and fancy european baby food and now the rest of us are baby boomer food.

        i wanna go back to the gym and cry with my 25 year old model with the most amazing ass ever. i thought “if she can cry like that with an ass that amazing, we’re all screwed.”

        but now that top porn picks are anime manga porn, we should all go and cry for another 2/1/2 hours with her.

        • FluffyGato says:

          One of the things I love about WS threads is the Forrest Gump effect.

          What started with foreign buyers of U.S. real estate somehow took a detour to anime manga porn.

        • kitten lopez says:

          “What started with foreign buyers of U.S. real estate somehow took a detour to anime manga porn.”

          ….But they are the SAME FXCKNG THING, Dear Fluffy Gatito.


          [c’mon. that was too easy a set up for me NOT to take!
          (rim shot) aaaaaand i’m outta here…]

        • kitten lopez says:

          …and Fluffy Gato–

          “ASSET INFLATION” for ME is when 25 year old girls with amazing asses in this new uptight asexual society of SAN FRANCISCO are sobbing in public because they can’t get a foothold in LIFE.

          same thing…

          (i’m telling you, Max… it’s over. i saw a boy stop kissing a girl in a catholic school skirt to play with his PHONE. i wanted to throw open the windows and warn him: IN THE FUTURE YOU WILL PAY THROUGH THE NOSE TO GET WOMEN TO WEAR CATHOLIC SCHOOL SKIRTS SO THAT YOU CAN ATONE FOR NOT KISSING HER WHEN IT WAS FREE FRESH AND PURE.)

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Kitten Lopez,

          You’re breaking me up!!! Stop it! I can’t work and laugh at the same time.

          Why the heck did you ever stop with your writing career? That was a rhetorical question. You already told me, and I get it. But…

    • Noplacetolive says:

      Hello, a certain senator from Vermont is running for pres and has beeb talking about and working on this. Might wanna check out his platform.

    • James Mitchell says:

      The financial system hasn’t benefited workers. The country is ripe for a general strike.

    • sc7 says:

      She’d probably be better off overnight if she moved away from San Francisco to any nice T2 city.

  3. MikeG says:

    Interesting that Canada, UK and Mexico purchases of US properties plunged hard as well, so it’s not just a China story.

    General economic weakness? A Trump political effect? Brexit economic uncertainty for the UK?

    • Nicko2 says:

      Smart Canucks bought up cheap US real estate after the last crash, they are now selling it for a healthy profit, plus the USD is falling and the CAD is strengthening.

      • KGC says:

        In 2011 the Canadian dollar was trading 1:1 to the $ US. It’s now $1.33 Canadian to $1 US.

        • Nicko2 says:

          Yea…they bought depreciated US RE when the CAD was high, now they’re selling when the USD is high and RE prices have rebounded, while the CAD is moderate. Huge profits.

    • char says:

      IIRC the Canadian and UK real estate markets are in the doll drums. (at least the parts that buy American homes)

      UK also buys a lot in the greater DC area. I expect a political effect with that. not Trump but change of government.

      ps. What has the Hong Kong & Taiwan been doing. A lot of Chinese are from those places

  4. Prez wants more H1B which should give high end RE a boost. Trust a RE man to have your back.

    • Guido says:

      There’ll be far, far, far more h1b coming into this country in the next 15 – 20 years. Think about it, a third of the population, i.e. 100 million baby boomers will die off in the next 15-20 years. You need to import people to avoid depreciation of assets — create demand. The 300k green cards in the bill that Harris is sponsoring is just a drop in the bucket. The numbers need to balloon to a few 100 million. As of now, the number of people on h1b is about 750k, I read somewhere. That’s about 3% assuming 300 million people in USA.

      This particular bill has backing from both parties for this reason, Imo. Neither Harris nor prez or anybody can be blamed.

      China and India have the most population. The average age of the Chinese population is 50 or more. The average age of the Indian is 27. Compared to 20 years ago, the number of Chinese immigrants on h1b has dropped. H1b is now synonymous with Indians. So expect to see a lot, lot, lot more Indians under this scheme. Which other country can supply these many people on a steady basis?

      • IdahoPotato says:

        None of my nieces and nephews in India want to come to the U.S.

      • Wolf Richter says:


        “…100 million baby boomers will die off in the next 15-20 years.”

        Funny how people always forget that “generations” — this is really a misnomer — are a “flow” not an “inventory.” The millennials, who’ve been moving into the work force and C-suits in recent years, are BY FAR the largest generation ever, and they’ll have no problems replacing the boomers.

        • Guido says:

          To look at the problem from the flow POV, one can argue that the flow was held up for about 5 years due to war. So the baby boomers that would have been born before were not. So the sudden inflow that came into the population will also lead to a sudden outflow. Beyond that the replacement will be more or less stable. Accepting this argument, the numbers would need to be revised down from 100 million to whatever the 5 year period would have caused.

          That said, I am not sure the replacement to keep the flow going smoothly is there. I read (fake?) news that some of these millennials are living in their parents’ basements and postponing starting a family. I have no numbers to check how strong an effect this phenomenon is.

          Good point though on flow vs stock.

        • I agree with Wolf, the baby boomer “problem” is really a short term issue, as we lose our discretionary income, even less so. You have to appreciate, that as families get smaller wealth tends to funnel down to fewer and fewer people. The path to survival in the future, as in the past, will be family.

      • David G LA says:

        1% of 300 million is 3 million. So 3% of 300 million is 9 million.

  5. MD says:

    Once an RE market relies heavily on foreign cash seeking fast, easy speculative returns it is moribund. We are seeing this in capitals all over the west from which this tsunami of cash is receding.

    Saw the same thing in Eastern Europe a decade ago as the tide of western European (mostly British) money went out of RE markets from Bulgaria to Estonia.

    People always think ‘their’ RE bubble is different because of X,Y or Z reasons. But it never is. Once a market id dominated by speculators seeking fast returns rather than young local people seeking homes for their families, it is moribund. Only the timescale varies.

    • sc7 says:

      Danielle Hale, aka David Lereah 2.0, and probably the world’s worst economist, said today “this time it really is different”.

      Of course, the dirt on the bottom of my shoe has more credibility than her.

  6. Stan Sexton says:

    The Chinese are being taxed for the vacant houses they own in Canada so their attention has turned more to the U.S. Their favorite target is Irvine and other Orange County spots. UC Irvine is full of foreigners. The Chinese now apply for the EB-5 Visa which gives them residency rights. They buy their way in for a 500k investment. Then they buy the houses, have the anchor babies, enroll the kids at UCI. The USA is safer than China for the Elite. The older couples even do the “surrogate” Mom method because it is legal in Calif. I see it all having been involved as a 45 year real estate broker in SoCal and having a wife working in a big hospital NICU. Everyone is playing the Money Monopoly real estate game here.

    • Petunia says:

      The grandparents get SSI, which they never paid a dime into, while babysitting their grandchildren. I had Chinese neighbors who did this.

      • max says:

        numbers don’t lie but liars use numbers

        Seventy-five years ago, the government cut 65-year-old Ida May Fuller a check. It was numbered 00-000-001 – the first Social Security payout.

        She had only paid three years’ worth of payroll taxes before retiring but by the time of her death in 1975 at age 100, she collected $22,888.92 from Social Security monthly benefits.

        from beginning it is Ponzi scheme.

    • Argus says:

      Over the past 15 months, the B.C. government raked in Ca $115 million from the vacant property ‘speculation tax’. This came from about 12,000 owners. Another estimated 22,000 have not yet completed their speculation tax forms.

  7. Senecas Cliff says:

    From what I have read much of the Chinese money flowing in to real estate ( less now) is not earned income but borrowings from the vast Chinese shadow banking system and is a method of converting dodgy borrowings in to hard assets outside the reach of future debt collectors. The problem with this is when the rickety Chinese banking and shadow banking system hits a big downturn the current level of real estate investment will drop to zero but also there will be desperation to convert much of the real estate to cash in order to avoid the “noose” back home or for living expenses once debt money spigot has been cut off. The Florida and California Real Estate markets mentioned in the article will then see a stunning reversal that will make the current downturn in BC look mild.

    • Noplacetolive says:

      Can’t come soon enough.

      • Jason says:

        @noplace I was thinking the very same thing. But I’ll believe it when I see it.

    • d says:

      This is a global issue.

      Much of the dodgy borrowing in ccp china, is secured against valueless or nonexistent collateral and is interest only. At the current interest rates, the fraudsters can afford to keep it rolling until opportunity knock’s

      The fraudsters are simply waiting for the bigger mainland financial implosion, to bury their fraud in the wash out.

      This is one of the reasons ccp china wants :”forigen Investors” in its NPL ridden banking sector now, which has a steadily reducing, regulated reserve ratio, most Investors will never see their capital again.

  8. tommy runner says:

    jobs, homes, seats in the classrooms, i have a number of American flags if you want.. only been folded once.

  9. Rowen says:

    where i’m at (coastal SC), foreign buyers also include Ohio, Michigan, and NY. For myriad reasons, the rate of these retiree buyers has also declined significantly.

  10. Dave Chapman says:

    “By contrast, Chinese spent more on real estate in competing markets like Canada, the UK, Australia, and Japan.”

    I do not think that this is true. The Real Estate market in Sydney has been trending down for months, and the Chinese buyers have apparently dried up.

    As for Canada, regular readers of this site know all about the Canadian government’s efforts to tax foreign buyers, in the hope of preserving some housing for locals.

    [Does Japan even allow foreign non-residents to buy housing??? I would be kind of shocked if they do.]

    • The Chinese only buy into markets that are rising never into markets that are falling. The Chinese all do the exact same thing and at the exact same time. Normally a market has to skyrocket before the Chinese start to buy. Australia will learn this the hard way. Their interest rate cuts will do nothing to prevent the falling values of residential real estate.

      • Gold is says:

        “…Their interest rate cuts will do nothing to prevent the falling values of residential real estate…”

        Not to mention actual falling (shoddily built) buildings & inflammable exteriors.

        The fun has just begun…

    • char says:

      Why, Market dropped for years (decades) and Japanese don’t really buy second hand homes. There is also a glut of homes outside the big cities who nobody wants.

    • MC01 says:

      Currently there’s no law in Japan prohibiting or restricting the purchase of real estate by foreigners. There are no restrictions over residency or visa status, meaning you can just buy a house and never set foot in Japan ever again. This applies to everything, from single rooms to golf courses, from whole buildings to whole islands.

      However all Japanese financial institutions require proof of income and residency in Japan to obtain any loan (including a real estate loan) and real estate ownership in itself is not sufficient to obtain a visa.
      There are also some peculiarities of the Japanese real estate system that may make ownership for foreigners a headache. For example property taxes are calculated and sent to you by the municipality. And, yes, they do make mistakes calculating them, and if they do it’s your responsibility to prove they are at fault.
      And if you think buying a house outside of a big city is a bargain and don’t care much about depreciation, just wait until you have to deal with the local wildlife, especially termites.
      Buying shares in an exterminator’s business may be a good idea. ;-)

    • d says:

      “[Does Japan even allow foreign non-residents to buy housing??? I would be kind of shocked if they do.]”

      They do but you cant stay there very long and management costs are high in the areas that are stable or appreciating. Japan has an outer urban/rural vacant property issue..

  11. KGC says:

    I’d be willing to bet that a fair percentage of the Canadians who are buying in the USA are of Chinese heritage. A lot of those who came over in the past 40 years still have family ties to the old country and money ties also.

    • backwardsevolution says:

      KGC – “I’d be willing to bet that a fair percentage of the Canadians who are buying in the USA are of Chinese heritage.”

      That’s exactly what I’ve always thought too, KGC. The average Canadian might have bought a cabin or trailer just over the U.S. line, and some may have bought Florida/Arizona condos, but I believe the bulk of the Canadian money was from new Canadian immigrants of Chinese heritage. Be interesting to see the stats.

  12. David Hall says:

    In SW Florida we got retirees from the northern states and Canada staying in second homes for the winter. There were Ontario license plates from October to April. There used to be more Canadian owned properties in the area. The price of oil fell and so did the value of the Canadian dollar. I heard a Canadian complain her Canadian healthcare does not cover out of country medical expenses. She and her husband were going to sell and return to Canada.

    Asians are the fastest growing ethnic group in America. I do not think they will go back.

  13. DawnsEarlyLight says:

    Asians, particularly Indians, are now the majority of students in many of Indiana’s Universities. Whole new housing subdivisions are almost entirely composed of Asian families. There is a huge push to enroll Asians into our Post Secondary Education Institutions, and the degree completion percentages are quite high.

  14. roddy6667 says:

    In China, you own the improvements to the land, but land ownership is much the same as anybody in America who owns a condo, co-op, or property in an HOA, Planned Unit Development, etc. Land is shared ownership with the People, or government. You have the rights to exclusive possession and use of your piece of the land for 50-70 years. Then the government has the right to take it it is needed for urban renewal or a highway, or the like. It is eminent domain, nothing else. If they don’t need it, it rolls over for another 50-70 years. If it is taken, the owner is reimbursed. Most people who have their homes taken for this purpose now in China make out very well. It is rare to hear a complaint, and those who do often have strange reasons for complaining, or are malcontents.
    Most importantly, there is no property tax in China. When you own property, you own it. In America, you must pay an annual average rent of about 2% to the real owner. If you don’t pay the rent, men from the government with guns will move you off the property. If you don’t believe me, try not paying your property tax.
    I have owned property in China for ten years now. I owned 4 houses in my time in America, and I know the difference.

    • Wolf Richter says:


      Are you reading too much Chinese propaganda again?

      • roddy6667 says:

        I’ve been living in China. I know what’s happening here. People who have never spent time here have beliefs based on third hand “information” and people with an axe to grind. I do not misrepresent anything. What I wrote is 100% factual.

        • Iamafan says:

          I am not sure what your point is. US and China have different rules of the game. Other than that, I am only interested to make money. Thanks.

  15. polecat says:

    With regard to one of your explanations as to why Chinese buyers were/are purchasing homes in the U.S. – “owning land” … try Not paying your property taxes .. and see just how long it remains ‘yours’…… as opposed to THEIRS’, meaning the kind & caring .. ‘brimming with concern’ – local Municipality, or the County, or the State, or the Federalies – all of which can turn you homeless at the snap of a pointed finger from the Sheriff !

    • Wolf Richter says:


      Yeah, you might lose your freedom if you kill someone. So does this fact prove that there is no freedom of any kind?

      If you violate the rules of society, you may have to pay a price. The fact there is property tax and that you could lose your home if you don’t pay your property tax for years does not destroy the concept of property ownership. This whole logic is nuts.

      • polecat says:

        Well Wolf, I beg to differ. The single largest asset that many have, their domicile, shouldn’t be held hostage to government entities that cannot control their spending, using the homeowner as a cashcow whenever their needs arise. Illinois and New Jersey come to mind, when considering the states where property taxes put home’owners’ under extreme duress. Sure, many I suppose, can sell their abode and move elsewhere, but I would venture to say that there are just as many or more who don’t want to do so who are in no position to keep up with the continual rise of this kind of taxation. To me, ownership, means that, and that alone .. not something predicated on subservience to another. Maybe ‘nominally owned’ is a better descriptor for what you where trying to convey.

        • medial axis says:

          Yes, tax should not be based on the value of a property (if only because it discourages making improvements to the property) it should be based on the unimproved value of the land, which is what Land value Tax[1] is all about. Other taxes, such as income, sales and corporation tax ought be scrapped, as taxing what’s good for an economy (working, trading and running a business) is plain bonkers.


        • Nicko2 says:

          Polecat….civilization isn’t free. If you want a libertarian utopia, move to Somalia….but you’ll need your own militia to defend ‘your’ land.

        • c1ue says:

          If you want to live in Iraq or Syria right now – I’m sure there are lots of properties with no property tax available.
          Property taxes, in general, pay for local utilities and schools.
          Your house – I am assuming – uses these services. Why shouldn’t you pay for this privilege?

        • NBay says:

          Yep Nicko,
          And maybe another part of this very cherry picked “civilization” vs “freedom” debating I see, is that if your civilization has (for whatever reasons) relegated you to live homeless, are you expected to not defecate if you are able eat, even dumpster food? We are just biological critters, and to exist all must do both, even single cell ones, often to our detriment.

      • NoName says:

        If you don’t pay your property tax shortly after it’s due where I live, the sheriff sells the property!

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Where do you live?

          In California, you have five years after the property first defaults to get current on your property taxes before there can be a tax sale. There are all kinds of notice requirements, and they must try to personally contact you, etc.

        • NoName says:

          I don’t care to disclose, sorry.

        • NoName says:

          Not CA, obviously! :D

      • MCH says:


        I think the point might be the perpetuity of taxes. This is a hit both for car ownership and for housing owned. For cars, I can understand. And the same for land. But it still is unfair to a degree. The government has the ability to arbitrarily raise your taxes to suit their needs. For cars, I am thinking of the annual registration fees.

        After all, everything else you buy takes a one time tax hit. But not housing or cars… when you look at general public only. Most other states, government has the ability to tax housing as they see fit. Considering it is also the prime source of equity for most Americans, you can see how it can be unfair. Especially for the elderly.

        From this perspective, Prop 13 was a great thing. But even then, it has an escape clause, when the property is sold. And let’s face it, or state government (CA) is not the most responsible with money.

        • char says:

          In most countries the annual registration fee or something alike only needs to be paid if the car is using the public road. So you are not paying for the car but for the road use.

        • d says:

          A house is a permanent anchor and the Taxers can play Gotcha with it.

          Answer, never publicly own an outwardly expensive looking house, in an expensive area, or pay the extortionists, the choice is your.

          muslims counsel this in the koran even.

          I have been in some slum looking dwellings in the Philippines and india that are like royal palaces on the inside.

          The problem is not the cost of the “Property services” in developed nations or inner urban areas, its the cost of the exorbitant salaries and pensions that go to those who went to Municipal “Job’s” for life, to do nothing but eat their lunch.

          I own a cheap piece of land through one of my Trusts, on which I park my motor home and truck when I am on my boat and can service my boat there. not at risk of rising sea level for some time as its on solid rock 8 meter’s above high tide line. with a good shelter belt in front of it.

          The other properties the trust own are rented out so pay their own deductible property taxes.

          Private owner occupied properties have been a tax trap for a long time now. Cities are already starting to die as they become to expensive for the peopel needed to service the wealthy there, to live in.

          Then the wealthy also leave, as there is nobody there to do their dirty work for them.

          It will be interesting to watch what happens as the Chicago and Illinois pension systems implode, they seem currently to be the first major US metropolis and state heading into pension system implosion

          I believe Chicago is on the cusp of becoming an unserviced ghost town, of homeless people, squatting in abandoned properties.

          Owned by a Metropolis Authority, that can not afford to police the abandoned property, it has seized.

      • roddy6667 says:

        When a retired couple loses the right and ability to live in their 100% owned home because they can’t afford the rising property taxes, then “the right of property ownership” becomes just words on paper. The reality is that they have to pack a U-Haul truck with their possessions and move to a small apartment. In China, you can live until you die in your home, even with a tiny pension. Then it goes to your heirs, not to the city for back taxes. Their so-called lack of property rights gives them more rights than millions of Americans.

  16. My brother teaches at an all Chinese school and the fact is the poor Chinese are now coming to Canada whereas in the past the rich Chinese were coming to Canada.

    • max says:

      welfare state and easy citizenship acting like magnet.

    • nicko2 says:

      Originally, in the 1930’s 40’s…. It was almost exclusively that poor Chinese immigrated to Canada (along with many other ethnicities). Immigrants are very industrious in Canada, most have done very well over the generations.

  17. Tom Stone says:

    I seem to recall that SF has a lot of high end Condo’s either recently completed or under construction.
    They might well be more affordable in a year or two…

    • Wolf Richter says:


      Did you check the HOA fees of these luxo-towers with pools and wine cellars? Luxury condos — if you don’t live in them — make terrible investments unless prices skyrocket constantly because the carrying costs are so high.

      • NotMe says:

        Then there is the Millenium Towers problem.

        When you are a remote owner, stuff happens and you wait too long to discover it. HOAs are notorious for deferring maintenance and then hitting the owners hard in one year. I suspect that may be problem in the Millenium where if you let a contract to fix it, HOA rules are by law in many states, it has to be charged out in that year. I cannot be mortgaged out for 30 years. I just ran into this.

        Other factors that bite remote owners are changes in rental population, change in neighborhood demos, and on and on. Leasing is no picnic. Relatives in Europe completely lost all significant value left in their property when African immigrants were being placed in the area by the government.

  18. c1ue says:

    I wonder just how much of the “Canadian” flow is actually Chinese?
    I don’t doubt some are snowbirds, but Canada has something over 500K immigrant Chinese. Given Canada’s population is 36M – this is pretty significant.
    I also wonder about the relative costs of housing in Canada vs. Florida. It would seem to me that it would be cash flow negative to sell a house in Canada and buy in Florida – outside the handful of big cities?

  19. kitten lopez says:

    MAX: “man your mentality is killing you — this advice is from a person who arrive in Australia as refugees with nothing except sports bag with some spare clothes.”

    i don’t take that as advice but an astute OBSERVATION and you are proving my POINT as i reflect on the conditions i see and feel here.

    and as many people can and will tell you, if i ever met you even at a bus stop, i can confidently say that i am one of the HAPPIEST fxcking people you will EVER meet in your lifetime. it takes some aback. well, MANY.

    ever since i was a very tiny little girl i’ve done my share of running for my life WITHOUT even my gym bag so i too have already “died” a few times and i’m back naked and raw with no time for b.s. this time ’round/ my despair comes from the realization that MOST OF THIS EVIL AND SUFFERING IS COMPLETELY FXCKING UNNECESSARY AND LIFE IS HOLY AND SACRED AND BELONGS TO EACH ONE OF US NOT ONLY A FEW WHO PASS ANOTHER’S MUSTER we’re all so sad sweet holy but our very happiness existence and the now as well as future of everything is in the hands of a sociopathic system and the weak who support it for the extra overtime.


    on Wolf Street i am railing against the Realities that keep getting hocked up onto us all like astroids of phlegm. however i am very much my Puerto Rican father’s DAUGHTER and will never ever try to get into the big house, but rebel against it and struggle to need/want as LITTLE as i can.

    it’s all about the “stuff” that’s given China all that cash and it’s almost cartoonishly hilarious that cheap STUFF and who provides it is what runs us. that’s not HOLY.

    by the way i dig Joel Osteen and as a mixed race girl i’ve learned to pick and choose the best of all sides. people like me struggle living with this new “binary” that exists now more than ever.

    i live in the grey. you won’t find me or my opinions on a magic phone.

    but i AGREE with you; in the real world one on one i’m all about WHAT CAN WE DO ON THE GROUND TO GO AGAINST THIS ISH???

    in any little way i try to undermine the Death the Nothing that is killing humanity like we’re living in the original Terminator movie NOW.

    i’m actually feeling quite powerful BECAUSE i’m better seeing reality and people faltering around me. i cannot depend on them. they are just starting to crack and i cracked many times and last time probably for good, 8 years ago. i almost didn’t make it back from that one because as an artist i was out of visions ideas inspiration.

    well, i’m BACK. and as long as i stay naked emotionally and as Real as i can be and be willing to come BACK and fix when i fail in real life, then i will ALWAYS believe in Romance and the Future of Humanity.

    i’m long past waiting for some old 80-something year old white guy to ride in and save us, when in reality he couldn’t even stand up to his OWN party when they fxcked him.

    we’re on our own with this Honor Thang. we are our own what-ever-colored-Knight on White Horses.

    so yeah, i agree with you, NBay. in fact, my sadness about all this is often BECAUSE it’s already happening underground, albeit small.

    i’m doing my fair share of trying to catch other artists on fire so’s they can do this themselves wherever they are.

    but you’ve gotta get PAST the ugly leaky slimy nasty dirty funky BLUES, first.

    and i been face down in them blues for a long ass time.

    i’m pretty good now.

    AND MAX…

    watch out for the other Californians. don’t believe their hype. there was an old famous New Yorker cartoon of some one from the U.S. east coast waving good bye and yelling “FXCK YOU!” but THINKING “HAVE A NICE DAY!” / the one with the californian waving bye was saying “HAVE A NICE DAY!” but their thought bubble said, “FXCK YOU!”

    yep. but NOW when you see a Californian hanging out in his car, i won’t know whether he lives there or he’s in there psyching himself up to even be able to SAY, “HAVE A NICE DAY!” because “FXCK YOU!” is on his lips more than ever now that he’s living IN his car.

    off to the gym. no matter how old or helpless i get in america i want to be able to wield a plastic fork to defend my helpless self from the late stages of good old fashioned american “get up old man before i fxck you right there” capitalism.

    (and no… i don’t want socialism/communism… that doesn’t go so well for people like me, either. i’m not a cow. i’m not cattle. i am not cool with our march to the slaughterhouse because we are stupid people’s FOOD.


    have a good day. la la la…



    • NBay says:

      I too am very much my poor Ohio hillboy father’s son. Raised redneck (of the CA coastal logger/mill tribe, which is why so many HS pals followed the timber north to Paulo’s beautiful island, at least north of Courtney, which is the area I know best) I still value and keep those personal ethics. I was essentially homeless in the 80’s recession, couldn’t understand it, I NEVER had trouble finding a little 40 hr job before. That stuff will destroy your self respect FAST, first time I ever drank alone, and not for pleasure….it was medicine. I can cry for sadness or happiness, as I have nothing left to prove to anyone. I know what I can do, or what I did, anyway. Always was a “knowledge for it’s own sake” type, which is why I love this site, as every has to deal with Econ, and I luckily have some savings to invest, plus 40 west of Hopland, and who doesn’t want to leave more to younger loved ones facing a lot nastier world than I did. But classic Econ was considered Poly-Sci, so the two are sorta inseparable to me. WR does a good job of it separating them. (The old “never talk politics or religion” stuff to keep things civil) BTW, better quit as I am on WR’s s-list, I think, but just have to agree that you should start writing again. Your short funny takes on people are like the new folk wisdom. Accurate like Nietzsche’s aphorisms, but very funny. A collection of them would be great reading. I’d suggest Kitty’s Fables, but will check to my betters on that notion. Thanks much for the honest reply.

      • kitten lopez says:

        thank YOU for your honest reply. i like this site because in spite of it being all about “money,” it is one of the most humane places on the internet.

        and this you wrote (below), choked me up because you are so beautiful as you are…

        “I can cry for sadness or happiness, as I have nothing left to prove to anyone.”

        thank you for that.


  20. rawtrader says:

    Does anyone know if China’s social credit score system might be reducing their citizens’ overseas real estate purchases? If some of their citizens are purchasing land as a possible escape plan rather than as an investment or safe(r) place to park their money, it could be seen as a lack of confidence in their government leaders – especially if they are trying to crack down on capital outflow and we are in a trade war with them. Also, will some Chinese who own houses in North America sell them because they want to avoid being on their government’s radar? Now that word of the social credit system is becoming more widespread in China and across the world, maybe people are trying to avoid potential red flags like this.

  21. raxadian says:

    China is not a democracy and has been becoming more and more totalitarian.

    That scares people who has something to lose.

    Is that hard to understand?

  22. LissaSB says:

    Anything that will bring down home prices in Orange County Ca (including losing foreign buyers) will be a welcome respite for us. Even with this current lull in the market, prices aren’t going down nearly enough for the average worker.

  23. Blue says:

    Am I the only one that thinks it’s madness that our country allows Chinese to buy up our land at prices Americans can’t afford and then force American citizens to be rentors to Chinese landlords?

    That our government gives rich Chinese landlords more rights than they have in China?

    Can we ever become a country where Americans can own their own homes instead of being rent-slaves to Chinese owners?

    • LissaSB says:

      I just saw an ad for a rental on a house where the owner lives in China but her daughter is in college here and would need to stay in the house on weekends. They were trying to rent out their house for 3k a month. Must be nice to get 3k income AND have a place for your daughter to live. The last place I rented was owned by someone in China. It is definitely a “thing” in So Cal.

  24. LissaSB says:

    Another thing I see a lot here in ground zero of the housing crisis (orange county ca), are houses for sale that sit on the MLS for months and months. And sometimes they’ve been trying to sell them since 2018. Instead of dropping the houses down to a price where maybe someone can afford it, they just relist it a bunch of different times a various prices at the upper end of the market. I wonder what percentage of foreign homeowners have their houses sitting vacant?

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