US Home Purchases by Foreigners Plunged for 4th Year, to Decade Low. But They Bought More Expensive Homes than Americans

Purchases by buyers from China collapsed by 84% since the peak in 2017.

By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.

Purchases by foreigners of existing homes in the US – meaning used homes, not new homes – in the period from April 2020 through March 2021 plunged 27% from the prior year, to $54 billion, the fourth year in a row of declines, and by 65% from the peak in 2017 ($153 billion), according to the National Association of Realtors’ annual report on foreign buyers today. Foreign buyers have gotten cold feet and face other hurdles, such as capital controls, particularly buyers from China.

These buyers fall into two groups: resident foreigners who bought $32 billion worth of homes during the period (purple), down 59% from the peak in 2017, and non-resident foreigners who bought $22 billion of homes (black), down 71% from the peak:

These purchases accounted for 2.8% of total existing home sales during the period. During the peak in 2017, they accounted for 10% of total home sales, according to the NAR.

Resident foreign buyers are non-US citizens who are recent immigrants with less than two years in the US at the time of purchase; or non-immigrant visa holders who have resided for more than six months in the US for professional, educational, or other reasons.

Non-resident foreign buyers are 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 total number of purchasers plunged by 31% from the prior year to 107,000 purchasers, the fourth year in a row of declines, and down 62% from 2017.

The top five countries of origin, the number of homes purchased, and the change from the pre-pandemic year 2019, and from 2017:

  1. Canada: 8,800 homes, -56%; -74%
  2. Mexico: 7,100, -55%; -75%
  3. China (the report includes Hong Kong and Taiwan): 6,300 homes, -68%; -84%
  4. India: 4,700, -52%; -68%
  5. UK: 3,800, -27%; -70%.

However, the Chinese buy on average more expensive homes, and in terms of the dollar volume of their purchases are ranked #1, followed by Canada, India, Mexico, and the UK.

The top five US states in terms of their share of all foreign buyers:

  1. Florida (22%)
  2. California (16%)
  3. Texas (9%)
  4. Arizona (5%)
  5. New York (4%)
  6. New Jersey (4%)

Top destinations for buyers from:

  • Canada: #1 Florida (38%); #2 Arizona (24%).
  • China: #1 California (34%); Georgia (10%).
  • Mexico: #1 Texas (29%); #2 California (21%).
  • India: #1 California (40%); #2 Texas (11%)
  • UK: #1 Florida (44%); #2 Virginia (21%)

They buy more expensive homes than Americans. Median price by origin, plus the percentage change from the prior year. All five of them are higher than the USA median price of $305,500 (+11%):

  • India: $538,900; +20.2%
  • China: 476,500; +6%
  • Canada: 400,900; +37%
  • UK: 366,600; + 2%
  • Mexico: 341,400; +36%

This plunge in purchases by foreign buyers began in 2018, and the pandemic year was the fourth year in a row of declines. Each year, the residential real estate industry hopes that foreign buyers, particularly from China, will once again start showing up in large numbers. And for the past four years, they have been disappointed. All major US real estate brokers have divisions in China, which Chinese-language websites, and with staff in China, that attempt to funnel Chinese buyers and Chinese money into the US real estate market. Now all hopes rest on travel restrictions between countries being lifted, and of course in China’s case, on capital controls being lifted by the Chinese government.

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  133 comments for “US Home Purchases by Foreigners Plunged for 4th Year, to Decade Low. But They Bought More Expensive Homes than Americans

  1. OutWest says:

    I’m glad that my state isn’t on that list because locals get priced out. Hurray for the wealthy.

    • TenGallonHat says:

      This drives the disenfranchised to your locale. It shouldn’t be applauded at all.
      Ugly Soviet-style apartments going up all over
      …should Americans be lucky enough to get a room.

      • Joe Saba says:

        wish I had more rentals
        gotta fund retirement somehow
        not like I have pension – I’m not in executive group

        • two beers says:

          All Americans should own rentals, and then we can all get rich renting them back and forth to each other! Productivity! Capitalism!

        • Catxman says:

          Rent seeking only makes sense when the currency exchange is right. The Chinese are still devaluing their currency, reducing its purchasing power. If the currency floated to its real value then you would see a lot more home buying by foreigners.

      • Mira says:

        Melbourne’s faulty buildings crisis.
        Crisis of faulty, dangerous, leaking buildings.
        Shoddy materials, poor workmanship, homes & apartments likely to be outlived by their owners.
        Anticipated that live will be lost due to poor building standards.
        New laws may have to be introduced to manage mass demolitions.
        Whole, million dollar per apartment blocks empty .. unliveable.
        Ugly Soviet- style would be something if they were sound.

        • Mira says:

          People have purchased $1,000,000 apartments .. only to discover that they can’t live there .. talk about doing your dough.
          How do you recover from having thrown $1,000,000 away ??

    • Ralph Hiesey says:

      The sad thing is that a high percentage of housing is now being bought, not to live in, but rather to divert their cash holdings into something safer than cash.

      So who’s buying? Those that need a place to put their money into, not a place to put themselves to live in.

      It’s called asset protection by the rich.

      • RightNYer says:

        That’s the problem with the argument that you can print unlimited money for asset inflation, and it’s okay, because it doesn’t affect the prices of anything ordinary people need to live.

        But as we’ve seen, once the money is printed, you can’t control where it goes. So if people in essence pull it out of stocks or Bitcoin and instead buy houses (or, if they decided to start hoarding copper or gasoline), we’d have hyperinflation in this areas.

      • gametv says:

        The stupid rich.

        The big mistake these people are making is that they think home prices rise in an inflationary environment. No. Home prices rise in a low inflation environment where interest rates are low. Right now, we have high inflation and low interest rates, which is the perfect storm for real estate.

        But that condition wont last. Either we slide back into deflation or interest rates rise and mortgage rates rise.

        Real estate is a leveraged asset. Even if you dont use leverage, the buyers that set prices in the market use leverage. So if you buy a home and mortgage rates go from 3% to 4.5% over the next three years, the number of people that can afford the mortgage payment on a dollar amount drops precipitously. So the prices must re-adjust downward to where people can afford the home.

        People who are smart with money realize that real estate is in a huge bubble and unless the government continues to lower interest rates, which is possible, but highly unlikely, since they are running up against inflationary pressures, real estate is going to start to drop.

        By next year, we are in a buyer’s market, if not an all-out global melt-down in real estate prices. And investors in real estate cant get out easily. Selling a home takes time and many of them will ride it down for a very long time.

      • historicus says:

        Investing in homes to rent out so as to get some type of fair return on your money…
        The Fed removes interest rates, essentially, and people run out and buy homes to rent.
        It is as if the Fed is being advised by an entity that wants to cattle drive investors into housing….right after they themselves had put on a mega bet in residential real estate.

        • gametv says:

          Isnt Blackrock an advisor to the Fed on policy? I thought I read something about how one of the biggest investors in real estate was also advising on Fed policy.

          The concept of conflict of interest seems to be uninteresting to people living in Washington DC.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          There is a lot of nonsense that gets spread around. Blackrock and other bond fund companies were involved advising the Fed on its corporate bond SPV, which bought a total of $13 billion (with a B) in corporate bonds and bond ETFs and was shut down on Dec 31, and the bonds and ETFs are now getting sold off. Other companies were involved in advising the Fed on its CMBS purchases, which totaled $9 billion with a B. This SPV has now also been shut down. These are minuscule numbers in the Fed’s $8 trillion balance sheet.

      • Trucker guy says:

        I doubt people are going to start buying sfh and holding them. A house can’t typically make it a year in an abandoned setting just sitting. I’ve seen it in the trailer parks I grew up around. One winter and the pipes freeze then leak and the house is a tear down. Nobody watching the place and meth heads strip all the metals from the place in a night. Roof leaks causes the house to be totalled in just a few storms.

        Homes are money pits and must be lived in. I really doubt we’ll see a new trend of people carrying residential homes without tenants to speculate. I’ve seen people first hand try that and they end up losing nearly all value when the house is covered in black mold and wild animals are living in it because life got in the way and they didn’t stop by for 4 months.

        Gains in housing aren’t locked in until sold. And there is a mountain of carrying costs in just having a residential house occupying a property. And being a landlord isn’t something the majority of these greedy short sighted people can handle.

        Seems like fear mongering to me. Maybe they’ll all try it and I’ll be able to nab me a run down foreclosure for pennies. Saw a lot of people do that after entire subdivisions of ARM mortgaged mcmansions went to ghost towns of drug dens and criminal hide outs. I was too young to capitalize. Not that I’d live in a subdivision anyways. Worst of both worlds and none of the benefits of city or rural living.

        • ishi says:

          Naw dude. Simply find a property management company, get a tenant and kick back and collect. If a recession hits or the Market contracts, simply lower the rent.

          a lot of people that I know… it’s working for them.

  2. Finster says:

    This illustrates one way money spent by Americans on foreign goods finds its way back home. When the US runs trade deficits, it’s not just sending dollars overseas, it’s trading real capital for goods and services.

    • RightNYer says:

      Exactly. The argument that “since we’re the reserve currency, we can export our inflation to the rest of the world” only works so long as people are willing to hold our dollars and do nothing with them.

      Once the inflationary mindset takes over, those foreigners will start buying our real assets with those dollars, whether it’s our public companies, real estate, or anything else.

      So when we print money and hand it to people so they can splurge on imports from Amazon (one of the most unproductive uses of government money ever), we’re trading our real assets for things that will be in a landfill in a few years.

      • cas127 says:

        It is gratifying to see more and more people think about this (perpetual trade deficits leading to greater and greater foreign (read Chinese) ownership of US real assets).

        Domestic Chinese macroeconomic policy (foolishly ignored by the WTO and DC, apparently) greatly impaired the intl trade recycling of early Chinese trade surpluses.

        (Basically, Chinese banking laws and capital controls hugely limited the conversion of early Chinese trade surpluses into Chinese consumption of foreign imports…instead redirecting those hundreds of billions into Chinese capital investment domestically. Those Chinese factories are now today the world beating low cost producers).

        DC rather ignorantly viewed this with its usual something-for-nothing mindset, giggling in its degenerate way that the US was sending the Chinese “mere” printed pieces of green paper and getting back “useful” consumer goods at low prices.

        But, as wisely pointed out above, those aren’t mere pieces of paper…they are claims upon US assets, to be invoked in a time, place, and way of Chinese choosing.

        Even if the US destroys its own currency through inflation to dilute those claims…the claims don’t vanish…and if US Treasuries are made to yield sh*t (see DC something-for-nothingism) then those Chinese claims will simply be redirected into US real assets…hugely driving up prices for Americans.

        The Chinese political leadership was playing chess while the US political class couldn’t be bothered to learn checkers.

        And this went on for 20+ years.

        • MCH says:

          Remember the mantra of audacity of hope…. We are cultivating high paying service sector jobs while exporting low wage manual labor.

          I mean why do you think there isn’t enough people working at Starbucks and McDonalds. They are all going after higher paying service jobs. Like servicing Netflix with their eyeballs on the government roll. Didn’t you know, that pays better.

          See higher paying service jobs. Best of all, those type of work doesn’t require useless and complicated things like math, science, or engineering… we are instead teaching more sophisticated ideas in school. While we help to eradicate those low wage positions using STEM and exporting it to less productive countries. We can cultivate ourselves and our children culturally.

          What’s wrong with you, why do people like you refuse to see the good side of things like the media is telling you.

          ?

        • Joe Saba says:

          I’ve watched for 30+ years of trade deficits
          all it is SHIFTING OF merican assets to foreigners

          then again it would be better for some other country to own farmland than BILLY GATES(largest land owner in merica)

          billy is not on our side

      • MCH says:

        Not to worry, the easiest remedy to that problem is to give out more money to Americans so that they can buy more stuff.

        But fear not.

        America is not a place, it’s an idea, the real assets are it’s people. Don’t worry about the material things like land, natural resources, that isn’t a measure of the country….

        Morning sarcasm is the best. ?

    • Beardawg says:

      Finster

      This article reflects the exact opposite with respect to real estate (RE). For years, purchase of RE by foreigners has dropped off the table.

      • cas127 says:

        I wonder how easy it really is to accurately track foreign purchases of US real assets.

        International trade already uses a ton of cutout entities to circumvent tariffs, capital controls, etc. Using papier-mache purchasers to buy US real assets would not be inconceivable.

        I’ll grant that this given methodology is showing a down trendline…but the assumption that China will perpetually park trillions in accumulated USD trade surpluses in castrated US Treasuries seems…unwise.

        • Wisdom Seeker says:

          I’m with cas127 on this one. We can’t track this. The more restrictions are applied, the more evasions will be applied, and the harder it gets to track what’s really going on.

    • georgist says:

      Yep this is the flow.

      Americans don’t make stuff.
      They create USD to buy stuff from outside.
      Foreigners then can’t buy USA stuff as USA makes nothing.
      So foreigners buy land instead.

      This is an *insane* policy that amounts to a fire sale of the actual country.

      • Harrold says:

        I remember a few decades ago when it was the Japan that was the manufacturing power house of the world.

        What ever happened to them?

        • georgist says:

          Err they have very high living standards and their central bank are talking about a 4 day week?

          America is not on some kind of post-manufacturing trajectory, it’s in decline.

        • Nick Kelly says:

          See a driveway near you, in fact it might be next door.
          What happened to them is they annaliated US car makers, ex. trucks protected by a steep US 25% tariff.
          Some time around 1985? the US got fed up with Japanese imports and put quotas on them, But in unit numbers, not dollar total.
          In other words the US told them to get more profit per unit,so they went upmarket with great success. But here is where I admire them, they never left the econo segment. They do both. Honda does everything. Maybe GM should build a 50 cc scooter as penance to focus their minds.

          But as with Germany, the autos are the only thing the consumer sees.
          As soon as you get into the stuff industry buys, like stuff that makes stuff, both Japan and Germany are doing VERY well.
          The Chinese come-on of lowest price works for Walmart and Dollar stores, not at all for the industry procurer. They are very suspicious of lowest price and many throw it out right away. You really dont want to be the guy who ordered a lemon to save 15%.
          It’s not unusual for German suppiers to just say upfront they aren’t price competitors.

          Remember GM’s ignition switch after GM told suppliers it needed the ‘China price’ That was a very expensive savings.

        • Dan Romig says:

          Thank you Nick.

          Speaking of Honda, there’s a great article today from Andrew Benson on the success Honda is having in Formula 1 with the Red Bull team.

          Honda’s Toyoharu Tanabe, lead engineer of the F1 power plant, explains how they came up with a new engine based on the specs given to Honda from Red Bull that is smaller, lighter, more powerful and with a lower center of gravity.

          But the kicker is that Honda will give the program to Red Bull. “We feel huge appreciation. They believed in Honda, so we have to give them something back.” However, “Most of the engineers will be moved on to the next project for carbon neutrality.” Mr. Tanube said

          Honda sees the future is in EV technology, and the best engineers they have — who are as good as it gets –are going there ASAP. They also have the greatest trait — loyalty.

    • historicus says:

      What the “trade deficits dont matter” people miss is that with the return of the dollars comes a change in control and ownership.
      The perfect example is the Chicago Skyway…
      Chicago was cash strapped about 30 years ago….and they sold the tollway to a foreign outfit. So now the dollars returned, but now the critical tollway is owned and CONTROLLED by a foreign entity.

      • cas127 says:

        DC type people always take self-pleasuring comfort in the “fact” that if horrifically mismanaged intl trade leads to foreign domination of US real assets, DC-MSM can always whip up a good five-minutes-hate and expropriate the foreign capital.

        This passes for long range planning in DC.

  3. TenGallonHat says:

    Pathetic. Americans sold out their children’s opportunity for home ownership to rich foreigners.

    Of course sales are temporarily down when you can’t go back and forth between your home country due to Ch ina virus.

    Or they preferred the Tru mp presidency.

    Lots of Canadians in red Florida. Let’s see what type of response these purchases elicit from the resident Canadian…

    • sc7 says:

      Typical of the “I got mine” boomers.

      • TenGallonHat says:

        If only I could bring back my WWII-hero Greatest Gen grandfather for a day………

    • Dan Romig says:

      TenGallonHat,

      OK, I can’t resist a follow up to, “Lots of Canadians in … Florida.”

      You see, being the quintessential Minnesota hockey playing rink rat growing up, I idolized the Montreal Canadiens, and even learned a bit of French as I dreamed of playing hockey in Montreal.

      Yeah, the Canadians were just in Florida, but they lost the Stanley Cup to Tampa Bay. And the last time the Cup was in Canada (with the exception of last year’s Covid forced games being played in Toronto) was when Montreal won it in 1993. Long time, eh.

      But just to add insult to injury, when the Tampa Bay players were celebrating their second Cup win in a row, and dinking a lot of beer out of it, it got slightly damaged. Oops. So, what did the NHL do?

      Oh yeah, send the Cup north to Montreal for repairs, but as soon as that’s done, it’s back to Florida.

      Who said life is fair?

      In my career as a sporting event ticket broker, I had a lot of customers from Winnipeg and Thunder Bay. Great people, and I always loved working with them!

    • RightNYer says:

      Yes, exactly. It infuriates me to no end that, not only did we provide “stimulus” who clearly didn’t need it, but that it wasn’t provided on a debit card or some other way that would limit its use to restaurants, bars, theaters, etc. Businesses that actually were hurt by COVID. It’s insane that we printed money so that people could splurge on durable goods made overseas.

      • Wisdom Seeker says:

        Feature, not bug?

        Who owns your politicians?

        How do you _know_ the votes were accurately counted?

  4. Josh says:

    Maybe they already bought up all the houses and there is not much else to buy? That would partly explain the historically low inventory in some areas.

    • The low hanging fruit has been picked, which partly explains the price diverging from supply. Now in addition to other concerns if you are a foreign buyer is Covid hotspots. Maybe a nice time to pick up a bargain property in the midwest. What happened to the previous owner? Don’t ask.

  5. SaltyGolden says:

    Nah, we’re just finally cutting into their action with all this hot money.

  6. Neaux Knealeng says:

    Did you see Olympic GOLD Winner’s Alaskan hometown cheer in delight at her win tonight? From a zip code none of these foreigners are buying into that’s for damn sure. Real America!

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Amazing Lydia Jacoby. Huge congrats to her!

    • phoenix says:

      Yeah because nobody wants to live in fucking Alaska dumbass

    • Dan Romig says:

      What happens when an Austrian mathematician calculates her strategy going into the Bicycling Road Race? And she tells herself, “I’m going to go for it from kilometer one. I know where I can push, and how to pace myself?”

      She wins. And she rode the last 41 kilometers alone to get the victory and the gold medal.

      30 years old, and not a professional rider under contract, but current Time Trial Champion of Austria; Masters degree in Mathematics at Cambridge in 2012, PhD in Mathematics at Polytechnic University of Catalonia in 2016 and a math lecturer and researcher by day.

      First Olympic Gold Medal for her country in cycling in 125 years!

      Anna Kiesenhofer is my hero!

  7. David Hall says:

    The Canadians bought more homes in Florida when the value of the Canadian dollar was higher relative to the US dollar. Their universal healthcare does not cover out of country healthcare expense. Canadians had to buy out of country health insurance for the winter months they spent living in Florida. Health insurance inflation has made the cost of wintering in Florida too expensive for some Canadians who sold their homes.

    There is no Florida state income tax. This in addition to sunshine attracted retirees from northern states who bought the homes the Canadians were selling.

    • Paulo says:

      Actually, Provincial healthcare is covered for 1 day less than 6 months, in other words, to maintain your health coverage you have to live a minimum of 6 months in Canada. But it really is only good for home as you pointed out.

      What isn’t covered is when you have a knowable condition, or those catastrophic charges that would not be seen here. A few examples; the sudden heart attack with crazy emergency room charges, same for accidents….you know, the $100 aspirin kind of thing, the $1,000 mattress they throw away after one night, or the $600 X ray. This means only a foolish Canadian does not purchase supplemental insurance which increases in price as one ages to the point where really old people just don’t travel to the US unless they have an economic death wish :-) (which you pointed out quite well). For example, the last time we crossed the line we purchased supplemental because my wife has been a type 1 diabetic for 50 years and you just never know. For the two of us it cost $27 for one week through BCAA ( think triple A). But my 80 year old in laws simply stopped going south.

      I do have a wealthy friend who is selling their Palm Springs winter home right now. Something about water :-)…….

      The Florida bound Canadians are usually from Ontario and Quebec and the westerners head to Arizona with their trailers, etc. But I think you will really see that drop off in coming years. Maybe they all started moving and vacationing in BC during Covid. We just took a jaunt yesterday to suss out an old stomping ground and have a picnic. Literally, every 2nd vehicle was an RV or family ride with a Thule carrier and kayak. We counted, and couldn’t get home fast enough. The point is I think many of these folks will no longer be traveling south because of Delta and increasing infection rates. Then there are the politics and gun worries. Add on healthcare coverage why not just fly to Cuba, Dominica, or Mexico? Plus, I do know several people in my rural area who own 2nd homes in Mexico. They just pay cash for their healthcare as required. One old colleague actually had a new home built in Bara, and he is/was a working guy. Mexico seems to be preferred these days after Costa Rica home prices got too expensive.

      • RightNYer says:

        LOL, so Canadians concerned about gun violence are going to eschew going to the United States and pick Mexico or the Dominican Republic instead? Come on.

      • Minutes says:

        Paulo is a comedian. Levity is needed.

    • Anthony A. says:

      One of our Canadian friends bought a home near us (in The Woodlands, Texas) a few years ago and they are from Canada with big families living there. The wife’s family is French and has been in the Montreal, Canada area for a very long time. I believe he is from Calgary.

      They both received their U.S. citizenship two years ago.

      He is 67 and retired and collecting a Canadian pension for his working years there and because he worked in the states for 11 years and paid into SS and Medicare here, he is collecting SS and is on Medicare.

      They are staying in the states as they like the warmer climate and are happy with the community and their circle of friends.

    • Micheal Engel says:

      US/ Canada border is still closed, until late Aug.

  8. NoPrep says:

    I see that there are still many fear based editorial-reports going around the web about how China owns the US, or will soon. This has been a longstanding meme among some. But based on the data reported here, that is clearly one thing Americans don’t really have to worry about. And a good thing for sure, because I certainly don’t have any trust at all in major Chinese power players and the authorities behind them, as far as having any interest in all the people who work for them and who serve their interests. Thanks Wolf.

    • cas127 says:

      The Chinese have well over 3 trillion in accumulated trade surpluses with the US.

      Those trillions can be transferred from essentially zero yielding US Treasuries to any real asset class at a time, place, and by means of China’s choosing.

      Trillions more in accumulated US trade surpluses went to build modern factories and infrastructure that have made China the almost unchallenged low cost producer of electronic goods for the planet Earth.

      The only thing the US has had a surplus of for 30 years is complacency.

    • Mr. Gigolo says:

      Born in and partially raised in the US here… I have been lucky enough to have lived and worked for many years in Canada, Europe, and Mexico. Currently in Chicago.

      I will say it since my Canadian peeps are too polite:
      The dominant Anglo-American *white* culture of the US sucks s**t compared to other countries.

      Yes, there are pockets that suit me better than others, but overall this country is an intellectual wasteland. Unfortunately it is my home now, and I do love it nevertheless, but that is due to probably being mostly raised here (I also lived in Italy as a child, but I do not consider it that much better, having gone back regularly over the years).

      I moved back to Chicago for family reasons, but if I did not have those obligations, I would be again out of the country, because American mainstream culture makes me vomit.

      Thank God the country’s prevailing dominant culture is getting some *major* competition from other groups, which dilutes the entitled cultural superiority feelings that many have here – and which makes it a lot more tolerable for someone like me.

      And since so many people hate Illinois, I won’t have to worry about Illinois turning into a Florida, Arizona, Georgia, or Alabama, etc.

      Luckily the country is large enough where I can ignore much of the prevailing culture. I am hopeful that Karma will deal the US one huge kick in the ass, because it deserves it big time. Hope I am alive to see it first hand.

      • RightNYer says:

        I’ll bite. Which aspects of the WASP culture of the U.S. do you think sucks, and why?

      • Shiloh1 says:

        Chicago this past weekend from Friday noon – Monday dawn:

        12 murdered + another 63 shot. Don’t know the carjackings.

        Last 2 weeks shootings in same block as Harry Caray restaurant and another in front of the W Hotel on Adams, 2 blocks from the Willis Tower.

        Headline in today’s Chicago Tribune: “Lightfoot warns of masks, restrictions”.

        Lollapalooza coming up, should be interesting to see who catches the COVID and who catches the lead.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      NoPrep,

      It’s not that straightforward. Chinese ownership of US real estate is VERY concentrated. They own a lot in San Francisco and in the Los Angeles areas in certain spots. They own nearly nothing in many other areas. So the national average is pretty low. But local concentrations are very high.

      For example, there are condo towers in San Francisco where most owners are absentee investors in China. These towers have been marketed to Chinese buyers in China. They may even have involved some EB-5 visa money.

      These condos bought and owned by Chinese investors may not even figure in this survey data, for two reasons:

      1. they didn’t involve US real estate agents that are members of the NAR (Realtors) since they were marketed directly by the condo developer to Chinese buyers in China; but this data is based on data reported by NAR members.

      2. the condos were marketed as “new construction,” not as existing homes, and are therefore not part of this survey which covers only the sale of existing homes.

      • georgist says:

        They certainly seem to have their hooks into Canada.

        Go to a house showing in Montreal, it’s full of people who don’t speak English or French.

  9. NoPrep says:

    I know this data is not the total picture – there is industry, and there is farmland. But I still think the “China owns the US” fear is way overblown at best.

    • David Hall says:

      Foreigners own 40% of the S&P 500. 40% of the S&P 500 revenue is from sales in foreign countries.

      The Japanese have been buying Hawaiian real estate. The Japanese bought 7-11 in 1991. They bought Speedway gas station convenience stores in 2021. Japan is the size of California and the third largest economy in the world.

      • Micheal Engel says:

        I buy a small espresso cup for 99 cents in Speedway, split
        it for 4-5 days for : 20 cents/ days, better than SBUX.

        • cas127 says:

          Do you have the physical assets/knowledge/supply chain to manufacture that cup of expresso…because our foreign overlords do.

          Or how about gasoline distribution?

          Ironically, US consumers/voters have been lulled to a stupefied, stony sleep by…99 cent expressos.

        • Harrold says:

          Coffee isn’t even grown in the US.

          Your drinking a foreign beverage any how.

        • DawnsEarlyLight says:

          Harrold,

          Hawaii, California, and Puerto Rico would argue your statement.

  10. Ron says:

    First point China communist country second point our stupid politicians let them list on exchanges with no accountability third point they hate the west Russia better wise up after China destroys America there next China agenda world dominance but will probably implode from within

    • CashMcCall says:

      Thank Gaud for Patriots like you that saved the world from them thar Commie Pinkos in Vietnam…

      Oh… that’s right you lost that war. Ouch. But but but I just thought that since you were wearing shoes made in Vietnam that you….

      oh never mind.

      • candyman says:

        technically, we won militarily, what we lost was political desire to win. We caved due to politics, not military.

        • 91B20 1stCav (AUS) says:

          candy-technically, so did the French. No peoples are truly ‘free’ (ie: ‘self-determination’ of nations, which, for one short period after WWII was considered an American value and policy), save they free themselves. Or, to paraphrase some early words of L.B. Johnson: “…we should not send American boys to fight a war that belongs to the Vietnamese…”. (How easily was the raiment of empire donned…).

          As the chapter title states in Tuchman’s excellent “The March of Folly”, ‘America Betrays Itself in VietNam’…

          may we all find a better day.

        • Swamp Creature says:

          I just bought a pair of Cargo shorts at Target. They were well made and fit perfectly. They were “Made in Vietnam”. So what the hell was the point in killing 1,000,000 Vietnamese and losing 60,000 Americans and ruining lives and destroying families?

          I’m also glad Vietnam is now making products to compete with China.

    • Beardawg says:

      Is this one complete sentence ?

  11. Micheal Engel says:

    1) New homes FOR sale reached 358K in June.
    2) New homes FOR sale have x3 components :
    3) Empty lots. Empty lots reached a new all time high @ 110K for building potential homes, – the home builders raw materials, – above the 2006 high @106. Empty lots is the only component that popped up in 2021 almost vertically.
    4) New homes for sale completed, done @ 34K slightly < 2013 lows, but not much below 2019 lower high, which was a thud. There was never a real buildup of finished inventory.
    5) New homes FOR sale under construction : 214K, well bellow
    the 340K peak in 2006.
    6) 106K + 34K + 214K = 358K.
    7) Since May 2021 the home building sector is cooling down.

  12. CashMcCall says:

    Looks like the Trump Xenophobic elevator ride to the abyss.

    Beyond housing, foreign investment into the USA is essentially nil. Business are leaving. Debt is skyrocketing, deficits roaring and feel of the US Economy is essentially 100% debt driven.

    Last year US Farmers sucked in over 58 Billion in Farm Welfare. This year there was a report that 192,000 acres of Farmland were owned by Chinese investors. The reaction was Xenophobic.

    Dan Newhouse R-Wash introduced an amendment on the latest Farm welfare package prohibiting Chinese ownership of US Farmland. He claimed the 192,000 acres represents a monopoly.

    Think about that for a moment.

    According to the USDA, there are 896.6 million acres, or 1.4 million square miles, of farmland in the United States. This MORON is claiming 192,000 acres constitutes a monopoly out of 896.6 MILLION ACRES!

    Meanwhile Washington State exports of Cherries and Apples to China are being blasted by Trump now Biden’s Trade war with China.

    On our website we made Dan Xenophobe of the Week, though we should have made him math scholar of the year.

    As long as the welfare queen Farmers have this xenophobic chip on their shoulders, China will buy from Brazil and Argentina and Chile.

    Boeing’s CEO tried to explain this to Joe Trump [the composite president Trump and Biden who share the same Xenophobic policies]. He said Biden needs to stop mixing politics with business or China will buy Airbus. His point was that if you insult your largest customers, they take their business elsewhere.

    China is the largest economy by far when measured by GDP PPP which is buying power. This almost Universal redneck xenophobia in the USA is sinking the Titanic. In the long history of the USA just substitute your target minority. Systemic Racism is now morphing into systemic Xenophobia.

    Who wants to buy Cherries from some guy that resents the customer? And by the way, China is by far the largest grower of apples in the world so they don’t need to buy apples from Washington State.

    And finally a word about Farm Welfare. In the USA the largest farm purchases in the Trump Welfare years were not tractors or Combines, but bass boats. LOL. Just what the resentful angry farmer needs, a bass boat to haul behind a $70,000 Ford Pickup Truck. Farm foreclosures at record levels.

    Oh but but but don’t sell “Them farms” to “Them Chinese!” Welcome to Murica, a nation in a xenophobic nosedive.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      CashMcCall,

      Calm down.

      You, being in Canada, don’t like it when the US is trying to grapple with its huge and very damaging trade deficit with the rest of the world, and particularly with China. I get that.

      The US is making an effort, however bungled, to take a little gravy off the US-funded gravy train that folks outside the US have gotten rich off for two decades, at the expense of US labor and investment. It’s called “globalization.” You, being in Canada, don’t like that. OK, fine. Deal with it.

      You complain about it, and China complains about it, and Corporate America – which is the biggest driver of offshoring production to China – complains about it. But anytime Boeing complains about something, the US must be doing something right.

      By golly, Trump finally had the gumption to put this trade deficit issue on the table, and Biden has the gumption to follow through on it, and foreigners can complain all they want to and call this “xenophobic” or “racist” whatever frigging braindead BS, but this is the US, and at least some efforts, however bungled, are being undertaken to fix this terrible trade deficit.

      • MCH says:

        Joe is following up on it because it’s politically expedient. The same reason his predecessor leveraged the idea. The second that it isn’t politically convenient, it’ll go out the door.

        • Rumpled Bemused says:

          Politicians and business leaders blaming foreigners for their own failings is a cherished tradition amongst the grifters.

        • georgist says:

          Does it really matter why politicians are doing it?

          Politicians *say* lots of things, when really they should only be judged by their actions. Talk is cheap.

          He is doing it.

      • Remy says:

        Wolf, looks like you accidentally listed Taiwan as a country…

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Not accidentally. Until the Chinese government shuts down my website, it’s a country here.

        • MCH says:

          @Wolf,

          it was all just fun and games and freedom of speech while you were poking fun at the media and western politicians, Nancy and Dianne can take a joke, but now you’ve gone and crossed a line, the panda doesn’t have a sense of humor. (just ask Pooh) Expect a visit from Laguna street shortly, Mr. Richter…. you will not find the visiting panda so enjoyable.

          :P

          @ Remy

          Also note the data sources from US Dept of Commerce, so Wolf just cited data….

    • MCH says:

      So… how was the last baozi date with Pooh? Did that go over well?

    • Micheal Engel says:

      Bill Gates own the most farmland in US.

    • Nicko2 says:

      USA fertility rate also hit a CENTURY LOW. Not only is immigration dead (thanks to MAGA policies), but Americans aren’t having babies.

      Contrast; Official government Immigration target rates to Canada are nearly 4x higher than the US.

      • RightNYer says:

        So what? Canada screens and allows skilled people to immigrate. Most Americans would be okay with that. We don’t want more illiterate peasants.

        • 91B20 1stCav (AUS) says:

          Right-appears to me that we have plenty of homegrown ones already, nay?

          may we all find a better day.

    • Dan Romig says:

      On Capital Hill, the ‘Agriculture Transportation Coalition’ led by SD Rep. Dusty Johnson & California’s John Garamendi have drafted a report for action on empty cargo containers being shipped to China.

      They seek a requirement for shipping containers to carry export cargo (corn & soybeans) if it can be carried safely and loaded on a timely basis.

      Chinese exporters are paying an extra premium to have the containers returned back empty to them.

  13. Seneca’s Cliff says:

    In the development my son is working on buying a home in,(suburban PDX) about a third of the buyers appear to be H1b engineers from India that work at Intel. They mostly seem to buy modest family homes, so there are all kinds of foreign buyers.

  14. RightNYer says:

    There’s an article on CNN this morning about how housing prices can’t increase forever, but that this isn’t a bubble, along with a list of reasons why this is different from 2006-2007. And of course, it’s complete with a quote from the Realtor association’s resident jackass in Lawrence Yun.

    The argument is basically that in 2007, there was no shortage of houses, and this time, there is. But of course, a shortage for ANYTHING just means that there isn’t alignment in what sellers are willing to sell for and what buyers are willing to pay.

    Sellers aren’t willing to sell because they’d be sacrificing a 15% gain next year of course! (/s) Couple that with the foreclosure moratorium and there isn’t a lot of supply on the market.

    As people have said here before, prices are set at the margins. You can have 1,000,000 houses in a particular area, but if only 5,000 people are willing to sell, prices will be sky high.

    • Moosy says:

      Replace ‘house’ with ‘stock’ and you understand that same principles apply both places. Both only to a limited extend:

      Housing however is a more reliable indicator since it is more difficult to manipulate

      eg a single buy or sell before closing of the market sets the price for the end of the day;

      if there are 1B shares and someone is willing to pay $50 for one, that does not mean there are others to buy the remaining 999,999,999 also for $50 . But yet this is exactly how the stock market value of a company is ‘determined’.

      So your comment if only 5000 are willing to sell is not an indicator for sky high prices.

      Sky high prices are if at minimum 1 is willing to buy for a sky high price.

      And the ingredients for that , FOMO, inflation rate above mortgage rate, price bubbles everywhere, 200B/month money expansion, motivation of people to move to other states or out of the city, it is like the perfect alignment that will continue even if one or two of those ingredients fall away

      • RightNYer says:

        Right, but that’s just it. The prices are a function of the universe of sellers and the universe of buyers, at any given time.

    • Old School says:

      Fed I think has blown it with easy money. Let’s say people are leveraged 10:1 on a home. This year their paper gains are about 150% return on investment. This just tempts dumb money to jump on the free money gravy train until it all comes tumbling down.

      Last time it was mopped up by people like my elderly parents who went from earning 5% on their savings to earning 0.1%.

    • David Hall says:

      The price of existing homes continued to rise. Builders may switch to building cheaper condos to make it look like new home prices are falling, if they did not already have more backlog than they can finish anytime soon.

  15. J-Pow!!! says:

    There’s a shortage of houses and cars! Hurry up and buy everyone!! Before it’s too late!! Hahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!

    • cas127 says:

      Never another house/car/whatever to be manufactured!!

      Ever!!!

      Knowledge of how to do so, lost to the mind of Man!!

      Forever!!

      (You can practically see the salesmen creaming in their plaid pants)

      FOMO YOLO, beyatches.

      • georgist says:

        Canada has run out of land!

        In the future lawyers will be living under bridges, doctors in tent cities, while landlords ride around on golden ponies whipping them.

        It’s sustainable, that’s for sure!

    • Moosy says:

      Shortage of houses and cars:

      Did we upgrade from that shortage of toilet paper?

  16. Ethan in NoVA says:

    Non-citizens shouldn’t be allowed to buy real estate here.

    Just like we can’t buy real estate there.

    • Petunia says:

      I do believe the US should have a reciprocity trade agenda regarding real estate with foreign countries. If US citizens can’t buy in the foreign country, then foreign citizens of countries who exclude us should not be able to buy here. It’s about fairness, no fairness, no trade. T was right about that.

    • RightNYer says:

      If we put restrictions on foreigners as to what they can do with our printed dollars, they’ll be a lot less willing to take those printed dollars (at least at current valuations) for their goods/services.

      That’s not necessarily a bad thing, just pointing it out.

      • Bobber says:

        Right. If US citizens cannot buy real estate in China with Yuan, Chinese residents should not be able to buy US real estate with dollars.

        • RightNYer says:

          Again, that’s fine, but then don’t expect the Chinese to send us their manufactured stuff for the same number of printed dollars.

        • Nick Kelly says:

          No one owns anything in China in our sense of the word. The CCP can decide tomorrow who lives where or owns what.

          There is a famous photo of a skyscraper or big office building in NY? which is built around a shack. Someone wouldn’t sell so they built around it. NEVER happen in China. If they want you out of there that’s it. This applies not just to neighborhoods but to cities, regions and peoples.

  17. China is bringing down aggregate credit. The US growth expectations are being downgraded, apparently the stock market was right and so was the Fed?? FOMC this week, any hint that growth is transitory may be met with more selling. This isn’t the slowdown in growth which implies QE forever and corporate profits expanding. Corporate America you can have all the cheap credit you want, until you don’t want any more. Then we might have to take some away. See China.

    • Artem says:

      Ambrose,

      China’s credit is still growing (as of July) and speculation, like crypto, unicorns, real estate, etc, is the CCP’s main concern.

      A U.S. slowdown is possible, but given the optimism coming out of a recession, has no catalyst. If the consumer goes for a deleveraging cycle, you need a trigger.

  18. Micheal Engel says:

    1) Chines computer engineers in US have nowhere to go.
    2) Xi re-education started an anti bubble.
    3) Xi crushing high tech is an exogenous cause.
    4) TAL is < $5.
    5) Tencent on the weekly ma200.
    6) BABA < weekly ma200.
    7) Anti bubbles are contagious. The Fed vaccine is ineffective.
    8) JP boosters will send US10 to zero.
    9) The RE sector love zeros.

  19. JK says:

    Whew! Please stay the heck outta Wyoming, Idaho or Montana.

    That’s where I’m shooting for and where I make my last stand.

    Yeehaa!

    • Harvey Mushman says:

      Uh… Idaho may not have to worry about foreign buyers, but they do have to worry about Californians buying up their real estate. Either way their home prices are shooting to the moon.

      • Joe Wyoming says:

        Same issue here in Wyoming. Lots of people that can telework have moved here and bought the short supply of houses.

  20. MCH says:

    Another tangent, while real value is slowly being accumulated by Chinese buyers, China’s darling tech stocks are getting pummeled thanks to a variety of actions due to the government. Two interesting points here:

    1. Who is getting really hurt by this action.
    2. Who is not getting pummeled and is continuing to grow at a rapid clip with continued government support.

    I think all of the real effects being sought are secondary in nature, but much more meaningful in the long run. I wonder what the objectives are here besides just getting more controls over certain sector of the economy and sending out messages.

    Going back to the comment on house buying, one thing that the older homes has in common is that in general they have larger lot sizes compared to new construction. If you look at the houses being sold now vs what was sold 20 years ago in the same region. The one outstanding difference is the lot size. New houses can always be built, last I checked, they aren’t making new land.

  21. sc7 says:

    Looks like 2021 is comfortably on pace to beat 2020, so maybe, just maybe that once in a century pandemic might have had something to do with this…

  22. LouisDeLaSmart says:

    \\\
    A simple and straight forward expose on why foreign investment, is not fuling home price inflation, and could be used to fuel part of the upper end real estate development in the USA. The FED is slowly running out of excusses…
    \\\

  23. Tony says:

    The U.S dollar is relatively strong now vs other currencies. Once 1) the worst of Covid has passed (very soon) and 2) the next time the dollar drops, there will be another new huge wave of foreigners buying real estate here. It’s already happening here in Northern Michigan. A lot of money from all over the U.S. (and abroad) buying up lakefront in Traverse City and Petoskey areas. Real estate in the latter has gone up 35% over the last year, the most in the Midwest.

    • Nick Kelly says:

      Once 1) the worst of Covid has passed (very soon)

      Actually it looks like the war is lost. The smartest people dropped everything, mapped the virus, developed vaccines in a tenth of normal tine, that just might have headed the virus off before it could react. But not enough people took it so the virus also went to work producing the delta super strike improved model. Virus load 1000 times higher after 3 days. Note: not one thousand percent. R(o) of about 3.5 vs older model 2.5. Reports coming in of the most fleeting contact spreading it.

      A top US epidemiologist has just come out and said: ‘All unvaccinated will get delta’

      This is the number one economic factor and this will be apparent in about 30 days.

      • Tony says:

        True— but it isn’t clear that delta will be more lethal. And, second— the rapid spread of delta will get us quickly to herd immunity, where most people have either had the vaccine or got delta or both. Then the worst will be behind us.

      • DawnsEarlyLight says:

        Wow, you must read all the MSM headlines!

        • Nick Kelly says:

          I read the whole thing. Where do you get your info, the ‘not main stream’. Why take the word of experts, when you can listen to Rush etc.
          But one questiom: you have presumably flown on an airliner. Why would you entrust yourself to be whisked through the air at 550 mph at 35,000 feet if you think science is BS ?

          When the plane begins its descent do you want the passengers to vote on how to do it? Or do you trust the tech that built the plane and the pilot to operate it?

          So ya, for vital info I go mainstream, not to entertainers. Or Facebook.

        • DawnsEarlyLight says:

          Yes Nick, everything on the MSM is true! You get a Gold Star!

  24. MonkeyBusiness says:

    In the future, our relation with China will only get worse, so eventually we’ll get a lot of these properties back at a huge discount.

    • BigAl says:

      MonkeyBusiness,

      Actually….

      when the dollar crashes and a gold-backed petroyuan becomes the norm – it’s far more likely that they’ll be getting those properties back at a huge discount.

  25. Micheal Engel says:

    1) Gold is up. Gold osc inside a weekly rainy cloud.
    2) Gold weekly, log : take a line from May 2019 low to Mar 16
    2020 low and to June 14 2021 close.
    3) If Gold drop from the cloud, it might cross 1,500 on the way
    to the Mar 16/23 open gap.
    4) Perhaps lower to 1,250 – 1,200, under the 2017/2018 highs.
    5) But first, Gold have to breach the support line mention above.

  26. makruger says:

    I was recently talking to a rather young Japanese woman who has apparently done quite well for herself by investing in bitcoin and several rental properties in the Konan district of Yokohama. She mentioned the ROI on those rentals is pretty low, so guessing BTC is responsible for the bulk of her gains.

    Anyway, she also mentioned her near term plans to buy a 2.5 million dollar ocean side villa in Maui. Compared to my investments and current status of being a renter, she’s obviously in another league.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Did that conversation take place before or after bitcoin plunged 50%?

      • MonkeyBusiness says:

        It’s now 40K, so down 33%. Depending on what Musk had for dinner today, he might tweet something tomorrow that will send Bitcoin over the moon.

Comments are closed.