International Buyers Of U.S. Property Down 19%

Fewer overseas buyers are purchasing property in the United States with currency exchange playing its part in the drop off, a new analysis report suggests. In general home …

Fewer overseas buyers are purchasing property in the United States with currency exchange playing its part in the drop off, a new analysis report suggests.

In general home sales during the first four months of 2015 have been the best in eight years with year on year growth of 9% helped by a drop in fixed mortgage rates of almost 0.5%.

But the National Association of Realtors reports that the number of international buyers dropped to 2% during the first four months of 2015 from 2.5% a year earlier, a 19% decline.

About three fourths of real estate agents who work with international clients report that changes in foreign exchange rates have a moderate to very significant effect on foreign buying.

Indeed, the US dollar has strengthened against currencies used by many foreigners who buy homes in the country. For example, from the beginning of 2014 o April 2015, the US dollar appreciated 10% relative to the UK pound, 13% relative to the Canadian dollar and 26% relative to the euro.

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Notable exceptions to these large swings in foreign exchange values were the Chinese yuan and Hong Kong dollar, which have closely tracked the value of the US dollar.

A new analysis report from real estate firm CoreLogic points out that a stronger US dollar makes property more expensive for foreign buyers whose currencies have weakened. Consequently, purchases by foreign buyers have dropped, especially for those whose currency was most affected by the foreign exchange swing.

Between the first four months of 2014 and the same four months of 2015, the number of homes sold to foreign buyers drastically declined. Foreign purchases were down between one quarter to one third during this period for buyers whose currencies depreciated significantly relative to the US dollar, even though domestic purchases rose.

‘In addition to the shock caused by the stronger US dollar, the markets where foreigners tend to buy have had strong home price appreciation in the last few years. For example, many Canadians, Europeans and South Americans prefer to buy along the Southeast coast of the US for the beaches, cultural amenities, warm winter temperatures and accessibility,’ the report says.

Canadians made roughly two thirds of their US home purchases during the first four months of both 2014 and 2015 in Florida. Of these purchases in 2015, nearly a half were located in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Palm Beach area where home prices rose about 8% from April 2014 to April 2015. ‘Couple that with the effect of a stronger US currency, and the average Canadian considering a home purchase in south Florida saw a jump in purchase cost of 20% to 25% in the past year,’ it explains.

The report suggests that foreign buying could continue to decline, level off or increase in 2016 depending on the value of the US dollar relative to most foreign currencies, but the uncertainties surrounding how the Eurozone will resolve the debt crisis in Greece has made it more difficult to project foreign currency movements.

This article was republished with permission from Property Wire.


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