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Texas Attracting Huge Numbers of International Homebuyers

(By Dale King)  International purchasers of homes in the United States added more than $10 billion to the Texas economy from April 2015 to March 2016, says a report prepared by the Texas Association of Realtors.

Commenting on the findings, a major real estate firm in Houston said the reasons given by foreign buyers acquiring homes in the U.S. generally mirror those of people who already live in the United States.

“The areas that are most attractive to the international buyers we work with are primarily those with highly rated public schools,” said Mary Piper, director of relocation and operations for Bernstein Realty in Houston. “That includes the suburbs.”

Mary Piper

Mary Piper

She also noted that “the majority of people Bernstein Realty is assisting are living in the home.” Still, Piper said, “some [people from outside the U.S.] are renting apartments as they know they will only be in Houston for the duration of an assignment. Many of them purchase single-family homes, but some prefer townhomes and condos so they do not have the upkeep of a yard and pool, and they can lock up and leave when traveling.”

The state Realtor association’s Texas International Homebuyers Report said properties purchased by international buyers accounted for 7 percent (214,885 home sales) of all U.S. housing sales and 6.75 percent ($102.6 billion) of the total U.S. home sales dollar volume between April 2015 and March 2016. This is a 3% percent increase in international home sales, but a 1.25% decrease in the dollar amount generated by international purchases in the same time frame.

About 10 percent — 21,488 home sales and $10.2 billion in purchase dollar volume — occurred in Texas – a 2% increase from the same time period a year earlier, says the report. CNBC reports that Florida nabbed the most international purchasers for that time period – 22% of foreign residents who bought in the United States. Next was California with 12%, Texas, 10% and New York and Arizona tied at 4% each.

Leslie Rouda Smith

Leslie Rouda Smith

“Over the last several years, Texas has become increasingly popular among international homebuyers from all parts of the globe for relocations, investment properties and vacation homes,” said Leslie Rouda Smith, chairman of the Austin-based Texas Association of Realtors. “In addition to our state’s strong economy and job growth, Texas’ friendly and welcoming culture is part of what makes our state a great place to live, work and do business.”

Piper agreed, honing in on the Houston market. “The average price of a home in Houston is very affordable compared to some other states, and the interest rate is still very attractive.”

“Although we are seeing an increase in the available inventory for lease now, this has not always been so in recent times,” she said. “So many clients have purchased because a mortgage payment versus a rental payment has made fiscal sense.”

Dividing the demographic further, Texas drew nearly equal percentages of homebuyers from both Latin America (including Mexico) and Asia/Oceania (the Australia-Polynesia area, including China and India) during the April 2015-March 2016 period. Thirty-four percent of international homebuyers were from Asia/Oceania, while 36% were from Latin America. European homebuyers comprised 12% of international home purchases, followed by African buyers at 8% and Canadian buyers at 4%.

Texas had the highest volume of homebuyers from India of any state from April 2015 to March 2016, with one in five (20 percent) homebuyers from the Indian subcontinent who purchased a house in the U.S. in Texas. The Lone Star State also continued to have the highest share of homebuyers from Mexico, 35% of international purchasers from Mexico buying just north of the border.

“Texas is now home to the second-largest foreign-born population size in the nation,” said Realtors Chairman Smith. “And it has the seventh-highest percentage of foreign-born residents compared to statewide population.”

Sept. 17, 2016 Realty News Report Copyright 2016

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