Foreign buying of U.S. homes was a driving factor in markets from California to Florida, helping prices reach new highs. Now, the pandemic, reduced travel and immigration restrictions are further undermining already weakening international demand.
Overseas residential real-estate purchases climbed steadily between 2011 and 2017, peaking at $153 billion in the year ended March 2017, according to the National Association of Realtors. About 60% of foreign buyers are recent immigrants or foreigners who live in the U.S., while others buy U.S. homes as investment properties or vacation homes, according to NAR.
Foreigners represent a tiny percentage of overall buyers. But because they have tended to cluster in coastal cities like New York, Miami and the Los Angeles area, they sometimes have had an exaggerated influence in these markets, especially at the higher-price end. Foreigners also were more likely to pay cash, making their offers more attractive to sellers.