Credit Crunch Constrains International Home Buyers in U.S. Market

Interest in U.S. real estate by international buyers declined due to the worldwide recession and severe credit crunch, according to the 2009 National Association of Realtors® Profile of International Home Buying Activity.

The share of Realtor® clientele who are foreign buyers is smaller than in previous years, but among those purchasing nearly half paid all cash – bypassing the mortgage process. Twenty-three percent of survey respondents served at least one international client in the 12-month period between the end of May 2008 and the end of May 2009, down from 26 percent in the 2008 study. During this period an estimated 154,000 homes were sold to foreign nationals, which is down from approximately 170,000 international transactions during the previous 12 months.

The median price for a home paid by foreign buyers for the year ending in May 2009 was $247,100, higher than the overall national price of $198,100 in 2008. A significant number, 45.8 percent of foreign buyers, paid cash for their property, in part because obtaining a mortgage was more difficult than in prior years. The total dollar volume was $38.7 billion.

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