Chinese lead home-buying rush in US

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 July, 2014, 5:23am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 July, 2014, 5:24am

Foreigners bought US$92.2 billion of homes in the United States in the 12 months to March, led by buyers from China, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Spending by Chinese buyers soared 72 per cent from a year earlier to US$22 billion, with their purchases accounting for 24 per cent of spending by international buyers, the trade association said. Total investments by foreigners jumped 35 per cent.

Chinese buyers acquired 16 per cent of houses sold to foreigners, up four percentage points, spurred by currency appreciation, rising affluence and concerns about an economic slowdown in the world's most-populous country, the group said.

"It's just the beginning of a tidal wave," said Lawrence Yun, the association's chief economist, said. "Large numbers of wealthy Chinese want to have property in the US because they want to visit the US and they want to diversify the wealth they accumulated in China to outside countries where they feel secure in their property rights."

Canadians bought the most number of homes, accounting for 19 per cent of residences sold to foreigners. That is down from 23 per cent a year earlier as home prices rose from a 2012 post-housing-bubble low and the Canadian dollar weakened.

Chinese purchases were concentrated in higher-priced markets such as California, Washington and New York, while Canadians bought in lower-priced Florida and Arizona, popular getaways from northern winter weather.

Chinese buyers paid a median of US$523,148 per home, compared with US$212,500 for Canadians, the association said.

About 60 per cent of purchases by foreigners were all-cash deals, it said.