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Foreign Buyers Purchased $4.8 Billion in U.S. Commercial Real Estate in 2018

International clients are an important niche market for residential and commercial REALTORS® alike. In the latest 2019 Commercial Real Estate International Business Trends, NAR reported that foreign buyers purchased $4.8 billion of U.S. commercial real estate in 2018.[1] The median value for a buyer-side transaction was $600,000, while the median value for a seller-side transaction was $1 million. The dollar volume of foreign buyer purchases of U.S. commercial property declined in 2018 compared to the $6.7 billion in 2017 and $7.9 billion in 2016 as the economic expansion slowed in Asia (e.g., China, Japan), Canada, Europe (e.g. United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain), and Latin America.

Major Buyers of Commercial Property

Asia was the largest source of U.S. commercial property buyers, accounting for about a third (34 percent; 28 percent in 2017) followed by the Canada and Latin America (29 percent; 25 percent in 2017), Europe (20 percent; 29 percent in 2017), Middle East (10 percent; 12 percent in 2017), Oceania (2 percent; 1 percent in 2017), and from other countries that were not identified by respondents (3 percent; 6 percent in 2017).

The top foreign buyers of commercial property were China (21 percent), Canada (7 percent), Mexico (6 percent), Germany (5 percent), India (5 percent), Israel (5 percent), United Kingdom (5 percent), Venezuela (5 percent), Vietnam (5 percent), and Italy (4 percent).

Major Destinations of Buyers of Commercial Property

Florida was top choice among foreign buyers of U.S. commercial property (20 percent) followed by Illinois (13 percent), Texas (11 percent), and California (9 percent). Other top destinations were Georgia, New York, Virginia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, and Oklahoma.

Financing and Types of Property Purchased

About half of commercial foreign buyers, 52 percent, made an all-cash purchase (70 percent in 2017), and 25 percent obtained financing from a U.S. source.

International commercial buyers purchased across a variety of property types, but apartment was the most preferred, at apartment (19 percent), followed by retail (16 percent), land (12 percent), industrial (11 percent), office (9 percent), hotel (9 percent), and other types.

The bulk of foreign buyers of commercial property purchased the property as an investment to be rented out (39 percent in 2017), and 33 percent purchased the property for a business they participate in (34 percent in 2017). The Other category, which accounted for 22 percent (16 percent in 2017), includes a purchase of the property for residential and business-related uses.

Reasons Foreign Client Decided Not to Purchase U.S. Commercial Real Estate

One in five international clients decided not to purchase U.S. commercial properties in 2018 (17 percent in 2017). Understandably, the primary reason deterring a purchase is cost and exchange rate changes (36 percent of clients who decided not to purchase; 30 percent in 2017).Other major reasons are the buyer “could not find a property” (31 percent of clients who decided not to purchase), difficulty moving money out of the country (22 percent; 17 percent in 2017), tax-related issues (22 percent; 17 percent in 2017), immigration/visa (9 percent), and difficulty obtaining financing (9 percent).


[1] NAR also estimates foreign buyer purchases of U.S. residential property. According to the 2018 National Association of REALTORS® Profile of International Activity in U.S. Residential Real Estate, foreign buyers purchased $121 billion of residential property during April 2017—March 2018, or eight percent of the $1.6 trillion of total existing home sales during the same period.

 

Older Boomers: Most Satisfied Buyers Purchasing Forever Homes

Older Boomers, buyers aged 64 to 72 years, made up 14 percent of all home buyers in 2018 again this year. The median age for this group was 68 years old and they were born between 1946 and 1954. Within this group, they had the third largest share of single female buyers at 20 percent. Their primary reasons for purchasing a home were the desire to live closer to friends and family (22 percent), followed by retirement (19 percent).

Combined, Older Boomers owned the highest share of investment (10 percent) and vacation (seven percent) properties. Older Boomers were the most likely to purchase homes in a rural area (25 percent) and in a small town (14 percent).

Compared to other buyers, they moved the greatest distances at a median of 30 miles, same as the Silent Generation. Older Boomers were the less likely to purchase homes for the quality of school districts or convenience to schools. Rather, they purchased homes for the quality of the neighborhood and for convenience to friends and family. This age group found commuting costs the least important. Overall, Older Boomers were very likely not to make compromises on the home when they purchased (49 percent), citing that they were never moving and it was their forever home (33 percent).

In their home search process, Older Boomers were very likely to contact a real estate agent first and they were the least likely to find the paperwork a difficult step. Older Boomers were the most satisfied with the home buying process at 94 percent.

Older Boomers’ income was below the median income of all buyers ($91,600) at just $83,200 and they purchased homes at a median price of $250,000. Older Boomers were very likely to use the proceeds from the sale of a primary residence as the source of their downpayment (54 percent) and from an IRA account (five percent). They were the largest group of home buyers to have credit card debt at 67 percent.

Older Boomers were the second largest share of home sellers at 22 percent in 2018. The median age for an Older Boomer seller was 68 years. They had the second lowest median income at $81,700. They were the most likely to sell to be closer to friends and family (26 percent) and for retirement (16 percent), and at a median distance of 50 miles from the home they recently purchased. They were also very likely to sell when they wanted to (96 percent). They receive the second highest equity at 43 percent and second highest dollar value at $74,000.

February 2019 Housing Affordability Index

At the national level, housing affordability is up from last month but down from a year ago. Mortgage rates were down from last month at 4.60 percent this February, and up 4.1 percent compared to 4.42 percent a year ago.

  • Housing affordability declined from a year ago in February moving the index down 2.8 percent from 161.5 to 156.9. The median sales price for a single family home sold in February in the US was $251,400 up 3.6 percent from a year ago.
  • Nationally, mortgage rates were up 18 basis point from one year ago (one percentage point equals 100 basis points).
  • The payment as a percentage of income was down from last month at 15.9 percent this February and up from 15.5 percent from a year ago. Regionally, the West has the highest payment at 22.3 percent of income. The South had the second highest payment at 15.7 percent followed by the Northeast at 15.3 percent. The Midwest had the lowest payment as a percentage of income at 12.4 percent.

  • Regionally, the Midwest recorded the biggest increase in home prices at 5.5 percent. The Northeast had an increase of 3.9 percent while the West had a gain of 3.5 percent. The South had the smallest gain in price of 2.2 percent.
  • Regionally, all four regions saw a decline in affordability from a year ago. The Northeast had the biggest drop in affordability of 5.3 percent. The Midwest had a decline of 5.1 percent followed by the South that fell 1.8 percent. The West had the smallest drop of 0.9 percent.
  • On a monthly basis, affordability is up from last month in three of the four regions while the South was flat. The Northeast region had the biggest increase of 3.7 percent. The Midwest had an incline of 2.8 percent. The West had the smallest increase in affordability of 0.4 percent.
  • Despite month-to-month changes, the most affordable region was the Midwest, with an index value of 202.2. The least affordable region remained the West where the index was 112.2. For comparison, the index was 159.6 in the South, and 163.4 in the Northeast.

  • Mortgage applications are currently down while credit availability and new home purchase applications increased. There has been an increase in inventory of modestly prices homes. Median family incomes are growing 2.8 percent while home prices increased 3.6 percent. Despite being down from last year, affordability is up from last month in the US and in three of the four regions with the South being flat. Interest rates have dropped two months in a row, which will lower mortgage payments for future homebuyers.

  • What does housing affordability look like in your market? View the full data release here.
  • The Housing Affordability Index calculation assumes a 20 percent down payment and a 25 percent qualifying ratio (principal and interest payment to income). See further details on the methodology and assumptions behind the calculation here.

Pat A. Tracy McKnight Real Estate is the best!  Tracy did everything that came up to make my deal go through.  We had several problems to solve and Tracy was always available to make suggestions and help solve all of them.  The house needed some repair and Tracy obtained several bids for the best price.  The contractor backed out so Tracy found someone else.  Then we had an easement problem which I solved with Tracy's help.  He was always courteous and willing to help.  He is the best.  500 N Maine Street, Gladewater, TX 75647

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Customer Reviews

J. Garner,  I can not say enough good things about Tracy and Darrell.  They showed my property numerous times over the 3 year period it took to sell my property.  They ran ads in numerous papers in East Texas, including the Dallas Morning News and other papers.  They were very nice and kept me informed all the time. 

When you and your family decide to buy a house, my family strongly recommends Tracy McKnight.  You will never find anyone who is as patient and friendly.  Tracy will treat you as family.  We have had nothing but fun in the home buying process while working with Tracy McKnight.  He is truly a genuine person and will do everything possible to make the experience of home buying great! A and J Hernandez

Pat A. Tracy McKnight Real Estate is the best!  Tracy did everything that came up to make my deal go through.  We had several problems to solve and Tracy was always available to make suggestions and help solve all of them.  The house needed some repair and Tracy obtained several bids for the best price.  The contractor backed out so Tracy found someone else.  Then we had an easement problem which I solved with Tracy's help.  He was always courteous and willing to help.  He is the best.  500 N Maine Street, Gladewater, TX 75647

 

JOHN AND MARY JANE S. - "We would like to express our appreciation for Mr. McKnight helping us find our house in a great location in Longview, Tx. Being out of town he was so helpful keeping us informed as to what was available.  When we would come here he was always available to show us the houses.  We are glad to recommend Mr. McKnight to anyone planning to buy or sell their house." 

 E. and M. Stephenson "I can honestly say that Tracy McKnight Realty was above and beyond my expectations on sales and service.  Everything was done in a non-pressure attitude.  He never tried to push anything down our throats and was more than willing to show us several homes.  He even went the extra mile and helped us with inspectors and etc.  After the sale was complete he checked back with us to make sure everything was okay.  During the transaction period he made several trips to our shop in order for us to sign documents.  Courtesy, dignity, and honesty is my opinion of McKnight Realty.  They make you feel like you're the only customer when dealing with your business.  They seem like part of our extended family.  Would and will do all my realty business.  Also would refer anybody else to them."

Randall and Michele D. - "Tracy went above and beyond for us as we were looking to sell out house.  Once sold he then went above and beyond helping us buy a house.  A lot of late texts.  He always answered any questions.  We will definitely use Tracy again if we ever sell or buy another house. "

This is to express our heartfelt appreciation for your helpfulness, efficiency, and cooperation during the purchase of our new home.  Throughout the process you constantly kept us informed of all developments.  It was a pleasure to do business with you, and I happily recommend you to anyone seeking a real estate agent.       Cheers,  Bill and Wendy

Thanks for everything you did for Deb and I.  After losing my easement, you stood by me.  Thanks again Tracy.  Phil and Deb R. 

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