International Sales Volume 2014

The total sales volume of U.S. real estate to international buyers increased to $92.2 billion over the past year, up an estimated 35 percent and representing roughly 7 percent of the total existing home sales market.  Florida remains the destination of choice, claiming a 23 percent share of all foreign purchases. California comes in second with 14 percent, Texas with 12 percent and Arizona with 6 percent, according to the National Association of Realtors.

The top five cities searched online by international buyers over the past year were Los Angeles, Miami, Las Vegas, Orlando and New York City.

International Sales Search 2014

While San Francisco failed to rank in the top ten cities searched overall and fell behind Detroit, Houston, Chicago and Atlanta, there was one key segment of buyers for which the city ranked a distant second behind Los Angeles in terms of interest: the Chinese.

International Sales Search 2014 - Chinese

And over the past year, the estimated dollar volume of sales to Chinese buyers rose from $12.8 billion to $ 22 billion, representing roughly 24 percent of the international buyer market for existing real estate, up from an estimated 19 percent the year before.

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    Is this a measure of interest in cities? Or is it a measure of the quality of the local MLS compared to what realtor.com offers?

  2. Posted by curmudgeon

    I’m kinda fascinated by how well Detroit does.

  3. Posted by moto mayhem

    this makes sense to me. SF not top destination

  4. Posted by SFrentier

    Don’ts forgets….SF median price is 3x some of those cities, so many foreign buyers can’t afford it. Plus SF is smaller than many of those other, more sprawling, cities. So the (fewer) well off foreign buyers that can afford SF can still have a significant effect on its housing market. In other words….SF is becoming the Monaco of America.

  5. Posted by Dan

    The “data” are not reliable– Anderson, SC is more popular than Chicago, Houston, or San Diego among Chinese? As of the 2000 Census, there were fewer than 200 Asians in Anderson.

  6. Posted by rob

    I would not be surprised if this is from a very low sample size. If I were a foreign Chinese investor I expect my time spent on realtor.com would be exactly zero, and I would just find everything through my realtor cousin in San Gabriel. I’d put at better than 50-50 the odds that Anderson, SC is a U.S. expat in China either looking to sell or moving back home.

  7. Posted by moto mayhem

    SF is hot because of the job market, not because of an influx of foreign spending like so many like to say. the job market (demand) combined with low inventory (supply) drives the cost of housing.

    some people like to think SF is much more desirable from everywhere else because “its SF.” It has to do with jobs and the economy.

    • Posted by zig

      This was not my experience looking at houses in West Portal Park side. All were packed with Chinese from China

      The north Peninsula from Milbrae to Daly City also has markedly changed in the last 10 years. And it is not all about ABCs.

      These stats make no sense

      • Posted by Jake

        Yeah, San Francisco has plenty of foreign born, especially born in China.

        According to the US Census 2012 ACS for San Francisco residents (Table B05006):
        – about 36% are foreign born (296k)
        – about 13% were born in China (106k)

        Most of the Chinese in SF were born in China, not ABC.

    • Posted by SFrentier

      SF is way more of an international destination than you think. What are the tourist stats? SF is up there in visitors. Not to mention higher than average amount of well educated foreigners living/working here, and some with extended families investing here. Your POV is off.

      • Posted by anon

        “Although I am prepared to argue till hell freezes over that the cultural resources of Los Angeles far outstrip those of its neighbor to the north, this is not the reason I prefer Los Angeles to San Francisco. The reason I prefer L.A. is because I have never been able to stomach San Francisco’s daunting phalanxes of unpaid civic boosters. Not unlike the denizens of Montreal, Toronto, Boston and even Dublin, all of whom have convinced themselves that they are locked in some sort of cultural death match with great cities such as New York, Paris, London and Los Angeles–a struggle of which the inhabitants of those cities are utterly oblivious–people in San Francisco are always pushing the merchandise.”

        “Nobody in London harangues visitors with facts and figures proving that London is a more livable city than Rome. People in Paris and London and New York and Los Angeles simply assume that they belong to an exclusive club, and they don’t have to trot out the Louvre, the Sistine Chapel, the Empire State Building and “Godfather II” to prove it. People in truly great cities don’t worry about who’s No. 1. That’s the kind of thing they do in absurd, synthetic municipalities like Raleigh-Durham.”

        (Joe Queenan)

        • Posted by Expert

          Completey false and ubsurd! Here’s your chance to find out what our panel of over 20,000 ordinary people in 20 different countries really think about the world’s cities: their people, their environment, their facilities and infrastructure, their culture and nightlife, their tourist attractions and their potential for immigrants.

          http://www.simonanholt.com/Research/cities-index.aspx

          Randomly poll 20,000 people from an international phalanx of countires and these were the results. SF ranks among a handful of global cities and sits at the big table. There is no other way to put it. Anyone equating it with Raleigh-Durham needs to to get their head checked or to take their meds immediately.

        • Posted by zig

          This post totally misunderstands the history of LA and SF. Most of it is almost totally lost to history soon anyhow.

    • Posted by Brad

      Wrong. SF is one of the few American cities tourists can find on a map.

  8. Posted by Anon94123

    Irvine is the new San Gabriel / Monterey Park it would seem.

  9. Posted by James

    As with any of these “studies” that are produced by one company reporting its own data, it only shows activity among that website’s users and can’t be generalized. These things are made to promote the company brand, nothing more.

  10. Posted by Tommy Strange

    Not representative. An underestimation. There are plenty of articles from the past five years that show a much higher level of outside speculation not only from Chinese (who are estimated to have spent $1 trillion alone in USA real estate) but from sovereign wealth funds (often being a less than 40% owner as due to ‘arab’ status), From the WSJ to left wing sites, the amount of speculation is huge and this site continues to downplay the fact to support its readership that ‘all is local’ and the ‘supply and demand’ hoary useless comment. This is a massive bubble, fueled by central banks all over the world and most insidiously by our Fed who has put at least a goddamn trillion of crap on the tax payers back. We, the people will pay for all your speculation, as we are now with higher rents and home prices, and will massively as real austerity kicks in here with a real depression. Still, lets bitch about us workers , a whole 60% of the rentals, getting ‘subsidized’ rent control . My god. At least the bubble will happen so soon, most of these projects won’t get built. Still, I wonder what you all are going to say in four years of so, when 50% of all these million dollar condos are empty and NOT being rented out. Whoops? I guess we didn’t know the history of affordable housing in cities, nor did we even understand basic economics of neo liberalism. Gee. Only 5 years after the last crash?

    • Posted by SFrentier

      Dream on.

    • Posted by anon2

      I agree that some here can be quite parochial and not have their eye on the big picture.
      Here’s a recent Times article which points out just how far flung the current boom is: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/08/upshot/welcome-to-the-everything-boom-or-maybe-the-everything-bubble.html

      I’m not so sure about the real depression and everything collapsing part. But while I don’t think everything will collapse, I don’t think everything will stay at this level either. The current boom is a mile wide and an inch deep and I do think at some point some areas will be left high and dry.

      True quality is rare, but there’s always plenty of supply of the undistinguished. There are plenty of marginal neighborhoods around the country, plenty of marginal companies with marginal business models, plenty of countries that can barely pay their bills. Some neighborhoods will undoubtedly use this boom to truly gentrify, some countries and companies to truly turnaround. But it’s very unlikely that all of the above will live up to their boomtime valuations.

  11. Posted by Jack

    Ludicrous “methodology.” Anderson, SC? Population 26,000? Outranks Chicago and Houston? Methinks we have a sample size problem. I hope this wasn’t paid content, because it sure looks like it.

  12. Posted by anon

    wow the Japanese don’t really care for the Chinese. Run how people from Japan feel about the people in top three Chinese cities. Racism crosses all frontiers

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