Ten Countries Racing to Buy American Homes

Print Email

10. Germany
> Growth in prospective homebuyers: 95.2%
> Share of int’l prospective buyers: 2.6% (7th highest)
> GDP per capita: $39,468 (18th highest)
> Ultra high net worth population: 17,820 (2nd highest)

Germans accounted for 2.6% of all of RealtyTrac’s international homebuyers looking for U.S. property between 2009 and 2013. During that time, home searches rose by more than 95%. Contributing to Germans’ ability to afford international property was the country’s high number of ultra high net worth individuals last year of 17,820, second only to the United States. Despite the weakness of the eurozone economy and Germany’s own slowing growth, no major eurozone country grew faster in 2013. However, interest in U.S. properties has tapered off recently, despite the euro’s gains against the dollar. Between 2012 and 2013, the number of German prospective homebuyers to RealtyTrac rose by just 3.4%, less than most foreign nations during that time.

9. Sweden
> Growth in prospective homebuyers: 100.0%
> Share of int’l prospective buyers: 2.0% (9th highest)
> GDP per capita: $40,870 (14th highest)
> Ultra high net worth population: 1,070 (25th highest)

The number of Swedes interested in buying U.S. real estate doubled between 2009 and 2013. Much of this growth happened last year, when the number of Swedish home searches to RealtyTrac rose by 43%. Like many countries with many residents looking for homes in America, U.S. property may be considered an especially good investment, especially as their country’s economy has been stagnant. Sweden’s gross domestic product has grown less than 1% in each of the past two years. Additionally, many Swedes might find U.S. home prices more affordable. U.S. home prices remain below last decade’s highs, while many market followers believe Swedish home prices are precariously high.

ALSO READ: Nine Countries That Hate America the Most

8. Canada
> Growth in prospective homebuyers: 107.7%
> Share of int’l prospective buyers: 45.0% (the highest)
> GDP per capita: $43,146 (9th highest)
> Ultra high net worth population: 4,980 (8th highest)

Canadians make up the largest share of international U.S. home-buying interest, accounting for 45% of total international RealtyTrac subscriptions between 2009 and 2013. The U.S. geographical proximity to Canada and the cultural similarities between the two nations may explain the interest of Canadian investors. The strength of the Canadian economy may have also given residents more opportunities to invest. Last year, the average Canadian household’s net worth, the total value of all assets minus all debt, exceeded that of the average U.S. household. Residents may also find U.S. properties attractive because some consider Canada’s housing market to be overvalued by some.

7. Australia
> Growth in prospective homebuyers: 121.9%
> Share of int’l prospective buyers: 11.0% (3rd highest)
> GDP per capita: $43,042 (10th highest)
> Ultra high net worth population: 3,405 (11th highest)

Australians accounted for 11% of all of RealtyTrac’s international subscribers, third most after the United Kingdom and Canada. The country’s strong economic growth — at least when compared to other major developed economies — likely contributed to the increased interest in buying U.S. property. Australia’s economy grew by 3.7% in 2012 and an estimated 2.5% last year, according to the most recent IMF figures. By contrast, countries in the developed world grew by just 1.4% in 2012 and 1.3% in 2013. Despite recent declines, the Australian dollar has also gained considerably against the U.S. dollar in the past few years, also potentially contributing to the increased interest.

ALSO READ: Eight Countries Where the Most People Suffer

6. United Kingdom
> Growth in prospective homebuyers: 153.8%
> Share of int’l prospective buyers: 12.1% (2nd highest)
> GDP per capita: $37,299 (21st highest)
> Ultra high net worth population: 10,910 (4th highest)

U.K. interest in owning American property has jumped in recent years, including a 34.6% increase in the number of residents looking for property on RealtyTrac alone. Economic reasons could influence prospective homebuyers — residents may see U.S. homes as a safe or profitable investment. The U.K. government’s Help to Buy program, which provides financial help to prospective homeowners in the U.K., has drawn controversy. Detractors of the program have expressed concerns that home prices in the U.K. could rise to unsustainable levels. According to a June 2013 study by the National Association of Realtors, U.K. residents primarily buy single-family homes in suburbs and resort towns in the United States.