Latest Data on International Trade and International Homebuyers

  • Both imports and exports are rising much faster than the broader economy. That means more companies are seeing faster sales growth to foreign buyers than to U.S. domestic buyers. A greater interaction with foreign economies, in turn, will mean increased demand for U.S. real estate by foreigners.
  • Imports have been rising at 9 percent a year and exports at 10 percent in recent years. Though growth rates did slow to around a 4 percent annualized pace in recent months, they still easily outpace the broader GDP economic growth. Most companies still do the bulk of their business with domestic clients, but the growth opportunities are clearly occurring on the international side. There will be more Canadian and German workers, for example, here in the U.S. to help facilitate business and, conversely, there will be more American workers living abroad. Automatically these people in new locations will need local housing.
  • Some service items are part of international trade. A foreign student studying here and paying tuition is counted as U.S. exports. A Brit getting a medical surgery in the U.S. is also counted. That partly explains why there are Chinese condo purchasers in college towns and Brits living in Florida.
  • NAR estimated home sales to international clients rose 35 percent in the 12-month period ending in March 2014 from the prior year. For comparison, the overall existing home sales over the same period rose by only 6 percent. The domestic market is still much larger, but the growth is coming from foreign buyers.
  • Given that Canada and China have been the two major countries with whom the U.S. trades, the home buying by foreigners were the strongest from Canada and China – even though a good portion of real estate purchases may have been for non-business reasons, such as for vacation and investment purposes.
  • Many countries consolidated in the past to help move goods freely without tariffs, or for strengthening defensive forces against outsiders. But there appears to be a growing desire for separation and secession in many parts of the world since free trade agreements can be made without a formal union of governmental unions. It’s worth noting that Admiral Horatio Nelson stands on a tall column overlooking the city of London to remind people of the importance of the common benefit of being united as Great Britain (including Scotland) in preventing Napoleon from invading the island. For a different reason, on this side of the Atlantic, John Calhoun stands on a tall column overlooking the city of Charleston, SC, to remind the locals of the importance of state rights (to nullify federal laws). That is why SC politicians tend to be more of a rambunctious sort and always appear to be thinking of secession.

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