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International investment in U.S. real estate on the rise

From Washington state to Miami, real estate property is being purchased in increasing numbers from overseas buyers with money in a strong but slowing global economy.

Wealth Migrate marketplace expects investments to expand in 2018.

The KPMG FinTech 50 company is branching out its international operations “driven by investor demand,” it says. Wealth Migrate opened two new offices in the United Kingdome and the United Arab emirates and already has operations in Hong Kong; Shanghai, China; Australia; and South Africa and well as the U.S.

According to the company:

• Foreign investment will rise. The International Monetary Fund downgraded global growth twice since January, which makes real estate assets in America more attractive and valuable to global investors. also changes in the 1980 Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act allow foreign investors to be treated similar to U.S counterparts in real estate investment trusts.

• There will be increased investment options for foreign investors. According to CBRE Capital Watch, one-quarter of investors say access to available properties was the main obstacle to investing in the U.S. But there’s been a big rise in the number of established investment firms launching online investment sites to boost access.

• Foreign investment will continue to fuel technology demand. The financial consulting company Deloitte predicts the online lending industry will grow from $40 billion in 2016 to more than $1 trillion in the next five years — with some of the growth coming from real estate.

A summer 2017 article in Business Insider backed up the claims of mounting overseas interest in U.S. real estate properties. But it’s not necessarily from the Chinese, a long-time buyer.

According to the piece, National Association of Realtors information from its website show Chinese buyers were absent from the list of top countries. “Another country did top the list for almost every city though, Canada. Judging from Canadian buying behaviour from 2016, these aren’t snowbirds looking for a warm place to winter either. These are good ole fashioned, non-resident speculators,” Business Insider points out.

According to the Realtors association, the top five markets that foreign buyers are searching for are Miami; Los Angeles; Bellingham, Washington; Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, Hawaii and New York City. “All of those markets reported being hot spots for Chinese buyers in 2016. As of March 2017 though, China wasn’t even in the top 5 countries searching these locations,” the publication says.

The national Realtors group says Canadian and United Kingdom buyers are the most likely to buy property for occasional use and are non-resident. But contrast just 39 percent of Chinese buyers were non-resident, which means the majority were buying to relocate.

In 2016, Chinese buyers topped the list in dollar volume, pumping an estimated $27 billion into U.S. real estate. Canadians placed second but spending less than $9 billion. “Despite the massive gap in dollar volume, Canadians purchased almost the same number of homes,” the report says.

“The average Chinese buyer spent $936,615, while the average Canadian buyer spent $332,072. The average American spends just over $271,000 on a home. This means Americans are more likely competing with Canadians than Chinese buyers,” Business Insider says.

Canadians also were selling in 2016, accounting for 23 percent of deals from foreign owners. China finished second at 15 percent. “So it’s clear Canadians aren’t buying these properties to hand-down to their family, they’re buying them to make a profit,” according to the story.

“Speculative demand from China is a hot button issue, but it’s clear Canadians have the same obsession with real estate,” Business Insider concludes.