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Overseas buyers influencing US luxury home market

International buyers of residential property in the U.S. may not necessarily have a major impact on the overall housing market, but they do have a lot more influence at the top end of the market, according to a new report.

The latest quarterly Home Price Expectations Survey, conducted by Pulsenomics LLC on behalf of Zillow, asked more than 100 housing experts and economists about the impact of international buyers on the U.S. property market, and found that while foreign purchasers have a modest effect on inventory and home values, they do have a lot more influence at the high end of the market.

Since the housing crash, housing affordability has been a significant issue for many Americans, making it harder for many people to raise the funds needed to buy property. At the same time, increased activity from international buyers of U.S. property, especially at the luxury end of the market, has also fuelled concerns about affordability.

But the majority of the panellists surveyed expect that international buying activity will drop or remain unchanged in the coming year, suggesting that outside influences are not likely to be the most significant driver of the U.S. housing market over the next 12 months.

With housing inventory at an historic low, demand is outpacing supply across many parts of the country, which is placing upward pressure on home values, with expectations for capital growth stronger now than they were a year ago.

Some 12 months ago, panellists projected that property prices would increase by 3.4% in 2017. Now, they predict that values will rise 4.8%. Their forecasts for property price growth in 2018 is also now more optimistic compared with last year.

“International buyers are popular scapegoats for rising real estate prices and shrinking inventory, but domestic factors have had a bigger influence on the housing market, much more so than demand from overseas,” said Zillow chief economist Dr. Svenja Gudell.

She added: “Older millennials are reaching prime homebuying age, increasing demand for housing, but we are still well behind historical norms when it comes to building new homes. The fact that economists and experts are revising their expectations upward for future home value growth is a sign that these trends will continue to exert upward pressure on prices going forward.”

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