Capitalizing on the growing number of home buyers from abroad, Realtor.com is delivering its millions of domestic listings to buyers around the world, while showcasing listings from foreign home sellers as well.
Realtor.com International initially features residential real estate listings from Brazil, Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, and Spain.
In the past three months, nearly 2.6 million international visitors searched for U.S. real estate on Realtor.com. The top five countries originating searches were Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia and India.
“Increasingly, more and more Realtors are working with international clients who want to buy property in the U.S. and the new Realtor.com International web site will not only allow Realtors to offer their expertise and knowledge to a broader audience, but will also bring buyers and sellers together across the globe,” said NAR President Ron Phipps, broker-president of Phipps Realty in Warwick, Rhode Island.
The news was particularly well received in areas popular among foreign investors.
“We are seeing more and more buyers from China and overseas, especially in the higher end properties. This is a great opportunity to improve the visibility of our country and buyers from America can find properties abroad. It goes both ways,” said Jeff Davi, a broker on the Monterey Peninsula Home Team at Coldwell Banker Del Monte Properties in Carmel and Pacific Grove, CA.
Also this week, Realtor.com added apartments to its listings of homes for sale and rent.
Foreign buyers are having a field day with American properties, bottom-price feeding on the bargains in the still falling American housing market.
The National Association of Realtors 2011 NAR Profile of International Home Buying Activity reports sales from those abroad or those who were new to this country, equaled $82 billion for the past year ending March 2011, up from $66 billion in 2010.
The sales were split evenly between non-resident foreigners and recent immigrants and amounted to about 8 percent of the $1.07 trillion figure for all existing-home sales in the U.S. during the period. Foreigners purchased 7 percent of U.S. existing homes or $907 million worth in 2010.
Davi said, “The world gets smaller everyday and this is helping foreign buyers have greater access to homes here. But it’s not just that. This can also help show them Silicon Valley is only an hour away from Monterey and they can live in Monterey. San Francisco is only two hours away. They may know about these locations, but they may not realize how accessible one community is from another.”
Realtor.com International also delivers translation options in 11 languages including Chinese, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. Powered by Move.com, the site also features easy-to-use currency and dimension converters available on all pages.
“The U.S. continues to be a top destination for international buyers from all over the world. In recent years, foreign buyers have increasingly become interested in owning real estate in the United States,” said Realtor.com President, Errol Samuelson.
Just as Realtor.com is cashing in on the international market, it’s also offering apartments for rent.
Realtor.com operator Move.com recently added 35,000 rentals to Realtor.com’s 4.3 million homes for sale because the rental market is booming and renters ultimately become buyers.
According to demographics compiled by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, 78 percent of under-25 households are renters, but by the age of 40, 66 percent of households are owner-occupied.
This timing is really good. Right now rents are going up but we are getting more people leaving homes in a strategic default or losing their home to foreclosure and they are renting while they repair their credit,” Davi said.
Along with each apartment search comes a rent vs. buy calculator, connections to real estate professionals and nearby local homes for sale revealing the difference between rental payments and monthly mortgage payments.
It’s a necessary comparison today’s home shoppers ought to consider. The booming rental market is certainly behind Move.com’s move, but it’s also behind the rising cost of rents.
“We expect to see even greater consumer interaction with the addition of this high quality, comprehensive content on the site,” says Dave Masters, Move.com’s manager of sales training and effectiveness.