Investors See U.S. Real Estate As Safe Haven During Coronavirus Scare
As coronavirus outbreaks emerge in more places, investors seem to be turning to U.S. real estate as a good place to park their money.
So far, the uptick in interest has been strongest in single-family residential rental properties, with investors worldwide flocking to the sector.
Roofstock, a company that lists single-family rental houses for sale, says that it has seen traffic from Asia spike by 500% in recent weeks, CNBC reports. Other recent jumps in interest have been from Germany, the UK and Australia.
The key is that Roofstock can sell a rental property entirely online. While investors, especially from China, can't visit the United States for the moment to look at residential properties, they can complete deals remotely through sites like Roofstock.
As recently as a month ago, the National Association of Realtors reported that the upper-end U.S. housing market was facing a softening because of travel restrictions. If Chinese and other investors are turning to online investments, however, that might represent a workaround for those still looking to buy American.
Chinese investors rate U.S. housing highly for a number of reasons, one of which is the quality of the U.S. healthcare system. That might be even more important in a post-coronavirus environment.
"After the epidemic, we expect healthcare to be even more important to buyers," Juwai IQI Executive Chairman Georg Chmiel said in a statement. His company consults with Chinese buyers about overseas real estate investment.
"Countries like Thailand, the U.S., the UK, Canada and Australia, which have good healthcare systems and highly ranked abilities to react to viral outbreaks, are likely to benefit from an increase in buyer activity," Chmiel said.
Non-American interest in U.S. properties follows an established pattern. In times of crisis — economic, political or otherwise — investors from around the world often turn to U.S. assets, which are perceived as more stable than in other places. U.S. real estate already has a number of advantages when it comes to attracting foreign investors, according to a new report released Thursday by the Association of Foreign Investors in Real Estate and the University of Wisconsin.
Continued low interest rates, a stable credit environment, modest inflation, and high employment were important factors in investors' consideration of the U.S. market. Seventy percent of the respondents, which are made up of executives who represent foreign buyers of U.S. real estate, had a positive outlook on U.S. real estate.
Two of the three top global cities where investors would like to increase their investment exposure are American: Los Angeles and Boston, with Paris as the only city outside the U.S.
Half of non-U.S. capital sources report they plan for net inflow of capital to U.S. real estate this year, the report says. Only 18% plan to be net sellers of U.S. real estate in 2020.