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Leon Mathias

How is the US-China trade conflict likely to affect the American real estate market?

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Data from the National Association of Realtors showed that residential purchases by foreigners in the US from April 2018-March 2019 fell by 31% when compared to the previous year. Likewise, in monetary terms, the investment of $77.9bn by foreign buyers in US residential homes represented a 36% drop, year on year.

Broadly, the Chinese are the biggest foreign buyers of American residential properties, and while they accounted for about 17% or $13.4bn in foreign real estate purchases up to March this year, it is sharply lower from the $30.4bn in purchases in the 12 months to 31st March 2018. According to experts, the ongoing trade dispute between the Trump administration and Beijing is likely to worsen the situation and the outlook for the real estate sector in the US. Added to that, the tighter regulations placed by Chinese authorities on commercial bank lending is likely to impact Chinese purchases of US homes.

The US housing market is currently tight with prices at historic highs in some regions, especially along the West Coast where Chinese buyers are the major players. However, with interest waning from foreign buyers who typically pay in cash, the real estate industry could be looking at a price correction in the months ahead.

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