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Chinese investments in America dipped 90% in 48 months

(REAL ESTATE BIG DATA) It might have been obvious to some but as a result of our recent relationship with them, Chinese investments in American real estate are down.

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Chinese investment

Since 2016, American eyes have been on China and their investment–or lack thereof–in American real estate. According to Insight 24/7 News, Chinese investment in America has dropped from $46.5 billion to a mere $5 billion in the past four years–roughly a 90 percent decrease. Believe it or not, though, this doesn’t exactly spell doom for the future.

So how did we get here?

We’ve written at length about foreign investment in American real estate, a process from which China is not exempt. In mid-2016, Chinese investment peaked; with the election of President Trump and the ensuing trade war, these investments came under fire, leading to the rapid decrease in standing investments culminating in what we see today.

It would be easy for someone to glance at these numbers, note the disparity, and panic. After all, don’t rapid drops in real estate investment signal impending disaster?

In this case, no–though it is emblematic of a current problem. The removal of Chinese ownership of properties in the U.S. simply addresses a larger issue–that the relationship between these two countries is tenuous, and increasingly stiff regulations on foreign investment coupled with a reluctance on the Chinese government’s behalf to invest is the very recipe for declining numbers.

When one looks at the fact that many of these property grabs were illicit or based on loose regulation–especially through the optic of Chinese markets emerging as competitors rather than partners–the investments themselves begin to look problematic, making their decline seem like more of a side-effect of a system at work than a symptom of a greater illness.

However, in an age of generalizations and hot tempers, it’s important to take a minute to remember that this is not a “Chinese” issue–far from it. The people of China have about as much say in their government’s illicit affairs as we have in the caloric count of a McMuffin–often less, in fact–and while the current political climate has led to some demonization of Chinese values and investments, let’s not forget that there can be a fine line between regulation and racism.

As Insight 24/7 News points out, America has become an “inhospitable” place for Chinese investment–a byproduct of the aforementioned regulation and tariff war. This kind of hostility may be warranted, but directing it at Chinese residents or citizens never will be.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that Chinese investment in American property is likely to continue decreasing, at least for the near future. Consumer attitudes toward a Chinese market aren’t great in the wake of COVID-19, and the trade war doesn’t show any signs of stopping any time soon.

Simply put, until the U.S. government and the Chinese government can learn to trust each other again, the likelihood that either will invest in the other isn’t optimistic.

Jack Lloyd has a BA in Creative Writing from Forest Grove's Pacific University; he spends his writing days using his degree to pursue semicolons, freelance writing and editing, oxford commas, and enough coffee to kill a bear. His infatuation with rain is matched only by his dry sense of humor.

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Real Estate Big Data

Are you selling real estate in a high-cancer-risk area?

(BIG DATA) If you own a brokerage knowing your local ecosystem can be beneficial. Whether it’s a humble brag on your blog, or a letter to a local rep, knowing your environment is always a good idea.

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Check your housing environment for cancer risk and support your area.

As a realtor or brokerage owner, you know the importance of understanding your community’s ecosystem in order to shape your business strategy.

However, have you considered how environmental and quality may play a role in those decisions?

This study published in Cancer suggests that you should. According to the study, “of every 100,000 Americans, 451 of us will get cancer in a given year.” The study “found a difference of 39 cases (per 100,000) people, between areas with the highest and the lowest environmental quality.

This establishes a significant link between environmental qualities and cancer risks.

The study also showcases a map of the US and the air quality of various regions. Red and orange areas have the worst air quality, while blue and green areas have the best air quality. As you might expect, large metropolitan areas have the worst air quality, and things improve as you move into more rural areas. You do find the most exceptions throughout the southeastern region and a vertical stretch that runs from the tip of Texas to the Dakotas up north.

These kinds of signs can either be a major benefit or a major obstacle to attracting buyers to your real estate market.

According to the most recent Gallup polls, 47 percent of Americans worry a great deal about the quality of the environment. So, how do you adjust?

If you’re in a blue or green area, make sure to get the word out! People now consider environmental quality as part of the quality of life factor. Don’t let that benefit go unnoticed. Blog about it on your own website. Use your social media to share data like this from other sources, or other information praising the environmental quality and protections of your market.

Integrate it into your marketing materials where possible.

If you’re in a red or orange area, you’ve got a bit more work to do here, and it’s going to get a bit political. There is already plenty of concern about attempts at the federal level to handicap agencies dedicated to protecting the environment. Be wary of such measures at the state and city level, and be a voice for the real estate economy in shaping this policy.

Does going to places of legislative businesses give you the heebie-jeebies? Find local organizations dedicated to improving environmental quality. Sponsor a river or park clean up event. Show your support for events like Earth Day. Don’t have those kinds of events? Harness your entrepreneurial spirit and bring these events to your community. Taking action as a community leader will be massively beneficial for your brand.

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Real Estate Big Data

Demand for urban vs. suburban housing remains even (unless you’re in SF)

(REAL ESTATE BIG DATA) Most would assume that housing market trends would show people moving out of cities and into the suburbs following COVID restrictions. But the demand for both has stayed surprisingly even.

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Houses part of the housing market against a blue sky.

Despite what most people think, the suburban housing market isn’t completely leaving the urban market behind in the dust. According to a 2020 Zillow Urban-Suburban Market Report, data shows both markets are “hot sellers.” To illustrate this trend, Zillow’s Economic Research team analyzed various points related to for-sale listings.

Data shows homes in both areas are selling quicker than they were at the beginning of the year. The trend of houses selling above their listed prices and home value growth has accelerated at about the same pace for both markets.

With the exception of the Northeast region, national year-over-year (YoY) pending sales trends are almost even across urban classifications since February. Due to a smaller urban inventory pool at the start of the pandemic, this might account for the slower acceleration rates of sales in the Northeastern states.

On Zillow, suburban homes are receiving about the same attention as they did in 2019, and “urban and rural page views each climbed 0.2 percentage points from last year.” Suburb listings do attract more traffic on Zillow, but urban listings are still holding their ground.

Based on home characteristics, there isn’t a higher demand for single-family homes versus condos. Overall, this means the urban market is still attracting an audience.

However, this isn’t true in all cases. The San Francisco metro area falls out of these patterns. A great increase of listings are just sitting on the market. With an inventory up 96% YoY, this is a significant jump compared to the surrounding suburbs. Sellers are flooding the market, but buyers haven’t changed their purchasing pace.

According to Bay Area Market Reports, “With the increase in inventory has come a big jump in the number of listings reducing asking price. In some market segments, sellers are now competing for buyers, instead of buyers competing for listings.”

Although “San Francisco list prices have fallen 4.9% YoY,” there aren’t enough people buying in that housing market. With more tech companies like Google and Facebook allowing employees to work remote, hundreds of employees are leaving the city. And with them, will renters and buyers that aren’t renewing their leases look elsewhere to settle down?

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Real Estate Big Data

Top 30 ‘work from home’ counties in U.S. ranked (Texas beat all y’all, btw)

(REAL ESTATE) NAR examines the shift in purchase decisions based on a rapidly changing workforce to work from home, and of course, Texas dominates the top 30. Maybe not the top 10, but the top 30.

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We typically ignore all of the new, rushed rankings of geographies during the COVID-times, but the National Association of Realtors (NAR) just put out a well thought out argument for their top 30 counties for working from home, taking into account internet connectivity, the percentage of workers in office-related jobs, home affordability, urbanization, and a county’s population growth.

Not to be a conspiracy theorist, but the top 10 looks like a map of the old Big 12 football conference schedule back when it was the Southwest Conference, just saying…

The report analyzes the aforementioned factors that “support the remote work trend,” which we firmly believe will drive real estate purchases for years to come as employers begin implementing more permanent flex work options.

Texas leads all states with 7 counties among the top 30, but for the sake of fairness, here is the top 10, in which we painfully acknowledge Georgia as the top spot stealer:

  1. Forsyth County, Georgia
  2. Douglas County, Colorado
  3. Los Alamos County, New Mexico
  4. Collin County, Texas
  5. Loudoun County, Virginia
  6. Hamilton County, Indiana
  7. Williamson County, Tennessee
  8. Delaware County, Ohio
  9. Broomfield County, Colorado
  10. Dallas County, Iowa

“The coronavirus pandemic greatly accelerated the number of workers who are able to work from home,” notes NAR Chief Economist, Dr. Lawrence Yun. “Possibly a quarter of the labor force may be permitted to work from anywhere outside of the office even after a vaccine is discovered – compared to only 5% prior to the pandemic – and this will greatly change the landscape of where people buy homes.”

NAR President Vince Malta observes that location options are not the only changes for potential homebuyers, but that as remote work becomes more commonplace, “we may see buyers seek larger properties that offer space for a potential home office and other features that have become more valuable as a result of this pandemic.” Aha!

Malta adds, “The growing trend and historically-low mortgage rates are spurring potential homebuyers to consider a broader range of options and rethink what’s important to them in the long term.”

In a statement, NAR indicates, “The growing number of people working remotely also impacts commercial real estate, particularly the office sector, with future office sizes and locations potentially changing as a result.”

Dr. Yun states that the future of commercial real estate “appears uncertain” as companies reorganize “from having a central business district headquarters to several suburban satellite offices.”

The bright spot, however, is retail. “One can reasonably expect to see some growth in the number of smaller stores in the top 30 counties coming at the expense of similar establishments near downtown office buildings,” Dr. Yun concluded.


Below is a breakdown of their methodology:
nar work from home

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