Responding to Today: Real Estate Trends

Why More Americans Are Buying Homes Abroad

As global real estate markets shift, here’s what to consider before purchasing properties outside the United States.

A World of Opportunity

As the number of Americans exploring overseas real estate investment continues to rise, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices CEO Christy Budnick and experts from across the network provide comprehensive insights into why more U.S. residents are seeking homeownership abroad—and what you need to know before pursuing your own international property.

Global Prices Per Square Foot

Much like in the U.S., cost per square foot globally is closely tied to location, location, location. In the Como province of Italy, property sold at an average of $147 per square foot in 2022. However, prime waterfront property, like that found in the region’s popular Lake Como area, can fetch as much as $1,024 per square foot—or higher.

“In Mallorca, we have a wide range of prices. In Calvia, for instance, the average is $579 per square foot, but Inca averages a more affordable $170 per square foot.”

– Lenka Kubackova, Chief Customer Officer, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Spain

Building a New Life Abroad

Although it may seem daunting to undertake a new build or renovation on a home abroad, for many expats seeking a certain level of luxury, it’s the best option. “The convenience of a turnkey property is appealing, but the supply has dwindled in many ‘vacation’ markets,” says Ian Gengos, owner of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Baja Real Estate. “This has pushed many to consider renovation projects and new builds. While the return on investment is delayed, there are many great projects to choose from that allow for quality customization.”

Where Are Expats Buying Abroad?

In the 2023 U.S. Residential Real Estate Study, authored by WSJ Intelligence, respondents cited Europe and the Caribbean as the top two markets where they’d consider purchasing a home. That comes as no surprise to Marina Rizzotto Yakovleva, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Como Lake Palazzo Estate. “American buyers choose Italy for various reasons, but the top three motivators for our U.S. clients are retirement, a change in lifestyle or wanting a vacation home in the heart of Europe.”

A Path to Permanent Residency

More American buyers are choosing homes in other countries as their permanent residence—particularly retirees. During the pandemic, “golden visas” (programs offered by some countries that allow permanent residency to homeowners) became a popular selling point for expats. As some of these programs expire, it’s important for buyers to understand their options if they plan on making their global home a permanent residence.

“The Cayman Islands has not subscribed to the current trending term ‘golden visa.’ That being said, we have multiple options which qualify individuals for residency certificates.”

– Paula McCartney, Broker/Owner, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Cayman Islands

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