The acquisition of gold, and especially gold jewelry, has traditionally been the favored means by which Indians invest their discretionary income. But recent statistics demonstrate that for Indian citizens with the resources to do so, the purchase of American real estate has become the new golden opportunity for investment and savings.
Gold has long been the safe haven of choice for Indians looking for a place to park their cash and a way to avoid the uncertainties that swings in the stock market or currency fluctuations have presented. In recent years, investment in the United States, particularly in real estate, has appealed to foreign buyers looking for a similarly conservative, yet profitable, option. And as the bottom dropped out of many real estate markets in the United States during the recent recession, current purchase prices are very appealing.
A more price-compelling U.S. real estate market has been reflected in the number of foreign buyers, Indians included, who have closed escrow for property in this country. A National Association of Realtors survey estimated that from April 2013 to March of this year, total sales to buyers from abroad stood at $92.2 billion, which represents a 35 percent increase over the previous year. As a result, foreign buyers now constitute 7 percent of all existing-home sales.
Among existing-home sales closed by foreign buyers, China accounted for the largest share of international buyers at 24 percent, followed by Canada at 15 percent, with India and the United Kingdom tied for third with a 6 percent share of the total each. Indian buyers spent $5.8 billion in the U.S. real estate market over the last measured year, up from $3.9 billion over the 12-month period before it.
The figures cited do not distinguish between immigrant buyers and international buyers of U.S. real estate who retain their foreign domiciles. While many international buyers invest in U.S. real estate due to political instability or a restrictive business environment in their home countries, Indian buyers more frequently invest with a longer-term or more practical perspective in mind.
Middle-aged Indians with children current comprise the largest demographic looking to purchase property in this country. Indian families most often invest in residential housing, either multi-unit buildings or single-family dwellings.
With the significant number of students from India who are studying stateside, the investment scenario becomes all the more compelling: families secure living quarters for their children while they are at college or, subsequent to graduation, working in America, and thereafter, either rent out the unit or retain it as a residence if the family chooses to immigrate to the United States.
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