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商业 - 房地产

美国房价反弹,外国买家撤离

Nin-Hai Tseng 2012年07月26日

就在不久之前,来自中国、加拿大、澳大利亚和其他国家的有钱人纷纷赶赴美国抄底,成就了美国房地产市场为数不多的亮点;然而,随着美国房市企稳,价格反弹,这些外国买家已经开始撤离。

    不久以前,外国买家似乎撑起了美国房地产市场,可忽然之间,他们又开始离场了。

    过去几年里,美国房地产市场的少数几个亮点正是在全世界的巨富阶层的帮助之下出现的。当时,随着美国房价跌破记录,来自加拿大、澳大利亚、中国和其他各国的海外买家发现美国房地产市场颇具投资价值。

    美国投资者和决策者对此自然表示欢迎,在这个国内买家连申请住房抵押贷款都很困难的时刻,海外豪客很有吸引力。他们中很多人都有能力以现金付款,购买的住宅价格通常也更高,成交速度也相对较快,自然让美国立法者和投资者高兴。有一阵子,两位参议员甚至还提出一项法案,想要为现款买房的外国买家提供美国旅游签证。

    可是,房地产信息网站Trulia指出,随着美国房价反弹,一些早期迹象显示,海外投资者的兴趣已经减退。该网站今天发布的报告写道,过去一年里,这家网站上来自海外的搜索请求占总搜索次数的比例下降了近10%。而根据房地产交易网站Zillow今天发布的报告,第二季度全美住宅价格中位数同比上涨了0.2%,达到14.93万美元,这是2007年以来首次出现年度上涨。当然,尽管该季度略有反弹,总的来说美国房价比2007年4月仍然下降了近24%.

    在Trulia的榜单上,迈阿密是外国人最热衷搜索的城市,但第二季度来自外国的搜索流量也萎缩到了15.7%,比去年同期的16.3%显著下降。外国人对佛罗里达州其他地区的兴趣也不如以前,西棕榈滩的这一比例从12.2%下降到了10.3%,珊瑚角-迈尔斯堡地区则从11.9%滑落到了10.2%.

    旧金山吸引的外国搜索流量同样下滑,从去年同期的9.5%降到了9.1%;拉斯维加斯出现了同样的降幅,该市房地产市场已于今年3月触底,房价已经开始缓慢反弹。

    听起来似乎是好消息,房价上涨本来意味着房地产市场的复苏加速。可是如今贷款标准收紧,外国买家对廉价房地产的好胃口消失之后,美国人能否填补这个空缺仍然是个未知数。

    诚然,本国人民仍是美国绝大多数房地产的买家,可在2007年房地产泡沫破灭之后房价跌幅最大的那些地区,包括佛罗里达、加利福尼亚、亚利桑那和德克萨斯等地,富裕的外国人抓住了机会,他们购买的住房所占比例日益提高。可如今美国有些地区房价重新开始上涨——尽管速度非常缓慢,海外需求也随之趋于疲软。Trulia经济学家杰德•柯尔克透露,截至6月份的3个月里,外国买家贡献了全美住宅销售的4.1%,比去年同期的4.5%有所下滑。

    他说:“它提醒我们,海外需求来得快去得也快。”

    尽管Trulia的报告显示,美国用户的网络搜索次数增长比海外用户更快,但这不一定说明美国买家足以弥补外国买家可能将留下的空档。许多外国人可是用现金付款的,不用说,多数美国人都没有这么阔气。现在这个光景,要申请到住房抵押贷款很不容易,尽管利率已经涨到了3%左右,银行仍然不太情愿放贷。

    外国人攫取便宜美国房地产时,有些美国人或许心怀不满,可这些当初急着闹情绪的人现在或许又该急着怀念外国买家了。

    译者:小宇

    It wasn't that long ago when it seemed foreign buyers were propping up the U.S. housing market. Just as fast, they're leaving.

    During the past few years, the world's uber rich had helped drive what little bright spots there were across America's housing market. From Canada to Australia to China and elsewhere, foreign buyers saw worthwhile investments in U.S. homes as prices plummeted to record lows.

    U.S. investors and policymakers welcomed foreign buyers, especially at a time when domestic buyers struggled to even get approved for mortgages. Many foreigners were armed with cash; they bought pricier homes, making for relatively speedier closings. U.S. lawmakers and investors welcomed them. And at one point, two senators proposed a bill that would grant U.S. tourist visas to foreign homebuyers paying with cash.

    But early signs suggest that interest from abroad has waned as U.S. home prices rise, according to Trulia. In a report released today, the residential real estate website found that online searches from abroad relative to all searches fell nearly 10% during the past year. This comes as home values nationwide rose 0.2% year-over-year to a median $149,300 during the second quarter, the first annual increase since 2007, real estate listing site Zillow reported today. Despite the rise, overall home prices are still down almost 24% since April 2007.

    Miami topped Trulia's list of most searched cities by foreigners. Traffic from abroad fizzled to 15.7% during the second quarter of this year from 16.3% the same period last year. Other parts of Florida saw interest weaken, including West Palm Beach (10.3% from 12.2%) and the Cape Coral-Ft. Myers area (10.2% from 11.9%).

    Web traffic also weakened in San Francisco, where foreign searches fell to 9.1% from 9.5% during the same period. Las Vegas saw similar declines, as the housing market hit bottom in March and prices slowly rise.

    This might sound like good news. Rising prices would suggest that the housing market's recovery has sped up. But in era of tighter lending standards, it's uncertain if Americans could make up for the fall in foreigners' lofty appetite for cheap real estate.

    To be sure, Americans still make up the vast majority of home sales. But in places that have seen the steepest declines in prices since the bust of the housing bubble in 2007, wealthy foreigners increasingly latched on to bargains in Florida, California, Arizona and Texas. But as home prices have risen, albeit very slowly in some parts of the country, foreign demand has softened. During the three months ending in June, foreigners accounted for 4.1% of home sales, a decline from 4.5% during the same period the previous year, said Jed Kolko, economist with Trulia.

    "It's a reminder that foreign demand could come and go," he said.While Trulia reports online searches by U.S. users have grown faster than those abroad, it may not necessarily suggest U.S. buyers are in any position to pick up where foreigners might leave off. Many paid in cash for their homes. Needless to say, most Americans haven't been so lucky. It's harder to get mortgage approval these days, as banks have been reluctant to lend even asinterest rates have hovered around 3%.

    Some might have turned their noses to foreigners gobbling up cheap U.S. real estate. But just as quickly as they were to judge, they might miss the interest from these buyers almost just as quickly.

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