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International House Hunters Shifting from Vacation Areas to Urban Neighborhoods

The top countries for foreign home searches in the U.S. are Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Brazil.

Nationally, 4.0% of the home searches on Trulia.com between January and May 2014 came from outside the U.S. That’s a slight decline from the same period last year, when foreign searches accounted for 4.2% of Trulia’s web search traffic. Canada, the United Kingdom, and Germany remain the top three countries outside the U.S. for home searches. But Brazil has pushed up to 4th place, jumping ahead of India, Mexico, and Australia. Brazil accounted for 4.1% of foreign search traffic in 2014 versus 2.9% in 2013.

# Country Share of all foreign searches, 2014 Share of all foreign searches, 2013 Change in share, 2014 vs 2013
1 Canada 18.5% 19.1% -0.6%
2 United Kingdom 10.6% 9.9% 0.6%
3 Germany 5.5% 5.5% 0.0%
4 Brazil 4.1% 2.9% 1.3%
5 India 3.7% 3.5% 0.1%
6 Mexico 3.0% 2.9% 0.1%
7 Australia 3.0% 3.3% -0.3%
8 France 2.7% 2.7% 0.0%
9 China 2.1% 2.2% -0.1%
10 Japan 2.0% 2.1% -0.1%
11 Italy 1.9% 1.9% 0.0%
12 Netherlands 1.6% 1.5% 0.1%
13 Russia 1.6% 1.5% 0.1%
14 Philippines 1.5% 1.6% -0.1%
15 South Korea 1.3% 1.2% 0.2%

The most striking change in foreign search patterns over the past year is that the foreign search share is rising in dense, urban neighborhoods but falling in vacation areas. In general, these two types of places tend to get more foreign interest than the U.S. overall does: foreign searches accounted for 4.0% of searches for U.S. homes overall, 4.7% of searches in vacation areas, and 9.4% of searches in the densest urban neighborhoods. But these two trends are moving in different directions, as the chart shows.

ShareUSHomeSearches_Graph

Note: “dense urban neighborhoods” are ZCTAs (ZIP Code Tabulation Areas, the Census approximation of ZIP codes) with at least 5,000 housing units per square mile. “Vacation areas” are ZCTAs where at least 25% of homes are for seasonal or occasional use.

Underneath these broad trends lie big differences among foreign countries and across U.S. metros neighborhoods. On to the details.

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International House Hunters Get More Diverse

More searches for U.S. homes are coming from lower- and middle-income countries. The top neighborhoods for foreign searches are all in Manhattan, Los Angeles, South Florida, and Central Florida.

Foreigners are big players in many U.S. housing markets. Looking across all the search traffic on Trulia from the past year (April 1, 2012, to March 31, 2013), searches from outside the U.S. accounted for 4.3% of all searches – and more than 25% of searches in a handful of truly global neighborhoods.

Foreign search share is down a bit from the previous year (April 1, 2011, to March 31, 2012), when foreigners accounted for 4.4% of searches. However, foreign searches are now more diverse: the share of searches coming from lower- and middle-income countries has grown. Also, although foreigners make up a declining share of home searches in Phoenix, Miami, and other Sunbelt metros, they’re gaining share in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

As Canadians Retreat, More Searches Come from Asia and Africa
The top countries where U.S. home searches originate are Canada, the United Kingdom, and Germany, but those countries represent a declining share of all foreign searches. In fact, those three countries now account for 34% of all foreign searches on Trulia in the past year, compared with 38% in the previous year. So which countries are gaining at their expense? The search share from India, Nigeria, Russia, and the Philippines all leapt by 20% or more in the past year, and by 17% from China.

# Country Share of all Foreign Searches on Trulia Y-o-Y Change in Search Share
1 Canada

19%

-22%

2 United Kingdom

9%

2%

3 Germany

5%

-9%

4 India

4%

24%

5 Australia

3%

-5%

6 Nigeria

3%

37%

7 Mexico

3%

-10%

8 France

3%

-5%

9 Brazil

2%

3%

10 Japan

2%

-9%

11 China

2%

17%

12 Italy

2%

-11%

13 Russia

2%

35%

14 Philippines

2%

35%

15 Netherlands

1%

2%

Note: Share of all foreign searches is the percent of all foreign searches (excluding domestic searches) on Trulia from each country.

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America’s Most Irish Towns Visualization Preview

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America’s Most Irish Towns

The suburbs around Boston and other Northeastern metros are the capitals of Irish America. Those are also the areas where home-searchers from Ireland are looking today

On St. Patrick’s Day, everyone is Irish. But what about the rest of the year? Twenty-two million Americans — 7.2% of the population – say their “primary ancestry” is Irish, according to the Census’s American Community Survey. Another 13.5 million Americans claim at least some Irish ancestry, bringing the total to 35.5 million Americans — 11.6% of the population — with at least partial Irish ancestry. If that sounds low, remember that Ireland’s population today is just 6.4 million – 4.6 million in the Republic of Ireland and 1.8 million in Northern Ireland. So there are more than 5 times as many Americans with at least partial Irish ancestry as there are people who live in Ireland.

Irish-Americans are strongly concentrated in the Northeast. The percentage of people with primary Irish ancestry tops out at 20% in the Boston metro area, followed by Middlesex County, MA (west of Boston) and Peabody, MA (north of Boston). The top six metros are all in Massachusetts or upstate New York:

America’s Most Irish Metros

# U.S. Metro % Irish ancestry
1 Boston, MA

20.4%

2 Middlesex County, MA

16.9%

3 Peabody, MA

15.8%

4 Albany, NY

15.6%

5 Syracuse, NY

15.0%

6 Worcester, MA

14.8%

7 Camden, NJ

14.8%

8 Philadelphia, PA

14.2%

9 Long Island, NY

13.1%

10 Wilmington, DE-MD-NJ

13.0%

Among 100 largest metros. Primary Irish ancestry only.

Irish-Americans are at least 5% of the population in most counties across the U.S., and 10% or more in most of New England, New York state, New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania, and other smaller counties across the country. At the other extreme, Miami is just 1% Irish:

U.S. Map of Where Irish-Americans Live

America’s Top Irish Neighborhoods
Even though Irish-Americans make up just 5% of the New York metro population overall– less than the national average and only one-quarter the share in Boston – the neighborhood with the highest percentage of Irish-Americans is Breezy Point /Rockaway Point in Queens (ZIP code 11697). Most recently, this neighborhood is known for having had significant Hurricane Sandy damage:

America’s Top Irish Neighborhoods

#

ZIP code

Neighborhood

Area

% Irish ancestry

1

11697

Breezy Point /
Rockaway Point

Queens,
New York, neighborhood

54.3%

2

11569

Point Lookout

Long Island South Shore suburb

45.6%

3

10965

Pearl River

New York northern suburb

43.4%

4

60655

Mount Greenwood

Chicago Southwest Side neighborhood

40.7%

5

02081

Walpole

Boston southern suburb

40.0%

6

19022

Crum Lynne

Philadelphia western suburb

39.2%

7

02190

South Weymouth

Boston South Shore suburb

38.6%

8

02351

Abington

Boston South Shore suburb

38.1%

9

02050

Marshfield

Boston South Shore suburb

37.5%

10

02191

North Weymouth

Boston South Shore suburb

37.4%

Primary Irish ancestry only.

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How Do You Say “McMansion” in Dutch?

When searching for U.S. homes for sale, the Netherlands likes them big. But Argentina and Israel think small is beautiful.

Jed Kolko, Chief Economist
September 17, 2012

Foreign house hunters help drive demand for U.S. homes. Even though rising U.S. prices are discouraging foreigners who were looking for bargains, people from all over the world still have their eye on American real estate. Following up from our earlier analysis of where foreign house hunters are searching, we wanted to see the size of homes that they’re looking at.

The rest of the world might make fun of Americans for our big portions, big homes and big butts, but it turns out that most foreigners look at bigger homes than what most Americans look at – among all searches of U.S. homes on Trulia. The median home size that Americans view is 1,854 square feet. Most Europeans, however, look at larger homes than that. Of all countries, house hunters from the Netherlands view the largest homes – median size of 2,400 square feet – followed by Ireland, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Norway.

The Dutch, Swedes and Norwegians are also among the world’s tallest people. Do they look at bigger houses because they need more room? Or because countries with taller populations tend to be richer, and people in richer countries can afford bigger homes?

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Rising U.S. Prices Turn Off Foreign House Hunters Visualization Preview

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Rising U.S. Prices Turn Off Foreign House Hunters

Share of U.S. Home Searches from Abroad Drops 10% since 2011

Foreign investors have been boosting the housing recovery. Attracted by price declines – and sometimes looking for safer places to invest their money than in their home country – foreigners have been searching for and buying American real estate. But this trend is going into reverse. As a share of all the searches on Trulia, foreign searches fell by nearly 10% in the last year: in the second quarter of 2012, 4.1% of home searches came from abroad, compared with 4.5% in the second quarter of 2011. Traffic overall on Trulia is growing rapidly, including foreign searches, but foreign searches are becoming a smaller slice of a growing pie. Why are foreigners pulling back from the U.S. housing market? Two reasons. U.S. price increases are turning them off, and interest has fallen off from the Eurozone crisis countries. But before we explain the drop-off, first let’s take a look at where foreigners are searching.

Where Are International House Hunters Searching?
Which markets are foreigners looking at? Los Angeles, New York and Miami get the highest number of foreign searches. Check out our interactive data visualization to see where are the top five metros searched from the 15 foreign countries with the most searches on Trulia.

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