…and Here they Come: Foreigners Buying San Francisco Real Estate is Next

It all starts with a vacation, then turns into an impulsive need to buy. We’re already seeing more Europeans purchasing New York property, so if San Francisco can get past the extra 5-6 hours spent on a plane for most Europeans, we will certainly begin to see more of them pouring some of their hard earned Euros into our local real estate market.

Canadians? What is your excuse…besides our homeless problem?

Aussies? We have the waves, even if our water is a bit “seppo”. You’re equally half-way around the world from either coast, so you might as well go Californian…it’s a natural fit.

Debate the differences between NYC and SF all you want, but you’ll still find many similarities. Is New York a good barometer of our market? Not so sure, but we are sure that if our market dips this year, it will be slight, and San Francisco real estate as a LONG TERM investment will almost always be a good choice.

A few quotes:

The precipitous fall of the dollar – a decline that picked up steam in 2007 – has turned the United States into a giant bargain basement for much of the world, especially visitors carrying strong European, Canadian and Australian currencies. And they are coming – in droves.

Despite it great distance from Europe, San Francisco International Airport was the sixth-most-popular arrival point in the United States during the first nine months of 2007. Just over 1 million foreign visitors flew into San Francisco, up 9 percent from the comparable period in 2006, close to the 10 percent increase registered for the United States as a whole, according to the Commerce Department’s Office of Travel and Tourism Industries.

San Francisco is always so popular, but now it’s like you’ve got a great big sale,” said Marc LePage, Canada’s consul-general in San Francisco. “Every time I get on a plane, there are more people on the plane.”

Isn’t it funny how when one thing rattle our nerves, a silver lining comes out of such a dark cloud?

Good thing your editor speaks German, French, and Italian, and is gearing up for a bit of an increase in European clients, as should all agents in San Francisco. Agents, you should at least know the difference between real Football, and the fake stuff if you embark down the path to getting European clients. Go Arsenal!

Foreign Visitors Descend on SF for Bargains [sfgate]

6 thoughts on “…and Here they Come: Foreigners Buying San Francisco Real Estate is Next

  1. Good article. Should definitely help support the domestic economy. Up 9% YoY in tourist arrivals is quiet hefty, and should continue to increase in 2008. Although things look grim with equities and real estate outside of SF, I’m a believer we won’t go into a recession.

    The 2171 Sacramento St. condo for $1050/sqft was a European buyer, and I bet many $1,000/sqft+ SOMA condos are as well. It’s so cheap here, even compared to NYC, and we make the same amount of money.

  2. I know that there are going to be a lot of naysayers regarding this. People would correctly think that most Europeans wouldn’t be as interested in the West Coast as they are in Miami or New York for example. But I’m telling you I saw more Europeans in the marketplace late fourth quarter than I ever have before. For one of my own listings, I kid you not, 75% of the private showings were given to people with various accents. All over the map, though mostly English and German for that one. At one of my business partner’s listings I noticed a ton of French being spoken. Also over the past several years I have noticed a lot of Indian buyers in the marketplace. And there have always been a healthy amount of Chinese buyers in the SF market.

  3. Why do people think San Fran is so much farther away than NYC? I fly to London and it took 9 hrs on Virgin Atlantic over the north pole vs. what 6-7 hrs for NYC-London? 2-3 hrs isn’t that much farther, and it’s still a direct flight.

  4. Yeah, I guess so. One thing is that the presence of English people in the NYC and Miami marketplaces is far from a new phenomenon. Well, Santa Monica too for that matter.

  5. I’m not so convinced, and the argument goes both ways.

    3 years ago, I had to fight some french H1B NOT TO buy – everybody else was ‘forcing” them to buy their own home in SF – because salary was high, rates were low etc.

    with 120K-150K a year and no credit history, not mentioning the very real risk of having 7 days to leave the country dur to job/visa loss… I dont think it was that smart… not talking about the *long* term commitment (say 5 years with a 5-ARM covering +/- your 6 years stay) – while you dont even know if you can last that much abroad (socially, far from family etc)

    Today, you hear the same RE pushers in the same circles… still telling that H1B *MUST* buy their homes upon arrival because prices are ‘so low’, return is so ‘amazing’ and ‘garanteed’ etc. But now, by the time you actually get your H1B and start working, your salary is lower than your previous one in europ (think, your contract wages lost 30% between the agreement and the visa granted!!!), AND the financial plans calls for moving a big chunk of your euro savings into your downpayment. (and yes, hoping to buy in strong euros and sell in strong (!) dollars at the end of your visa).

    in both cases … I think it’s pretty risky to start a financial bet in a country you dont know, without credit history, and worse, by moving your hard earned savings from your safe and knows saving accounts in europ.


    immigrants aside, there are actually INVESTORS (investors are people who can bet some ‘disposable’ savings – without touching their personnal money [like without draining retirement account, college fonds etc]) . To those, I say INVEST! SF market is way safer than the stock market – and a sfh after an earthquake is still worth more than 100.000 shares of Enron.

    To those, I say that San Francisco is a pretty darn great place to pop in a couple times a year to check on investment, to sign documents or whatever. ;-)

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