by Graham Wood

Morguefile.com

When we speak of international buyers, we’re usually talking about people from other countries who want to invest in U.S. property. But the lines go both ways. There are high-net-worth Americans who want to buy homes in other countries, and they can spell big business for practitioners who are willing to aid them in their global search. But where should they be looking?

Rick Davidson, president and CEO of Century 21, argued at the Asian Real Estate Association of America’s Global & Luxury Summit in Chicago on Monday that because of the dollar’s strength against many other foreign currencies, American buyers can get great deals abroad. But one country stands above the rest as the best place for Americans to invest their money abroad because of a confluence of economic benefits: Japan.

“We are deeply immersed in the Japanese market,” Davidson said, noting that Century 21 has 900 offices and 6,000 agents there. Here are the reasons Davidson gave for why Japan should be a target for wealthy U.S. home buyers wanting to purchase overseas:

  • The interest rates on 10-year fixed-rate loans are 1.5 percent to 1.75 percent — far below America’s historic interest-rate lows.
  • One U.S. dollar 119.54 yen, which gives U.S. buyers a 20 percent discount on purchases.
  • There are virtually no restrictions for foreign investors in Japan.
  • Japan is coming out of recession. Deflation is expected to stop and GDP is expected to grow in the near future, so American investors will start to see a positive ROI starting now.
  • Tokyo is the cheapest of all Asian cities in terms of price per square foot. The average price per square foot of a luxury property in the U.S. is $1,180; in Japan, it’s $680.
  • Tokyo land prices have been rising for five straight years, making future expectation for price growth high.

Graham Wood is a senior editor for REALTOR® Magazine. He can be reached at gwood@realtors.org.

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