Austin Amerian-Statesman shares, "Mandar and Asmita Shinde are international homebuyers from India who, after seven years of living in Seattle, now call Austin home. 

Mandar Shinde, a tech business developer for Amazon, originally came to the U.S. from Nagpur, India.

He said Nagpur has similar weather to Austin, so "it literally feels like home here."

Since January, he and his wife, both 40, have been leasing a home in Liberty Hill. They are paying $2,375 a month in rent for a three-bedroom house with about 1,900 square feet, including a study.

But by next summer the Shindes and their 4-year-old son, Jai Shinde, plan to move into a new home in Leander once the house, which Perry Homes will start building soon, is completed. They expect to receive $30,000 in incentives, plus another $5,400 in closing costs if they use Perry Homes' preferred lender, Mandar Shinde said.

He said it made sense to contract to buy a house to take advantage of the current housing market, which he said is "sideways" now — but won't always be.

"Once the market goes up, incentives will go away and prices will go up quickly," he said. "At least you can capitalize on the situation before it goes crazy again."

Foreign buyers invest millions in Austin housing market

The Shindes are among the scores of international buyers who pump money every year into the housing market in the Austin area.

Demand for homes among foreign buyers is holding steady in Central Texas, with international buyers spending $609 million on house purchases in the 12 months that ended in March.

That's according to the latest annual Central Texas International Homebuyers Report just released by the Austin Board of Realtors. The $609 million in sales dollar volume from foreign buyers accounted for 3% of all home sales dollar volume in the Austin region, the board said.

“The Central Texas region continues to be a magnet for international homebuyers and investors,” said Ashley Jackson, president of the Austin Board of Realtors. “One in six new Austin-area residents come from abroad, which is a testament to our business-friendly environment, thriving entrepreneurial spirit and the incredible quality of life Austin provides."

For the second year running, India was the top country of origin for international homebuyers in Central Texas (21%). India was followed by Mexico (17%), China (6%), Brazil (6%) and Canada (5%) in the top five countries of origin for foreign buyers.

The median home price among foreign buyers was $573,214 — an increase of more than $50,000 over the 2022 median home price among foreign buyers. Consistent with previous years, the median home price among foreign buyers was considerably higher than the Austin region's median price during the survey period, which was $478,341, the board said.

Across the Austin region in general, home prices and the volume of sales have been declining since the spring of 2022 as mortgage interest rates have risen, cutting into consumers' buying power.

The most recent housing figures, for October, show that sales fell 4.1% in the five-county Austin region year-over-year. Half of the 2,337 houses that changed hands sold for more than $435,000 and half sold for less, for a 7.5% decline in the median price compared with October 2022, the board said.

Within Austin's city limits, sales fell 3.5% in October. Half of the 602 homes that sold went for more than $540,000 and half for less, for a 1.8% dip in the median sales price compared to October 2022, the board said.

Among foreign buyers, demand for Central Texas homes remained stable, the new survey shows, "despite an elevated rate environment, inflation and economic uncertainty," said Clare Losey, housing economist for the Austin Board of Realtors.

“It’s evident that Central Texas remains a prime destination for international homebuyers and investors," Losey said, "and we can anticipate continued growth in international home buying activity in the years to come."

Foreign buyers face challenges

Annette Von Ahn, a real estate agent with JBGoodwin Realtors in Austin, has completed 104 home-sales transactions within the past 2.5 years. Of those, 60 were with international families from 15 different countries, she said. The Shindes are among her clients.

Von Ahn said she has worked with buyers from countries including India, Japan, Germany, Australia, Russia, the United Arab Emirates, Sweden, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, China, Scotland and France. 

"These experiences have helped me appreciate many different cultures, each with their own set of priorities," Von Ahn said. "Most of my international clients are executives who are coming to America for work."

Von Ahn has compiled document for foreign buyers outlining how they can prepare for their relocation to the United States, including the documentation they will need to buy a house. Many of her international buyers come to the states with no established U.S. credit score, Social Security card or Texas driver's license, and she said some banks will balk at working with them. 

"Usually the first year, I find them a lease home and help them establish their U.S. credentials and credit," Von Ahn said. "The second or third year they are usually ready to purchase, and I help them with that."

Along with being their real estate agent, she said, "I am their confidant, teacher, supporter, and friend; and they know that I am there for them."

Establishing a life in the states

The house Perry Homes will build for the Shindes will be a one-story home with four bedrooms, three bathrooms and a study, and priced in the $680,000 range.

Mandar Shinde said he is looking forward to his son being able to make friends and play outdoors in a more favorable climate than Seattle, where it was often too rainy or cold, he said.

"The friends I had there had big houses but their kids always played inside," he said. "I was thinking my son should be outside and made the decision to move to Austin" over Amazon's other options of Seattle and New York City. 

"I have so much respect for people who move from their comfort zone to better their lives," Mandar Shinde said. "The U.S. welcomes people in a good way."

Still, the journey for foreign buyers isn't without its challenges. Those can include understanding and navigating the homebuying process, getting the proper documentation, establishing credit and sorting out Visa extensions and a driver's license, green card requirements and other matters.

In Seattle, for instance, "because we had no credit history, we had to put down more money as a deposit" on their rental home than a non-foreign buyer, Mandar Shinde said.

In addition to becoming educated about the homebuying process, he said, international buyers can face emotional challenges as well.

Speaking for himself and some other international buyers, he said, "we also miss our families," noting that he and his wife both have family back in India, including his father and brother.

"All in all," Shinde said, it's a really big journey for us.""


Source: Austin American-Statesman

Written by: Shonda Novak

Published: November 13, 2023

Posted by Grossman & Jones Group on


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