Coronavirus Fears Have Foreign Investors Seeking Shelter in U.S. Real Estate

March 5, 2020

Investors around the world who have been spooked by the coronavirus are looking for secure investments, and they may have found one in American rental properties. CNBC looked at data from the website Roofstock, which lists single-family rental homes for sale. The company appeals to foreign investors, because the homes they list are usually already occupied and they offer property management services, meaning potential owners can be entirely hands-off.

CNBC spoke to the CEO of Roofstock, and he notes that traffic from Asian investors has jumped 500 percent in recent weeks. German traffic has increased 450 percent, Australian traffic has jumped 250 percent, and U.K. traffic is up 100 percent. The CEO posits that these investors are looking for investments in areas that have not yet been impacted by the virus, and notes that U.S. housing is generally not correlated to the stock market, making it an attractive investment in times of volatility.

While this may be good news for sellers, it makes buying more difficult. Potential homebuyers are already struggling to purchase homes in a market facing historically low inventory and increasing prices. An influx of foreign investors will make buyers’ search for availability and affordability even more difficult.

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