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New immigrants and foreign homebuyers remain confident in the value of U.S. real estate, causing sales initiated by international buyers to rise to $82 billion for the 12-month period ending in March, up from $66 billion in the year-ago period, the National Association of Realtors said Monday. Overall, total U.S. existing home sales hit $1.07 trillion in the 12-month period ending in March. International buyers were motivated  by an influx of investment opportunities, vacation preferences and the need to establish residency for jobs and educational attainment, NAR said. Thirty-seven percent of these buyers expect to use their American homes as a primary residence. So where do these gung-ho buyers come from?  The real estate trade group said 70 countries had residents scoping the U.S. for properties in the past year, with the majority coming from Canada, Mexico, China, the United Kingdom and India. Every state attracted some international buyers, but  Arizona, California, Florida and Texas got the most, with 58% of all international sales occurring in those states. The states were selected for their proximity to the buyer's home country, convenience of air transportation, climate and location. Southwestern states became popular hubs for purchasers from Mexico, while European investors flocked to the East Coast and Asian investors headed out West. Florida attracted homebuyers from South America and Europe. NAR concluded in its study that international investors still view American homes as secure long-term investments that are less expensive when compared to their home countries and flexible enough to be used for vacation and rental purposes. Write to Kerri Panchuk.

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