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International Investment in US Housing Market Rises: NAR

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Foreign home buyers -- those with residency outside the US as well as recent immigrants and temporary visa holders -- purchased $66bn of US residential property, or 7.27% of the market, in the year ending March 2010, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Based on NAR's existing home sales information, $907bn of residential sales occurred in the 12 months ending March 2010. International clients with permanent residences outside the US took 4.56% of the market -- up from 4.23% in the previous 12-month period -- while recent immigrants and temporary visa holders took another 2.71% of the market. "The US continues to be a top destination for international buyers from all over the world," said NAR president Vicki Cox Golder, in a statement. "Foreign buyers understand the value of owning a home in this country… ." More than one-quarter -- or 28% -- of Realtors reported working with at least one international client over the past year, up from 23% in NAR's 2009 report. "[C]hanges in value to the US dollar have had a strong impact on the international real estate business," Golder said. "In addition, perceptions abroad about trends in the US real estate market have led many international clients to believe purchasing a home in the US is more affordable than in their country and holds more value." Canada took the top rank for the third consecutive year as the originating country for the most international buyers (23%). Mexico replaced the UK as the second largest buying group, with 10% of international buyers. UK buyers represented 9% of foreign buyers in the past year, and China/Hong Kong represented another 8% of buyers. Although 92% of US buyers financed home purchases with mortgages in 2009, 55% of foreign buyers paid cash. NAR attributed this trend to difficulty obtaining and transporting credit internationally. Write to Diana Golobay.

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