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NAR adds foreign markets to online listings

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National Association of Realtors and Move Inc. (MOVE) launched an international website Thursday that features residential real estate listings from Brazil, Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Spain. The new NAR website delivers translation options in 11 languages and features currency and dimension converters. NAR said foreigners buying real estate in the U.S. also remains popular as a weak dollar coupled with depressed home prices has made U.S. an attractive destination for foreigners to buy homes. "Increasingly, more and more Realtors are working with international clients who want to buy property in the U.S.," said NAR President Ron Phipps. An NAR survey of roughly 1,000 real estate agents found that foreign-purchasing of U.S. homes surged $16 billion for the 12 months ended March 31. Foreign buyers bought $41 billion worth of U.S. homes over the same period, and immigrants who moved to the U.S. in the past two years purchased another $41 billion. That represents about 7.7% of the nation's $1.07 trillion market of existing homes, NAR said. Foreign buyer activity for the 12 months ended March 31 was $30 billion, 4.6% lower than a year earlier, according to Capital Economics, which gathers data from public sources such as the Federal Reserve. Howard Blum, a real estate investor, publisher of financial newsletters, and entrepreneur, told HousingWire last month that the numbers are much higher than either NAR or Capital Economics estimate. Blum said more than 25% of all homes sold today are bought by foreign cash buyers based on his calculation using data from Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, NAR and other sources. NAR doesn't include New York City in its statistics because the Real Estate Board of New York, the largest foreign investment market in the country, is not an affiliate of the trade group. Most states had at least one international transaction. Arizona, California, Florida and Texas accounted for 58% of all U.S. residential transactions completed by international buyers. The housing market of those first three states are among the hardest hit by the financial crisis. Write to Justin T. Hilley. Follow him on Twitter @JustinHilley.

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