The market for distressed properties, especially in the United States, is quickly becoming the top destination for foreign investments — and in some cases, it already is. Two international industry reports, one from real estate professionals and the other from fund managers such as private equity houses, both reached this conclusion in their latest data. In a January 2010 review, the London-based Investment Management Association (IMA), a trade group representing £3trn ($4.5trn) in assets under management, says property investments outside of Europe and the UK are now the top sector, selling at £373m. The same time last year it stood as the 24th most popular sector. This a continuing trend from Q409, the IMA said. "Property was the most popular sector in January, as it had been in the last quarter of 2009," said Richard Saunders, chief executive of the IMA. "By contrast, the least popular sector in January was Sterling Corporate Bond, which had topped the sales charts for the first eight months of last year." More directly, independent industry researcher the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) says the US is a top market for drawing the attention of foreign investor capital. "It is the major real estate markets of the world, namely the US and Japan, where agents expect the strongest growth in distressed sales in the first quarter of 2010," said Oliver Gilmartin, RICS senior economist. "Significantly, while the US is seeing ongoing rises in interest from specialist funds, Japan is not the recipient of the same level of investor appetite for distressed property assets." The information is part of the RICS Global Distressed Property Monitor Q4 2009. Gilmartin adds that the foreign market for US property should remain in order as long as banks continue write-downs of distressed properties in orderly fashion and interest rates remain low. Write to Jacob Gaffney.