Relatively low home prices and a weak U.S. dollar have lured international buyers to U.S. real estate markets over the past year, particularly in the sand states, according to the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® 2012 Profile of International Home Buying Activity.

Just over half of international real estate buyers purchased homes in four states: Florida, California, Texas, and Arizona.

In total, international investors purchased $82.4 billion in U.S. real estate during the year ending March 2012, up from $66.4 billion in 2011.

Other data from the study shows:

  • Total international sales were evenly split between non-resident foreigners and recent immigrants.
  • Florida is the most popular market among international investors, accounting for 26% percent of foreign purchases.
  • California was second with 11%.
  • Texas and Arizona accounted for 7%.
  • The East Coast generally attracts European buyers, while Asian buyers tend to purchase on the West Coast, particularly California. Florida attracts a diverse set of international buyers including South Americans, Europeans, and Canadians. Texas remains popular among Mexican buyers.

“Foreign buyers recognize that owning a home in the U.S. has many benefits, both financial and social,” said NAR President Moe Veissi. “Many purchase property as an investment, vacation home, or to diversify their portfolio. In addition, many recent immigrants view home ownership as an important accomplishment. They believe that being a home owner is one of many ways they become established in the U.S. and attain stability, security, and a sense of community.”

The typical international home buyer is richer than the typical American home buyer, and is looking for a property suitable for multi-generational living or a property that establishes the individual’s presence and standing in the community, the survey found.

Source: NAR