"Foreign purchasers are interested in U.S. real estate for a variety of reasons: as a place to live for those relocating in the U.S., for a job or for children going to college, for investment and portfolio diversification, and for vacation purposes," according to the NAR report.
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Buyers from five countries accounted for over half of international transactions, the report said. Chinese buyers were far and away the largest foreign buyers measured by dollar volume. Sales to Chinese buyers jumped 72 percent over the 12 month period to $22 billion. Chinese buyers now account for 24 percent of all sales made to overseas buyers, measured by dollar volume. Canada ranked a distant second as a source of foreign buyers with $13.8 billion in deals, followed by the United Kingdom and India, each with $5.8 billion.
A handful of states accounted for the bulk of the purchases. Florida attracted 23 percent of international deals, followed by California with 14 percent, Texas with 12 percent and Arizona with 6 percent.
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Overseas buyers tend to pay all cash and prefer higher-end homes. Fully 60 percent of all purchases by foreign buyers were by cash, up from a third in 2007.