Canadians top foreign buyers in the U.S.

Canadians invested $9.4 billion in U.S. real estate in the 12 months prior to April this year, making up 23% of all foreign-buyer purchases in the country, according to the U.S. National Realtors Association (NAR) annual survey.

It was the fourth consecutive year Canada topped the list of foreign buyers. Previously, Mexico had the title from 2007, but since then, the proportion of sales to Canadians has doubled.

China was the second most popular country of origin this year, with 9% of international sales. Mexico, the U.K., and India all tied for third, followed by Argentina and Brazil. Overall, buyers came from 70 different countries, up from 53 in 2010.

“Foreign buyers are primarily interested in three factors when deciding where to buy in the U.S.: proximity to their home country, convenience of air transportation and climate and location,” said the report.

Generally, the East Coast attracts European buyers, while the West Coast remains popular for Asian purchasers. Mexican buyers are traditionally attracted to the Southwestern markets. Florida is most popular among South Americans, Europeans and Canadians.

Florida topped the list with the heaviest concentration of foreign buyers, with 31% of international transactions this year. California was next at 12%, followed by Texas at 9% and Arizona at 6%.

The survey showed a growing preference for affordable and foreclosed properties in the U.S. by foreign buyers. In 2007, 28% of international residential sales in the U.S. were under $200,000, compared to 45% in 2011.

Respondents to the survey pointed out some difficulties Canadians face in purchasing U.S. properties. Some 32% of all respondents said financing was the reason an international client decided not to buy a property.

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