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Falling prices and weak Dollar encourage foreign property investors to US

They spend more than domestic real estate investors, use the property as a holiday home and those buying the more expensive properties are likely to be Chinese, a new report shows.

International real estate investors are interested in all areas of the US but nearly half of the properties bought are in the south of the country with over a quarter, 25.4%, in Florida.

Florida's high foreclosure rate could be contributing to this, according to analysts. Other states with high foreclosure rates such as California, Nevada and Arizona, were also popular.

The 2009 TSI Report from foreclosure specialist Thomas Tsilionis estimates that between 150,000 and 190,000 properties were sold to foreign nationals from February 2008 to February 2009.

'Recent foreign buyers purchased properties in every state. The most popular states where international buyers purchased homes were Florida, California and Texas. Arizona, New York, Washington and Nevada were also popular,' the report says.

'Foreign exchange rates have helped make US property more affordable for international buyers. The Euro, for example, has strengthened 24% versus the US dollar over the past two years. Home prices are also now more affordable in places such as Florida and Arizona, contributing to those states' popularity among foreign buyers,' the report continues.

The typical foreign buyer bought a single family property at $297,400, intended for use as a vacation home, where the buyer stayed 2.6 months of the year.

Many of these property investors, some 40%, were cash buyers, a considerable increase since the last study which looked at purchases April 2006 and April 2008 when just 28% of foreign buyers made their purchases in cash.

The report attributes this 12% increase in foreign buyers who purchased properties in cash to the weakened US dollar and sinking home prices across the country.

Foreign investors tend to buy more expensive properties than domestic real estate investors and are more likely to purchase a condo or townhome with 14 buying properties costing $750,000 or more. Chinese buyers have emerged as the biggest spenders with the median price paid by real estate investors from China was $450,000, the highest median of any location in the report.

Nearly a quarter of investors from India purchased properties to use as rentals, the highest found in the report.

People from North America, Europe and Asia accounted for more than 85% of recent foreign home buying transactions. The top six countries of origin for foreign home buyers, in rank order, were Canada, UK, Mexico, China, India and Germany,' according to the report.