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RISMEDIA, September 2, 2010—Thanks to some favorable conditions, like perceived value and affordability, international home buyers, especially from Canada, Mexico, China and India are eyeing the U.S. a bit more these days. Over 40% of the international home-buying transactions come from these four countries. And you can capitalize on these buyers more easily than you might think, but first you should learn more about them.

These prospects typically come from referrals provided by previous clients and the Internet. Most fall into two categories, with 41% primarily residing in another country and 38% being recent immigrants and short-term visa holders; some are both. These international purchasers account for 7% of the residential market or property sales of $66 billion annually.

These buyers have particular tastes when it comes to real estate. South American purchasers focus on Florida, while Asians the West Coast. Europeans concentrate on the eastern states, while Mexicans are attracted to Texas. The proximity and ease of travel back to their home country plays a primary role in their search. The Southern U.S. accounts for 45% of international sales, with the West at 32%, the Midwest 13%, and the Northeast 10%.

By now, you may be wondering a bit about language barriers and other cultural issues, and while this is important in many cases, Canada and the United Kingdom make up 32% of the international real estate purchases in the U.S. All of these families will certainly have special needs and questions, but attracting them in the first place is the key, along with understanding what they are looking for and why, just like any other client.

International buyers often face a challenge with financing in the U.S., but over 50% buy properties with cash, are looking in reasonable price ranges of $250,000 or less, and overwhelmingly prefer detached, single-family homes in suburban areas.

The dollar’s value against their currency does drive interest directly with these buyers, but so do affordability, climate and other factors. As this niche is reportedly showing some increase, it may be time for you to do some research, and add information and services to your website. You should also expand your search engine marketing and incorporate this into your other online and offline branding efforts.

Source: The 2010 NAR Profile of International Home Buying Activity

Chris Kaucnik is marketing director for Home Warranty of America, Inc.

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