Foreign buyers of US residential real estate surged 35% last year, with Chinese buyers, searching for moderately priced, safe investments in a sea of economic and political uncertainty, outspending the rest of the world.

Chinese buyers spent $22 billion on US homes in the 12-month period ending in March 2018, which is about 24% of total foreign sales by dollar value, according to a study released by the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

Total international purchases of American homes jumped to $92.2 billion, according to the NAR, an increase of $68.2 billion on the year before and $82.5 billion for the year ending in March 2012.

Foreign clients made up about 7% of transactions in the $1.2 trillion US real estate market. Chinese buyers, looking for their own piece of the ‘American Dream,’ paid on average $523,148 per property. By comparison, Americans paid an average price of $199,575, according to NAR’s statistics.

Over 16% of sales went to Chinese buyers, and is the fastest growing sector, behind Canada at 19%, down from 23% the year before. Mexico ranked third with 9% of sales and India and the UK both accounted for 5%.

Chinese buyers are mostly flocking to Southern California, with Los Angeles, San Francisco and Irvine as their top three choices, according to the survey. Chinese purchased 32% of homes sold to foreign buyers in the state, according to an April survey by the California Association of Realtors.

But the Chinese are not alone in their preference for sunny California residences. Buyers from Canada, India, the United Kingdom, Australia, Ireland and Russia are also investing in the popular – and most populated – US state.

The S&P Case-Shiller Index of 20 cities shows that US house prices have increased 26% since March 2012, after tumbling 35% from their June 2006 peak. / ABC Flash Point News 2018.

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